Danita Bitely (Cabot MS North) & Bethany Hill (Southside Elementary - Academic coaches for Cabot School District.
(D) My first experience with the Palms was thru training with Pam Berry at Central Office. When they bought new Palms for the administrators they took up all the old ones and used them, put them in a case for checkout for the students and teachers. So, what I started doing, after the training was just checking out the box. We've used them for everything, depending on the subject area. Because with third grade, you know, we weren't departmentalized. We had students for all subjects. I used a lot of the IIIc's with the keyboards in a language arts program. That I used probably more than anything. Anything the students could do with the word processing program, we did with the Palm. For example, we did a book recommendation, and the students learned how to do a book recommendation prior to this. They knew what was expected in written form. Then we brought the Palms in and taught them how to type it in to the written documents into the Palm and beam it to the teacher for grading rather than turn in a hard copy. They actually got a component of their grade on the correct use of the technology. Then they would go around and beam, since it is a book recommendation to be shared, they would beam it to other students in the classroom who they thought would be interested in the book. Anything that could be used with the word processors we used with the Palms and the keyboards to do that sometime during the year. We also used the Palms with the ImagiProbes in the science classrooms. In third grade primarily, with temperature probes. Taking temperature, watching the temperature over time and it had the graphing software with it and how it progressed. We used that in the science classrooms. There were several programs that we used in Math. A lot of them were end of class, for students who got finished early. Almost as a center type activity, they had a calculator so they could use them but it also had the Math Tutorial programs that they could practice multiplication, division, and some of them could work with partners like Tic Tac Math where it would give them a problem I taught them how to go in and set it up depending on the level of difficulty for themselves, they could beam it back and forth. So, they were practicing as a team and they didn't have to verbalize.
(B) We teamed up with first grade classrooms too. We taught them, with a first grade student and a third grade student, and taught them how to do some things. We taught Graffiti. I taught my kids Graffiti. I had a group of really gifted kids. One of my students went home and taught his father how to use his Palm that his business had given him, that he had put up in a drawer and decided he didn't have time for it. He was very excited. The parent came in. It was over a weekend. He came in that Monday and said, "You are not going to believe this. I said, What? He said, Johnathan came home and dug my Palm out, I don't remember what kind it was, a Sony. It was a different brand than what we had been using in the classrooms. We had been using the IIIc's. He dug it out and he charged it. He showed me how to set the date. He showed me how to use Graffiti and how to write on it and how to put my dates on it and everything. He said I'm going to use it now because of that. He said, I just thought it was a waste of time!" I thought that was the biggest accomplishment with his kids having no fear of technology. They see it all the time, they are surrounded by it, but adults do! They're generally afraid to see new things with technology, so, I thought that was a big thing. He taught him how to hot sync and everything. Because we had Palms ourselves. We have Zire71s at the time. My kids would see me hot sync. We explained what that was and what it meant that the information could be traded back and forth between computer and Palm. That was the big reason why he never wanted to use it because he had heard they crashed all the time. He said "I'm not going to put all this stuff on there and have it go away." He never realized he could back it up.
So, that was my biggest accomplishment.
(D) We had a lot of students come back with stories about, you know, now I know how to use my Palm or my Mom has a Palm and all she ever did was play games on it and now she does things on it. So it really was nice. The first grade was what amazed me. We actually typed up a rubric on everything they had to teach the first grader on the Palm. We would go sit in the hallway and they would pull it out, and and they would check off on their checklist as they taught the first graders how to use some of the easier programs. But there was a really good one for the Graffiti and I did it for all of my students before we started the word processing. It was the Giraffe game where the letter falls from the sky and they have to correctly make the letter. They have a sheet that showed them how to make all of the hand strokes.
(D) Adults are so afraid to use things, and they are not native users. Kids have grown up using things from birth. My 3 year old can work a Palm with the best of them. It's because the kids are not afraid to try things. We would have days with the instructional days where I would say, OK guys you have 30 minutes just to explore. See if you can find something you have never found before, and then you are going to show someone how to use it. They would just explore and the things they would come up with were just amazing, because they had the opportunity to get in there and they are not afraid to use it.
(D) In the younger grades we started primarily with first grades or at least I did, because that time it was toward the end of the year, and they were more familiar with the letters. They had more of a concept of print by that time. Third graders, we used them every time they were available. Pam Berry pretty much knew if they were not available she would call me and say, "The Palms are here. Do you want to pick them up?" So, I would go and get them.
(B) One of the first things that I did that was just simple, was we were playing with the calculators. They have the calculator on the Palm. So, that was one of the first things that I did so that they could be familiar with it and get used to the stylus, because they know how to use a calculator. We were doing mean, median and mode. We were doing the Palms we would have to trade off with each other. We would be the main ones that would use them. We got to keep them two or three weeks that time. When my kids were able to keep them for an amount of days, we had like tubs in the middle of our tables, and we kept the Palms in the tubs. That's one of the first things I did with math was mean, median and mode, where they kept a record of their grades. They would go in and average their grades. They learned how to use a stylus. They learned how to appreciate and respect the Palm. We started with that. Then we went into learning how to use the keypad before we used the Graffiti. We did things with language arts. They did a written response to reading each week. They would do them on the Palms and beam them to a IIIc that I would take with me each week. I would write my responses on theirs and give it back. I could hotsync it too and print it off if I wanted a hard copy for parents to see. I also synced stuff to Edline, because we have Edline here. We took pictures with our 71. I would have kids take pictures with my 71 of them using a Palm or of anything in the classroom that we thought parents would be interested in. We would hotsync it to my computer and then to Edline for parents to see. I also used it for communication with parents. If something went on neat in the classroom that day I would use my 71 for a child to take a picture and I could just hotsync and send the picture to the parent. It helped me personally, not just with kids, but with communicating with parents. Sending a picture of a child doing something really cool at 2 o'clock in the afternoon to the bank in the email and that would make their day. The 71 helped me in my classroom a lot personally having one. A lot of the teachers would think why would you need your own personal palm for the classroom - you're a teacher. That's what my husband said to me too. We use ours every day on a personal basis with our kids. Even when we didn't have the IIIc's checked out.
(D) Our primary problem was that they had to give up the Palms. The students would just die! It took three days. "When are we getting the Palms back? Who got them? Where did they go?" And they wanted to know exactly what campus they were on and when they were coming back.
(B) I had a few kids that struggled with cursive handwriting in third grade. When they got to see Graffiti. A lot of times it is just the child's fine motor skills that are not developed. Just to be able to have something different to work with and to write on it and to know you can undo it easily is kind of a comfort for kids. It really helped them to see that yes, we do have to write in different ways. We can't just print all the time. There are other ways that we have to communicate. So, Graffiti is so similar to the alphabet but it is different. I loved that aspect of it too. That was my excuse for showing kids Graffiti, because it is really not a direct standard that you teach kids. It's not directly related to our curriculum.