1to1 Year-End Review

How did the connected environment change your planning? When planning in a connected learning community, I was able to look for fun, interactive lessons that encouraged students to delve more deeply into mathematical concepts. Long range planning did not change drastically, but day to day planning certainly did! A connected environment necessitated multiple layers of planning. I tried to offer to the students several different activities so each team could choose the activity best suited to their learning needs and interests. Not only did this enhance the learning of the students in each team, but the class as a whole. Having developed a learning community, each team willingly shared their learning with the other teams. This required no planning on my part – the sharing just happened naturally in the context of a learning community. There were two issues that did arise in terms of planning. I was asked to be part of this pilot program very near the beginning of the school year. My plans needed to be adjusted accordingly; this took some time and effort early on in the school year. I was unsure how to plan more than a few classes at a time, since both my students and I were learning how to effectively use the netbooks in the one to one environment. This change in planning style required some spontaneity on my part as well as a flexibility to change plans and direction even as I was teaching a class. I do believe this made me a better teacher because I learned to better gauge my students’ learning and adjust accordingly.

How did it affect student learning? How did it affect student engagement? Student engagement and learning were greatly enhanced in the connected classroom. Students were quite comfortable with the technology from the start and enjoyed the opportunity to help guide the learning process. A connected classroom afforded them many opportunities to delve more deeply into a topic or to take a “side road” to the main concept when questions arose. Students were thrilled with the idea that mathematics was not simply a matter of churning out numerous problems and then having a test on those problems. The activities and project work demonstrated true applications and uses for the mathematics they were learning. No longer did I hear, “When will I ever use this?” Each day was different in terms of the learning, but it was easy for me to identify those students who were understanding and those that were not. The one to one classroom allowed for instantaneous, ongoing assessment. The team concept afforded me the ability to sit with a team who needed a little more guidance and allowed the other teams to further investigate the concepts. As well, the students were much more willing to help other students since the physical set up of my room allowed students to move about the room assisting other teams.
The best example I would give regarding student learning and engagement came from the students themselves. Many of my students were quite vocal in their distaste of mathematics based upon their past experiences in a “traditional” mathematics classroom. In fact, many times they begged me to never miss class as they would not have access to the netbooks. What a joy to hear students tell me that they looked forward to the class and that math was now “fun.”

What challenges did you face? There were several challenges that I faced during the start-up process. I really had no idea what I was doing. Evidently, the students did not really mind. In fact, they seemed to respect the fact that I did not try to be the authority on learning. I believe many students were shocked when I told them early on in the process that we were all “in this together” as a learning community and I was expecting to learn as much from them as they would learn from me.
The other major issue came from students’ prior learning. I really felt as though I spent an inordinate amount of time showing the students how to unlearn what they had experienced in a mathematics classroom for the past 11 years. Initially, students were hesitant to accept a team model for learning. They wanted a grade based upon their own work, a grade that would not suffer because of the lack of work from other team members. We spent some days researching and discussing team models in the workplace and in a collegiate setting. Students also struggled with this new type of learning. No longer were they required to memorize and simply redo problems in order to receive good grades. They now were required to research, understand, and articulate mathematical concepts. Most students were fearful of this process because they did not want to “fail.” Again, discussions ensued to demonstrate the value of failing as a learning tool. I hoped to maintain a safe environment where my students were courageous enough to try and perhaps fail, understanding that in the failure came much valuable learning.

From what you have learned, what do you think you will do differently next year? It is hard to say what I will change. I have learned to plan based upon the needs of the students in front of me, even in terms of different sections of the same class. I cannot really say what I will change since the impetus for change comes from the students. I look forward to researching additional projects and activities in which my students can engage. I need to address the issue of students who are not on task without using the technology as a disciplinary tool. I have learned this year to assess my students learning in different ways. I now understand that a student’s lack of engagement may be a signal that the activity or project is not meeting the needs of that team or its members. Perhaps I will need to find ways to re-engage these students without using disciplinary tactics.
My students and I need to engage in more cross-curricular activities and projects. Many times this year, a class of students would enter my classroom in distress about their lack of understanding in another class. As a community of learners, we would stop whatever activity in which we were engaged and assess the issues that were fostering such distress. Usually, we were able to find the “answers” online and in most cases we were able to connect some mathematics to the learning process.
I also need to become a more vocal supporter of these educational changes. Many have criticized my teaching techniques this year. I must try not to be personally insulted. I believe that most criticism comes from a lack of knowledge and experience and a fear of the unknown. I need to become an ambassador for change!

