I am tired of trying to observe how schools are using technology when I substitute. It used to be interesting to wander the halls and notice what computers were on and where they were placed in the room. But now it is boring. I would guess that in 95% of the classrooms the computers are against the wall in a group of 4 or 5 and turned off. Students are not using them. Today even in the large computer lab the students were sitting on the floor watching a cartoon on the screen in the front of the class! But it is not fair to judge by what I see when walking by at one minute of one day. So, I will try to collect the good ideas that I see.
I was in a Special Ed classroom today. The students were all LD. Here is what they did. First the teacher guided them in writing a simple sentence and then adding to it. The first sentence was "The kids played." Then they added a word "The neighbor's kids played." and so on until they had "The neighbor's kids played kickball outside." They wrote these sentences on their own paper. All of the students have their own laptops and so then they opened the laptop and went to Word. They all knew how to get there, start a new document. They had to type the date and the name of the day of the week at the top and then they typed the four sentences. Finally, they could go to a google image search and choose a picture to put on the paper. The teacher gave them the search terms and walked around to be sure it was OK. The kids knew how to save the picture to the desktop, go to word, insert the picture, resize it, and save their work. Because of fair use I don't think there is a problem here with copyright. These pictures are only being used once on school related work and are not being put online.
I know that it is a very simple use of technology, but for these kids I think it was helping them learn many different things. Interesting.