Seems like it's been awhile since we've had some fun around here. All grading and no playing makes for a very dull blog indeed. So hows about I share some of my current favourite toys?
Kicking things off is my new Acer Aspire One. For those of you who haven't seen one of these before, it's a teeny-tiny laptop: about the size of a thin hardback book, but a lot lighter. Yes, the keyboard is small---but I'm not finding that to be much of a problem. Typing is a simple adjustment. The greatest problem has been remembering where special keys (e.g. del, pgdn, arrows...) are, and even that isn't too much of a headache. I have also been surprised to discover just how much I rely on my touchpad for navigation---and how little I rely on a keyboard at all. This little toy will accompany me on trips from now on. It easily slips in my purse and allows me to leave my regular laptop safe and sound at home. I love it!
I have been doing my presentation on grading practices and student motivation for almost a year now---which means that I am going to retire it from the circuit soon. It doesn't mean I won't support school/district requests to work with them, just that now that I've hit the area conferences, I probably need something new in my repertoire for that crowd. I have to say that the biggest response I get is about record-keeping strategies---especially using Excel for this purpose. So, I hope to expand that piece into a full session on information visualization for the classroom. The newest version of Sparklines is sure to be a crowdpleaser. I may actually spend my Friday night playing with this.
Speaking of presentations, I'm always looking for unusual ideas and images to capture the imagination or use as transitions between sessions. From my most recent YouTube meanderings, I recommend Extreme Sheep LED Art and Humans! I'm also liking this tiltshift approach to video (you can make your own tiltshift photos here) as shown in this Mardi Gras parade.
Need a game to keep you amused? Adam Savage from the Mythbusters recommended Balldroppings. I admit the name of the game seems slightly risque, but it's quite family friendly.
Or perhaps you need some new digital tools? How about Contxts where you can create a mobile business card? Thinkature, Blellow, and Mixed Ink supply you with some interesting new ways to collaborate on-line. If your travel and meeting budgets are now as extinct as the Dodo due to budget cuts, have a look at these as alternatives. And if, like me, you're trying to be more visual in your approach, you may want to have a look at Lovely Charts and Exploratree for ideas and support.
It's the weekend, and for many out there, Spring Break. Even if I don't have time off, I plan to get out for a bit (weather permitting). Michael Perry said that "Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Playboy combined." He's probably right---as this is the time of year when I begin longing to dig around in the dirt and see things come to life again. It's time for Nature to pull out her frocks and sandals. When you're done checking out the links above, I hope you'll join me in the garden.