Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Installing Software on AISD PC Computers

In the past, teachers often met a brick wall when they had some software they wanted to install or just wanted to some district-licensed software on all of their computers. This year, some fantastic changes have been made that empower our teachers to install software without any special passwords or permissions, outside of their own.

Sonia Conrad is doing great things with network installs here in Austin ISD. The process has been outlined in a short video by Marc Thrall. You can view the video at http://tinyurl.com/networkinstall .

The basic process to install software on your district PC computers is to:
  1. Open the Control Panels
  2. Open Programs and Features
  3. Click on 'Install Programs from the Network
  4. Click on the program you wish to install and follow onscreen prompts.
On of the great things about this process is that even students can do this with their login on a district computer.  If you go to the lab to do a Comic Life lesson and find that a computer doesn't have it, have the student follow the directions above to install the software right then.

Thanks to Sonia and her group for providing such a wonderful tool that benefits all teachers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January Math!

Happy New Year!!  Installations of Innovation Stations continued through the winter break and more are coming online each week.  Teachers who get an Innovation Station should be able to use it as soon as the installers hand them a key. However simple it may be to use, please contact your Educational Technology Facilitator (414-6553) to schedule a short training for your campus. There are a few 'Big Ideas' that we would like to pass along to teachers receiving the stations.

One of the great things about the station is the ability to use the technology in an interactive way with the class. Let's look at the 3rd Nine Weeks Math curriculum for a couple of integration ideas today.

In the 5th Grade Week 20 lessons, students are looking at area and perimeter. It used to be fun for students to go up to the overhead and draw on a transparency sheet to show perimeter or arrange small plastic squares to show area. The resulting work would be wiped away so the next student could show their answer.  Using the "Exploring Area" Math template in Kidspiration3, the students are given 4 pages to show area by dragging squares. It's clear and easy. Use the wireless keyboard and mouse to let table groups show an answer as a group from their desks.

In 7th Grade, teachers can cover Geometry using Inspiration. I always valued making a large idea web with students to show prior knowledge and then continuing to edit it as we studied the content. By the end, they are very familiar with the idea web, they designed it, and it's a great study guide for a end of unit exam.

Teachers in Rockingham County, Virginia have a collection of Inspiration templates that students can use. Their geometry example (download it) encourages students to define quadrilaterals and triangles by definition and including examples from the internet.  Teachers could scaffold this lesson to where students just have to add the definitions to the template or just add the picture illustrations. The end product would contain much relevant information.

In High School Geometry, Wolfram's Mathematica demonstration on similar triangles is a useful tool for students. Wolfram is really teacher-centric and offers many free online webinars for teachers to help learn effective instructional strategies to use with Wolfram resources.

If any of these ideas made you think of another way you would like to integrate tech into your instruction, always feel free to contact your Educational Technology Facilitator for more support. We'd love to hear from teachers. Let us know how you are using your Innovation Station in your classroom.