Some Practical Tips Computers Tips for Teachers
Here is a list
of important computer skills that teachers require to help
them incorporate computers within their classroom programmes.
These are some important skills that may seem difficult at first.
However after a few adventures you will wonder why you found them
difficult in the first place. The best way to learn is to have ago,
remember computers have come a long way in the last 10 years.
If you get stuck:
Time and Use Ideas.
With Windows 3.1, 95 or 98 and 2000 there are many ways in which a student is able to strip your hard drive. So I have found that it is a good idea to hide or delete any icons on the main screen that are not directly related to the programmes they need to use.
I do this by (for Windows 95 or 98):
*Setting the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen (which takes you anywhere) to "Auto Hide", "Always on top" (go to the "Start" button, "Settings" and then "task Bar"). This also gives you more screen.
*to tidy the and make the desk top safer click on a blank portion
of the dest top with the right mouse button, go to "New"
and then "folder" and click. This will place a new folder
on your desk top. Click on your new folder with the rith mouse button
and choose "rename" call the folder "Educational"
or "Student Programmes" (what ever you like).
*Delete any unwanted main screen programme icons by clicking on them once and then pressing the delete key on your key board. Note that when you do this you are not deleting the programme only its icon and you can still access this programme through the Start button menu.
* Some icons can not be deleted but you can hide them under the open new folder that now contains the programmes the students are to use.
*When students use programmes tell them to maximise the programme window so that the programme a student is using fills the entire screen. This is so that they will not keep thinking they have lost their work by accidentally clicking on other programme windows or the desk top that lie behind the programme they are using.
*Turn the monitor controls so that the contrast is near high and the brightness is as low as practical. This usually gives the clearest picture and gives years of extra life to your monitors and users eyes, remember a monitor is a proton gun shooting light into your eyes.
*Make sure users exit out of Windows correctly as often when a machine is just turned off an emergency "Temp" file is usually save to the hard drive. This is not such a problem these days with new machines with very large hard drives however with older machines it is not uncommon to find hard drives grinding to a halt due to being full of such Temp files.
*If you want the computers in your school to be used for educational purposes get rid of the "brain dead" games. I have found that even students who have all the gears at home will still think of the opportunity to type their story, graph their results or play Maths Blaster as a reward. In my opinion giving the opportunity to have extra time on the computer doing educational activities as opposed to games is like comparing the reward of a drama or P.E. activity as opposed to bribing with lollies.
*Despite all the new fancy multimedia applications available I have found the most powerful use for computers within the classroom is for children to be able to use them as a tool to publish their written ideas. It is interesting to consider that outside of teaching very few professions accept hand written material for presenting proposals or ideas. Just last week I asked a student who has had great difficulty completing written work in the past what was his best computer activity. He said publishing his short stories, similes and poetry was "cool" even better than the using the multimedia programmes.
*For this student and many like him the computer acts as a motivational tool and the great equaliser because he knows that his end result will look just as sharp as the neatest student in the class.
*Once you have gained the basic skills, train up students as computer monitors. This will enable your computers to be utilised throughout the day across the curriculum without the teacher having to stop every five minutes to sort out simple computer problems.
*When buying educational software never buy something without
seeing it run and critiquing it against relevant educational outcomes.
I have found labelled "Educational Software" often to
be no more than a very expensive flash card system, or books (pictures
and text) scanned into a programme. Sadly many of the New Zealand
CD ROMs titles are examples of this.
The Living Books Series ****
Programmes for publishing work:
Sun Star Office 5.1 or 5.2 *****
(or 2) is a fantastic FREE Office suit
As far as publishing programmes go donít forget that the Windows Operating System comes with itís own simple Word Processor and Paint Brush programmes. So you do not need to rush out and buy the latest Microsoft Office the power of which is rarely utilised by school secretaries let along young students.
Sun Star Office 5.1 (or 2) is a fantastic FREE Office made up
of and excellent Word processor, Spreadsheet programme Web site
design package and drawing programme. The fantastic thing about
this programme is (other than being free) that it can read Microsoft
word and works formats! It is estimated that two million.
Microsoft Works is a little less sophisticated than the Microsoft Office and Sun Star Office but versions three and four can be legally owned for less than $20 per copy. The versions are very similar and contain a great word processor and spread sheet programme. They can be purchased on CD ROM second hand for $5 -$10. In fact often parents who have their own computers have a copy of Works that came with their (often expensive package deals) that they are not using and are only to happy to donate it to the school.
Beware of programmes such as "Creative Writer" as it is really just a fancy stamp pad that do little to develop creativity.
*When buying a printer I have found it better to have several machines sharing a single quality 10 page per minute laser printer. The bubble and laser jet printers may seem cheaper but printing is slow and there are many more moving parts to wear out. Bubble and laser jet printers may be good for colour however consider how often users will be wanting to print in colour especially when considering the cost to do so. It can be up to $3 for a Photo Quality A4 printout.
Common Errors Students
Many of these errors or common problems can be solved by prior
instruction or demonstration. Doing so will save you heaps of time
helping to correct individuals work.
Another common problem is students who think that the computer spell checker will pick up all incorrect words. Explain that the spell checker can only make suggestions and that the suggestion might not be the word they want. The spell checker will also not pick up miss-spelt words that spell another word.
Typing - Full Finger or Two.
I have found that when a child first types on the computer two fingers is all they can manage while they are focused on the new experience of it all. However after a while habits will form and as many adults have found it is harder to break a bad habit than learn from scratch.
Typing tutors are fine except that they take time and do little
to help children publish their work in the short term. So I have
come up with my own system.
They then can label and colour code their photo copied key boards with the home positions.
Then show students how the keys are in diagonal rows angled from left down to right. Explain that each finger does the letters in itís row except the two index fingers -"because they are the strongest fingers they have to do two rows, the "F" and "G" for the left index and the "H" and "J" for the right finger.
Finally explain that each finger is only allowed to type the letters in itís row and each finger after typing a letter that is not in the home position must return home straight away.
When Purchasing Computers
* Just because a supplier has the word "Education" or some derivative there of in their company name does not mean their sole aim is to give schools the best computer deal in the world.
* Buying a computer is not like buying a car. When you buy a Toyota car the parts inside are Toyota parts. However when you buy a computer there are hundreds of different companies assembling them but the parts they contain are rarely made by these companies. This is important when considering that the IBM or Compac Computers are a third more expensive than other brands. We are told that this is because the machine is better quality than others however most of the parts inside the computer are the same as those in other machines. Often the only difference between one machine and another is the sticker or label on the front of the box..
* It is good to support local suppliers. However if the prices they are able to offer mean the difference between getting three machines or eight from an Auckland importer whoís selling 1000 units a year you have to be loyal to your students needs first.
*Often a local supplier takes longer to fix any repairs as his guarantees are the manufacturers not his own. So when something is sent in to be fixed they turn around and have to send it off to there supplier and you find yourself waiting for everÖ A larger supplier usually will replace the parts concerned rather than sending the part off to be fixed, they can do this because they have the individual parts in stock and are dealing directly with manufacturers suppliers.
*Remember the latest greatest computer will only be the fastest machine around for one or two months before a faster machine is released. Thus I never buy "Pinnacle technology" as such a machine with a milli-second faster processor is often 500 -$1000 more expensive than a machine that has a processor that has been around for a few months.
*Still the largest problem within schools is the lack of access,
thus price is important. Iím sure we have all seen situations where
a class room has one computer to thirty students. Mathematically
this means that each student gets to touch the thing for ten minutes
per day. What can you do in ten minutes?
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