Writing In The “Palm” Of Your Hand

When I first started teaching at Ancaster Meadow School, all of the teachers were given a Palm Pilot and a wireless keyboard to use. I kept everything on my Palm: from my daybook to tracking sheets to contact numbers for parents. I thought that it was great! Then I got a laptop computer, and it was always easier to store this information on my laptop versus on a Palm Pilot.

As somebody that loves using technology in the classroom though, I thought that it might be fun to try using Palm Pilots with my Grade 1 students. I spoke to my principal about this idea, and I managed to get four Palm Pilots to use at a literacy centre. The students enjoyed writing on them so much that my principal contacted a Board representative, and she was able to get me 20 Palm Treos to use in my class.

These Palm Treos no longer have phone capabilities, but everything else works. On Tuesday night I managed to charge all 20 Palm Treos — it almost took a Scavenger Hunt to find them all — and on Wednesday morning, I put them out for our morning writing routine instead of the usual journals. I told my students that the Palm Treos were going to act as an electronic portfolio. I made a video to show the students how to use them, and they started writing on them. I was amazed! All of my students were completely engaged in this writing activity. When I told them that it was time to tidy up, one of my more reluctant writers commented, “Why does writing time need to be over?” I was thrilled!

My students helped me put together this short slideshow of our first Palm Treo Writing Activity:

We’ve now been using the Treos for a couple of days, and the students continue to love writing on them. Today, I allowed them to take their Treos to the literacy centres with them, and I gave them the choice to complete any writing activities on them or on a piece of paper. All of my students chose to write on the Treos, and what they produced was incredible! These students were motivated to write, they were helping each other write, they were editing their work, and they were consistently producing their best work.

Until three days ago, I didn’t know how to turn a Palm Treo on, or even what one looked like, and now I can’t imagine not having them in my classroom. My students are willing to take risks and try something new, and I think that it’s important that I do too.

For other teachers out there, have you used Palm Treos in your classroom? How have you used them? What feedback can you give me on them? For parents of students in my class, how do your children feel about using the Palm Treos? What are your thoughts on using them? Thank you for sharing your ideas and opinions with me!


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