Deck the Halls

christmas_tree_20041.jpgAt least forty teachers in two different regions in Kansas experienced a fun make and take workshop this holiday season. These educators came armed with their laptops and art supplies and left with Christmas cards, gifts, gift tags, and plenty of ideas. Christmas music and holiday treats added to the ambiance. Many were surprised to find such a wealth of resources available, including holiday fonts and items that are ‘ready to print.’

Could this be done if teachers didn’t have laptops? Not very easily. Staff meetings, conferences, collaborative team meetings are more productive when each member has a laptop. Instead of scheduling more meetings, create a google document where everyone can share their ideas. Get answers from other staff members who aren’t in attendance via instant messaging. Type the notes of a meeting in a wiki where others can edit or add their own notes. Bookmark websites as you are introduced to them. In the Christmas workshop everyone was able to access the resources, edit the templates, and print knowing that it would all still be there when they got home. Much more can be accomplished when teachers have laptops.

So how will this impact student learning? An elementary counselor especially liked the large gift bags from Grandma George’s website. Her idea was to decorate the bag and fill them with incentives and character development acitivities. Also share the bags with buddies and have books for younger kids to read that older kids have made. When teachers saw Voice Thread they not only saw it as a great way to send a Christmas greeting but also as a way to share student projects with other people. Creative teachers are always thinking, “how can I use this in my classroom?” When teachers use the computers for personal use, they become more comfortable with technology. It is then that teachers are more apt to implement technology in the classroom.

Mary Frazier

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