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College of Education Laptop Initiative

Intern Reflections (Midterm) How has this program changed you as a teacher?

For the longest time I have been afraid of technology. The incredible support from USF and my teachers makes learning less stressful. I know that there will be someone who can help me or at least provide advice. The training sessions we attend once a week give me vital tools that I can use in my future classroom. With this opportunity, I have been forced to deal with technology in all my assignments. I practice every day. I am getting past my insecurities of technology to not just better myself, but to benefit my future students. Not only will I be able to use the new technology, but I will make an effort to incorporate it as often as I can. That is something I would not have said before I started this program. Amber Mueller

When I first heard about the program I thought could it be "real"? You know what they say if it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. When I went to orientation they did not mention it in the large group, but when we got to the individual groups (i.e. elementary education, secondary, etc.) that is where I found the chance of a lifetime! I just could not believe that I was going to be one of the lucky participants in the program. Excitement and joy ran through my mind. I was going to be given a computer worth $ 1,500.00 for no charge to me, WOW!!! When we did finally receive our i-books, I was thrilled to finally be able to start learning about how to use the technology in my present interning classroom and my future classroom. This program has allowed me to make outstanding friends that I will stay in contact with after the program. This group of 25 has grown together in a way that I have never seen before, we all look out for each other and keep each person on track with assignments and due dates. The way that this semester's classes were set up has allowed me to change my thinking on issues such as classroom management, and student input. I now see why my teachers in school did things the way that they did them. I did not always understand why they would not just pass out the materials that we needed for the assignment at hand. Now I see that if they had done that then they would have lost us. I am learning many things step by step and I am very excited to keep learning in the four and a half semesters that I have left here at U.S.F., not only in my classes but also with the technology integration as well! Andrea Berry

I feel like I have drastically changed. My attitude about the computer is completely different. Before, I was always very nervous about learning new things about the computer and the programs on the computer. I feel more confident than ever before and I feel like I have the power and the ability to use the computer to better the learning in my classroom. I was completely surprised at how fast I learned to use the mac, since I had never used them before at all. I was also completely surprised at how easy they were to use. They really are user friendly and I think that says a lot about apple. I really enjoy getting to use the computer for my assignments in and out of the classroom whereas before, I only used the computer if something had to be typed. Not anymore! I never dreamed how much use the computer could have in the classroom, but the more I am in the classroom using the computer. I see all kinds of new ideas that they can be used for. Before, I was like a lot of the teachers that did not really see the need for computers in the classroom, now, I think they are essential. Even if there is only a computer lab for the students to use, I think that teaching them computer skills is imperative. It is a new way of learning and the students are learning it faster than I am. If we want to keep up with our ever-changing world, we are going to have to learn to use the computer and learn to use it well. One ideal that has not changed with me is the fact that I think that even though there is a lot of new technology out there, our main focus should always be the students and their education. We should use the computer to enhance their education and learning. We should also give them the skills that will empower them to take on the world and be able to succeed. Anna Cunningham

This semester has definitely been an experience. I'm really grateful for being a part of this explorers group, without a doubt learned more in just this one semester them some put together. Having these laptops at our leisure has made things so much easier. Sometimes when you have an idea or hear of great site, by the time you get home you've forgotten. With this group you've given us the opportunity to be more resourceful and organized. As a person the laptop has certainly made me more aware of the technology-related activities that can be brought into the classrooms and shared with our students. As a teacher we no longer have to stick to the same routine of overheads and worksheets. We are now capable of pulling in interactive games and lesson plans that are more exciting and keep the students focus more. Before this, I did a lot of writing, but now I have the choice. On a personal note I am a lot more organized than before because I'm not always shuffling papers and looking for things, it's all in one spot. Ashley Jones

I am answering the question, "How has this laptop program changed me?" First, it has made me familiar with a laptop computer. I had never used one before now, only a PC. I have also had more desire to become proficient with computer skills. For instance, I do not use instant messaging, but I would like to. The program has given a stronger bond with my classmates than a regular classroom setting would because we have similar problems and we can offer some solutions about the laptops. I have recently become aware of the iDisk, an online storage space for backup files. I did not know that I also have a similar program for my PC. The program is also giving me the confidence that I will be technologically prepared for teaching students some skills that will be invaluable to their futures. I have at times felt ignorant or lacking, like I should already know some of the things I am learning. As far as personally, I have been able to bring my work with me when I have gone camping, at the Dr.'s office, etc. I am not stuck in the computer room when everyone else is watching TV. I have also been able to share this technology with my children; they like the chess game and iTunes. Chanda Griggs

