Technology and the At-Risk Student

May 30, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in education, technology in education | 1 Comment

Teachers may find that their students’ interest in education is waning, which can be detrimental in an inner-city setting. At-risk students have the highest dropout rate, as we all know, so it is crucial that we keep students engaged and active. Technology can be a very effective way to keep at-risk students interested in their studies.

When it comes to the type of technology used within the classroom, computers are often preferable to televisions. This is because televisions offer only a passive experience, whereas students can interact with computer technology. The problem with this, of course, it the cost of outfitting each classroom with even one computer, let alone enough for each student.

Inner city schools often lack the funding necessary to really integrate technology with traditional education. However, teachers who can bring a computer into the classroom experience should definitely be taking advantage of free, open source software. Such software is readily available to the public and serves as a great alternative to expensive, commercial software.

If you would like to pursue a blended curriculum that integrates cutting-edge technology with traditional instruction, I recommend the Open Source Education Foundation Website. There, you will find many resources for free software that is designed for a classroom setting. is also a great place to find open source software of all kinds.

Integrating technology with classroom instruction helps inner city children in two ways. One, it keeps children active in their learning, giving them the ability to hone their problem-solving skills firsthand. The other way technology improves the classroom experience is by giving children technological skills that will help them in the future. It is the digital age, after all, and most adults depend on computers every day.

© 2008 Heather Johnson.


This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who is an industry critic on the subject of university reviews. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com.

Free as in “Free Speech” Educational Software

October 17, 2007 at 11:58 am | Posted in education, free resources, software, technology in education | 2 Comments

If you don’t know about the Free Software Directory, do get acquainted!  These softwares are created by professional developers who believe that software should be free, not making money for already wealthy companies.

There is a list of great educational software there.  I’m testing out gcompris right now and so far, so good!  I’ll let you know more.

Teaching Presentation to Second Graders Using Keynote

September 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Posted in elementary, inner city, Open Court, publishing, second grade, technology in education | 2 Comments

This past week, my students and I started an exciting new project.  We are learning how to create a presentation using Apple’s Keynote!  Keynote is rather like Powerpoint.  It is a part of the iWork bundle. 

So far, so good!  The kids are excited.  They love adding animations and effects to their images and words.

I started the lesson by using a Powerpoint presentation on “Kindness” from  “Kindness” is our literacy unit for the next 6 weeks. I prefaced the lesson by explicitly telling them that this is a presentation, that adults use this to share information, that we will learn how create our own presentation as an option for publishing our writing and sharing our ideas, yadiyadiya.  Then, we started creating our own “Kindness” presentation as a whole group, which is to say, every student is creating an identical presentation at their own workstation by following the teacher step by step.  My rationale for doing it this way?  Most of my students only ever touch a computer at school, usually to play a “learning” game, and have never seen a presentation before.  Whole group is the only way to go. 

During this lesson, I found that I had to teach them EVERYTHING, down to what double-click means.  That’s expected since they are a) second graders and b) mostly computer illiterate because c) inner city students have very little access to technology.

I am so thankful that (though our classrooms have ten years old computers that is no longer serviced by LAUSD), our computer lab has (slow, but functional) computers and a projector.  Also an excellent computer technician who looks out for these programs for our students.  Her only wish is that teachers would make use of these programs, rather than stick the kids on “learning” games for 40 minutes, once a week. 

btw, I’m looking into having my students blog, but it won’t work on the computer in my classroom.  I’ll have to first get everyone’s parents consent for the students to get on the Internet, and then maybe settle for blogging as a twice a month thing done only in the computer lab.  We shall see.    

Student Films – Wow!

May 28, 2007 at 9:24 am | Posted in best practices, Open Court, technology in education | 1 Comment

Last week, I had the great opportunity of attending teacher Mathew Needleman’s presentation of his student films at the Apple Store. Really, wow! I got so many ideas for my own class next year!

You can view the same films at his blog.  These films go along with units in the Open Court language arts program, but they give ideas for any teacher anywhere!

Standards-Based Classroom

May 1, 2007 at 4:29 pm | Posted in best practices, education, elementary, inner city, performance task, standards, strategies, technology in education | Leave a comment

What are standards?

Standards are statements by national organizations, states, and local school districts to clarify the expectations for student learning. They state what students are expected to know and be able to do with that knowledge when they reach a benchmark or exit the system.

– ( Barbara Benson, How to Meet Standards, Motivate Students, and Still Enjoy Teaching!, p. 2)

More significantly, I believe that standards are the written expression of what our society wants for our future, through the education of our young ones. Which makes standards very important indeed.

Every state has its own standards. The California Content Standards can be found at the California State Board of Education website.

What are the new demands placed on students?

A quick look at the standards reveal common words and themes across curriculum: apply, real-life, problem-solve, inquiry, pose questions, integrate, explore, relate, interpret, make decision, etc.

It is no longer enough that teachers teach just content knowledge. Yet, many teachers are still focused on doing just that, teaching the facts and testing with questions that merely demand that students recall. In fact, it is now written into the standards that students must be able to transcend content knowledge, to inquire, to apply, to synthesize, and to create.

