Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Powered Up Writing

We have a pilot project in some of our elementary classrooms where they are using eeePC's as part of a writer's workshop model (grant funded). Dan Maas, our CIO, recently posted on his blog asking for feedback from some of the fifth graders and others in those communities.
Many people are asking about how your classroom has changed now that you have the EeePC laptops. Can you help us tell your story?

Here are some questions we have:

How does having a laptop computer help students write better?

What happens in your classroom now that you have laptops that could not happen before?

Now that you have had laptops in your classroom, how would you feel if you didn’t have them next year?

What do next year’s 5th grade students coming to your classroom have to look forward to?
As of this writing, Dan now has 84 comments, mostly from students, but also from parents, teachers and principals. You might stop by and read through them, and perhaps leave your own comment. This comment from a parent caught my eye:
I like a father of the family am very proud because my daughter Lupita is the future with triple E's.I'm very thankful for Dan Maas for letting the 5th grade at East Elementary be part of them.Wow!I never thought Lupita would ever like writing so much.When we would tell her that it was time for her to write her patch she would say.”I don't like doing them.”But know she gets on the computer and does her patch on there without us having to tell her.That amazes me and even brings a little tear in my eye.

From Lucio (parent of student at East Elementary)


  1. As a bookend, please consider Lupita's comment itself: Re: Writing with laptops

    Dear Mr.Dan Mass,
    Here is my story on why these eees's have helped us in our lives as a fifth grader this year. These mini computers help us in literacy when we do our spelling test we can do it online and guess what we can even print it because our printer is wireless. I really never thought 5th grade was going to be fun but boy was I wrong.I used to not like writing but know I keep looking at the time and inside I am saying,”is it time for writing yet?”If you don't believe me come visit us at East Elementary.You have to see it to believe it because your eyes will pop out.All those people who say that the eee's haven't helped us as a fifth grader we specifically want you to come see us.I don't like to brag but these computers are awesome and so is my class and I. Do you know what a wiki is because I sure do.We used to save on our old school jump drives but my amazing wonderful teacher came up with a way to save online. We also have our very own page please do visit us and blog on our website at www.dragonpagoda.blogspot.com we will be waiting to hear what you have to say.The funnest website that I like to go on these eee's is DE Science it is super fun and you get to find out what all these words mean without going on a dictionary.So all I am trying to do is prove to all you people that don't believe that these eee's have helped,well come see it for yourself.


  2. As part of an EETT grant that I am coordinating, I was able to purchase wireless laptop carts for 4th grade at three of my district's Title 1 schools.

    The students have had the carts for only a week and already their comments and enthusiasm are similar to Lupita's. They are connecting to their in2books mentors, posting responses in their classroom blogs, creating VoiceThreads, and tinkering with MovieMaker 2.

    Given that the students appear to be engaged and loving the opportunities to create, connect, and share, I was a bit taken back when the computer lab teacher at one of the sites asked if it would be OK to install Accelerated Reader on the EETT laptops. I contacted the principal first to remind him that the goal of our grant was to bring 21st century tools into the English/Language Arts program with the purpose of improving students' literacy skills, particularly writing.

    I was pleased with his response (given the cost of his site's yearly investment in AR). He felt confident that his teachers would keep assessment to a minimum while using the laptops.

    This is a two-year grant, so I'm looking forward to following this group of 4th graders into 5th grade - and feeling very fortunate to have a wonderful evaluator (Dr. Carl Whithaus, UC Davis) documenting our progress. But I don't doubt for a minute the importance of having participating principals on board with effective integration of technology into the E/LA program.

    Gail Desler

  3. WOW - the posts have grown to over 160! The depth of the writing, the lingering over writing is impressive. Thanks to all the students, parents, teachers, etc. who took the time to explain how classroom laptops changed their learning experience. Profound. Gives me much to ponder.

  4. I think at first it has that new "coolness." That will work great at first, but then when it wears off some of your trouble makers will find a way to get into trouble with them. I am a student, with a major in art education, and I believe that you still need to make sure that all of the students are learning and working on the assignment. Some may get ahead of the class, and get bored. I know I did when I was in computer class, but that's because I would know how to do the assignments and finish first.

  5. @Cody - I'm not sure what your point is, so perhaps you could expand on it? The project this post is referring to is all about "learning" - although I think "working on the assignment" is a rather narrow view of "learning."

    As far as "trouble makers," I don't know even where to begin with that. I could start with the concern that an Art Education major would even use that term. Or I could point out that students who aren't engaged are much more likely to be off task, and this project appears to clearly be engaging and the learning tasks meaningful to these students.

    So hopefully you subscribed to these comments and will return and expand on your original thinking.

  6. It is great to see that so many schools are turning to technology to teach there students. This not only prepares them for the future of technoloy but also makes it fun and easy to learn.