Eager to equip teachers with the latest technology teaching tools at an affordable cost, Sultan Elementary School is rolling out Microsoft Mouse Mischief, an add-in to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007. By enabling students to interact with material by using Mouse Mischief, teachers can better engage students, gauge real-time assessment of understanding, and give students valuable real-world technology exposure.Business Needs
Sultan Elementary School is a little school with big ambitions. Sultan, Washington, is a rural community of about 3,500 people nestled in the Skykomish River Valley about 40 miles east of Seattle. Households are spread across a large geographical area, with some families living far up in the surrounding mountains.
The district depends on corporate donations to fill most of its technology needs, and it works hard to give teachers and students the same advantages that bigger urban districts enjoy. “Probably one of my biggest requests from staff, outside of more computers in the classroom, is for some type of classroom response system such as clickers,” says Dave Moon, Technology Coordinator for Sultan Elementary School. “But these systems cost thousands of dollars. We can’t even come close to affording one, let alone one for every classroom.”
Bill Weide is a fifth-grade teacher at Sultan Elementary School and is one of the teachers who is always asking for technology that he can integrate into his teaching. “I’ve found that the more I integrate technology into my lessons, the more effective my teaching is and the more engaged kids are,” he says. Solution
Because of its proximity to Microsoft corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Sultan Elementary School has had a close relationship with the company in trying out new technologies aimed at educators. In January 2010, Moon learned of Microsoft Mouse Mischief, an add-in to the Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentation graphics programs that is free of charge* and enables teachers to create interactive presentations. With Mouse Mischief, teachers can add multiple-choice questions to their presentations, and large groups of students can answer questions using mice that are connected to the teacher’s PC. “Mouse Mischief gave us an alternative to expensive classroom response systems,” Moon says.
||The kids love using Mouse Mischief. They instantly light up and give the lesson their best effort. It’s almost like a game to them, but they’re learning in the process and don’t even realize it.
Fifth-Grade Teacher, Sultan Elementary School
Weide tested Mouse Mischief for Sultan Elementary and loves how it provides immediate feedback on how well students understand the concepts being presented. “If I’m teaching a math concept and want to know right away if kids understand it, I can use Mouse Mischief to do a quick check. If they are lost, I can go over it again.”
Weide uses Mouse Mischief across his entire curriculum. “It’s easy to incorporate Mouse Mischief into my regular lesson plans,” he says. “We already have things that we need to teach and assess; Mouse Mischief is just a different way to do the assessment.”
Other teachers at Sultan Elementary are eager to start using Mouse Mischief. “My students have talked to students in Mr. Weide’s class and want to know when they’re going to get Mouse Mischief,” says Brooke Boury, another fifth-grade teacher at Sultan Elementary School. “I use PowerPoint quite a lot in my teaching, and I’m eager for ways to make it more interactive and exciting.” Moon plans to develop a portable Mouse Mischief cart that teachers can move from class to class.
Boury is eager to use Mouse Mischief to encourage collaboration. “As with teachers, students tend to do their best work in a group,” she says. “They can share ideas and be forced to defend them. Mouse Mischief encourages this kind of collaborative learning. Also, the ability for everyone to answer a question at once involves the whole class instead of only one student at a time. This engages everyone and makes lessons proceed faster.”Benefits
From its early evaluation of Mouse Mischief, Sultan Elementary School has found that the tool helps teachers engage students, quickly assess understanding, and expose students to technology that they will see outside school.
Weide has found that the use of Mouse Mischief brings a new level of attention to lessons. “The kids love using Mouse Mischief,” Weide says. “They instantly light up and give the lesson their best effort. It’s almost like a game to them, but they’re learning in the process and don’t even realize it. Engaged kids are learning kids.”
To Weide, a key benefit of Mouse Mischief is the ability to assess students’ understanding in real time. “Any teacher knows that the vast majority of students will not answer a question during a lesson,” he says. “Mouse Mischief gives me instant feedback on the level of understanding of all the students. I can see whether 80 percent of the class is lost and even see which particular students need help. It has really changed my teaching style, because it helps me see gaps in student understanding and pace instruction differently so that I not only cover the material but don’t lose anyone along the way.”
Valuable Technology Exposure
Both Weide and Moon agree that technology exposure at school is a critical part of preparing children for college and the workforce. “Most of the jobs that these kids are going to take one day will require the use of technology, so the more exposure they have to programs like Mouse Mischief, the greater competitive edge they’ll have when they’re older,” Weide says.
Moon echoes this thought. “It’s really important to provide teachers with technology that will enable them to better connect with students and show them what they will encounter in the real world. The more comfortable students are with technology, the more they will succeed.”
*Access to and use of the Internet may require payment of a separate fee to an Internet service provider. Local and/or long-distance telephone charges may apply.
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