Have I truly examined the standards and really understand what the standards demand of me and my students?

Continue Reading Standards-Based Classroom…

Technology in MY Classroom

April 10, 2007 at 6:50 am | Posted in donorschoose, dreams, education, elementary, hope, inner city, poverty, schools, teachers, technology in education, third grade | 1 Comment

A blog truly pissed me off today. You can read my ranting comment in reply.

The blogger might have meant to say something entirely different, but what I gathered from the post was that this blogger believes that technology is extremely important for the future of education, so teachers need to get out of their comfort level and start using technology in the classroom.


You can gather from my reply what my technology situation is in my inner city classroom.

While I love to whine and rage on so, eventually, I also take action. I am now beginning my campaign to get an LCD projector or Smartboard and twenty laptops into my classroom.

Please donate to my proposal and help us get technology in the classroom. Even $5 will help! I mean it! Every little bit counts toward something…a sense of hope for the future, a glimpse of what may be.

Give to DonorsChoose

Math – Using Different Modalities and Technology

April 7, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Posted in education, elementary, graphic organizers, homework, learning modality, math, schools, teachers, technology in education, third grade | 4 Comments

This year, I came up with a pretty interesting way of teaching the classification of triangles.


This is an example of how I prefer to teach math in my classroom, not that I do it all the time. Though I should. Guilty!
1. First I give the students input on the classification of the triangles using a charted graphic organizer.

2. Then, I break the students into groups of threes according to sizes and have have them make triangles using their bodies and identify the triangles. This activity goes on for about 7-10 minutes. The kids have lots of fun!

3. While they are doing that, I’m taking pictures.

4. We conclude the lesson by reviewing the types of triangles we learned, what are their features, etc.

5. We have guided practice and independent practice in the math workbook.

6. I go home and make this worksheet using the pictures I took. (Well, a similar worksheet as I lost a few things during the transfer to my new computer). A digital camera, a printer, and a computer equipped with Publisher is just wonderful!

7. The next day, they get this for homework as reinforcement along with their regular homework worksheet from the book.

A lesson like this touches on many modalities. The visual learners have the graphic organizers, the kinesthetic learners use their bodies, the social learners are working with their friends, and so on. The lesson is fun and engaging, yet purposeful. The lesson also builds relationships and connections. Children who take home my teacher created worksheet with pictures of themselves and their classmates remember the lesson better than the children who only take home the impersonal commercial worksheet.

Apology: The worksheet you see above is a redux of the original. I lost the original during my move from old to new computer. I also lost the really great pictures that I used in the original, so these pictures don’t clearly show which triangle is isosceles, which triangle is equilateral, etc. But, it gives you an idea of what we did.

Reading and Writing Homework

April 4, 2007 at 6:24 am | Posted in elementary, free resources, homework, school, teachers, technology in education, third grade, writing | Leave a comment


Originally uploaded by cityteacher.

This is my first attempt to use Publisher to create a document for school. What do you think? I think it can get fancier of course, but hey, it is my first attempt!

I use the exact same reading/writing homework assignment every day because I believe my students do better when they know what to expect. The homework varies because they read different books every night. I switch out the homework every few months or so and use a different graphic organizer.

If anyone is interested, I’ll continue to post the different versions of the reading and writing homework assignments as I create them.

New Computer! with Publisher

April 4, 2007 at 5:11 am | Posted in elementary, homework, personal, teachers, technology in education, third grade | Leave a comment

I’ve been waiting a month for my new custom built PC to arrive.  For the past two years, my seven years old computer kathunk*kathunked its way through all the programs that I need to use on a daily basis.  Then, I discovered a cheap version of Publisher which allows me to create really cool worksheets, newsletters, vibrant articles, just interesting reading/writing materials.  Unfortunately, my old computer crashed if I used more than one photo in the program.

So, this year, I determined to upgrade my computer.  Now, in conjunction with my digital camera and color printer, I am prepared to create all sorts of interesting stuff for my students!

First thing I’m going to do is revamp my daily reading/writing homework.  You guys get to see it and use it if it turns out well!

Dreams of Technology in the Classroom

March 27, 2007 at 11:05 pm | Posted in dreams, education, elementary, personal, teachers, technology in education | Leave a comment

I’ve been ill since Friday.  What a way to start my vacation!

While ill and feverish, I had this amazing dream.

All of my students have an internet connected laptop.  I have a laptop as well connected to a projector.  Together, we are beginning a new unit and exploring the internet for ideas, questions, pictures, concepts relating to the new unit.  We then use clipmark to clip important ideas to our blogs to share with each other and comment on each other’s findings.  Throughout the unit, we would add our learning to our blog, clipmark each other’s works, leave comments.  What a real world use of technology in the classroom that would build content knowledge, language art skills, writing with a purpose, just WoW!

It’s an unattainable dream it feels like, but not so farfetched.  I shall start by asking for a laptop and a projector for myself.  Then, I shall start asking for one laptop at a time for my students.  It’ll take time, but eventually, I will build a class set!

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.