Thursday, January 28, 2010

NPR Piece on Teaching Kids Web Search Strategies

This segment has interesting ideas about how search engines might better present search results so kids can better use the Internet to find information. Of particular interest is how girls and boys differ in their tenacity to track down the information they seek.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finder Labels

I've been making use of the OS X Finder's labels, or ability to color code icons, as shown above, particularly with the younger students. The Kindergarteners and first grade students oftentimes have a difficult time reading the file names. I tend to pre-stage the students' work in their folders on the server. This simplifies saving the students' work because the document is already in their folder on the server and the student (or I) do not need to drill down through the file system to get the work saved to the correct location.

Now when I go into a class I can have the students use their paper laptops to follow along as I explain that we are going to go into the Kindergarten Group folder, then their class folder, then their folder. Instead of telling them that we will be opening a file by its name, I just tell them the color of the file. This increases the students' independence and makes instruction easier, too.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

YAZI on the Newton

I was looking for something new to do with my Newton MessagePad 2100 during my December break from work. My mind drifted back to Scrawlsoft's YAZI, a Z-machine interpreter for the Newton. Infocom used the Z-machine to program such hits as the Zork series, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and many others that I used to play on my Apple II+. I had played with YAZI back when I first got my MessagePad but I never purchased a copy. Scrawlsoft's site has disappeared from the Internet and while there was some talk on the NewtonTalk mailing list about how to contact them, I didn't have much hope of being able to purchase this program in 2009.

So imagine my surprise when, not half an hour after emailing one of the owners, he responded. I asked him if I could still use Kagi to purchase YAZI. He replied that I could send him my Newton ID and as a holiday present he would send me the serial number at no cost!! Unbelievable!

I loaded YAZI onto a 20 MB card I have for the Newton. I found a site with Z-machine files for a number of Infocom games, but I chose Leather Goddesses of Phobos. I created a Newton package on my PowerBook 3400c, loaded it onto the Newton along with YAZI, and I was ready to play. I also found a good walkthrough in case I got completely stumped. I loaded that page in Newtscape and turned it into a package so I would have it on hand, too. Fun times on the Newton!