10 Exhibitors that Impressed me at ISTE 2010

I love to explore the exhibit floor at ISTE. In fact, I think I get some of my best ideas from talking to the different companies about their new ideas in school technologies. Here is my list of the top 10 exhibitors that really impressed me. Atomic Learning: I love how this company keeps on top of new educational technology -- they just added new training for iPad and iPod Touches as well as the new lessons for the most recent Office products.

Vernier: They have now combined their data probes with LEGO NXT robotics -- how cool is that! I have been dreaming of getting this for my school ever since they demoed it to me.

Zarbeco: This company just released a cool USB microscope called the MiScope. With 40 to 140x magnification and with the live preview on a computer screen, it is going to be perfect for my elementary students.

Visions Technology in Education: I met one of the authors for this company, Arnie Abrams, at the exhibit booth who showed me his book on digital storytelling projects -- a definite "must buy" for me and the projects that I am going to do next year with my students.

Learning.com: Way to go! They launched "In Sky" which allows teachers and students to access different digital content from different providers with just one log-in -- THANK YOU!

Rhymes 'n' Times: These exhibitors finally showed me a way to teach my students their times tables in an easy and painless way.

Student Publishing: I have been looking for an easy and affordable solution to allow my students to produce their own books -- now I have finally found one.

Dreambox: I got sucked into a demo at this booth and boy was I impressed. I loved the idea of game-play for learning math concepts. This is a fairly new company that looks very promising.

Brainology: Here is another fun exhibitor that I came across that really impressed me with the quality of their product line, they offer online lessons to help student be better at school.

Arcademics: I totally believe in using video games to teach students and this company does a really good job at it.

So here is my top 10 list of exhibitors that impressed me with regard to school technology at ISTE 2010 in Denver last week, now I all need is the money to get these products in my school. Next stop -- BEGGING FOR BUCKS!

Why Rock Band 3 will be great for school technology.

Although I am not a gamer per se, I do like to keep up with tech news, so yesterday I looked around at the news from the recent E3 Expo (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and got really excited when I came across the new Rock Band 3 that will be out for the Holiday Season 2010.

So I know what you are thinking... What does Rock Band 3 have to do with school technology?

My answer... Everything!

You see, the new Rock Band will allows players to plug in real instruments -- that's right real instruments. Up until now, the youth of the world were getting really good at playing a video game guitar, but if they picked up a real one they couldn't play a note. So let me put the next sentence in all caps:

NOW A VIDEO GAME MAKES YOU BETTER AT SOMETHING IN THE REAL WORLD.

There is a lot of talk in education about how learning music makes for better students, with Rock Band 3 a student can master the game, come into school and pick up a real guitar and play it.

MASTER THE VIDEO GAME, MASTER THE REAL WORLD.

This could be the first real connection between video games and education -- just think where this might go.

Programming with Scratch - First Steps

Last fall I was introduced to Scratch, a programming application made by the beautiful minds at MIT. I was very excited about what Scratch might mean for my students because of it simple, yet powerful interface. So last month I set my fourth grade students free on it. The challenge: to make a video game. My students were practically shell-shocked with the assignment: "We get to make a video game?"

Step 1: Since I did not know how to use Scratch, I sent my students to the website: LearnScratch.org which taught them most everything they needed to know about programming with Scratch with easy to follow screencast tutorials.

Step 2: Give them the impossible task of making their own video game.

Step 3: Stand back and be amazed.

These young students now have the programming bug, they are starting to "get" the world that is around them. They don't look at their iPod Touches apps the same way. In fact, I had one student show me a game that she had made in Scratch that was just like the app on my iPod Touch. Which is why I added Step 4...

Step 4: Share any future video game royalties with Mr. Flick.

If you want to see examples of student made video games using Scratch, just check out the gallery on their website.