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All-in-One Color

Max While most schools are centralizing printing and scanning resources, Dell’s 1355cnw Multifunction printer goes against the grain by making a compelling argument for an all-in-one printer-scanner-copier-fax machine for each classroom. Capable of taking take care of an entire class’s document needs, the $420 1355cnw is efficient and inexpensive but costs a lot to operate.

The black 1355cnw is surprisingly small for a color laser printer that can do so many things for a classroom. It can connect directly to a computer via a USB cable or to a school LAN via its wired or WiFi wireless networking. There’s also a handy USB connector upfront for printing off of a memory key.

Watermark sw It has a 295MHz processor and 128MB of memory as well as software for working with Windows and Mac computers. I really like the included watermarks that can add “Confidential” or “Urgent” to any document without altering the underlying material. Teachers can add their own to assignments, like a motivating message to get the work in on time.

Simple to operate, the 1355cnw is a quick study and there are helpful online videos on how to get the most out of the printer. To get going, press the Scan, Fax, Copy button for what you want it to do and Start; the 1355cnw does the rest. Unfortunately, the buttons on its keypad are a bit stiff, so you might have to hit some twice.

As a printer, it can churn out 600-dot-per-inch documents at the rate of 4 color pages a minute, well short of its 12-page-per-minute rating. On top of a 150-page paper drawer, the 1355cnw has a pull-out slot for printing on cards and envelopes.

Unfortunately, the 1355cnw can’t automatically print on both sides of a sheet, potentially saving a school hundreds of dollars in paper costs; it comes with a manual duplexing system where you take a printed page and reinsert it to cover the other side.

Cnw1355 toner Teachers will appreciate that the 1355cnw is whisper quiet, particularly compared to larger devices that can sound like 747 jet engines on take-off and use so much power that they dim the lights; it uses 16watts when idle and 600 watts when printing.

On the other hand, there’s an annoying beep every time it finishes its task. The printer’s menu is logically set up and the screen shows toner level while it’s idle.

The prints are sharp with well-formed type, but with colors that are a little muted. It can handle a variety of papers, from the cheapest copier paper to card stock. In a month of everyday use, it never jammed. On the downside, using the 1355cnw for typical school tasks (letters, worksheets, tests and take-home packets) costs about 18 cents per page. That’s roughly double what larger and more expensive color laser printers cost and is closer to the price of ink jet printers.

Mag cover While it’s easy and surprisingly clean to change the printer’s small toner cartridges and Dell includes free shipping labels to have the old cartridges recycled. There’s a curveball, however, because the 1355cnw’s drum can’t be replaced, so the device is only good for roughly 30,000 pages. Still, that’s several school years worth of printing.

There’s more to the 1355cnw than printing. The 1355cnw is a competent copier that can enlarge or reduce originals and a fax machine with a 10-sheet feeder that didn’t jam in my use.

Finally, it is a surprisingly good scanner that can turn any document into a crisp and accurate 1,200 by 1,200 dot per inch digital file. Its software lacks 64-bit TWAIN support but the WIA driver worked fine on two systems I used. On the downside, it can’t turn scans directly into Acrobat .pdf files that all computers can read but can email the scanned image anywhere. It takes 56 seconds to scan a page at 600dpi.

In the final analysis, at $420 the 1355cnw is priced right for schools on a tight budget, but it costs too much to print with.


Dell 1355cnw Multifunction Printer

+ All-in-one printer, scanner, fax, copier
+ Simple operation
+ Wired, WiFi, USB connections
+ Windows and Mac
+ Quiet

- Manual Duplex
- Expensive per-page costs
- Can’t replace drum
- Stiff buttons


The Concord Review

Tcr It’s not a freebee, but The Concord Review should be on the desk of every high school social studies teacher and in every library. The periodical has published excellent papers written by high school students for more than 30 years. The online journal (it stopped physical printing last year) is a great way to show kids that they are capable of writing top-notch essays that are publishable, but are an excellent teaching way to teach how to write a paper. There are essays on everything from the “protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” to the collapse of the British Liberal Party. It costs $40 a year to subscribe and is a labor of love by Will Fitzhugh.

Camera Savers

Camera-armor-for-canon-eos-40d-lrg Digital SLR cameras are the gold standard of digital cameras, but one drop and they’re turned into a pile of broken parts. Camera Armor provides cover made of durable soft silicone rubber that can keep it from being broken or splashed with soda on a field trip. There are models for most recent Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Pentax and Olympus models that cover the camera body and lens while providing a clear cover for the LCD screen and include a lens cap lanyard. They cost $40.

The Dream Continues …

While Saturday would have been Martin Luther King’s 82nd birthday, his life work and dream is celebrated today across the nation. With the exception of several schools that used all their snow days, it’s a day off for students and teachers. It’s still good fodder for a lesson on civil rights, politics and history. Here’re three great sites to start.

