Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Writers are used in many of the elementary classrooms at the school district my daughters attend.  They are used in the second to fifth grade classrooms to help students with their typing skills.  The students log in using their name and start typing the words shown on the screen.  The writer times the keystrokes typed per minute and their accuracy.  The student can not continue to the next level on the Writer until they have passed the current one with a certain amount of WPM and accuracy.

Each student has one they can use and they are kept in a cart.  The teachers usually have the student work on their Writers 10-15 minutes per day.

What I like about these is that they focus only on typing speed and accuracy.  Unlike laptops and computers where students can get distracted with so many different activities.  I also like that it keeps track of the students scores and displays their rate of speed and accuracy on the screen as soon as they have finished a section.

Smart Pens

Smart Pen technology is a great note taking and studying tool.  The pen captures everything you write.  You can also hit the record button and record what the teacher was saying at the time you were writing or drawing on the paper.  The Smart Pen does require a special paper that can be purchased loose leaf or in different sizes of spiral notebooks.  To see a Smart Pen in action click here

This is a tool that would be used more often in the middle to high school levels.  It would also be a great tool for a college student. With this pen the students notes can also be uploaded to a PC.  Some models of the Smart Pens have an app that you can use with it that makes it possible for the student to use their iOS device microphone for the recoding. 

The above is a close up of the commands at the bottom of the Smart Pen paper.  By touching these commands with the pen the pen know when to start, when to pause, and when to stop recording. 

If you decide to purchase a Smart Pen I would check to make sure what types of devices it is compatible with.  I know different models of the pen are compatible with different types of devices. 



I couldn't talk about technology in the classroom without doing a post on IPads.  With all the educational apps out there for so many different grade levels and needs, of course they are a great tool for the classroom.  The only thing is the two districts I have been in this year, I have not seen many IPads in use.  I think teachers would use IPads in their classrooms more if they had access to more than just one.  This way the teacher could have students work on them in small groups.


The IPads that I have seen in use have been with students with special needs that have one that they carry around with them at all times.  The IPads have apps on them that assist to the students needs and that is a wonderful thing.  I have decided not to talk about any of the educational apps that are out there in this post because there are so many and I would not know where to begin.  If there are any apps out there that you have used in the classroom please leave a comment and let me know what it is and how you use it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Document Cameras

Document cameras have replaced the overhead projectors that my teachers used when I was in school.  A document camera captures information off of paper or books (anything you place under it) and projects it up on the whiteboard through a projector.  One of the advantages of the Document camera is that is does not require the use of transparencies. 

Below is a picture of a Document Camera

This type of technology has been around for a while and I debated about including it on my blog. I included it because I can not see myself not using one in my future classroom.  The district I work at has one of these in every classroom and the teachers use them often.  As you can see the day I took this picture the teacher was using hers.

For classroom use the teacher could use a document camera to:

  • Project an activity or worksheet on the whiteboard so the entire class can see
  • Show pictures from a book
  • Show a students work
  • Show and tell
  • You can zoom in on small objects to see details
  • You could put a digital timer under it for time management
  • Photos
The options are endless.  The camera captures the image in real time so the teacher or student can write on the document and it will show on the white screen. This is a great feature if you are doing an assignment together or having the students grade their own work you could write the answers in as you go.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


In the classrooms I have been in, the type of technology I see most is laptops.  Not only does the teacher have a laptop but there are usually laptops for student use.  For years schools, including elementary schools, have had computer labs for the students use.  Many still do but what I am seeing is “mini” computer labs in the classroom. With laptops is becomes much easier for the computers to be in the classrooms. The students can work at the computer area or take the laptop to their desks to work on.  Below are pictures of computer areas set up in the classroom in two different districts.  

Having these laptops in the classroom teachers can use them during center time as one of the centers.  Teachers can have students get on the internet and do research for a paper or play educational games from certain sites. I have also been in classroom where the students put together PowerPoint presentations for parent teacher conferences or to present to their classroom peers. Some districts have reading programs where after the student reads a book they take a comprehension quiz over that book.  These quizzes are taken on the computer under the student’s personal log in and throughout the year their totals are accumulated.  The district that I am familiar with has a program like this called Reading Counts. The school as a whole keeps track of the total Reading Counts points accumulated throughout the year. Prizes are giving quarterly for the highest points earned in each grade level.  I even thing the class with the most reading count points gets a pizza party at the end of the year or donuts.  

Please feel free to leave comments on how you use laptops in the classroom.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Promethean Boards

Most classrooms that I have been in now have a Smart board or a Promethean board in them. A Promethean board is and interactive white board that connects to the computer.  The images from the computer are projected on the white board.  The board is not a dry erase board. You use the Promethean board pen to go to the next screen, highlight, write, or erase.  Teachers can use premade lessons or make up their own lessons with the Promethean board.  Teachers can also get on the internet and show students movies or articles they have found to help them teach a lesson. I have taught a few lessons myself on these boards and really like them.  The Promethean board lessons can be as interactive as the teacher wants them to be and can be used for any subject.  When I have taught lessons on the Promethean boards the students seem to be more interested and more involved.

Some uses for Promethean boards in the classroom:

  • Project existing Power Point presentations
  • PDF files (worksheets)can be displayed and marked on using the Promethean board pen
  • The laptop and projector can be used to view DVDs
  • Access to the internet using the pen to control the computer
  • Use as you would a chalkboard or overhead projector
  • Use for informal assessment
  • Use for lunch count in the morning
  • Project a to do list or morning work

If you would like to see a Promethean board in action visit the Promethean Planet website or click here to take you directly to the site.

The image for a screen from a Promethean lesson for a second grade classroom.  At the bottom of the screen you can see the different choices for use in writing with the Promethean pen.  You can choose to write or highlight and choose from multiple colors.  On the right hand side of the screen are commands that you can use by touching with the Promethean pen.
The image below shows a screen for a math lesson from the Scott Foresman -Addison Wesley enVision Math program, the curriculum used by this school.

Feel free to leave a comment on how you use Promethean boards in the classroom.