I entered this laptop initiative group, I was afraid of using MAC computers and meeting new people whom I knew I would be spending the next two years with. Since the first day of classes I have been grateful to meet these fellow laptop students and have been getting to know them personally. I have learned many things through this program and I hope to learn a lot more in the future. I enjoy every minute I spend in this group and I am enjoying getting along with the students in this laptop cohort. I anticipate the next two years of learning from each other. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one who put this program together and giving me this opportunity to be involved in this cohort. I am glad this program will teach me to integrate technology in the classroom because it is very much needed in schools today. Christina Criscuoli

How has this laptop program changed me? Let me count the ways. It has been two short months and my growth is extensive in many aspects. I have improved my proficiency on a Mac, my reliance on technology and my need for community by leaps and bounds. At the beginning of the semester I was hesitant to use the Macs. I am a PC girl all the way and not exactly and expert at that. With the weekly trainings and all the practice we get during class and homework assignments, I would say I am more proficient on this Mac than I ever was on a PC. I use my iBook for everything. This is best exemplified by my last week's reflection.

Hello to all, I must say I am in a chipper mood because this week has been great for my laptop experience. I have many things to reflect on. The first exciting moment came when I was studying by myself on campus and someone contacted me through rendezvous. I did not have this person on my iChat list but I accepted anyway. They were talking to me from the business building on campus. I don't mean typing, I mean talking. We sat and talked back and forth for a while. They explained that they just got the iChat program and wanted to test it out. They saw that I was online and available so they called my computer. This was neat, although the students in my building were probably wondering why I was having a conversation with my computer.:) Next up is the practical use. I was sick two days last week due to a fever. My classmate sent me the notes as soon as she took them due to her wireless capability. This is so great because you don't have to worry as much about people forgetting to send you the notes. They were so fresh off the press that she didn't even spell check them yet! Now for more fun. I am staying the week at a friend's house taking care of here children 15&8 while she is out of town. To help everyone feel comfortable, I used the ibook as a group activity. We hooked up the camera and took pictures. I wanted to make a movie but I don't think we can with just the isite. Then we opened up sound studio and recorded 5 original songs. We played drums, tambourine and sang. You could hear each sound very clearly. It was nice because you can have automatic playback and edit the parts you didn't like. You also can save your songs to hear later. We had so much fun goofing off and made some really nice songs as well. One of my kids reluctantly went to bed asking if we could record more tomorrow. I said yes and as soon as I woke the next day the first thing he said was "Can I record what's in my head now?" That was literally the first thing he said. All in all this laptop initiative has been great. I carry it with me at all times and use it as my planner, radio, note taker, activity aid, creative studio and more. I feel 70% more fluent on this Mac than I was at the beginning of this thing. This is a really great opportunity and I Am beginning to realize what a privilege it is to be part of it. If I am gaining this much in just a couple of months, imagine after 5 semesters. Thanks to all the powers that be. Especially thanks to Mac for the great invention and gift! The 25-person cohort is quickly becoming "family". It is amazing how quickly people bond when faced with new challenges. We have adapted this " were all in this together" team spirit. For example if one of us is walking to internship behind a group, 100 percent of the time the group will stop and wait. There is open efforts when studying, borrowing missed notes and reminding each other of due assignments. The many projects we are assigned as a cohort offer a plethora of ways to get acquainted. In lieu of discussing the weather, we discuss our classes. This inevitably leads to deeper connections. The nature of several class discussions is personal, so in a variety if ways we see a little more of each other everyday. I definitely know we all want each other to succeed. The schedule we have is hectic; mix that with personal lives and it is overwhelming. The support, encouragement and team mentality of this cohort is the key to each individual success. All in all.....Yeah!!! Sylvie Fanous-Samaan