Netbook Experience

This is a guest blog by Winnie N.

My overall experience this year with using the net-books was actually good, To be honest in the beginning of the year when I found out that we would be on the computers a lot I couldn’t help but think to myself, “ How are you possibly going to do math on a computer?” Even though some students did not use them for school related work, I took advantage of the opportunity, and when I did I found them to be very useful .
For example, when Mrs. Smith assigns us group projects we weren’t limited on work time; the problem of “only having class time to work with your partner(s) because that’s the only time you had to be with them” was never there. With Google docs it allowed you and your partner(s) to work at the same time, on the same document; or spreadsheets at home and anywhere else you had access to a computer. This was great !
Google docs has even help me outside of math. For example, in my English III class my teacher sometimes assigns our class projects to do with a group on Google docs. She usually assigns these projects after we finish a book, or poem. A majority of my class had no idea what Google docs was, or how to use it; however, with my knowledge and experience with Google doc (thanks to the net-books in math ) I was able to help my class get use to using it. This was a big help to my teacher too.
Google docs has also helped me not only complete all my assignments for math on time, but also my assignments for my other classes. Because of the fact that you can access your Google docs from any computer, there were no more worries about using Microsoft word and having your work saved on your computer and being unable to access it when your away.
Another luxury about using Google docs is that your work is never lost, Google docs saves your document for you every second as you type, so there’s no more fussing about losing work when your computer dies on you, or accidentally shutting your document down without saving. This not only saves you time, but also heartache.
Over all using the net-books and Google docs in math and a few of my other classes was very effective. Work is done on-time. I was never disconnected from my partner(s) because they were working with me on a document/spread-sheet without being near me. I never lost any work and kept all my documents nice and organized and everything is easy to find. To sum it all up it would have really been hard to accomplish all that I did this year with out the net-books in our classrooms.

Pros and Cons of Using Netbooks

This is a guest blog by Alysia B., Madeline M., Claudia P.

There are many pros and cons to using net books in the classroom. Many students are fortunate to have net books in more than one class. The net books have access to the Internet which opens a whole new world to the students.

Access to the Internet is the biggest asset that the net books have provided students. The classroom goes beyond the four walls and nothing is beyond reach. Google Docs has made projects and group work a lot less stressful because the documents can be opened in class or at home. However sometimes Internet access is slow or unavailable when more than one class is trying to use their net books or if the Internet is down. These complications sometimes create problems because all of the class work is on the Internet.

Many students, such as myself, have been fortunate to have net books in more than one class. Mrs. Smith, Mr. Imburgia, Mrs. Allen, and Mr. Covatta’s classes all have net books available in their classrooms. The net books allow class curriculum to go beyond the typical textbooks. In Mr. Imburgia’s anatomy classes net books are frequently used to look up the validity of theories such as “gum stays in your stomach for seven years” ( which is false). In Mrs. Allen’s English classes students participate in “ Get You’re Blog on Friday” where they watch a video in class and then blog about it on edublogs.org on their net books. Another positive quality about the net books is that textbooks can be accessed online so students do not have to carry as many textbooks to class.

Even with all of the positive qualities of the net books their are downfalls. Every classroom received 32 net books however in many classes their are more than 32 students. This creates a problem because not every student receives a net book. Internet access is also a large issue because if every classroom with net books tries to sign online the server is extremely slow or not accessible at all.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the netbooks?

This is a guest blog by Jon E., Amy S., and Livi S.

