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Texas Instruments offers educators training for newest math, science learning tool

Tinspire Need a quick refresher on the latest TI technology? TI is offering one-day local workshops for their TI-Nspire math learning products during the spring semester and summer break. The TI-Nspiration Tour will show teachers how to maximize the interactive features of the TI-Nspire technology in math classrooms, including ways to increase student achievement. The TI-Nspire products includes two handhelds and two computer software offerings. See website for workshops in your area.

Cable Disappearing Act

Cm_03smTired of seeing networking, video and electrical cables taped to the wall or, worse, just tangled in the corner? WireTracks’ CM kit lets you hide them where the wall and ceiling meet with snap-on crown molding. The best part is that the $200 kit comes with 80-feet of cable covers and doesn’t require a contractor to install.

Type and Teach

The facts of life in today’s classroom are that the best teachers just can’t sit still and teach at their desks. They roam around the class to help students with work, look over students’ shoulders and nudge them in the right direction. The best part is that with a large screen monitor and a wireless keyboard, teachers don’t have to sever the connection with their computer to put in some well-needed face time with kids.

We put three of the latest wireless keyboards through their paces and found that each was able to stay connected more than 30-feet from the PC, giving the teacher a wide assortment of remote abilities. The one you choose depends as much on your budget as on how mobile you want to be, proving that you really can be in two places at once.

Adesso 2.4GHz RF Wireless Mini Keyboard with Optical Trackball
At just $60, the Adesso wireless keyboard is a bargain that can bring teacher and student closer together. It not only lets a teacher roam around the typical classroom while staying online but has a trackball and a variety of controls.

Wkb3000ub Weighing 1.75 pounds, the Adesso wireless keyboard is the lightest and smallest of the three, yet has keys that measure a spacious 19.6mm. Its rounded shape and grips on the sides make it the only one that seems to have been designed to be carried around and used while standing. On top of typing, the keyboard can change volume, start applications and control a video.

The bonus is the keyboard’s trackball. Located in the upper right, there are actuation buttons in front as well as on the left side. On the downside, like the Logitech diNovo, it doesn’t work as well for southpaws as for righties. A bonus is a scroll wheel that helps glide through long Web pages. 

The Adesso wireless keyboard, unfortunately, uses a proprietary USB transmitter rather than the host PC’s Bluetooth transmitter. It took all of 30 seconds to install and stayed in contact with a PC up to 40-feet away. Unlike the Logitech diNova’s rechargeable battery pack, the Adesso wireless keyboard uses four AA batteries, and it’s only battery gauge is a light when the batteries are low. All in all, it’s the perfect keyboard for those on a tight budget and need to be on the go.


Of the three keyboards we looked at, the Sony VGP-WKB5 leads in design but lacks a built-in pointing device. Its $159 price tag is higher than the Adesso but less than the Logitech keyboards, and provides excellent range of movement and a dash of style.

Vgp_wkb5_e As expected from Sony, it is elegantly designed and the wrist rest folds over to cover the keyboard when not in use. The silver and white keyboard is a tad heavy at 2.2 pounds and has a 106 key layout with a separate numeric keypad, the only of the three to include this numerical creature comfort. With 19mm keys, it’s comfortable to type and the VGP-WKB5 has buttons for volume, application launch and putting the keyboard to sleep. Like the Adesso keyboard it uses four AA batteries, but provides an excellent gauge on its small LCD screen.

Unpacking the keyboard from the box took longer than setting it up. Unlike the Adesso’s tiny transmitter, the Sony uses a hockey-puck sized radio that plugs into a PC. It connected immediately and had a range of 34 feet. While Sony sells a matching optical mouse, the VGP-WKB5 has no built-in pointing device, making it more appropriate for sit-down use. 


Logitech diNovo Edge
Easily the biggest and coolest of the three, Logitech’s diNovo Edge is a masterpiece of technology that at $200 is expensive, but for roaming teachers it’s worth it. It may be a budget buster, but the diNovo Edge is the most advanced keyboard we’ve ever seen.

Dinova_2 Weighing in at 2.1 pounds, it’s a hair lighter than the Sony VGP-WKB5, but quite a bit wider and longer; it makes the Adesso keyboard look downright puny. The 18mm keys are quiet and comfortable to use, but it lacks the numeric keyboard of the VGP-WKB5 despite being nearly an inch longer. In addition to the expected alphabet, the diNovo Edge can control volume, start applications and zoom in and out. It has a round touchpad with a pair of actuation buttons, but it takes some time to get used to.