This laptop program has meant so much to me. For the first time, I actually want to come to school. I look forward to school. I think that a lot of it has to with the fact that the twenty-five of us have bonded so much since school has started. We have all of our classes together and it really does make a difference. In the past, I have rarely talked to people in my classes and I didn't like doing group projects. Now, I have twenty-four new best friends. We talk, we hang out together out of class. We even take classes together that we are not required to take together. This laptop program is such a great idea. It is also so nice to be introduced to new technology. The people that are working with us, such as Mike Sweeney, are so patient with our questions when it comes to the computers. It is nice that we can do things in class on our computers, and we can just hook right in and do presentations just by grabbing our iBook and carrying it to the plug-in. I honestly feel so lucky to be involved in this program. It really teaches us how technology can work to our advantage in the classroom. I would recommend this type of cohort for anyone contemplating being involved in one. I cannot wait for what is in the future of our program. Jennifer Heinze

I am so grateful to have this opportunity that has allowed me to grow more as a future teacher than I had ever expected. The laptop initiative program has not only given me an awesome computer to use for academics and for teaching, but has allowed me to have the best of the best professors and peers teach and guide me to this point and for the next semesters to come. I am so excited to be able to learn and have access to the top of the line technology with the creators of this project and the makers of my computer, teaching me to use it and to apply what I know to my teaching elementary students more effectively. This program has opened my eyes to all the possibilities of growing as a teacher and learning how to become a star teacher in an advanced way. I consider myself privileged to be a part of this research project and hope that my input will help other students in the college of Education in the future receive the best opportunity for learning and using all the available resources for achieving their education. Again thank you for this opportunity for allowing me to grow as a teacher and helping you grow as a significant part of this University. Kimberli Carlton

I feel that this laptop initiative program is going to help me learn to be more flexible and open to change. I also feel that since technology is becoming a bigger part of education, that I am a little ahead of the game, compared to some other teachers. I know some teachers are reluctant to use the computer in the classroom. While I don't want everything to be ruled by technology in my class, I do want it to be an equal part in my lesson planning. I think being in this initiative has forced me to think ahead, in ways that I can plan for the classroom. I also feel that because of the laptop initiative I am researching more sites that will be great resources and looking at lesson plans earlier than I may have if I was not in this initiative. I have used my laptop as an intern with some students, using story dictation. I see how asking a simple question to a child and letting them go on and on about a topic they love can bring you closer to a student. It can help you get to know them a little better. Of coarse I have no other experiences to compare this to, but I feel that this opportunity has given me a reason to jump in and get to know the students, maybe more so than if I was not part of this group. I think it has also made me a little more excited about the last two years of school. I have a new toy to learn new things! Kristi Aker

Being a part of this laptop program has somewhat changed my philosophy of education. Now I realize how important it is for students to become familiar with technology. I think it is necessary for students in elementary school to be able to use all of the resources that a computer has to offer. Although some students can type a word document on a computer, there are so many other fantastic ways that students can use computers. In addition to typing documents, students can create movies, download music, create presentations, search an interesting topic on the internet, and much more. I think students would truly enjoy using computers to do their classwork and/or homework because it allows them to expand their capabilities. Moreover, I think students would enjoy this because it makes the project or assignment fun. During my internship, I have observed students using computers, but only to take AR tests. If students were able to use computers for assignments, in addition to worksheets and textbooks, their drive to complete the assignment would be greater. They would be anxious to use technology, especially if they are allowed to use the Internet. Personally, I think computers in the classroom are an excellent idea and teachers should promote their use, as well as incorporate it in their teaching. Laura Chiricosta

Going into this Laptop Initiative, I was already proficient with using computers even the iMac, so I was not too concerned with that. Although I knew a lot coming into this program, as they say there is always something new to learn and being a part of the awesome cohort I have had the opportunity to do just that. Being a part of this group is such an honor and I am so thankful to be among the few chosen. Also, I love how all of us have meshed so well together. Unlike a lot of my other classes where you only mesh with a few students, this cohort has provided the opportunity to mesh with each and every single person in the class, which to me is how ALL classes should be! The environment for learning is so effective and everyone is so supportive. One downside about being in this cohort is going into your other classes with the laptop and other students looking at you funny or they demonstrate interest in the computers but at the same time act hostile towards us. I feel bad because they weren't extended the same opportunity that I was. I hope that our experience and achievements will encourage the college to extend this opportunity to all students. Laura Ethington

