Friday, March 20, 2009

SMART Introduces Lessons That Count Contest

What’s your formula for success?

Have you created a fantastic math lesson? Do you have a great way to demonstrate how a difficult math concept solves a real-world problem? Well, SMART wants to see it! Grab your video camera, and show them how you use SMART products to create innovative math lessons.

The Lessons That Count contest gives you the opportunity to share your formula for creating and delivering successful, interactive math lessons. By entering this contest, you could win a SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system.

Learn More and Enter the Contest

Lesson, camera, action!

To enter the Lessons That Count contest, send SMART a two-minute video that offers a glimpse into how you teach a math concept, encourage student participation or present an ingenious lesson that gets everyone engaged.

Smart is looking for videos that show innovative, fun and effective math lessons and display how SMART products have enhanced your classes. In addition, they request a one-paragraph description of the concept you are demonstrating and the SMART products you've used.

The contest begins on March 14, 2009, (International Pi Day) and ends on May 15, 2009. The winner will be selected by a panel of SMART judges, and they will announce the winning entry on June 1, 2009. All finalist videos, including the winning video, will be posted on SMART's TeacherTube channel.

The winner will receive a SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system and the winning video will be featured in the June issue of EDCompass newsletter.

Resurrect Your Old Technology

Before you think you just ran across a blog that hasn't been updated in years because of the picture of a Palm IIIc, keep reading. This week, my principal asked me to focus on helping students brush up on their multiplication facts during our two-week intersession. I remembered how much fun my students enjoyed using Palm Handheld PDAs in years past, but the ancient classroom set of Palm IIIc devices I had won in a grant several years back were collecting dust on their chargers. Even though I had concerns about lost styli, outdated firmware, and the fact that I hadn't tried to sync a Palm device in over three years, I hesitantly reached into the cobwebs and pulled out a freshly charged Palm IIIc.

After a failed attempt to locate the Palm desktop CD that came with the device nearly a decade ago, I found Palm's desktop manager for Windows XP at Palmone's website and downloaded and installed it, plugged in my cradle, performed my first hot sync in years, and was immediately transported back to 2001. No... "Gone" by 'N Sync didn't spontaneously start playing on my computer, but that old, familiar three-toned, ascending trill reverberated in my ears, indicating that yes, the PC and Palm were back on speaking terms. Then, there was the issue of software-- No problem. I downloaded a few trial basic math fact applications from, taught my students how to beam apps to one another, and my students were instantly engaging in fun math games like Missle Math, Herbert's Math Time, Bunny Math, and Math Champ. This week, I found a new appreciation for old technology and a special place in my heart for trial apps! Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's broken. I'm so glad I didn't sell these things on e-bay like I wanted to last year.

Monday, March 16, 2009

USB Thumb Drive: Like Being In Westside Story

Compact and sleek, the Store 'n' Go Retractable USB Drive is a stylish way to take your data with you. A convenient capless design allows you to connect to your PC or Mac through a retractable USB connector. Store everything from corporate data files and business presentations to photos, video clips and music, all readily accessible on any computer with a USB port!

I've used this USB drive for about 3 months, and it is still going strong. What's great about this drive is that it's sturdy and reliable. But my favorite thing is its Sharks vs. Jets-style retractable USB connector. OK-- it doesn't snap out automatically like a real switch blade-- and I don't feel any safer carrying in around, but it does lock into position once out. Occasionally, I find myself sliding the connector forward and back humming, "When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarrette to your last dying day..."

I keep it on my key chain, so it goes with me everywhere. I've had horrible luck in the past with USB drives that have caps because I lose them. Without a cap on the end, it's easy to damage the connector, especially if it's in the same pocket with your keys. This is a fantastic drive, and affordable. I bought my 4 GB model for about $17 at Sam's Club. Of course, they come in larger or smaller capacities. The company projects that these drives will operate more than 450 years without failure, which is kind of funny. Imagine your future great, great, great, etc. grandchildren taking Verbatim to court in the year 2409 because their 400+ year old USB drive wouldn't mount.