Posts Tagged ‘computer tricks for teachers’

Make Teaching Magic with Magnifyers

March 4, 2013

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Are you familiar with the English expression, “Sometimes big things come in little packages?” I’m thinking that may be true for gifts of jewelry, but for teachers giving the gift of a good education, making things bigger is often better.

Magnification helps children and adults see more clearly. Making magic with different kinds of magnifyers is a classroom-tested attention-getting trick for teachers.

In children’s hands magnifyers become instructive devices that are fun to use. Holding a magnifying glass in hand is an active way to look closely at something. Sight is the result, but the ACT of looking helps the learning process.

"Okay great, boys and girls, now we can see the pictures much better!"

“Okay great, boys and girls, now we can see the pictures much better!”

Any teacher that uses a document camera or a computer to project images on a screen or SmartBoard, (like the teacher in my blog pic here) is working with magnification.

Today’s Attentionology post offers a few tricks to try using the magic of magnification.

Play I Spy a Good Listener Hold up a magnifying glass – a large toy one available in many “dollar stores,” (at least in the US) or in toy stores.

In your best “detective voice” announce that you’re looking to spy good listeners.

Move around the classroom as you look into the magnifying glass and lean towards students who readily respond to you in a positive way. Kids will get a “kick” out of your easy “theatrics.”

If you want to take this activity a step further, single out kids that are showing excellent looking and listening skills. For example, you can note to the class the Jorge and Isabel are paying close attention by following you around the room.

Test students’ listening skills further by asking them to repeat a short math equation, if you’re using this trick as part of a math lesson, or to repeat a short rhyme, for example, if the magnification trick is part of a language arts activity.

Let’s Look More Closely at Words The magnifying glass I’m holding in my blog pic here is an antique; it belonged to my great-grandfather.

"Let's look more closely at the words we choose to use."

“Let’s look more closely at the words we choose to use.”

I’ve shown this decorative glass to students as a lead-in to writing time. “Let’s look more closely at the words we choose to use,” I’ll say, explaining that many of the words we use in English and other languages of the world come from an ancient language called Latin.

I’ve found that kids love learning bits and pieces of Latin; word origins fascinate them.

"Who wants to come up with the magnifying glass and focus in on this number?"

“Who wants to come up with the magnifying glass and focus in on this number?”

What Time Is It?Draw young children’s attention to a teaching clock, like the one in my blog pic here, by letting kids take turns “zeroing in” on one number at a time with a magnifying glass.

Tell the class that it’s important to be able to keep track of time, like detectives keep track of leads on a case!

Track Back in TimeInvite students in grades 3 – 5 to use magnifying glasses to study maps of earlier civilizations in Social Studies.

Simply showing your class a magnifying glass sets up a mini-history lesson, an opportunity to track back in time to the origin of magnifying glasses themselves…

Many historians agree that it was the Romans (back to Latin!) who discovered magnifying glass in the first century, A.D. Research suggests that the Romans found that glass that was thicker in the center and thinner around the outer edges magnified an object being observed.

Score a Science Connection Hold up a toy or real magnifying glass and ask your class if they know how it works. Answer: modern magnifying glasses are double convex lenses that make objects appear larger than they are. Explain the difference between convex and concave, showing convex with the magnifying glass.

Tell students that magnifying glasses have been key to scientific and medical discoveries. How? Early magnifying glasses led to modern-day microscopes.

Get to the Heart of ArtSome museum educators use magnifying glasses to help kids understand the concept of studying – not just looking at – paintings and other works of art. Museum visitors are not permitted to actually get too close to pieces on display, but a magnifying glass symbolizes investigation.

In school you can enrich the art curriculum by introducing art prints or

"What do you 'spy' that these Egyptian figures are doing in this painting?"

“What do you ‘spy’ that these Egyptian figures are doing in this painting?”

framed copies of art work, like the Egyptian parchment painting shown in my blog pic here.

Invite students to take on age-appropriate challenges, using a magnifying glass to look for subject, color, placement, lighting, etc. in the work of art.

If you like these teaching tricks, let your students know that you’ll offer more opportunities to use a magnification glass in class.

In fact, eventually you may catch and keep kids’ attention before you begin a lesson simply by holding up your magnifying glass for all to see and repeating your goal of spotting good listeners. The magnifying glass can become an attention-getting signal for students.

