One of the things I like to do whenever I visit a classroom is the try and sit as far in the back of the classroom as I can. From this vantage point I can see if a teacher has prepared their Flipcharts with all students. When I go over observations I make a point to tell teachers to always to to farthest point a student would sit and look at whatever was prepared. I sometimes think teachers don't always think about the function for the end user whenever they want students to use technology. The greatest content in the world is no good if a student can't see it or use the tools effectively.
This past week I got to be a student in a SIOP training course our district is presenting. The presenter/facilitator is doing a great job of keeping everyone engaged. He has the usual laptop/projector/PowerPoint combination and the slides are viewable to everyone. However, I was using one piece of technology that our facilitator did not think of: my Livescribe Pulse smartpen. Of course I am not going to bust him for not thinking of the smartpen because I can count the number of people I know who have one on one hand. The experience of using the pen in a class setting was very enlightening.
The method I tried to use during class was to jot down the main ideas and let the recording of the lecture do the rest. That way all I have to do is tap on the main point I want to review and listen to the lecture at that point. This is how the pen is supposed to function and it did it's job very well. The problem I had was quickly figuring out when he was at an important point, tap the record button, then write down the main point as the facilitator talked about it. What I found out was by the time I got the record button pushed and the idea written down the explanation is halfway done. I could record the entire class but that would waste valuable memory on audio I don't need. What would would have worked better for me and the technology is for the facilitator to have an outline or list of topics to cover on the screen. I could copy these down, leaving space for a few additional notes, then make a mark when the facilitator started on the topic. Even if I have to tap the record button this method would make it quicker.
This experience gave me some insight to help teachers think more about preparing their lessons to fit the technology they expect students to use. Students will be bringing and using more technology in the the classroom both officially and unofficially. Teachers will have to realize changes and accommodations will need to be made for students to get the full benefit from using technology.