Day of Service MLK Day
There’s no better place to start than the MLK Day service site. Sponsored by the Corporation for National & Community Service, the MLK Day main page has a slew of ideas on how to live out King’s ideas in everyday life as well as links to suggested ideas for projects to help our fellow students.
A compendium of everything having anything to do with Dr. King, the InfoPlease  siteis a clearinghouse of links to his biography, history of the holiday and a timeline of his life. There’re lots of resources on civil rights and civil disobedience as well as excepts of speeches. When you’re done, take the quiz or fill in the crossword puzzle, but beware, they’re kind of difficult.

Rosa parks arrest report MLK Research and Education Institute
Stanford University’s MLK site is a great resource for building a curriculum around the holiday. On top of an MLK encyclopedia and featured documents of his life and work, the site has a quickie biography and transcripts of his speeches. A hidden gem is the transcript of a letter he wrote from the Birmingham jail during the bus boycott in 1963 as well as Rosa Parks’s original arrest report.

Freebee Friday: College Try-Out

Blackboard What’s the best way to make sure that high school students become college students? While assessing whether students are ready for college and pushing a school’s technological learning, the Blackboard Institute's latest research shows that exposing teenagers to college is the key to getting them to take the next step in their education. The report was based on interviews with two dozen education experts. Read all about it: “Closing the Gap between High School and College.”

Freebee Friday: Full Body Scanner

Body browser Having trouble telling the clavicle from a cervical bone? Google’s latest app can help with an annotated full body browser. First, you’ll first need to load the beta of Google’s Chrome Web browser, which has extra software for the app. Pick what you want it to display (muscles, bones, organs, etc), decide whether you want labels and zoom in to show what is of interest to the class. As good as it looks on a desktop or notebook computer, it looks even better with a projector or large-screen monitor. It’s giggle proof because it doesn’t show genitals, and is appropriate for any class.

Power Projectors

PowerLite_96W_Left_Angle[1] Call it the first post-CES but pre-FETC announcement, but Epson has brought out four new projectors that can lighted up a classroom. The PowerLite 92, 93, 95 and 96 replace the 83V+, 83+, 85+ and 826W+. They each use a trio of LCD panels to create sharp and bright screens Priced from $649 to $799, there’s a projector for every size classroom and budget. The projectors have bulbs that can last for up to 6,000 hours for excellent per-hour operating costs. They’ll be available in March.

Hulp for Righters?

Learning how to write a clear and coherent essay at school doesn’t just happen. It is the result of hard work by both teachers and students. A raft of online assistance can help students and teachers with everything from grammar to vocabulary.

Here’re four of my favorite places that can help get great thoughts onto paper.

Guide to Grammar & Writing
Ccc This one-stop center for writing help can guide students through the most important aspects of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboards. There are sections for everything from help with word selection to breaking through writer’s block. Sponsored by the Capital Community College in Hartford, it is a little too advanced for elementary students but a great resource for middle- and high-school classes.

Time for Kids
Time for kids
The classroom version of the newsweekly has a great page of writing resources with something others don’t have: individual guides for helping with different types of essays, including biography, book report and persuasive essay. They each have idea organizers, checklists and a model paper to draw ideas from. There’s also a helpful toolbox, with dictionary, thesaurus and other items, as well as writing tips.

Essay Writing Help
Essay Writing Help Sometimes all a young writer needs is a few tips and tricks to get an essay written. That’s exactly what the Essay Writing Help site provides for kids. It has a bunch of sample essay topics along with a five-step guide that can get any topic out of a student’s head and onto a page. The best part is the site’s dissection of the standard five-paragraph essay, and how to make it work. There’s even advice on test-taking.

Literary Education Online
Leo It may look bland but St. Cloud University’s Literary Education Online site is a gem for student writers. The Q&A organization is what sets it apart from the crowd. Go through the list of items and click on the item that can help, including where to put commas, flow and – thankfully – non-sexist English. Among its dozens of topics, there’s a great section on citations.

Charge Anything

Inergie Every lost AC adapter for a school notebook is a huge hassle that often starts with going through the manufacturer’s site and sometimes ends up on eBay. Innergie’s mCube Slimis make simple work of replacing a power brick with a universal adapter. It will work with hundreds of notebooks, old and new, including systems from Acer to Toshiba. It comes with what the company calls Magic Cable that lets you charge and synch phones at the same time. It costs $100, is great for emergencies and comes with a slew of connection cables.

Big Screen All-in-One

AE2410_Front_View[1] The big problem with all-in-one PCs is that you’re typically restricted to having roughly a 20-inch screen, which is no good for a teacher who needs to show a group something on the screen. That’s where MSI’s new Windtop AE2410 comes in. It has a 23.6-inch display that’s good for HD resolution. One of the first economy systems with USB 3.0 technology, it can move data faster than USB 2.0 computers. It will cost $900 when it is available in a few months.

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