You have worked hard to plan your lesson or activity, you have all your transparencies made, the day went great and then your off to a meeting with a parent. You go to shake their hand and you notice that your hands are covered in ink. You know, a day of transparencies, Vis-A-Vis markers and paper towels to try to clean up the mess. Not the most embarrassing thing in the world, however, teacher ink hands are just not necessary! I utilize a document camera in my class everyday and guess what? NO MORE TEACHER HANDS! I use the TT-OS ELMO Image Mate in my classroom and it is great. You can place written or typed paper under the camera and display it on your screen through your LCD projector. Virtually anything that you have in the classroom will fit under the camera’s eye. Have you ever done a science demonstration for your class, only to have a number of students that cannot see what is going on in the experiment. Having the document camera allows you to place a beaker or a Petri dish under the camera. The camera has a flexible neck that allows for angled views as well as phenomenal zooming to get close to the action. It changes the way you teach and increases those teachable moments that were once held captive, not due to your creativity, but to the lack of hardware that you have at your disposal. Additionally, on the ELMO TT-OS, you can utilize an SD card to make a still image straight from the camera or even pre-load the SD card and project it onto your computer. Once on your computer, the possibilities are endless. You can annotate, highlight and so much more. Only your creativity decides the possibilities. Remember, no more teacher hands!
Having great classroom management allows a teacher to deliver great teaching! I utilize a wireless tablet to engage students and increase participation. Students really enjoy when I walk around the classroom, lay the tablet down on their desk and ask them to solve a problem. Once a student sees that another student is willing to solve the problem on the screen, I have a whole army of hands chomping at the bit to take their turn at solving the problem. I mentioned on my last blog, “Presentation Software”, that I utilize Skitch. Skitch allows me to make my presentations and lessons meaningful and dynamic. The tablet acts like a giant mouse, except I have more control and I can be mobile around the classroom: This keeps students on their toes. Additionally, a traditional chalkboard (are these still around?) or whiteboard makes the teacher turn his/her back to the students, even if momentarily. With the Wacom tablet, you are behind students, in front of students and beside students which allows you to monitor the whole classroom. The only other piece of hardware that you are going to need is an LCD projector to get started. If you have ever used a Smartboard or Promethean board, you know that they add such a dynamic to your classroom that is undeniable to your students. These boards allow their software to integrate your computer’s files in an interactive way. For example, with the touch of the screen, you are able to highlight text, move text, draw on the document, cut and paste and much, much more. These boards cost thousands of dollars, but are worth every penny. They are great teaching tools. However, if you put together a Wacom tablet, an LCD and Skitch software together, you have many of the same advantages that those interactive boards offer you, at a much lower cost! I will go as far to say that the tablet is a much better option for the management of your classroom and its’ equality to make your lessons come alive! Good Luck.
In the never ending commitment to enhance the presentation of content, I give you SKITCH! This freeware, in beta version, is truly dynamic and has changed the way I review homework or introduce new material. Skitch allows you to snap, draw and share. I use this tool in conjunction with my wireless Wacom tablet. I am able to quickly access the internet, open Skitch, click on snap which displays cross-hairs that enable me to snap a shot of whatever I would like to highlight. Then I can annotate or draw on the whatever I have snapped. Avery simple tool with and endless amount uses. Go check it out. Download it. Have fun while getting your students attention.