The fifth graders in Ms. Sacchitello's class were already in the throes of writing a letter to Santa, convincing him that they belonged on the "nice list," as opposed to the "naughty" one. They were thrilled to each have their own keyboard and took no time at all jumping in and typing up their introductory paragraphs. Each then went to an assigned computer to put their piece in a digital folder so that they could go back to it to add on, revise, and edit.
The best part of the time that I spent in that classroom was ownership the kids took of their learning. I showed them the basics, and then as students moved to computers, I showed a few how to do the next steps, and THEY became the experts. They were able to show each other what to do, which freed the teacher and me up to confer with students on content. It was beautiful. In two of the three periods, we actually had time to practice "beaming" information back and forth. So cool.
The next day, I pushed that big old Neo cart down to first grade. The "oohs" and the "ahhhs" as I came through the classroom door made me feel like Santa! After a brief lesson on making a capital letter and finding punctuation marks, the eager writers got to work. They quickly figured out the difference between the arrows and the backspace button. They experimented with the "Caps Lock" and "Enter" keys.
As they finished their short pieces, we reminded them to quickly edit for capitals and punctuation. It was amazing to see them using those arrow keys to maneuver to just the right spot to add their periods. They knew where that punctuation went and were excited to get them in the right place.
By the end of our brief time together, about half the class held in their hands a printed copy of what they had typed up minutes before. They were pleased with their work, and hopped down the hall toward lunch feeling like writers. I was feeling pretty good myself.
We have five days until Christmas break. You know how difficult it is to keep your students engaged during this time. I guarantee you that using the Neos will be a like a Christmas gift you can give your kids. They will enjoy the novelty and ease of writing with them, and as a bonus, they'll think you are a rock star. Check with your administrators or media specialists to sign up to use your Neo labs. Your kids will thank you!