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  why I teach

AVID Math 7

Teacher's Role



  one computer
  ... or a lab

  from others

Probably relatively few public schoolteachers enjoy classroom situations comparable to mine, with a lab of 20 Internet-accessible computers which my students use regularly every other day. Still, I must create activities that can be carried out with a variety of equipment.

Recently I received this question:

I'm struggling to think of what I can do in a one-computer classroom. Next year I will have one class a week in a lab, assuming I can get the computer teacher to give up the room for that amount of time. Suggestions? I have been teaching pre-algebra but will be doing algebra next year.

What I know is quite general, but here are my thoughts on one-computer classrooms.

First, find a way to project your one computer onto a large monitor. If it is a Mac you need to have a video out port and an LTV Portable Pro or some sort of device (cost $150-250 - MacWarehouse is a good source) that will translate the Mac video out so it can be read by the TV. Another possibility is to use an LCD projection panel if the school has one (such panels are probably too costly to fund personally, particularly if you want color). Then of course there is the ultra-expensive video projector, which again works well IF the school has one available.

Once you find a way to have the class view the computer together, here are some things you can do:

  1. Demonstrate an activity that you will later do in the lab.

    The day before you go into the lab, introduce your class to the lesson using your monitor. This can cut down on instruction time in the lab, and will focus the students so that you can maximize your time on your one day in the lab.

    Example: Tessellations   :-)
    Show the step-by-step procedure using Claris Works. Make the directions available as a handout for the students, or have students take notes as you model the assignment for them. (My AVID students take notes, because that is an important part of their program.) Alternatively, you could choose a student "assistant," showing him or her the lesson ahead of time and letting her/him be the person who does the demonstration.

  2. Work through the lesson together as a class.

    If your one computer has direct Web access, this is the easiest way to proceed, but if not you can use WebWhacker and "whack" the site that you want to use and then project it locally from your own computer.

    A Problem of the Week could be presented in this way. You display (either through live Internet access or a simulation) the Problem, and then all the students work on it. If you have live access you can submit your answers right then. If not, students will need to write down their answers so that you can later submit them.

    [Some people say you don't need a computer display to do this. True, you don't - but it is more engaging for the students!]

  3. Display an example that supports your lesson.

    When you are teaching the concept of pi, you might use the Geometer's Sketchpad sketch that illustrates it. There are many great Sketchpad sketches that you can download from the Math Forum that illustrate concepts wonderfully. This approach is similar to using video clips to support a history lesson or laserdisc clips to support a science lesson.

If you have access to a lab, here are some other ideas:

go to Notes: from others

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