Project Overview

1) What was the instructional problem?

Our school is under renovation. We are left with one computer lab which is constantly being used. We need resources in order to be able to complete projects and enhance/enrich instruction for our Magnet students. These students tend to be very bright/gifted and motivated. They require a rich educational environment to keep their motivation level high.
2) How/why was
technology used to help solve the instructional
Technology allows the students to unshackle their learning beyond the content of the textbook. It allows the classroom to be differentiated, the lessons to be enriched and extended, it gives the student powerful choices in their learning process.
3) Brief overview of project DeKalb County supplied my classroom with a set of wireless Tungsten C Palms and a wireless access point. Students use the technology for a variety of projects in class and are allowed to take them home. This way they could also organize their schedules, take notes to study from, and use them as a learning tool inside and outside of my classroom.
4) What was the
impact on student learning?
Most of the students quickly took to the Palms, for a variety of functions. Without much help, they were able to adapt and explore the variety of functions on their own. I hope that has a lasting impact on the way they view technology in general, but in the end my job is to teach them biology. We were able to evaluate critically some of the major issues of the day, and incorporate them into daily lessons.
5) Largest challenge The biggest issue was fear on the part of the parents/students about loss and breakage. Three Palms broke the first week, which really rattled my nerves. The county THEN provided cases, and only one Palm has broken since then. Another issue is hot synching. Many of the students could not transfer from the Palm to a computer, which prevented them from overcoming any limitations the handhelds had in terms of adding pictures to documents, etc. We, including myself, could not figure out how to insert graphics into Documents To Go files on the Palm. Also when Palms were reset , they lost the encryption which allowed them to be wireless in the classroom.
6) Largest success Watch the video and read the surveys. See what the kids can do with a Palm in the wireless classroom! The students were engaged quite often using the Palm, not just for direct instruction. They recorded their assignments, they took notes on the Palm voluntarily, they beamed each other instructional and non-instructional memos, and yes, they even played games. Many of the students successfully integrated the Palm as a common tool for their learning, and several indicated they were planning to get one of their own after the project.
7) Level of Integration (LOTI level) Overall, the LOTI level varied with the instruction involved. Students did perform all of these activities:

LOTI 1: Students view a presentation beamed to their Palm Pilots

LOTI 2: Using Idea Pad, students create concept maps

LOTI 3: Students research a disease and then role-play the part of a patient, doctor, scientist, or even the pathogen

LOTI 4: For the bulk of this project: students review several web sites about a biology topic and then evaluate the effectiveness of learning from each site. Other students will use the Palms to compose interviews with healthcare or other professionals in the biological sciences. Still others will research controversies on the Internet and debate them by using the Palms to upload arguments and rebuttals to a blog.