Using tools of magnification – cameras, computers, glasses – models curiosity and critical thinking. Getting a closer look aids understanding and mastery of skills.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in any instructional setting!

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet


The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Tech Tricks

October 31, 2012
Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid – Week Focus!
Mid – Week Focus is all about quick and easy (most of the time – once in while, we have to study strategies, like the Tech Wizard suggests that we do today…read on…) ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.
Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S USE TECH TRICKS TO EXPEDITE & MAXIMIZE COMMUNICATION WITH STUDENTS, PARENTS AND COLLEAGUES!

What’s under the magic hat? Halloween treats for teachers!

What’s under the magic hat today?
Tricks from Attentionology’s Tech Wizard, Robert Lawless with Aries Multimedia.
You’ll read Robert’s own story here soon. The focus: his journey into the wonderful world of technology.
Today, as many of us celebrate Halloween, Robert’s donned his wizard’s hat, offering a few computer tips to help you make the most of your keyboard. See below.
In many languages of the world, some of the most feared words are “the computer is down.” Call me superstitious, but as I was preparing to publish this post, my access to the Internet kept “going down.” On again, off again; I started wondering whether Halloween gremlins had invaded my Internet space.
Laughter being one of the best medicines, on Halloween or any day of the year, I found myself laughing out loud as I stared at the computer screen. The message: “You are not connected. Refresh!” Is that a metaphor? I asked myself. If the answer is “yes,” Attentionology’s Tech Wizard’s tips will refresh me and help me (and you) connect faster and better with the people you need to reach.

Robert has written his tips in a format that addresses problems with solutions.You may want to print this post and keep Attentionology’s Tech Wizard tips within reach of your computer. Now for Robert’s very good tricks…

Computer Tricks & Treats for Teachers

 1) Problem: Using the mouse for every command takes too much time.
Solutions: Learn a few handy keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.
The following are applicable to most Windows programs.
For each one, hold down the first key then press the other key at the same time:
  • Ctrl+p – This shortcut opens the print dialog box for the active application.
  • Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v, Ctrl+x – These shortcuts are related. Ctrl+c copies the highlighted text to the computer’s clipboard and also leaves it in place. Ctrl+x cuts the highlighted text from its current location and adds it to the clipboard. Ctrl+v pastes the current contents of the clipboard into the active document where the cursor is located.
  • Ctrl+a – This shortcut selects (highlights) the entire content of a document.
  • Ctrl+f – This shortcut opens the applications Find dialog box. The nature of the box will vary based on application.
  • Ctrl+s – This shortcut saves the current document.
  • Ctrl+windows key – This shortcut will open WIndows Explorer for easy access to your files.
2) Problem: Too many open windows makes it hard to find the one you need.
Solution: Alt+Tab – In Windows, this shortcut will allow you to tab through all the open windows on your desktop, showing thumbnails of each.
3) Problem: You need to access a file on the desktop and there are lots of windows open.
  • Use the Show Desktop button on the Start bar to automatically minimize. In Windows 7 it is located to the right (or below if your Start bar is vertical) of the clock, like you see in my blog pic below.

    Location of the Show Desktop button in Windows 7.

  • Use the keyboard shortcut windows key+d.
4) Problem: You need to share an image of what’s on your screen with someone.
Solution: Use the PrintScreen button on your keyboard to copy the current contents of your screen to the computer’s clipboard. Then just open a graphical program like Microsoft Paint, use Ctrl+v to paste the image and use the program’s features to crop out anything you don’t need. To open Paint, go to Start>All Programs>Accessories>Paint or type paint in the “run” or “search programs and files” box in the main Start menu and press enter.
5) Problem: You can’t quite remember the URL for that really useful website.
Solution: In the future be sure to bookmark sites you might want to visit again. The method of bookmarking (or favoriting) a site depends on your browser, so do a search to get the exact method. In Google Chrome, just click the white star in the address bar and the site will be bookmarked. You can organize bookmarks into folders that will show up on your bookmarks bar to make them easy to find later.
Check back with Attentionology again soon for more tools and tricks for K – 5 teachers. I’m off to meet up with my daughter in her costume this year – a queen. Happy Halloween!
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet