Classrooms are starting to look a little different than they did when we were kids.  Straight rows of desks are disappearing in favor of flexible classroom arrangements and technology is creeping into everyday classroom use.  Does this scare you?  Don’t let it.  Technology can be put to use for you to help accomplish your teaching and learning goals.

Intelligent teachers are creating “Intelligent classrooms,” which essentially put technology to work for you to improve teaching and learning. *

Each Intelligent Classroom can and should look different, based on the needs of the class and the resources available to work with.  Intelligent Classrooms usually feature:

  • Tablets
  • Smart Phones
  • Desktops
  • Laptops
  • Projectors
  • Smart Boards
  • Televisions
  • Internet access
  • Flexible seating

Some essentials you will need to begin creating an Intelligent Classroom:

  1. Create a flexible classroom environment that can be easily changed. Move around the room during the day to get students in different groupings: pairs, small groups, whole groups, circles, rows, standing and moving, you name it.  Break out of the box of lecturing and get the students actively involved in their learning.
  2. Have students use the devices they are comfortable with (“bring your own device”) This one can be scary, but is being adopted by many schools and districts, even as low as K-5. A school that implements this well is Shiloh Point Elementary School in Forsyth County. Visit this site to review an excellent list of ways to implement BYOT into your classroom setting and across the curriculum.
  3. Don’t focus on using tech to teach, put the tech in the hands of the students to help them learn. Technology can’t just be in the hands of teachers to use as a demonstration tool.  Let the kids use the tech for learning.  With a little encouragement and guidance your classroom will begin to have different discussions and outcomes.
  4. Encourage students to use the tech in their problem solving throughout the school day, and if possible at home. Your students will amaze you with their knowledge of how to use tech to solve their problems.  Let them implement technology in project creation, group discussions, and assignments and you will be amazed what they come up with.
  5. Create an environment with technological variety. Try to get as many tools into your students’ hands as possible. Also, don’t be afraid of using new kinds of tech.  Assign students to learn and teach new technology…you don’t have to be proficient in all of them.
  6. Offer opportunity for students to display their work and share resources and have many inputs that accommodate a number of devices. Our favorite is the Clear Touch interactive board, which is essentially like a large tablet on the wall with multiple inputs, touch screen and a built in PC.  Find out more here.
  7. Learn to communicate using the media and methods your students and parents use. If it’s more efficient to text, text.  If your families use social media, become familiar with it.  Most importantly, ask what they are using and meet them where they are.   Professional communication, following the guidelines of your administration, is always appreciated.
  8. Create a task force that seeks out new tech: There are many free apps, and programs for use in education.  Get out there!  A small group of parents, teachers or students can spend just a few minutes a day to research and download new tech and programs.  Believe me, it pays to take the time to stay current and on the pulse of what other schools, businesses and industries use!
  9. Gradually upgrade. Enlist parents and community members to help you acquire newer versions of tech that is useful to you. It doesn’t have to be the latest model, as long as it’s newer than what you have you will constantly be improving your collection.  If money is tight, look for parents or businesses who may be able to donate items to you as they upgrade.
  10. Connect with other technology-rich communities Todd LaVogue of Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, is a great source of information and has a wonderful teaching model. Many companies reach out to him to do beta testing for their programs. He also communicates regularly with a sister school in another country, and has his students involved daily creating apps, creating a website for kids to share teaching videos they have created, and more!  Find out more about Mr. LaVogue and his innovative teaching and learning environment.

The main idea of creating an Intelligent Classroom is to make use of the resources you have to accommodate the community you have.  This is not a one size fits all:  You should customize your space to meet your group’s needs.  Don’t be afraid to get a community of support together and get going…technology moves fast, but we can move faster!

*“The ‘Intelligent Classroom’: changing teaching and learning with an evolving technological environment,” Laura R. Winer .

These starting points were compiled from visits to some excellent schools.  Katz Computer Service is a reseller for really fantastic educational tech, like zSpace, Clear Touch Interactive, MakerBot and Stratasys.  In these visits to schools we are able to spy on what the brightest and best are doing and accomplishing in their classrooms.  This infographic helps you put all of these ideas together to get started in creating your own Intelligent Classroom.  Little by little, just get started.

This article and infographic were prepared by Nicole Aitken, Katz Computer Service Account Executive.  Nicole Aitken has a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Instructional Technology.  She is a graduate of the ProTeach Program at the University of Florida.  Her passion is integrating technology effectively into curriculum and allowing kids to use tech as tools, not strictly teacher presentation devices.

Intelligent Classrooms Infographic by Nicole Aitken


How to find funds to get zSpace into your school or business

Have you fallen in love with zSpace, but are struggling to figure out how to get it into your school?  Often customers look to us for help finding funding solutions to put a zSpace lab into their school or business.  The following is a list of ideas we have compiled to help you get started.  There are more places to look for assistance than you may know!

Grants

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6 year old using zSpace 3D technology to dissect a starfish.

Starting with a simple Google Search can get you a long way.  Start with simple terms like “STEM grant public school new york”.  Depending on the type of school you work for, you may be able to find quite a few grants to apply for.  I would suggest starting with a Google search for grants using search terms like “STEM grant public school” then adding in things about your school, for example if you have a high population of minority students, are a Title 1 school, are a private school, etc, you may be  able to find specific grants that suit the needs you are trying to meet.

You’ll be amazed at the number of grants you can apply for, from State and Government associations to corporations who want to see STEM skills and tech literacy fostered in schools.

Some links to get you started:

National Grants

http://www.stemfinity.com/STEM-Education-Grants

The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources

http://www.edutopia.org/grants-and-resources

STEMGrants.com

http://stemgrants.com

If you begin writing a grant and need support, we can provide you with some written material you can plug into your existing grants to explain the functions of zSpace and its educational value.

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In studies funded by the National Science Foundation there were 35% increases in spatial reasoning and 32% gains in retention in students who used zSpace to learn.

Crowd Funding

There are many website services available to begin reaching out to members of your community to help you fund projects.  Most charge a small percentage of monies collected.  Once you set up an account you can get the word out through newsletters, mailers, text and email blasts, automated phone calls and Social Media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instragram and more.

For a great comparison of the Top Ten Crowdfunding Sites, visit http://www.crowdfunding.com

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Imran, our Katz service manager, at a University of Florida College of Education zSpace showcase.

Business donations

Another way to reach out for support is to look into businesses in your own community.  Businesses who specialize in tech or scientific research often partner with local schools to help them enrich their resources. Companies of all kinds participate in charity work and donations within their communities and you may find it easy to find a company or companies who want to partner with your school.   Start with your parent base to see the companies your parents own or work for, then branch out to see the types of organizations they may be affiliated with.  Beyond parents, family members and friends of the school may also have great resources to connect you with.

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Nicole Aitken instructing other zSpace resellers how to use CyberScience at October Professional Development Training at zSpace Headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA.

Leasing

Customers also find that leasing is a great option for them. There are two main outcomes:  Lease to own, or Lease to return the equipment.

Lease to own gives the customer the opportunity to get started with a lower initial cost and to be able to pay the total of the equipment over 2, 3 or 4 years rather than in one large sum.  Lease terms can be set in monthly or annual payments.

Lease to return allows customers to lease the equipment for a 2, 3 or 4 years, then return the equipment at the end of the term.  This allows customers to return the existing equipment and begin a lease on newer systems when the term is up.  This option is perfect for customers who want to be up on advancements.

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A fundraising auction at Evangelical Christian Academy in Ft. Myers, Florida.

On-site Fundraisers and Events

We have participated in a number of STEM nights, Back to School gatherings, Open Houses, Fundraisers, Auctions, and awareness events.  Often there is a better “buy in” for supporting your fundraising efforts if your community can see zSpace in action.  From bake sales and spaghetti dinners to non-fundraising school events, we have been able to drum up support of community members who were able to see the value in experiencing virtual reality, 3D hands-on learning for themselves.  We’ve seen anonymous donors fund projects or volunteers step up to lead campaigns after participating in these events.  If you choose the right event and make it a point to invite the most influential, connected or motivated people you know, it becomes easier to get the ball rolling and gain support.

–Nicole Aitken, March 17, 2015


Katz Computer Service, Jupiter, South, Florida, Computer, Tech, Laptop, Tablet, Mac, PC, Dell, Lenovo, HP, Repair, Service, Install, Purchase, Buy, zSpace, ClearTouch, Interactive, Smart, Board, 3D, Printer, Printing, technology, specialists, bestA Look Inside Your Favorite Local Tech Repair, Service & Installation Company

Ever wonder what happens inside a computer company?

Well, here is your chance to find out.

Katz Computer Service, Inc. is offering you a sneak peak at how we do business and what we are all about.

Here at Katz, we like to think the customer comes first, I know you have probably heard that before…and been really disappointed in some cases! But not here.

We have been in business since 1987 and are looking forward to many more years. Starting out small with just a few staff members, we have grown into a solid organization capable of handling large-scale projects, yet retaining our mindset of providing customized care with a personal-touch.Serving all of Palm Beach County School District and Saint Lucie County School District with installs and service repairs.

“No project is too large or too small for our staff.  We pay attention to detail and listen to our customers which makes all of our deployments a success” –Tiffany Maglio (Operations Manager)

But that is not all that we do…

We are also an Authorized reseller of some of the most advanced technologies to date.

zSpace is an “immersive learning experience” that allows you explore the human and animal anatomy’s with Cyberscience 3-D, understand force and motion with Newton Park and you can do this all while in 3-D without the nasty smell of formaldehyde.

“It’s truly amazing what zSpace is capable of.  zSpace is a game changer, not only in education, but in the way we will interface with computers in the future.“– Nicole Aitken (Account Executive)

Stratasys 3-D Printers are also one of our specialties, many times an ordinary printer will just not work… you need to have that physical product. We here at Katz understand the need to have a physical product that is going to be what you need. That’s why we sell Stratasys 3-D printers

The last thing I want to mention (in my opinion is certainly the best) Control 4. What is that you may ask…? Control 4 is a smart home security system, it does everything you could want it to. It dims the light, turns the entertainment system on and also allows you to monitor your home while you are away.

All in all Katz Computer Service is more than just a Doctor for your sick computer it’s a place where technology is explored, identified and handled with care.

Written by Jonnie Dee Izzo (Katz Computer Service, Inc.)

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