Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Finding the Right Balance

With the exception of my first hour English 10 class, I teach in a "laptop classroom" where the laptops are not used on a daily basis. In my 4th and 6th hour Honors American Literature classes, for example, the laptops are rarely used for the entire period, and we probably take them out of the cart about two or three days out of the week. I deliberate over how to incorporate the laptops in my planning. While I realize that the laptops hold endless potential, I tend to abstain from designing units and lessons that revolve around the technology. To be honest, I alternate on a daily basis between feeling guilty for not using the laptops enough and feeling guilty for too often sacrificing valuable non-laptop activities for the ones that utilize the technology (and may or may not be a success).

I would like to hear from the students' perpsectives where this balance lies. Students in the laptop classrooms--what impressions have the first six weeks left on you? In other words, which activities have the laptops genuinely enhanced, and which have they detracted from? Have we, your teachers, found a productive balance? --Ms. Kakos

18 comments:

Spencer Z said...

I have enjoyed using the laptops, but in many instances, I am not sure that they are worth the hassle. Many activities can be done just as easily on a sheet of paper without having to deal with the same technological issues associated with having laptops in a classroom.

On the other hand, having wireless laptops does make information more readily available and this is a big positive.

JoanneH said...

I agree with Spencer. The laptops are a good supplement, but they aren't all that necessary to the class.

nathan a said...

I think that laptops should be an option that any student may use when taking notes. I think students should choose between laptops and paper for note taking. The laptops will also be very good for doing in-class research and the occasional online activity. However, I dislike using blogs in class. I would much prefer using blogs outside of class as a continuation of the in class discussions.

Karen Janowski said...

Ms. Kakos,
Great question to ask of your students. This provides them the opportunity to reflect on the use of and value of the laptops as instructional tools. I look forward to reading their responses because I believe we have so much to learn from our students.

Michelle S said...

I agree with spencer z, joanneh and nathan a. The laptops make useful resources available, but some things like notes I believe we should be given the option to use either paper or laptops. I also agree with keeping the blogs outside of class. That way there's time to read all the comments and respond to them, without taking away class time. The balance so far has been good--the laptops are good for fishbowls, when we want to pull up a resource right away. But I think trying to use the laptops more just for the sake of using them is time-consuming and unnecessary.

Jake R said...

I think that the laptops are a great tool to have in class because we don't have any other classes with it, so it teaches us how to use the laptops. It also prepaes us for college because most people only use a laptop and this is great preparation for college.

BessieS said...

I agree with Nathan that the laptops are a good option for note taking in class but I like blogging outside of class more. That way you aren’t repeating what everyone else said and you have time to read the other comments. The laptops help me stay more organized because I don’t have an overwhelming amount of papers in my binder and e-mailing papers back and forth is working well.
I agree with Michelle that there has been a good balance between using the laptops and not using them.

Alexandra H said...

I think that the laptops are very helpful when we are taking notes. The notes are neater and are easier to read. I also think they are beneficial for correcting papers becasue we can edit directly on the document. I also agree with Jake because this can help to prepare us for laptop use in college. I personally like the laptops and would like to use them more.

Anoel said...

I agree with all of the students in that the laptops are usefull for notes and such, as well as for blogging. I see that they can be a hassle, but think about it. A laptop with an internet connection gives you endless access to any information you could ever want, and I don't think we are utilizing that to its full potential. There is so much out there, and I think we need to come up with creative, new ways to productivley use the laptops.

Andie R said...

I have mixed feelings about the laptops. Now that the initial glamour has worn off it seems like there may in fact be fun activities to do without the laptops contrary to popular belief. I enjoy the mix of having them some, but not all, days of the week. I see the benefits of them for some activities (like editing), but some activities are better without them and the distractions that follow (such as the notes taken on the Village).

erinl said...

I agree with spencer z on this one. I personally prefer paper to laptops only because I am not the best nor the fastest typer in the world. I also think it would be easier to do some things on paper because there are so many technological problems, so we barely get time to do the assignment because we have spent the entire hour trying to figure out the laptops. In some ways, I do like the laptops because they allow me to look at the past blogs/assignments I have done and I am able to see my progress.

brianc said...

I believe that laptops make much of the work more enjoyable but not neccessarily better. They make it so you want to do many of the assignments more than if it was just standard pencil and paper, and that is a good thing due to the fact that most people work better when they are having fun. But is it really worth the hassle when all you are doing is just some notes?

ryanp said...

I agree with Ali that we should use the laptops as often as possible because they make the work so much easier and enjoyable. I love the fact that we can peer edit our documents with the laptops because it is so easy to do and it save trees. Personally, I know that I work much better when I am in a good mood and the activity is fun. Using the laptops makes an average activity into a good one and therefore makes me work much harder than I would have in the first place.

Christine D said...

I agree with the majority of the posts so far about not blogging in class. Especially in sixth hour, when our brains seem to be dead, a discussion is a good way to get our minds back to english.
I would like to use the laptops for notes, but not at all times. For instance, movie notes would not be good on the laptop because I think they would take away from the movie.

Finally, in my spanish class, with Mrs. Seidel, we talked about learning techniques, learning from a lecture vs. individual learning and learning from eachother. The laptops can be a great way for us the learn from eachother and individually instead of a lecture. For these

allison n said...

I really like the laptops. I would have to say when we do peer editing and taking notes of the computers is what I've gotten the most out of them. I also thought it was cool when we had our discussion about sex offenders, and people on the outer circle could research topics that the inner circle talked about. It took away some of the boredom of note taking. There are however, times when I think the laptops are just a hassle, and a burden on the class because there is always a computer that isn't working right.

corey c said...

Technology is amazing and something very important for people to learn and appreciate, but I do not think we need to be constantly surrounded by it. I think there is a right balance but school should not always be technology oriented. The times I feel I accomplish the most are when I am outside with no technology, just nature, because it is so plain and simple. Laptops do add to a 21st century classroom, but I personally do not enjoy using them very much, no one is ever on the same page and there are always going to be conflicts with technology. I find it fun in the right balance but find more joy and a feeling of fulfillment when im not using them. I do think there is a balance, but everyone is different. I personally think they do not need to be used extremely often, we just need to find a balance that suits everyone(which I'm not quite sure is possible).

KristinC said...

I like using the laptops,it makes many things such a peer editing easier to read ans moother as well. However sometimes it feels like it is not worth it to get the laptops out for 10 minutes when it takes a ful 3-4 min to get them up and running. Sometimes the laptops can be a distraction but I think that is a fault of the students not the teachers. I use laptops in chemistry and I do not think that science is an appropirate class for laptops. Science is more hands on and I find laptops make it difficlut to do work. It seems to be working out nicely in English though.

LindsayS said...

I like using the laptops but I agree that we shouldn't use them to blog in class because I think it is really pointless and you get nothing from it when 30 students are sitting in silence typing a response to a question. I would rather have a discussion on the topic so you can hear everyone else's opinion and add yours. Blogs should be kept at home.

I disagree that the laptops are better for notes, I would rather write my notes down in a notebook, plus it is much more portable and you do not have to worry about dropping them:)

I would like to do a little more with laptops in class, maybe even a whole activity using them. I feel that we really haven't had a chance yet to use them for research or a major online activity and I think that would be fun and really using the laptops to their full potential.

The last thing I want to comment on is the editing. I think that is the best thing we have used the laptops for so far. It makes it so that the writer of the piece can read the comments and know where they apply. It also keeps the document organized.