I have been doing a lot of reading this summer about using our students netbooks better. I have found a few programs that I want to use. As I was reading Dave Warlick's blog he mentioned using Xmind as a brainstorming program. I was using Freemind but Xmind is so much easier to use. So I will be installing it on the student computers when we start school.
I was searching around on the net and ran into a blog by Brad Flickenger. He talks a lot about using netbooks in the classroom. He has some great ideas about using them in the curriculum, classroom management, and basic netbook stuff in the classroom. It gave me some ideas about having the students sign a netbook contract. We will put together a few rules and consequences for the netbooks. He also mentions that he has the students do a monthly maintenance checklist to keep them clean and orderly. I will be putting one of those together also to keep them running as well as giving the students a sense of ownership for their computer.
One thing Brad talked about was using flash drives in the classrooms. If the students have their own computers, why use a flash drive? I can see a few reasons why we should use flash drives. Taking documents home for use on their computers and going from one computer in the school to the computer lab to complete a reports or to show a presentation. I have not been sold on the Google Docs yet for Elementary School students. I want to use it, but I have parents that do not want (or do not have a computer) email addresses for their children. I want a way for the students to get a Google Docs account, but I am still trying to figure out how to get all the students an account. I was hoping that Google would let me put a class of students into a group so I can manage them. I am hoping that we will get to the point of having parents set up the account for the students. We will see this coming year.
I really like his idea about sending the students a question each morning before school for them to answer in the morning. We have the students do Morning Work (a language question, geography question, analogy question and a math question) and work as partners to complete the questions. Adding a message on our Wiki would be a great addition to the morning work. It could be a starter for Social Studies, a topic in math, language, or even a situation in class. So many ideas. I can't wait.