My Dream Classroom Scenario

What would your ideal classroom look like, if it were using all aspects of educational technology?
This is an exercise that all students in this class participate in over the course of the year.

An ESL Teacher Starts Her Day

It’s 6:30, my iPhone wakes me up with a ring tone I made using Audacity. I give out a groan and try to wake up. The first thing is to open my computer. Now with Windows 9, the booming speed of my computer is much faster than 7 or 8 system. It takes only 20 seconds to run all the programs. Windows Live Messenger pops up on the desk, and instead of typing in the password, I touch the screen. A big keyboard image appears on the screen. I press my password and log into Windows Live. I check emails sent from my friends, colleagues, school and parents. I reply some of them and then go into blogs. The page reminds me of updates made from my friends’ blogs and their comments on my entries. After a quick scan of my personal blogs, I go into my class blog. Many comments are added by my students to a video we watched yesterday about culture differences in the U.S. I looked through these comments and found two of them are extremely insightful. I circle these two comments and drag them into google notebook for late review in the class.
Now it’s 7:00, I still have some time to wander around. Opening my iGoogle page, I check out my calendar and weather, an online meeting with my professor of the program I am now in. Maybe I will use Skype —it’s free. When can my school afford 3D hologram tech in our conference room? Thinking about this, I log into my Google Reader. I scan through titles of New York Times and Google News, GDP is climbing and the election is still tied between Obama and a female candidate. There are good deals on eBay, changes in my students’ blogs, and updates on school websites waiting in my Reader.
After playing around with these sites, now it’s 7:20 AM, time for me to go to school. Few things to bring, except my Thin Reader, flash drives, and several books.
Stepping into my class, a big Smart Board is in front of the class. Nice. I open up the computer on my desk, set up the projector, find out websites, videos, and pages on smart notebook I will use in today’s class. Eight other computers in this room are available. I'm thinking about applying for a Wii console in my class. My student have arrived, with their Thin Readers and Pulse pen. By YC, Fall '08

A Parent's Perspective: A Skype Parent/Teacher Conference

I couldn’t believe it. I just had my child’s Parent Teacher’s conference. You may ask what’s so novel about that. Well I didn’t actually travel to the school we had the conference over SKYPE. I am so excited. I really didn’t know what to expect when my little Taneka came home with the Parent Teacher’s conference notice where the teacher gave parents an option of participating over SKYPE. The notice gave all the information needed to set up the SKYPE connection. I had a computer with a Webcam all I had to do was to set up a free SKYPE account which I did. Tonight when Taneka’s teacher appeared on my computer my heart leaped with joy and excitement. She linked me to her electronic Grade Book where we reviewed my child’s grades. When you clicked on a grade, the quizzes, tests, homework assignments were displayed in what looked like file drawers labeled 1st marking period, 2nd marking period, etc. After reviewing Taneka’s grades, the teacher invited me to go to the toolbar and select “Electronic Portfolio” which displayed artifacts that Taneka had selected to brag about. Each artifact was annotated by Taneka with comments by the teacher. The teacher invited me to add a comment to one of Taneka’s artifacts which I did. The teacher than told me to select the “Home” button on the toolbar. This button took me to the class webpage which the teacher explained was a collaborative effort between the students and herself and since it was still early in the year it was still “under construction” but the class had already started an RSS feed to collect articles and blogs related to constructing class wikis in order to get ideas for constructing theirs. The teacher explained that RSS feeds will also be used for unit studies, which is intended to give the students a broader understanding of the topics being studied. Another topic located on the class wiki is technology terms and software packages. By selecting any item it will take you to the website or to the definition. The teacher took me to Taneka’s webpage where there were pictures she had downloaded from Flickr and Picasso, and music that she uploaded from the MP3 in the classroom and used Audacity to edit the music she selected to attach to the poem that she had written in class. The teacher said that she is encouraging Taneka to write a blog on how she created the poem and choose the music for the poem when the class becomes more comfortable with weblogging. The teacher explained that Taneka used Google Reader as the aggregator for her RSS feeds which stands for “Reading Skill: Scanning” or “Reading Skill: Synthesizing”. She went to Google Sources at and selected a few sites that I had previously viewed that was related to literature. The good thing about RSS feeds is that if it doesn’t work for you, you can unsubscribe. The teacher explained that the students will be doing more work in class that will be published on the web. She called it a Read/Write Web which has been around for many years but is just now making quantum leaps in education. She explained that learning is no longer confined to the four classroom walls. Learning reaches beyond the classroom and its being done via the web. Just like we were having this conference through SKYPE, the teacher explains that they will connect to prominent people in order to ask questions and learn from. This concept does not mean that the teacher no longer has a place in their students’ educational process. In fact, the teacher is very important to this process. The teacher has to teach students how to blog, assist in editing the students’ work, facilitate discussions, integrate the other subjects, make sure that each child is working to their potential, assessing the students, and the list goes on. She went on to explain that the students will be primarily using freeware and shareware and explained what each was. The teacher said that the students are keeping their own log of the usernames and passwords they have created for the software packages they are using which means that they can also use these resources at home. She said that the students have been participated in training sessions on security on the web and using the proper conduct and they have been issued certificates of completion. Letters have been sent home to parents advising them that the use of the world-wide-web will be a major part of our classroom life and if they had questions or concerns that they should contact me. She said that I must have returned the form or Taneka would not have able to participate in the Read/Write activities. The teacher says that the purpose of publishing work on a wiki or a blog is to develop constructive dialogue. Students will review blogs that the teacher, and her former students have published to develop skills in analyzing and synthesizing. The teacher maintains the usernames and the passwords to the class webpage and the class wiki. However, anyone can view them and she invited me to view the sites anytime and if I have any questions about what we are doing and Taneka’s academic performance that I should not hesitate to contact her via phone or at the email address on the website. The website also included homework assignments for the week and some time in the future there will be Podcasts of lesson plans so that students who are out ill for an extended time have an opportunity to catch up and would also be a great artifact for the teacher’s own electronic portfolio.