Having netbooks in two of my classes was very beneficial to my education this year. I transferred to O’Hara for my junior year; the netbooks were a great addition. Some of the advantages included sharing documents over Google with several group members and/or the entire class. Netbooks have revolutionized the concept of note taking. Taking notes is now much quicker and more efficient. The Internet is at the disposal of all students in helping to solve problems. Websites provide valuable information that sometimes text books do not cover. Specific areas can be researched and expanded upon. Google docs has also been a great help this year in organizing notes and turning in projects.

The professor, as well as the students can utilize Google docs to share the documents with one another. Instead of passing out stacks of paper, we can now save time, paper, and eliminate the chance of misplacing the document. Not only is this eco-friendly, but communication with the professor is easy and always available. By using google docs it is also easier for group work and peer editing. By using netbooks in class, the student can quickly look up answers to any questions if needed. Notes are always neat, well organized, and can also have visual aids. The student can now view the documents and necessary information for homework without bringing home heavy textbooks. Having netbooks in every class would benefit Cardinal O’Hara students greatly, as well as revolutionize the entire school. In contrast, the classes without netbooks take hand written notes and do not have the luxury of looking up answers to questions about the particular topic being discussed.

Although the netbooks present many advantages, there are some disadvantages. If the Internet it down, access to Google and Google docs is not available. Also, having the Internet opens the possibility to students of going on other websites such as Facebook, Twitter, or anything not related to the topic being discussed in class. Although these issues can not be remedied fully, some sites are blocked by the archdiocese and the teacher also has some control. The benefits of having netbooks far outweigh the negatives. I enjoyed having the netbooks in two of my classes this year and I hope the students will have these in every class in the future.


This is a guest blog by Holly C., Mary S., and Alex S.

This year, the students in Mrs. Smith’s math classes and Mrs. Allen’s English classes experienced the netbooks for the first time ever in O’Hara. With the new edition, the school has had mixed emotions over the course of the year. Many teachers do not like the change in the classes and others would like to have the opportunity next year in their classrooms. The students in these two classes, however, have been the “test dummies” this year and their work and experience with it will decide whether or not more classes can have them next year. Our experience with the netbooks has been a positive one and one that we can take with us next year, all through college, and has given us skills we will have for the rest of our lives.

The netbooks have been a great addition to the classroom. With new technologies and gadgets coming out every day, it is important for teenagers to keep up on a daily basis. With the netbooks, it gives us an opportunity to manage our time wisely and use a faster, more accessible way to take and study notes. Instead of the normal pencil and paper, we have the opportunity to type our notes, which gives us a faster, easier way to take notes. Most teenagers in today’s day and age are faster typist than writers. Instead of worrying about taking a notebook home every day, we are able to access our notes online from any computer and study our notes at any time. This will help students in the future, especially in college. With professors going at a faster pace with their teaching, it will make it easier for students to follow along with the lesson if they are able to take notes faster. The netbooks have brought many advantages to our class this year and it is an experience we would want other students to be able to have.

However, with the many advantages the netbooks bring us, there were some disadvantages as well. When technology works, it’s wonderful. But, when it fails us, there is not a lot we can do. Some days, the Internet would be down and we would not be able to do anything in class except try to find Internet connection. One other disadvantage to the netbooks was the ability to play games during class instead of doing productive work. Some students would play solitare or go on facebook the entire time, instead of helping their group out with the task at hand. For those students who work hard in the group and are not distracted by games or different social networking websites, it may not be fair to them that all the work is placed on their shoulders.. But, most of the students in our class are hard working and we did not come across this problem.

All in all, our experience with the netbooks was an educational but fun one. Sometimes, school work is boring and there is no enthusiasm with learning different things. With the netbooks, we were able to tie in the use of modern technology with learning math and it made us want to come to class to learn each day. Some of our friends have Mrs. Allen for English and they said taking notes and using the netbooks to access the online textbook is a lot easier than carrying around big textbooks to and from class everyday. The netbooks not only prepare us for college, but for the real world as well. New technology is popping up every day and we are able to access it every day with the netbooks. We hope that the netbooks will be back next year and for future classes that come through O’Hara. Hopefully, teachers will see how beneficial the netbooks are and want to use them in their class. It’s a way for not only the students but the school to enhance their technology use and attract more students to want to come to Cardinal O’Hara.

