Monday, April 25, 2005

Salary Utility

Salary Utility used to be a free program, but now it is bundled with 49 other programs for about $1.50 (50 Great Utilities for Palm OS which I found using Froogle).

This program allows students to calculate how much they really make once they take into account the costs of commuting, paid vacation, insurance, etc. This is a good tool to help students understand that an hourly wage isn't necessarily worth its face value. A drawback to this program is that it doesn't take into consideration social security, retirement, state and federal taxes. In addition, teachers would want to supplement the use of this program with discussions about topics such as how much commuting to a higher paid job located farther away would cost (is public transportation available? is a car necessary?) as compared to a lower paying job within walking distance.

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I'm Back...

It's been a week or so since my last post because I have been out at a conference. It was wire-less (as opposed to wireless), so I have been offline for a bit. Onward and upward!

Oh, and email me at llary@lynnlary.com if you are interested in a particular type of Palm software.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

dAbacus

dAbacus is a free, easy program that simulates a Chinese abacus. As the user moves the beads, the Arabic numeral equivalents are shown. This allows students to deduce the values of the beads in different rows. One of the really cool features is that as the students use beads with smaller place values (i.e. two beads with a value of five each), they are exchanged for beads of larger values (i.e. one bead with a value of ten). This is a valuable exercise in teaching the concept of place value in a number system. This virtual abacus is a great virtual manipulative that can be used with a real abacus, as it provides students with immediate feedback as to the value of the beads.

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Friday, April 08, 2005

KidzTalkā„¢-Calc

One of our schools if focusing student use of handhelds on mathematics achievement. Students as young as first grade, as well as special education students, are using the Palms. Using the Palm to give instant feedback is one of its major benefits and one of the programs that we found to be helpful was KidzTalkā„¢-Calc.

We bought this program because it actually speaks the numbers allowing students to have audio feedback about the numbers that they are working with. For instance, if you enter "2 + 4 =" it will say "two plus four equals six." But, do be forewared because when you start working with two digit numbers, it acts a little odd. For instance, if you enter "24 + 13 =" it will say "two four + one three equals thirty seven." The way that we use it is to help students learn how to say multi-digit numbers correctly. For instance, when you enter "24 =" it will say "two four equals twenty-four." The nice thing is that you can have it pronounce numbers up to 99,999,999.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

WordDraw

WordDraw is a shareware program ($5) that allows students to practice writing their letters and words. For little ones just learning to write, the advantage of using this program over a worksheet is that it is animated--by that I mean that the students can actually watch how a letter is formed. Then they can either trace or free write the letters of the word with their writing showing up on the Palm screen. Gone are the days of having students trace words on a worksheet only for the teacher to find out that the student has just traced the same letter wrong for the last 15 times! The visual feedback on this program is awesome.

One nice feature is that you to create word lists in Memo Pad and then import them into WordDraw, which is great if you are trying to reinforce specific vocabulary. You can also set the animation speed and the case of the letters. As with most Palm programs, there are not many choices, so the program is easy to use.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tan Free

Tan Free is a nifty little program for teaching students about translational geometry. Essentially, it provides a number of tangrams; students start with a silhouette and seven shapes and the goal is to replicate the silhouette using all seven pieces. To solve them, the students must translate, reflect, and rotate the geometric shapes. This is a great virtual manipulative because unlike physical manipulatives, this program allows students to ask for hints in solving the tangram. If a hint is requested, the program will show the correct location of the selected piece. The student can then continue solving the puzzle.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Environmental Footprint Calculator (EFC)

EFC is a great program for classroom discussions about the impact that humans, and particulary ourselves, have on the world, provides opportunities for students to read graphs, and allows students to test their own hypotheses about the effect changing their lifestyles has on the earth.

Students are asked a series of 13 questions about their lives: how much food they waste, how big their homes are, what kind of transportation they use, etc. Once all of the answers are entered, the students learn how their lifestyles affect the earth. The data is presented in four different ways:
  1. The number of Earths needed to support all humans if everyone lived the way they do
  2. The number of football fields needed to support their lifestyle
  3. How their own consumption breaks down (acres needed for housing, transportation, food, etc.)
  4. How their individual consumption compares with the average American, the averages of people living in Sweden, Nigeria, and five other countries as well as with the world as a whole.
Depending on the age of the student, they may not know the answers to all of the questions. Teachers may want to use this program as a part of a home-based activity in which students discuss the questions with their parents to make their data input more realistic. Related activities might include conjectures about ways that humans can have less impact on the Earth or having students answer the questions from the perspective of a poor person in a third-word county and comparing/contrasting the outcome to their own responses.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Muxles

What better place to use a Palm than in the PE classroom? Writing down grades on a clipboard in the field and then entering them into a computer in the office just doesn't make sense when you can have your whole gradebook with you on your Palm. What's more is that there are a number of programs that are available for the Palm that would fit into the physical education curriculum. For instance, Muxles, which costs $11.95, is a program that contains information about different muscles, their functions, and what exercises can be done to develop them. The cool part about it is that as a user, you don't have to look up the names of the muscles - you just click on the muscle on the front or back of the interactive body that you want to learn about.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

WIB: What-if Builder

This is another completely free and totally awesome program for the Palm. This application allows you to write a story in which the reader decides which of several options to take as they read the story. For example, after reading part of a story, the reader may have to decide whether to walk through the creepy forest or return home for more help.

This type of story provides readers with a variety of options as to how the story will come out. It also provides a highly differentiated activity for student authors. The program is easy to use and can be used with primary through adult students. For more information about WIB, see my instructional unit. Oh, and don't forget to download WIB from Kidsolve.

PS: I have found that when beaming WIB stories, the receiver needs to exit from the WIB application (else the app will die forcing you to do a soft reset).

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