Since I was not able to visit the classroom during “Back to School” night, the teacher selected the “Podtour” button from the webpage. She explained that it was not a professional job because she and the students hurried to put it together for this meeting but it does provide a flavor of what the classroom is like. The tour consisted of still pictures as well as video and a few of the students narrated it. The students indicated that the first most exciting thing was that each student desk had a laptop computer with a WebCam built in and a set of headphones so that they can listen to music without disturbing their neighbor too much. Next to each one having his or her own laptops and headsets, the second most exciting thing was the Smart Board that was mounted on the wall with a built in projector. It can be used for interactive games and also has Internet connectivity. They showed the digital cameras that were mounted in every corner of the room, the media center which had the monitor for SKYPE conferencing and DVD. At eye level a cabinet with a DVD player, MP3 player, digital cameras, and electronic games and books. The students showed me the wireless sensors that were mounted in ceiling so that the computers would use a wireless connection, the black and white printer and color printers.

I must admit that I was a little concerned that Taneka was spending too much time playing computer games at school and at home. The teacher assured me that she had done some research on the affects of playing video games on the children and the research indicates that there is no strong evidence that links media exposure to hyperactivity ( She also said that the students move around the room a lot and have gym twice per week which allows them to get exercise. She suggested that I monitor Taneka’s time on the computer as well. The teacher also suggested that I read Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classroom, Second Edition (Will Richardson, Corwin Press) in order to understand the possibilities of many of the tools that she will be using in third-grade class this year. She assured me that it was an easy read.

I must admit that I was breathless when I hung up from my SKYPE conference with my daughter’s teacher and I was so happy that I wasn’t there to see the angry faces of the other parents who were waiting in the hallway to have their conference with the teacher.

A Dream Science Classroom

Science Dream Technology Classroom.pdf

Open up my iGoogle homepage and at quick glance I would be checking my email, seeing what the weather forecast is for the day, and seeing what the headlines are in from a variety of newsgroups. This effortless and time-efficient task prepares me for my day. I know how I should dress to be prepared for what the weather might bring me through the day. I am up to date with my communications with others.

As well as, I now am up to date on current events and have some talking points to bring up in class or with fellow colleagues. During this brief online experience, I could also, just as easily, check the students’ homework from the night before, which was to respond in a blog to how they felt about a certain controversial issue that we had discussed in class the day before. Students were also required to respond to one other post, yet many students got so into the online debate that they went well above the required number of posts.
Following my morning routine I would queue up my Keynote presentation that I have prepared for the day to supplement my lecture. The projector being mounted to the ceiling and already configured, all I would have to do is turn it on. As the students file in, a morning exercise is already displayed for them to see and complete. In my presentation I also included excerpts from particularly moving responses from the blogs they completed the night before. These serve as talking points for the students to prepare for the days lesson. By doing this it also validates the students completing their blog assignments because they see how I use them in the classroom and how it serves a purpose.

My dream high school math classroom would begin with a class set of tablet laptops with wireless internet and printing. Student desks would be arranged in groups of four, with power outlets set into the floor under the desks. Two wireless printers would be located at the back of the room; they would be free for student use at any time. Along with the wireless printers, a table in the back of the room would have an electric pencil sharpener and an electric hole punch. These things seem silly, but they are timesaving and convenient for students. As the teacher, I would like a desktop computer. It would be connected to a ceiling mounted LCD projector that would display images on a Smartboard located at the front of the classroom. A storage closet would hold class sets of both scientific and graphing calculators. Also included in the room would be an IPOD and docking station for use while students are working individually. Finally, I would like a large flat panel television to display student work on a slide show.