To start out, I cannot express how grateful I am to be in this program. I am not sure how i was chosen, or if I was, but I feel that the experience I am getting and the people I get to associate with every day is more than average, its got to be something to do with luck. This laptop program has become so much more than just interacting with new computers. It has become a whole experience involving the top of the line professors, active administration, and caring involvement from everyone at the College of Education. We are receiving more support and encouragement with the use of these laptops all the time. It helps so much to know that there is faculty around us supporting us and walking with us every step of the way. As for my 25 colleges, I couldn't have asked for more of a "family" group. We have all adapted well to each other and continue to open up and help each other along the way. I look forward to growing as a teacher and expanding my knowledge with these extraordinary-to-be-teachers. As for myself, I have learned ways to teach students that I don't think would be possible without these laptops. I feel that I am benefiting so much from this program, but I know that my future students will benefit even more! I again want to express my gratitude to the College of Education, the Dean, and the Explorers Team and its professors for taking the initiative and leap of faith in me and my peers in this program. Leslee Edwards

I would like to start by saying that I am very happy and excited to be a part of this Laptop Initiative. I was at the orientation (for College of Education) the night that this project was unveiled and I was the first of about three people there to sign up for this program. I was truly surprised to see that not more of the students were wanting to take advantage of this great opportunity. I figured a laptop would be great so that I could do my work wherever I am going to be. I also loved the idea that I would be able to share my computer with elementary students so that they would be able to experience this new wave of technology. So now that we have been in this program for a couple months, it is turning out great! I am thrilled at the opportunity to be able to take my technology with me and I never realized before how convenient it is to be mobile with my computer. At first, it was a little bit of a pain getting used to and honestly, there are still times when I need help. However, I know that this is to be expected and that the more practice I get and the more that I use it, the easier that this MAC computer will be for me. Being that I have not really used a MAC except for in high school, I think I am adjusting to it well. The training that we have received from the staff and teachers at USF has been good and I must say that without them, I would not be as comfortable with the laptop as I am. They have shown us how to do such interesting things on the laptop and we have also had the opportunity to use our computers (and other digital equipment) with the students at the ELI (English Institute here on campus). Those activities were so much fun!! Speaking of my fellow USF students, I must say that I absolutely love being with the group of Laptop Explorers in all my classes. I feel so comfortable in all my classes knowing that I will see familiar faces every time I go to class. I also enjoy knowing that I have twenty-four other people that I can share my worries and successes with in regards to the computers (amongst other things). I know that these students are going through the same feelings and anxieties that I am going through so it is comforting to know that I am not alone. About using it with students yet, I have yet to use it in my classroom in which I am interning in. However, I do hope that there will be a time soon that I will be able to use it at Chile's (interning school). I thank everyone for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible group and I am looking forward to the chances to utilize my laptop in the school environment! Melissa Lopez

I feel that this program has changed my future as a teacher. I am lucky enough to be part of a great group of 25 people who will be proficient with technology when we graduate. I look forward to using this knowledge in the classroom, and also sharing my knowledge with future co-workers. I really hope the schools will be falling over themselves to hire us because of this! This program has opened my eyes to things I would have never been able to do in a classroom without this training. I recently went on a field trip with my interning class. I took pictures with a digital camera and then made a slideshow to show the entire class. I was so excited because this was my first experience using the laptop in the classroom. The children were so excited to see themselves in this really cool show. I also used the slideshow to review the things that we learned while on the field trip. That room has never been so quiet as when they were watching the slideshow. I also feel very fortunate that I am going to be with the same 25 people throughout my undergraduate experience. It's nice to have a support system to fall back on when necessary, rather than having classes with random people. I have access to the great ideas of 24 other people, not just my own. Monica Vranich

