Friday, May 9, 2014

MacBook, Here We Go!

This week I got my macbook.  In all honesty, I am not a Mac guy.  When I started teaching we all had the purple and teal macs and I hated them.  The year we switched to PC as a district I rejoiced.  To say I’ve not been looking forward to this implementation would be an understatement.  Last year our high school went 1 to 1 and next year that dips down to 8th grade.  All teachers from 6th grade on up got mac books.  This year the district gave me an old pc laptop, which worked ok, except for playing videos my kids had created.  In order to view, or project those I had to hook an extra desktop computer to my projector.  That computer is still hooked up but I only use it for projection stuff.  The day we got the Mac I decided to put the other laptop away, and go whole hog on the Mac.  So far I’ve been pretty impressed.  I like the swipe features enough that I don’t know if I will get a mouse for it.  There are a few things which I am still trying to get used to/don’t like.  My email seems slow.  I will get an email coming through on my phone long before I see it on the Mac, and when I have a long email, especially one with graphics, scrolling through it seems choppy. On a positive, I like how fast it prints, and having access to all the other printers is nice.  It also pops up a printer icon in the doc that goes away after it prints.  This will be nice when I print longer documents.  I’m pretty happy that I started converting everything to Google Docs this year.  I think that will really pay off next year and it has been really nice next year.  In a later post I will explain how I have my website and Google Docs folders set up this year.  

Current Set Up
My current set up isn’t very technology intensive.  I use technology a lot but I try to make sure that it serves a purpose, and isn’t just to do something for the sake of using technology.  In my classroom right now there are 8 pc desktops along one wall that are mainly  used by my broadcasting students.  There are an additional four in the adjacent room that is our broadcast studio.  I rarely send science students in there.  I have digital projector, and a desktop computer that I use to project.  That means usually there are two computers on my desk and if I’m working on a project on my personal laptop it isn’t unusual to see three.  I have access to a document camera (which now won’t work with my mac) that I haven’t used much this year since the desktop I use to project doesn’t have the software.  Someone the other day suggested plugging it into the VCR, which is a great idea that I hadn’t thought of.  

At the beginning of the year I had the kids bring in cell phones and we set up a system where they could submit anonymous questions.  I really like this system, and have used it in the past.  The plan was to make this an everyday thing.  It fizzled after a month or so because so few kids were bringing their phones because of poor cell phone reception.  This is an idea I am really excited about fully implementing next year when every kid has a device.  

This year I started putting my tests on Quia.  I have liked this but I only started at Christmas and didn’t take the time to set up student accounts so getting the links out to the kids is a pain.  Also I made the mistake of posting a test link early and had several kids, and parents, take the test early.  I really want to explore the idea of using quia more as an exit ticket, or daily assessment for next year.  More thoughts on the MacBook and other technology issues to come.

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