The diNovo Edge has two big things going for it. To start it uses a built-in rechargeable battery pack, so you’ll never need to buy batteries for it. It comes with a charging cradle that beeps when the keyboard is inserted. Plus, it relies on Bluetooth technology to connect to a PC, so you don’t have to use up a USB slot for the keyboard’s transmitter, as is the case with the other two systems. It comes with a USB transmitter and connected with the Bluetooth radios in two different notebooks. It has a range of 35 feet.

With all this going for it, the diNovo Edge goes to the head of the class, then gets picked up and moves around the room.


Both Sides Now

Microtek_asdi4020 Microtek’s ArtixScanDI 4020 is a high speed scanner that not only can process up to 40 pages per minute but is the rare device in its class that handles both sides of originals. The duplex scanner has an 8.5- by 14-inch scan bed, automatic document feeder and comes with a copy of Adobe’s Acrobat Standard 8.0 for turning sheets of paper into Web-ready files. At this point, the scanner only works with Windows 2000, XP and Vista, and not Macintosh computers. The ArtixScanDI 4020 sells for $1,000.

Lumens Donates 100 Visual Presenters to Teach for America

Lumens Teach for America is a unique program that takes some of the country’s best college graduates and professionals, and asks them to commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools. To reward these noble efforts, Lumens has donated 100 visual presenters to the program to help them level the technological playing field in these challenged classrooms. Instead of crowding a handful of kids around a desk, the visual presenters lets corps teachers display texts, photos, and 3-D objects by placing them under a camera and projecting the image onto a nearby surface. This gives 100 classrooms a better chance to beat some of the challenges facing low-income schools.

New Fluency Titles

Fabulously_famous_books_2Dr. Timothy Rasinski, a leading authority on reading fluency, has created a new library of books designed to help students become accurate and fluent decoders of words. Published by Scholastic Classroom Books, Tim Rasinski Presents…Fabulously Famous Books for Building Fluency is a library of high-interest books like Charlotte’s Web and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs connected to a research-based strategy for building students’ reading fluency -- complete with information for teachers on how to use reading aloud, paired reading, recorded materials, radio reading  -- even “mumble reading.” For K-8.

Image Interactions

Xip2000 The Eiki XIP2000 interactive projector is more than a way to put an image on a classroom screen because with the included pen and pointer, a teacher can annotate and draw right on the screen. The 2,000-lumen projector uses 3 LCD panels to create a bright and vivid image up to 12-feet wide. It comes with everything needed, including software, but the system only works with Windows PCs.

Next Gen HD Projector

Acerh5350The pre-show buzz for next month’s CeBit tech fair in Germany is Acer’s ColorBoost H5350, which could quickly become the budget choice for high definition classroom projectors. Powered by a digital light processing chip that delivers a 1,280 by 720 pixel image, the H5350 is perfect for putting a lesson on screen or playing an HD movie in the cafeteria on a rainy day. The H5350 can pump out 2,000 lumens of brightness with a 2,000:1 contrast ratio, yet weighs just 5.1 pounds. No pricing available yet.

Innovative Learning Conference 2008 Call for Speakers

Gain exposure for your good work by becoming a speaker at Innovative Learning Conference 2008, October 14 - 16, in San Jose, CA. You can share successful classroom practices, creative teaching and learning solutions, research, policies and products that show current or future promise for K-12 education. Presented by CUE and FETC.

Do Whiteboards Make a Difference? New Study Thinks So

Prometheansmall Can interactive whiteboards increase student engagement and keep teachers? A new study released by Promethean indicates the answer is yes. Henrico County Schools (Virginia) participated in a Fall 2007 study to decide if Promethean’s Activboards have a positive impact on the teaching/learning process. The study included both the interactive whiteboard and Activote student-response pads. Study details can be found on the site, but in a nutshell, the study found that:
1.      Students were more engaged in classes with teachers using Activboards when compared to their match classes.
2.      Teachers in classrooms with Activboards asked students questions more frequently than their match classroom. They also were able to simultaneously monitor the learning of all students in the classroom more frequently than their match teacher.
3.      Teachers with Activboards incorporated 21st century skills in the area of communication, problem solving, and collaboration more often than their match teachers.
4.      Students in classrooms with Activboards had a slightly higher pass rate on the Standards of Learning tests than their match class.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.