Effective Projects Case Study
Beaming Combos at Derry Cooperative School District
is a story about a project that started 1/1/2007.
For more information, please contact: Deborah Vachon
The unit was designed for 3rd grade students. The unit
actively engages students in creating an organized list using an Excel
spreadsheet on handheld computers to solve combination word problems. After completing this unit, students have
gained a better understanding of solving word problems in an organized list
and writing their own word problems in testing situations. Various activities were integrated across
the curriculum into Language Arts, Writing, Mathematics and Science. The materials used for this unit included
Palm Tungsten PDA handhelds, PalmOne Wireless Infrared Keyboards, Tribeam
Charging System with eXFiles, Wireless Bluetooth, various software products
and a document camera.
Funding: This project was supported by $5,000 from NCLB
Title II-D (Educational Technology) and $0 in local funds. The project illustrates how federal funding
supports “Technology literacy for all students
- Implementing systemic changes through robust curriculum integration with
technology (includes student work with digital tools, distance learning
courses, etc.).” The project addressed the following grades and
Our school is in a suburban area. We have a limited amount of technology
resources available at the elementary school level. This project strives to
enhance daily use of technology by introducing handheld computers (PDA’s)
into curriculum. Students were able to
connect these classroom activities to the real world by discussing PDA’s with
adults who use them in their occupations (ex. school board, administrators,
parents, classroom visitors, relatives, etc.). Each student had their own
The plot: The biggest challenge was making the best use of our
grant money. We opted to purchase
refurbished handhelds in order to purchase a document camera. We would have ordered more keyboards and
more software applications. The biggest
challenge during the implementation phase was getting all the applications to
work on an eMac computer. Most
applications are written for Windows based applications.
The teachers: 2
teachers were directly involved. Classroom
teacher #1 taught students how to use and care for handhelds, write word
problems and set up spreadsheets, beam, etc.
Classroom teacher #2 had students learn from classroom #1 use of
technology then class #2 developed their own word problems and solutions.
students: Students were proud
of their accomplishments. They came up
with new and inventive ways to integrate this technology into
curriculum. They loved getting away
from pencil and paper any time they could.
They also enjoyed teaching others, both students and adults, how to
use these handhelds.
Students were evaluated on using various
technology applications and devising mathematical word problems with answer
sheet. Students needed to: learn
graffiti, technology terms and meanings,
PDA symbols and meanings, PDA care and use, synchronization, beaming,
keyboarding, charging PDA, using wireless Bluetooth, Microsoft Word, Excel Spreadsheets,
educational games, and troubleshooting,
A rubric was designed to evaluate each student.
The difference: PDA’s
became a “hook” to excite students about writing, developing mathematical
word problems and collecting data.
Students wanted to use PDA’s for every subject area. They were evaluated on technology use as
well as developing 1 individual word problem accompanied by an answer key
created in a spreadsheet. Many
students devised more than 1 problem. Students
felt they were really part of the global use of technology in the
workplace. They found may ways to
incorporate PDA’s into classroom activities.
Students were able to teach others how to use PDA’s and the
applications on them.
conditions: The financial backing of the
project was critical since PDA’s are not widely used in schools, especially
at the elementary level. Another
essential part was the willingness of the teachers to let go and let students
explore and find effective uses for the handheld technology. Students actively tried and succeeded in
solving technology problems and found many shortcuts in navigating the PDA.
for the future: I would start
project earlier in the school year now that I have the resources. The grant was awarded in January then
materials had to be ordered.
Throughout this process, we needed lots of tech support from district
and from vendors. We had to complete
our grant documents by the end of April.
This school year, I started in the Fall and the process was a more
positive gradual progression. I think
the rubric was a great way to evaluate.
I am always looking for new software in different subject areas to enhance
the resources I already have. This
will lead to different types of evaluations.
Recommendations: I would recommend purchasing a wireless keyboard for
every PDA, 1-2 additional PDA’s for teacher and/or aide, a larger charging
station, and possibly a technology support package.
our story: Our project was embraced by our
school district. Students from my
class gave a demonstration to our School Board and Administrators in the
spring of2007. We were presenters at the
Derry School District Technology Fair in 2007 and 2008. We were also selected to do a hands-on
workshop at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference. Our local papers have covered this project
in various articles.
to share: Project description,
Lesson Plan, Rubric, Combination Word Problems &
Solutions, Photo page