Well it has already been half of our first semester in the College of Education and with our brand new laptops. I have seen so much growth in myself in these past few weeks. I never imagined that these laptops could have such a great effect on my educational experience. For one thing I am becoming very familiar and increasingly familiar with the Mac machine everyday. This just builds my confidence with myself and has given me that scaffold to try new thing in technology. Having this laptop has made me realize how very useful they are in everyday life as well. I am a big fan of the iCal program: it keeps me organized. I am learning and enjoying the presence of this laptop so much and I am so glad that I took part in this once in a lifetime, at least in my eyes, experience. I have met so many great professors that I know are here for me if I need help thought the program. The support is just great. I am joined with 25 students who are just some of the most wonderful people I have been introduced to in a long time. It is great to know that I have so much between the staff and also my colleagues. I have to admit that I love sitting on my couch and typing a paper or just even playing solitaire. It makes all of my roommates jealous. Before I was introduced to my new best friend (my laptop) I have to admit that I was very anti-technology. I would get so frustrated and I would just try to stay as far away as possible. I have come to realize that the computer will not bite and is actually one of the coolest things that I own right now along with the most helpful with EVERYTHING! I am just so incredibly happy with this program and how it has had such a positive impact on me so far that I am at a loss for words and do not want to start repeating myself. So I will sum it up for you here. I have experienced only positive things in this program so far and I have learned more that I ever though I could possibly learn. I am just so excited for what is in store for me for the rest of my stay here at USF and even after. I love it, I love it, I love it. And I must say Thank You to the College of Education. Nicole Meyerson

Personally, it is so wonderful and productive for me to have all my materials in one place. I know where all of my projects are and I know that no one has been tampering with my assignments, such as on my home pc. At the flip of the lid, I have my information right at hand and I can bring it with me where ever I go. With more and more training and software, I am able to bring my teaching into use with my laptop as well. I can do different types of slideshows and presentations on the laptop ahead of time and then when it is time to present what it is that I have, I can just hook it up to a projector and the class can now see something that is visually stimulating that corresponds with their lesson. I think that it is a great alternative to watching videos in class. Also, it's a great way for the children to do activities on the computer as well using power point types of programs to make a class project more interactive. As more and more technology is introduced in the classrooms over the years, the more hope there is that we may be able to incorporate more computer based activities into the curriculum. The possibilities are endless for technology and I think that this is a great head start to a more computer literate future. Rosemarie Lorenzo

How as this laptop and the cohort changed me? Well for starters, I have met twenty- five of the coolest and nicest people ever! We all get along so hard and I know I can count on them to help me in anyway I need it. Also, the laptops are great! I am beginning to go to my laptop first when I need information or need to do any kind of work. It has become a part of me practically. I take it everywhere because I never know when I am going to need it! I love this program and the people I get to work with. Dr. Morris and Mrs. Schwartz have been so great this semester. We are all adjusting to the new computers and they totally understand. I feel very lucky to be in this cohort and to have met all these great people. Shannon Alonso

I have never had feelings of such excitement and confusion all at the same time. My MAC training was an awesome experience, and I learned a great deal. Being part of this laptop cohort has given me great confidence. I feel like I am a teacher already, because I have taught my mom and little brother how to use my laptop, as well as my new international friends that visit our class from time to time. I have used the new information I have learned to share and teach others. That is a rewarding feeling and it confirms my desire to become an educator even more. I have made wonderful friends and have had the privilege to work with outstanding professors. I feel honored to be part of this group of these twenty-five students, for I learn and reflect with them daily. The College of Education has given me the best welcome I could have ever imagined. I appreciate all the help and support I have received this semester. Taryn Cona

This laptop program has changed me in many different ways. The first way is how much I have learned already about my computer. I was pretty computer illiterate at first and now I am already much more comfortable about using the computer. Secondly, I enjoy going to school more now then I ever have throughout my whole college career. The reason being is because I have met so many wonderful people. My classmates and my teachers are all great people. My experience as an intern is going very well. My students enjoy playing around with my laptop. I love having my own laptop where I can get help when I need it and I can save things into my own folders and all the work I have on my computer is mine. I am extremely excited about these two years of my life and I feel very confident that I will continue to learn daily about technology and about becoming a wonderful teacher. Thank you all for this wonderful opportunity! Theresa Bianculli

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