Microsoft Mouse Mischief

April 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Those of you who actually know me, know that I am a Mac person. HOWEVER, I give props where props are due… and I think this may be such an occasion!

For schools/programs who would like to purchase classroom response systems, but find them to be too expensive, Microsoft’s Mouse Mischief may be a good alternative. Used with PowerPoint, it lets teachers/presenters incorporate polls and questions for up to 25 students.

The software download is free, so all the school would have to purchase are wireless mice and USB hubs, both of which can be obtained inexpensively.

This video shows the software in action, and also a cool DIY carrying case for the mice:

It looks a little messier than dedicated response systems, and all the icons on the screen are a bit distracting, but it’s a viable, inexpensive alternative!

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More social media news

April 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to amass ideas of ways in which social media and technology can be incorporated meaningfully and seamlessly into the classroom. I found this article interesting. For those who don’t want to use Twitter for various reasons, there are multiple options* to allow students to text in group settings, either using their cell phones or computers (useful if the student does not have unlimited texting).

*I know I have a list of these around here somewhere… but where?

Technology boost

April 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

The New Media Consortium has released it’s 2010 Horizon Report, a list of the most prominent technologies which will likely be implemented in classrooms in the next 5 years. I have yet to find the time to read the entire thing, but I’m pretty amazed by what I’ve been able to read.

On an entirely different note, the blog Free Technology for Teachers published a list of 10 resources to teach children about economics. I must admit, I want to try out the “Life on Minimum Wage” game. It sounds like both a learning exercise and a reality check for students.

Social Networking, for better and for worse

April 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today’s college students cannot stay away from social media, or their various gadgets. After completing a 24 hour assignment to stay away from media, including social networking sites, video games, television, phones and iPods, many students came to the realization that their dependency on media is close to addiction.

If it wasn’t for my dependency on computers and the Internet at work, I think I could actually make it a few days without media. I’m not a big TV watcher, and I don’t do much on the computer outside of work, since by the time I get home, I’m sick of looking at a screen. The only people I call or text on a regular basis are family, and they mostly live close enough that I could just run by their house to see if they are home. However, I would definitely miss the blogs I read daily, and listening to NPR in my car.

How long do you think you could make it without media?

On another note, high school students in New Jersey used Facebook to organize protests to budget cuts. Will the easy access to media 24/7 end up making a more informed, more politically active citizenry? I hope so, or we’ll end up with this for real:

New books you should check out!

April 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here are the first of a slew of new books we’ll be getting into the Curriculum Library:

Marching for Freedom, by Elizabeth Partridge. A National Book Award finalist, and winner of School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kid’s Books.

Django, by Bonnie Christensen. Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, given to the book that best embodies the “artistic expression of the disability experience.”

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners, by Laurie Keller. Seriously cute.

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. Winer of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

The Sky is Falling (Guests of War, Book 1), by Kit Pearson.

Twitter-pated

April 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

As teachers try to figure out how to incorporate more technology into the classroom, some are figuring out ways to use social media to enhance student learning. Here is an article with suggestions on how to use Twitter in the classroom. There are links to more articles and ideas at the end.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

April 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Given that the movie came out recently, this book was hard to get my hands on. Luckily, the children’s literature professor donated a copy, which I promptly snapped up after it was taken off course reserve.

Percy Jackson is a troubled 12 year old, who is about to be expelled from yet another boarding school. After being attacked by a monster on a school trip,  he begins to discover the truth behind his family, and human history… The ancient Greek myths are true, and his father is a god.

It’s a little hard to explain the plot of the book without giving too much away, but suffice to say that Percy goes on a quest, and his success means the avoidance of a god battle on the scale of World War III.

The similarities to Harry Potter are obvious: mortal tween discovers that he is “special.” Dark forces conspiring against said tween. A school for such tweens and teens, divided into houses, which compete against each other in contests, and eat in a hall with magical food. Three main characters- two boys, one really smart girl. A whole world existing underneath normal mortals’ noses.

For people, such as myself, who are sad that there will never be another Harry Potter book (though I can still dream, can’t I, about a book based on Dumbledore’s life? or read the “James Potter” fan fiction?), Percy Jackson can fill the void. It’s just like enough to appeal to HP fans, but just different enough to still be interesting in its own right. I can’t wait to read the second installment.

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