Palms in the Classroom

14 Jun

Palms seem to have become outdated, but I love using them in the classroom. Last year, a colleague of mine and I convinced our principal to use some latchkey money to purchase a class set (30) of palms, and we shared them with our 5th graders. At first, we weren’t exactly sure how to use them. We had gone to a training, but it took some time to figure out how to make them work for us. Once I started, I didn’t stop!! Here are a few of the ways we incorporated palms.

Beamed Stories

Our favorite activity was “Beamed Stories”. This was not a new activity, we used something similar with paper and pencil, in fact there is a Kagan Structure called Round Table which is similar.

In this activity, I had students use the WordtoGo to begin a story- sometimes I gave a prompt or theme, other times it was completely up to them. I would give them about 5 minutes to begin writing. When the timer went off, they would beam their story clockwise around a group of 4 people. That person would be given 2 minutes to read and 5 to write, then we would beam it again and so on until time was up. When we had about 10-15 minutes of class left, I would give them a 2 minute warning to wrap up the story. Then they would take turns reading their stories to their group.

Initially we started with just a drawing or writing 1 word or sentence. Once they had master beaming and how to rotate the stories, we moved into the stories. Once they had mastered story-telling, I would throw in a challenge. For example, after they beamed I would say “this round you must use 5 of this weeks spelling or vocabulary words”, or ” you must include 4 adjectives”.


On the Palms?? Yes! Using the palms to create powerpoints allowed students to focus on content first. We used the outline view instead of the traditional slide view. The kids were not all that familiar with outlines and this gave them exposure in a way that excited them. In fact, after these lessons, I was able to teach them how to use outlines for notetaking and drafting papers, and because they saw it first using the technology, it was much less intimidating. In fact, on their state writing assessments, I saw several of them using an outline to do their brainstorming and organizing!

Back to the actual powerpoints. They did their research in the computer lab and using encyclopedias in the classroom. They took notes directly onto their palms, and then could copy and paste info into their powerpoints. Without the distraction of adding graphics, backgrounds, and transition effects, the sole focus was on the content. Once they were done, they could hotsync their palm to the computer and then edit it, add graphics, backgrounds, etc. These powerpoints had far more rich content than previous powerpoints we had done, because they weren’t racing to get to the “fun” part.

Math Practice

There are a ton of free applications that can be loaded onto the Palms. Many are math related. I would use these as our math warm up time frequently. Kids could do math games, use them as flash cards, and take quizzes. We could cover geometry, algebra, fractions, computation, and many other concepts. The kids would even “play” during indoor recess. It still amazes me how you can take what is on a worksheet, put it on a computer or Palm and suddenly, not only is it not work, but it is fun! They forget that they are learning.

Now that I have moved into the computer lab, and have students able to be 1 to 1 on the computers, I don’t use palms as much. I only have 4 at this time, and that makes it difficult for me to use- ok yes, I know that is only an excuse. I have run across something I will use in my computer lab next year. The Graffiti Alphabet can be printed and run along the top of your classroom or computer lab like the normal alphabet would be.  I plan to put these around and put my content vocabulary words beneath them.  It just seems like a “techie” thing to do 🙂


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