Netbook Essay

This is a guest blog by Sean R. and Tim L.

Having netbooks in the classroom allows students to access any sort of information needed from the internet. It makes it easier to do group work/projects by using google docs so each member of the group can do his/her part with ease. Also, it is the reality of what a classroom will be like in the future. People can communicate, learn, and access information needed easier than just a normal class where a teacher teaches and students learn. So, I would consider having netbooks a great advantage for class. It also will help greatly being exposed to technology everyday as this is how the world is run in this day and age.

Netbooks are great for researching information and helping us solve math problems. When I didn’t understand something that was explained in class I could go online and see it explained better. I did not find it beneficial for taking notes however because I am a slow typer and it takes me longer to type them rather then just writing it with a pencil. Some days the servers were down and we didn’t have access to the net. Other days the net was really slow but for the most part it was running fine. It was also great because I could check assignments and grades online.

The netbooks are also very safe. They are protected by software and passwords. i have never run into any bad sites or pop ups when using the netbooks. They have the sites for games blocked so that I’m not tempted to play the games instead of doing work. It is a great system that benefits the kids in my class and the best part about it is I can work on the projects at my home computer too. By using the netbooks I am improving in math and in computer skills. This will better prepare us for college.

If possible, I would recommend having netbooks in each classroom. This would allow students to expand their learning to things not in a textbook or in their notes. A textbook only contains so much information while access to the internet allows for students to obtain any sort of information on the planet. So, in closing I would say that having netbooks could only be a positive thing because having access to anything you may need can’t be negative.

Netbook Review

This is a guest blog by Steve T.

Before this year I had never been in a technology oriented math classroom. Of course I have had classes involving computers and the use of laptops in classes such as biology and English. Going into this year I expected another boring year of doing math worksheets and textbook problems. When I heard that we would be using netbooks for our class this year I was surprised but excited at a chance to use new technology. So far the experience has been great and it has made the math experience much more enjoyable. Compared to previous years, this math class has by far been my favorite and has made learning much more fun. Instead of taking boring notes with pencil and paper, we can use Google Docs to open a document and take notes in the document regarding math. Some of the positives of being able to use a netbook is that we can do projects that relate to real life implications of what we learn. The netbook allows us to search on the internet for projects and applications involving our math work. The only negative thing I could possibly say about the netbook is that the internet struggles at some times but it still is not bad enough to want to use pencil and paper in math class again. I use the netbook in my English class as well. Because of the netbook, I now use Google Docs and Dropbox regularly even when I am at home. Overall the netbook experience has been a great experience and I would highly recommend that more classes switch to the netbook because the learning experience from it is unmatched by anything a “pencil and paper” class can teach us.

The Pros and Cons of Netbooks

This is a guest blog by Elizabeth S., Meg T., and Michelle B.

