The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Using the Overhead

Today was the first time I used the overhead projector in my classroom. It seems kind of surprising to me, based on my own experiences in school, where I don’t think a day went by where a teacher didn’t use the overhead. Part of the reason I haven’t used it was space. There just didn’t seem to be a good way to set it up. Another reason was just a lack of resources. I didn’t have any markers for use on a transparency, for one, and I didn’t have any transparencies, other than the ones that were provided with some of my curriculum materials.

But I felt like using an overhead would be particularly useful today as we began learning about writing business letters. I happened to have several sample letters from our reading curriculum, as well as an outline of what goes in a business letter, all available on transparencies. I also finally acquired the markers I needed and a package of blank transparencies.

I started off by writing, very poorly, a letter to “the Person at Woods Hole place” which was signed by “Vasco Ocsav, a Fourth grader.” (I mentioned to the class yesterday that I really liked the name Vasco and suggested I start using it to refer to students in my blog. I won’t, actually, but I will use Vasco Ocsav as my go-to student name when using it as an example of what not to do. The letter had misspellings, run-on sentences, poor organisation, words crossed out, and sloppy writing, among many other things. I put the letter on the overhead and had students identify what was wrong with it.

Then I put up one of the sample letters and we talked about what was right: the addresses and date in the heading, a proper greeting, a well-organised body, and it was typed. After identifying how a business letter should be written, the students began their first drafts of their letters to WHOI and/or the NOAA. We will work on the drafts some more next Monday, and then type the letters on Tuesday when we go to the computer lab so I can send them in the mail.

And I will definitely use the overhead again. I need to start using it with my math lessons, since I have a huge binder of transparencies for those, too. It may be an older technology, but it is quite useful!


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