Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: May 2011

PowerPoint Troubles

Teachers who have their new computers already are running into some new features. Some are great, some are causing distress.

Several people have asked me how to get rid of the presenter view in PowerPoint. All you have to do is change your settings from Presenter View to Mirror Show. Take a look at the image.

Of course, if you prefer to use something that always works without having to adjust anything, use Keynote. Open existing PowerPoint files in Keynote by right-clicking and selecting Open with… then choosing Keynote from the available selection.


What Are Your Students Making?

When we plan G21 projects with teachers, we stress the importance of a student product, a video, a picture, a structure, something. Making something requires complex thinking and creativity, and we are not the only ones who think this is important.

Wired interviewed Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck-e-Cheese Pizza about the importance of making stuff. He spoke at the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend. Take a look at their website. Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a Maker Faire with some of our students? We may not be able to go to the Mini Maker Faire in North Carolina next month, but this may be a worthwhile goal for next year.

Screen shot 2011-05-22 at 5.46.39 PM

QR Codes

My daughter came home yesterday with a large roll of paper and a long story about a board game she’s invented. The name of the game is Are You Einstein? She’s into trivia and board games, so she’s making her own.

The game looks a lot like Monopoly, with spaces around a square. To advance, players answer questions, presented with QR codes. Why QR codes? Well, she has been noticing them everywhere and wants to use them herself.

Have you used QR codes yourself? Take a look at what John Hendron wrote about them a few weeks ago. They are really easy to generate and can be used for almost anything.


The Idea Machine

My last post was about a strange SketchUp project, a model of something that didn’t exist. Now it does, kind of.

We have launched a new blog, the G21 Idea Machine. This will be a place to share ideas and find collaborators for next year’s G21 projects. We will be sharing projects, some new, some that have already been tried with great results. There are a couple of posts only, but we’ll be adding more all summer long.

Do you have an idea to share?Picture 1


It has been a while since I worked with SketchUp on anything other than a demo for someone who has never seen it before.

Today I needed to draw something that does not really exist, and was having a hard time putting it on paper. So, I created it in SketchUp. Here’s a small piece of it that I found a bit of a challenge to draw.

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 4.34.12 PM

It is amazing what this tool can do.

Please let me know if you would like to learn more about the tool, or if you’d like to discuss ideas for using it in your classroom. We can always dream up a way of incorporating it into your G21 plan for next year.

Romeo, Juliet, and the Apology

Last week I spoke to Mrs. Abbott and Mrs. Whisler who have been reading Romeo and Juliet with their students. To evaluate the students’ understanding of the play, they have assigned some letter writing. Students have to create a letter written by Friar Lawrence explaining his role in the whole affair to the Prince, and apologize for the way things turned out. This is a great idea.

First, the students are not being asked to summarize the play, or to answer simple questions. Students are being asked to think through the events in the play assign guilt to all involved. This requires that each student evaluate and interpret the actions and thoughts of each character. There is no correct answer, and there is no way to Google an answer. Second, students can be creative in writing the letter and make the explanations as simple or as complex as they wish. This provides for instant differentiation.

Of course, there is also tech involved, which makes me so happy. Students are using Google Docs, sharing their letters with a partner, and working on peer editing and critiquing. And, there will be no printing.Yay!

What can we do so this assignment does not get old in a few years? Come up with variations. Have the Nurse write the letter, resigning her post and explaining the events from her point of view. Write the eulogy one of the relatives would have given at the funeral. Write the newspaper account, with interviews, or the report a CSI character might file after an investigation. There are endless possibilities to help everyone avoid a dry summary that can be copied off any website.

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