Friday, April 10, 2015


For awhile now, David has listened to me complain about the fact that there are no student computers in the classroom.  I often make comments about how I'm concerned because I remember when I was in elementary school, I had to practice typing regularly.  I remember going to the computer lab, having to cover my hands with a cardboard cover, and typing -- as quickly as I could -- whatever the animated QWERTY character told me to type.  

And now, there's this whole new generation of kids being required to take tests online... yet they don't know how to type.  (Who knows, maybe by the time they're grown, voice-to-text will be so good that typing will become obsolete the same way cursive has.)

Anyway, since I frequently say "I'm going to take my old laptop into the classroom," and since David frequently reads tech blogs, he was quick to catch the crazy good deal BestBuy was offering on Acer Chromebooks last week and share it with me!  He felt brand-new computers would pose far less problems (and interruptions) than new, quick ones.  (Since my old laptop has nearly been thrown across the room when I'm frustrated with how slow it's going, he's probably right...) We decided it was worth it to buy two for the classroom at $129 a piece, regularly $199. 

I spent the majority of last weekend setting them up and making sure they were as kid-friendly and intuitive as possible. There's legitimately no room for error. The kids click on the Chrome symbol and it opens this super clean, simple window (thanks, SpeedDial2 launcher):

They can select one of eight programs I tell them to go on: BrainPop, Jr., RAZ-Kids, Starfall, YouTube, AbcYa!, DanceMat Typing, IXL Math Practice or Classworks.  (Note: BrainPop, RAZ-Kids and Classworks all require subscriptions. You can typically Google for someone else's username/password, though... you'd be amazed how many people freely post this information...) Then, thanks to Chrome's AdBlock Plus extension, they can only click on what I have available to them! (Not familiar with AdBlock Plus? Please, please, please add it to your Chrome browser. You can block any element on a page -- not just ads! For example, when my students click on YouTube, they can only click on videos posted by HarryKindergarten or HaveFunTeaching that we've used in class this year.... they don't see a search bar, they don't see recommended videos, they don't see anything but the pre-selected videos I've allowed them to see. It is amazing. For a tutorial, CLICK HERE.)

I put students on the computers throughout the day in 20 minute intervals. They LOVE them! I am so excited! :D

They've already picked up on how to gesture on the trackpad and several of them have figured out proper home key finger placement! 

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