Technology has always been an important part of my classroom. As curriculum requirements increased, it became difficult to find time for my students to use the computer. I wanted to engage them in activities that went beyond playing educational games and doing research on the Internet. I found the most efficient way to use computers in my classroom was to design projects that integrated technology with the topics we were studying. These projects gave my students the opportunity to use technology as a tool to apply what they had learned in class.
Some of my first projects were designed in Appleworks and ClarisWorks (Apple/Mac computers) and earlier versions of Microsoft Word (PC). These projects were templates in the form of Tile Posters. This involved using a four-page layout (2 pages by 2 pages) and adding placeholders for text and images. My students would open the template and add their text and pictures to the file. I would print the final product and tape all four pages together. Instant poster! (I will write more detail about this project in a later post.)
My newest project involves using computer word sorts as part of my Literacy Center. As a Basic Skills teacher, my lessons have to fit within a 30 minute time period and focus on reinforcing key skills that my students need to improve in reading and math. I find my students benefit from a variety of activities including working on the computer. My Short Vowel Computer Word Sorts: Three Letter Word Families is interactive and requires no preparation once it is loaded onto the computer. It is also very easy for my students to use.
I designed my computer word sorts as a PDF form. You can make PDF forms using Microsoft Word, Power Point, Open Office, NeoOffice, and Google Docs. When you open the form, there are fields or sections where my students can type their name, date, and responses. The goal of the computer word sort was to have my students come up with words based on the three letter rimes in the categories. Once they are done, I can print out the form, or I can save a copy. When you open the form again, the fields are empty and ready for a new student! I have an instant assessment to see if my students can distinguish between the different short vowel sounds, and my students have the opportunity to use the computer.
I would love to hear if anyone has had success with using PDF forms in their classroom!