In my dream classroom, all of the computers would be hooked up through a wireless network, in order to avoid the trouble of having loose wires everywhere that students could trip on, as well as being limited to stationary computers. The most important part of my ideal classroom would be a set of class laptops. There would be at least one for every student and one for me, and there would be outlets available at every desk, so that we would not have to worry about computers running out of battery power at any point. Furthermore, the laptops would be fully- loaded with wireless Internet, Microsoft Office, Geometer’s Sketchpad, GoogleEarth and more.
With this set of laptops, I would be able to have students take a look at a website, use Excel programs or Geometer’s Sketchpad, or produce presentations during any point in the class period, whether it be an all-period activity or a quick introduction. This allows for more hands-on activities and motivational tools for the students. The main point of Geometer’s Sketchpad is that everything is at the fingertips of the user and can be easily manipulated. Therefore, it was very frustrating when I did not have it on the class computers during student teaching. This would be my number one suggestion for computer program must-haves in a mathematics classroom.
Besides being able to use more technology in my lesson plans and during classroom activities, the opportunities for the use of laptops in the classroom are endless. If students finish classwork early, then they can go on websites for extra practice with mathematics games or research a topic for a project. In going along with providing extra practice for my students, I would like to have access to a mathematics tutorial, such as Study Island or Classzone. The students seems to like these a lot and I think they really help. I would also prefer to have one desktop computer station with a connected printer and scanner. Then, I could easily print out interesting articles, worksheets, or tests, or I could scan in an important document to share on my website.
Speaking of which, in my ideal technology scenario, I would have my own website where students and parents can easily check what is being taught in the class, what homework assignments are due, or access interesting mathematics websites. This will allow for all students to keep up with their work and all parents to keep up with their kids. I would also like to have a password-protected posting of grades, so that students and parents can see their progress in the class at all times. I do not want students to have to guess how they are doing, and I want to always keep the lines of communication open with parents. Therefore, I will also have a message board where parents or students can post questions or comments that others might be interested in and the ability to send me e-mails if it is a more personal matter.
Within the classroom, I would also have a SmartBoard with a ceiling projector, so that I can easily project things from my computer to the front, especially for Geometer’s Sketchpad and graphing calculator stuff. I do not have too much experience with the SmartBoard yet, but I hear it is really great for creating games like Jeopardy for reviewing for tests. I plan on taking a professional development course about it, so that I can better learn how to incorporate it into my future classroom besides its use for projecting my computer screen.
Since a lot of mathematics courses require the use of calculators, I plan to have a class set of both scientific calculators and graphing calculators, along with an overhead projector for the graphing calculator. I have used this a lot in my PreCaclulus classes here at Rutgers and see myself continuing to do so in the future. There are a ton of great discovery activities for the graphing calculator, but the calculators are very expensive, so I would love to be able to provide them for my students.
This focuses mostly on the hardware and software I would like to have in my ideal classroom. However, I also have many ideas for projects and lesson plans that use Internet applications and other technologies, as well as future personal uses of technology.


Same Old, Same Old
Aggghhhh, coffee. Now. I stumble from bed and it’s still dark outside. No one should be awake yet. I hit the alarm clock as I step into the hallway, run my hand over the computer mouse to wake the computer up too. No one should suffer alone. I flip the switch on the automatic coffeemaker, pull a towel from the linen closet and shuffle into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later, I’m awake. I pour myself a mug and get dressed, sit down to read the news before I have to leave. Doubleclick. Aggregator. Same old, same old. I look at the time and step out the door, laptop case around my shoulder, briefcase full of books in hand. The car starts up when I push the key, and it’s off to work we go. My iPod plays through the radio until I roll up on some traffic. I turn to the AM radio and listen for the 1010 Wins report. Yep. Should have checked the traffic online. The GPS guides me around the accident. When I finally get to school, I flash Gary the Security Guard my name on the schedule; he nods. I pull the laptop carts out from storage and plug them into the front of my classroom. It’s publishing day, and I have planned for weeks. Everyone comes in, we salute the flag, and soon enough, the kids are clicking away. Using the hard copies I graded last week, everyone is looking back and forth between the screen and their stories. I know that it can all be done on the computer, but it’s so hard to get the PC’s for a day, and the kids always fight me whenever I try anything new. To use a computer is still something special to them. They don’t want it all the time. How many said they have them at home? Barely any. Just the top students. Half of their homework is always written out. At least… at least I can show them the beginning of where the rest of the world has already been for years. But they’ll find out soon enough, anyway.

The Bright Side
Grading has never been so easy. Having come off the summer and an engaging professional development course, going into this school year has been, well, nothing less than triumphant. We’re nearly paperless in English 11. Our textbook is online, and so are the novels the class decided on. We chose the curriculum together based on the suggestions of a million readers worldwide, and the first book reports are already in my Inbox. They’ll go up on the review site next week. I decide to hold off on reading them while I procrastinate on the class website. My RSS feed has popped up and shown new comments from readers in England and India. How could I pass that up now? A couple of students are online too – they message me to ask if I’ve seen the posts yet. Could this really be work? I read a poem that one of my students has written and comment below the piece. I check another thread and see that the same student has commented on my own writing. How funny. The wiki is growing too, with links popping up to all kinds of interesting blogs and websites. I know that tomorrow we’re going to learn a new tool – a podcast site that I eventually would like everyone to contribute to. I’ve got dreams of our own radio station being broadcast within a few months, but it all starts somewhere. It all starts tomorrow. I put out a mass message to the class over the social networking site we use and suggest that everyone have a look some time before class. I’m already familiar with the site, but the kids never cease to impress me with finding nifty new things when I let them know what we’re doing beforehand. With that, I read a few of the reports and type comments into the margins. I send them back out as I finish them, and I’m not surprised to have the revisions in my mailbox before I get through the first round. I take a break and check my Google newsfeeds to see that the author we’re reading has been interviewed. I send that over the network, too. I read a few more papers, and then head to bed with the game that I’ve been playing on the new Nintendo handheld. When my eyelids grow droopy, I save and plug in the battery right next to my charging music player. Can’t forget that tomorrow, I say to myself. I scribble a reminder in my portable assistant, check to see the alarm is set, and clap twice to turn off the lights.

7th Grade ESL by Mengna

Welcome to my classroom! Here in the front section is the teacher’s station - my working area. As you can see, there is nothing on my desk. Don’t panic. Our school just equipped my classroom with the latest “digital desk”, so all I need to do is press the red button under the desk. Now, my laptop, my speakerphone, a box of markers and three frames with pictures of me and my students are lifting up. Yes, I can’t live without my laptop. I blog with my students, I prepare all the lesson plans and materials using my laptop, and most important, I use <Mystudent> system to monitor the students. It provides me with information on their academic status and also facts every teacher should know about his/her students such as what kind of food they are allergic to, etc. You know, time has changed, now, teachers must care about their students in every aspect. Behind my seat, there are one Smart Board and one ordinary whiteboard. The Smart Board is used when doing interactive activities such as TPR, Jigsaw with my students. Also, my students and I will use it for presentations so that we can write on it in digital ink and use our fingers to control it. The whiteboard is used for general instruction on English vocabulary, grammar, etc. or for showing videos through the projector which faces the front of the classroom (I also have another projector which is facing the back of the classroom). Oops… I almost forget to show you the coolest speakers I have ever used. There are four little circle-shape speakers installed on the ceiling of the four corners of my classroom. They are tiny but don’t underestimate them. These smart speakers have strong audio effect which is as powerful as those giant JBL speakers. What’s cool is that the system built into them enables me to set the volume and special sound effect for different audio files I will use in class. The audio files include real-life English dialogues, movie clips, etc. The speakers can automatically identify these audio files and adjust the sound volume and effect according to my settings.

Now, let’s move on to the body part of my classroom – where the students sit. There are 24 students in my class, so they are divided into six groups of four. Each of the students has a laptop on his/her desk. Of course, all of the laptops are connected through a wireless network, and there are power outlets under each desk. I require each of my students to have a Google Site, a Picasa account, and a Skype account. We also have a class wiki. Basically, people in my class are “digitally” connected together because we are Facebook friends; we put each other’s Google Site links on our own Google Site; we share knowledge on our class wiki…… With the laptops, my students and I collaboratively develop our online learning portfolios, skype with English conversation partners from all over the world, play online ESL games, and so on and so forth.

The back of my classroom is divided into three sections. On the right hand side, there is the digital center. The digital center is equipped with a desktop computer, a smart printer, a scanner, and a cabinet which is full of digital devices like webcams and camcorders. Every Friday is our “Expand Your Creativity” day. In the afternoon, one of the groups will be assigned to go to the digital center. Together, they are going to use the digital devices and installable software such as Timeliner, Camtasia to make summary for what they have learned during the whole week in any creative ways. In the middle is the recreation center. It is a place for me and my students to relax and have a little exercise. We have a latest version of Wii which can be wirelessly connected to the projector facing the back of the classroom. During lunch break, we always play sports together. On the left hand side is the guest lounge. Parents and other special guests are constantly invited to come and observe our class. In the guest lounge, there are a coffeemaker, a microwave and a refrigerator for the guests to use. They can sit comfortably and have a sip of coffee while getting to know what a class full of techonologiholics is like ☺