Netbooks are a great tool for the classroom environment. They allow for access to the internet during class time that proves helpful for research and class work. Gone are the days where we carried around endless amounts of miscellaneous papers for various classes and worried about losing track of them. Online storage and document sites allow for storing work and being able to easily keep track of it. The netbooks come with various pros and cons but overall they are a key advancement in classroom education for the future.
Writing in notebooks and copying notes can be long and tedious. The bigger issue is worrying about keeping track of your notebooks and remembering to take them out of your locker to study for tests. One of the best features to having the netbooks is being able to access Google Documents and type notes, organize them by subject and neatly have your notes in front of you and ready to access at all times. Google Documents has a great feature that allows you to share documents with other students and teachers. When you share a document, it allows everyone who is part of the document to view and/or edit a document. The sharing feature is great in a classroom setting where students can share notes or have teachers grade assignments. Group projects are also a lot easier because all group members can be working on the same paper at the same time. For example right now our group is sitting on netbooks in school collaborating on this document. We can also go home and work on this document and all be able to edit the document at the same time.
While the netbook program has many advantages there are some disadvantages that are present in the classroom while netbooks are in use. Many of the programs that you use on the netbooks are through internet connection. The internet connection in the school building is not always reliable. It is troublesome when you go into a class and plan to use the netbooks for an assignment and are unable to do so because the internet is not working. It then becomes an inconvenience for both the student as well as teacher who has to make a new lesson plan. Even though there has been problems with the internet some days, most of the days it is running quickly and effectively and we are able to complete our work in class without any issues. Also netbooks can be a distraction as students have instant access to games and most websites. But if the students who are using the netbooks are responsible they will not let any distractions get in the way of their studies.
“A Positive always comes out of a Negative,” this quote truly is the inspiration for this blog. The advantage of netbooks is to create a world of technology for us to use in the near future whether it be in college or at their first job. Netbooks help a student to achieve their main objective, which is to succeed in their schooling and in their future employment. Our youth today are very important, because they are the ones who will run our country in years to come. With this new technology and skills, the youth will grow stronger in their education.
Netbooks are a great advancement in the classroom. Netbooks help to gear students toward the future by giving them access to the newest technology during school. While there are some technical glitches om some days, most of the time netbooks are extremely effective in getting work done in the classroom. Netbooks are a great addition to the Cardinal O’Hara curriculum and are helping to gear their students toward the future in education.

Netbook Blog Project

This is a guest blog by Michelle D. and Maura S.

This year, a new project was introduced to Cardinal O’Hara, supplying four teachers with a classroom set of netbooks. We were lucky enough to have three of the four teachers who were supplied with the netbooks. Throughout the year, we have learned many new techniques and strategies to incorporate the netbooks into our every day learning. These techniques have helped us broaden our knowledge in our core subjects.

Who would have thought that Google Docs could apply to a Pre Calculus class? We could have never expected how helpful and simple it has been to use a key pad instead of a pencil and paper. Although it took time and practice to get acclimated with the newly introduced technology, the process has paid off because now we are able to easily collaborate with group members for projects. Since our math class is a project based learning environment, Google Docs is the perfect tool to use. Whenever we are working on a project, and do not understand the method of an equation, we are able to use the Internet to find different ways to solve and understand problems.

Another class that we have access to the netbooks is in Biology. Instead of having to write our notes by hand like other Biology classes, we have a luxury of being able to type our notes on Google Docs. By typing our notes we are able to cover more material each day. When someone is absent, Google Docs allows us to share notes so no one falls behind. Another positive is having the Internet at our finger tips, because it enables us to widen our overall knowledge. For example, our class was discussing evolution and why the human appendix is still a part of the human body. Even though we thought there was no use for it, after researching it on the Internet we found that we were wrong. It actually functions as a safe house for bacteria in the body. However having the Internet at our finger tips is not always used constructively. Sometimes it can be distracting and not used for school related tasks.
Compared to the beginning of the year, our writing skills have improved greatly. This can be contributed to “Get Your Blog on Friday” every Friday. We have learned to express ourselves more creatively and convey our opinions in positive ways. Along with blogging every Friday, we also complete SAT practice tests daily. Our test results have improved from the beginning of the year and prepared us for the SAT’s that every junior takes. Juniors are also required to write a research paper. Since we have a classroom set of netbooks, we are given class time to research and work on our research paper. This is helpful because if there is any discrepancy with our project, our teacher is there to guide us through it. Since we rely so much on the netbooks in class, whenever Internet is not available it messes up our routine for the day.
Throughout the year, netbooks have been an overall positive experience for us. It has enhanced our learning abilities and opened doors to new learning techniques. We hope that in the near future all the students in Cardinal O’Hara will be supplied with netbooks and have the positive experience that we have had with them.

World History collaborative project

I have just completed a project with my 1st track students in 2nd and 7th periods.  They worked together to complete a chapter project using the technology available in the classroom and out of school.  The project was in windows movie maker and was shown to both classes as a finished product.  Tools/software used to complete the project were the netbooks, dropbox, google docs, presentation, chatrooms, video, and smartphones.  Here is a link to the group project: