This week, three more of our classrooms had new overhead LCD projectors installed. We’re almost half-way there. In reflecting on the excitement it’s generated in our building, I was reminded of the journey I was on the first time I had regular access to a projector. At the time, I knew it was useful for me to show movies, but wasn’t sure how else it could be effectivley integrated into my daily practice. I thought I’d share some examples of some of the ways I’ve been using it recently.
1. To develop rubrics together: I put up a frame and have the students offer suggestions and ideas to fill it in. It gives us a great conversation around skills needed and learning that is supposed to happen around major projects. When we’re done, we can print it out and put it into our books.
2. To demonstrate math skills while students work together at their desks. One of my favorite sites is the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu/). It’s a terrific, searchable resource that allows for the exploration of a whole bunch of math skills and processes. In whole-class lessons, I either call kids up to take turns, or have them work with hands-on tools at their desks while I project things up front. We often follow this up with a time in the computer lab where they have a follow-up task using the same tool. An screen-shot example of one of the tools is below.
3. Streaming Tumblebooks for writing lessons. The kids are super-engaged with the animations, and we can stop every few pages and examine “authors’ tricks” to expand our own repertoire. Because the stories are available online, they can watch them again at home and collect even more ideas. My school district has purchased access for us- if yours hasn’t check out your public library- most often you can gain access with a public library card.
4. Brainstorming and Note taking: I often project an organizer, or type in a list for a brainstorming session, as we work through a whole-group lesson. I make a deal with the kids that are a little slower to process, or slower to write- if they promise to stay “plugged in” and participate, I’ll handle the writing if they handle the thinking. We generate word lists for writing or word sorts, fill out organizers together, collect key words from stories, work on vocabulary definitions, sequencing activities, review facts from content lessons- sometimes we do it together and I print it for everyone, sometimes we do part of it together while they take their own notes, and then I just print it off for the handful who didn’t quite keep up (it’s a choice for everyone, not a special deal- but I find only a few usually want it). An example of a brainstorm that turned into a small-group word sort is below.
5. Our Daily Edit (from the Everyday Edits at Education World): This one I project right onto the chalkboard so that we can make our editing marks on top of the text- it took me a couple of tries to realize I would have better luck without the screen after giving up my Smartboard, but it’s worked out well, even against the green background. It gets us into our seats and focused right after the morning bell.
6. Using pre-made stuff from websites for lessons: This is one of the best time-savers around. In the “whiteboard” section of this blog, you’ll find links to a few of my favorite sites that have games and activities all-ready-to-go that have been created by teachers from all over the place. It’s rare that I find a new concept, or a new skill, or a topic, that we need to explore that I can’t find something that will do great by way of introduction or practice. In addition to the sites listed under that link- it’s well worth the time to check out the Smart Exchange (http://exchange.smarttech.com) - you used to need Smart’s Notebook 10 software to use these activities, but with the new online Notebook Express, you can stream anything you find in the exchange- although you’ll still need the software to edit it. The database is free to register with, and is searchable by grade level and topic.
These are just a few of the ways that I find using the projector handy in the classroom. In addition to the planned lessons, it gets used all the time incidentally- if we need images for somewhere we’re talking about in social studies, or we can’t “visualize” a mind map while making the rubric- or if someone mentions Gordon Lightfoot and noone has any idea who he is- it’s a handy resource for all kinds of teachable moments!