The A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School celebrates each student’s unique talents. Fifth grade teacher Shea Grisham uses Microsoft Mouse Mischief, an add-in to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, to engage students during lessons and test review. Her students also use Mouse Mischief, which involves the whole class, helps focus lessons, yields immediate feedback on understanding, and enhances presentation skills.Business Needs
The A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina, seeks to create the next generation of leaders by finding and nurturing each child’s unique talents. Founded on the principles in Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the Baldrige practices that grew out of the work of W. Edwards Deming, Combs helps students discover and build their strengths and carefully tracks student progress.
“Teachers here spend a lot of time getting to know their students and figuring out what kind of leader each student is and how they learn best,” says Jessica Shea Grisham, Fifth Grade Teacher at Combs. Combs has found technology to be a big help in engaging students in its leadership model. “Our students are very tech savvy and eager to use computers,” Grisham says. “Students make presentations on topics that they’ve researched. But it’s hard for them to listen to 20 presentations; they love hands-on involvement.”
Although the school has a computer lab and dedicated computer instruction once a week, each classroom has only four or five PCs. Grisham wanted to find ways to engage more students with computers and increase the level of classroom interactivity.Solution
In January 2010, the local Microsoft Educational Specialist visited Combs and introduced the staff to Microsoft Mouse Mischief, a downloadable add-in to the Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentation graphics programs that is free of charge*. Mouse Mischief enables teachers to create interactive presentations by adding multiple-choice questions that students answer by using mice that are connected to the teacher’s computer.
||With Mouse Mischief, every student can answer questions, and students are not afraid to answer differently from their peers. This promotes great discussions and debates.
||Jessica Shea Grisham
Fifth Grade Teacher, A.B. Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School
Grisham eagerly volunteered to test the software. “Mouse Mischief was a natural for my students, who were already very familiar with Office PowerPoint,” Grisham says. She first used Mouse Mischief in an adaptation science unit. She showed students a photo of a bird, for example, and asked them which evolutionary adaptation was responsible for its curved beak. Students submitted their answers using Mouse Mischief. “The answers given in Mouse Mischief led to debates and also helped reinforce their vocabulary,” says Grisham.
Grisham has also used Mouse Mischief to engage students and reduce the time spent on test reviews. “Test review can be monotonous and take a great deal of time,” Grisham says. “When I put review questions into a Mouse Mischief presenta-tion, the review was faster and far more fun. Several kids came up afterward and asked if we could do test review all day.”
Most exciting has been handing Mouse Mischief over to students. It took Grisham’s fifth graders about 10 minutes to learn how to use the tool, and they were off and running. “With Mouse Mischief, students were able to make their questions interactive,” Grisham says. “With Mouse Mischief, every student can answer questions, and students are not afraid to answer differently from their peers. This promotes great discussions and debates.”Benefits
Grisham has found that with Mouse Mischief, she can assess student understanding, better pace and focus lessons, and involve all students. Student understanding also improves by using Mouse Mischief. Best of all, students love using Mouse Mischief to teach their peers.
Better, Faster Student Assessment
With Mouse Mischief, Grisham gets immediate feedback on student understanding. “Even though we do macro-assessments—at the beginning and end of the school year, the beginning and end of units, and so forth—with Mouse Mischief, I can do micro-assessments in the middle of a lesson,” she says. “This helps me stay tuned in to each student’s understanding, which is critical to our teaching model.”
Valuable Skills for Students
Students gain the same benefit when they are in front of the class. “Students love using Mouse Mischief in their presentations, because it makes presentations more fun,” Grisham says. “Presenters can involve their classmates to see whether or not they need to go over something again. They have to think about when to ask questions, when to stop and repeat, and when to keep teaching. These are all important skills that Mouse Mischief promotes.”
More Participation, Greater Understanding
Typically, when a teacher asks a question, only one student can answer. But with Mouse Mischief, every student can respond. “Probably 40 percent of my students volunteer to answer a question, but with Mouse Mischief, 100 percent of the students are involved, because it forces them to participate,” Grisham says.
Grisham also believes that Mouse Mischief has been a huge help in improving science vocabulary, because students can see pictures and words side by side. “Plus, enabling students to interact with me and with one another really strengthens their understanding,” she says.More Teaching Time
Grisham has also noticed that the pace of teaching increases with Mouse Mischief. With the immediate feedback, she can quickly zero in on material that students do not understand. “Previously, I spent 20 minutes of a 55-minute class reviewing 10 questions. With Mouse Mischief, I spend about 5 minutes reviewing 10 questions, because we’re better able to stay on track,” Grisham says. “That leaves more teaching time, which is always in short supply.”
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