Sunday, September 18, 2011

New year, New school, Same ideas

So, I have been gone from the blog for several months. What in the world have I been doing? Sometimes I ask myself that very question. This time I have an answer. I have moved to another school (in my same area) and I have a different role in this school. I am still the Tech Coordinator, but have a lot more technology to coordinate. It is a bigger school (almost 500 students) and they have about 200 computers. So, I remain busy trying to make sure that all my teachers are using technology to the best of their ability. I do miss my old school and staff, but lucky for me I still get to keep in touch with them often and Chris and I are still talking about all different aspects of teaching and tech.

Speaking of Chris and I, we were chosen to present at the annual FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) this January! We are excited. Our topic? Using a popular gaming system in your classroom. i.e. - The WII! If you are going to be in Orlando at the end of January for the conference, please come check us out! You can find out more information about the FETC by visiting the website -

So, you may be wondering, with this presentation opportunity, are you going to be able to bring the Wii and your research into the new school? Well, wonder no more, the answer is yes! I was lucky enough to hook up with another teacher who is interested in the idea of using games to teach content in the classroom! Her name is Nicole and she is the math teacher for our 4th-6th grade classes. I was talking to her about some of the things that Chris and I had done in the previous school and I could see that she was interested. We brought the idea to administration and got our principal's blessing. With that vote of confidence Nicole and I started talking about how we can use the Wii in the classroom!
Problem 1, get a Wii!
But wait! As I was crawling around on the floor of one of our coaches/athletic director's office, following a Cat 5 cable, (a postition that any tech person is very familiar with) what did I come across? A brand new Wii! Still in the box! One of the parents had donated it to the coach for athletics (they use it with the Dance Dance games and other move oriented activities throughout the year - note to self make sure to add that game opportunity to list of uses for Wii in school). "Do you mind if we borrow the Wii to use in the classroom?" I asked. "Of course you can use it" she said! Problem 1 out of the way!
Problem 2, hook it up.
The classroom has a projector hanging from the roof, pointing to a interactive board. I was able to get a video/audio splitter and hook the Wii right into the feed going to the projector. The classroom has speakers so the audio goes into there. Bam! 77 inches of Wii goodness booming out of 100 watts of dolby power. Problem 2, in the bag!
Problem 3, what software will we use?
But wait! I still have the work that Chris and I did with our 5th graders when we started this whole thing 2 years ago! We will turn our focus back to Mathmatics and concentrate on programs that worked. We can use Wii Sports and Brain Age for starters. We can focus on subtraction, addition, averages, ratios and integers (both negative and positive). Nicole and I have also begun discussing using other software packages (more posts about those later) as we branch out in the class. Problem 3, piece of cake!
Problem 4 - which class will we use?
After some discussion, Nicole decided (and I agreed) that we would start with 4th grade and go from there. Because I have already worked with 5th graders I was excited to be moving to a different grade to see how things worked. We will have some issues with them not being as well versed in the standards such as conversion from yards to feet but that is the exciting part! Problem 4 - No Problem!
Problem 5 - when do we start?
As you will see, we have already started! I have been lax in my posting (insert many excuses here) of what we have been doing, but that will all change now! As of this posting we have already used the software 5 times, (4 times with 4th grade and 1 time with 6th grade), and had good results. I will work at getting my notes and thoughts posted here during this week for anyone that is interested. Nicole and I have already been planing ahead for other Math lessons and other software packages. All in all I couldn't be happier with the new information that we have been able to gather. Please keep watching for new posts and new ideas for using the Wii! I am sure that new problems will arise to keep us on our toes...