Four Student Response Systems

Class ClickersIf you've got a class set of computers or mobile devices, then you've got a student response system. Response systems sold to schools typically consist of a handheld remote, called a clicker, and software for managing students, questions, and answers. Rather than pay over $1,000 for a set of clickers, a WiFi-equipped classroom that already has iPod touches, iPads, netbooks, etc. (or invited students to bring their own) can turn those devices into a response system for much less.

Google Docs

Google Docs provides a free way to collect responses called Forms. The teacher creates a questionnaire for students to complete. Questions can be multiple choice, true/false, short answer, essay, or a scale. Once the form is completed, Google provides a very long URL that is much to long for anyone to manually type. So, forms can be linked from or embedded in a class web page. Alternatively, a URL shortener like,, or can be used to create a shorter web address that redirects to the obnoxiously long one. This way students can simply type the short URL in their device's browser to access the questions.

Google Form

The responses are collected in a spreadsheet the teacher accesses online. Google makes it easy to see responses in graphs by simply choosing Show summary of responses from the Form menu. With a Google Form, students are not required to respond at the same time. The questionnaire is online and ready for them any time they ready. For more information about using Google Docs as a student response system, view Radford University's video on YouTube.

Poll Everywhere

Another service that can be used as a student response system is Poll Everywhere. They have a nice Web interface that looks great on a laptop or mobile device. Poll Everywhere can also take responses through text messages. Students text in their answers to the teacher's question using identifying codes. Be aware that Poll Everywhere and Google Docs do not provide feedback to students since there is no way to indicate correct and incorrect answers. While there is a free Poll Everywhere plan for K-12 classrooms, the $50 per year plan gives teachers the ability to see individual student responses and to approve text-based responses before they appear for the whole class to see. Read more about Poll Everywhere.

Poll Everywhere


QuestionPress (formerly QuickieQ) is a 100% web-based audience and classroom response/assessment tool. This means that QuestionPress is accessible on any Internet connected device. Students can easily find and bookmark their teacher's QuestionPress URL. Alan Degener, QuestionPress' developer, writes more about the service:

QuestionPress is one of the few response web sites that allows you to offer a fully live session where you can control which questions are asked, when they are asked, in what order they are asked, and when and how results are sent to the responders’ screens. Questions can also be served at the responder’s pace with options that allow for the scores and correct answers being displayed upon completion.

Question Press Questions

You can use a prepared question set and/or create questions on-the-fly. Points can be assigned to all questions and QuestionPress can auto-score multiple choice, true/false, yes/no, short answer, fill in the blank, sorting, numeric, “images as answers”, and “check all that apply” problems. Other question types include essay, ranking, and file uploads. Dynamic questions with images can be created using a simple yet powerful WYSIWYG editor, which includes a math equation editor and grapher. Questions can be edited on-the-fly and questions created in a live session can be imported into question sets or used directly in future session. Question sets can be stored, organized and shared with others. Session results can be organized into folders and sessions can be reopened to help consolidate data.

Question Press Session

There are no responder accounts with QuestionPress, so students do not need to remember yet another login and password. Students can use student ids or other codes to protect privacy.

A standard QuestionPress license starts at 35-responders per session. Polling mode increases that limit 10 fold, allowing you to put polls up on your classroom web site. You can also use QuestionPress for homework since it is web-based and can run asynchronously. The email feature allows you to email results to responders when they finish the question set or you can add comments and annotations and send out emails later.

QuestionPress starts at just $24 for an annual 35-responder license. Larger license and multiple session licenses are optional. Group accounts are also available. For more information, a complete list of features, and to sign up for a free trial account go to

eClicker Host

eClicker HostAn option for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch using teachers is the eClicker Host app. Priced at $9.99, it's a very affordable solution because no subscription is required. Only the teacher needs the app; students can use any web browser or the free eClicker iOS app. Student devices need to be on the same WiFi network as the teacher's iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The app provides a URL for students to type into their browsers. Devices running the optional and free eClicker app automatically detect the teacher's device on the network running eClicker Host. If eClicker Host is running on iPad, up 64 responders can connect. For iPhone and iPod touch, the maximum is 32 responders.

Like QuestionPress, the teacher can control what question is displayed on students' screens. When the teacher moves to the next question, everyone's screens change at the same time to display the next question.

Teachers can compose multiple choice or true false questions on their mobile device or at Sadly, eClicker does not support short answer or open-ended responses. I don't mind composing the questions on my iPad. I can even include images from my Photo Library or draw one within the app. Alternatively, questions can be edited on a computer at by first creating an account within the eClicker Host app. When done editing, syncing your account updates the on your device. Teachers can even share question sets with one another via Bluetooth.

eClicker on iPad

eClicker has worked well for me for informal assessment. However, it does not have a management system where I can track students over time. It's not a quiz or evaluation tool. If you use eClicker, you'll notice that each question has a timer. I have not found a way to turn off the timer, which can be a distraction. eClicker Host lacks options, especially compared to QuestionPress. But, with fewer features, eClicker Host is streamlined and simplistic. Find out more about eClicker.

Response systems can improve attentiveness, increase knowledge retention, inform instruction, and provide immediate feedback. It's nice to have affordable choices. I've only highlighted on the four systems I've used myself. There are certainly many more. Which one to choose? Fortunately Google Docs and Poll Everywhere can be used for free, and QuestionPress has a free trial. There is no free version or trial for the eClicker Host app. If you have a favorite, please tell us about it in the comments.

Four Student Response Systems

Classroom clicker photo licensed under Creative Commons by Flickr user Kentucky Country Day.

The Simpsons and Phones in School

The Sunday, October 4th episode of The Simpsons cartoon pokes fun at technology in schools. The show opens with Bart Simpson's teacher, Edna Krabappel, grading papers as she gets out of bed.

The episode cuts to Edna standing in front of a classroom full of students playing games, watching videos, texting, and talking on their mobile phones. It is chaotic. She struggles to gain the class' attention. Many mobile phones have apps you can download for practicing multiplication problems. Perhaps redirecting students to those apps could grab their attention and be self-grading. Then she could walk around with a clipboard noting each student's progress. Admittedly, dealing with several different kinds of mobile phone platforms would be annoying since they all work differently and have different sets of applications available.

Ms. Krabappel asks, "You're children! Why do you all need cell phones?" They yell out "Safety," "Emergency," and "Educational." These reasons are shouted out as an automatic response to the teacher's question, all the while students continue their talking, texting, and gaming. The reasons to bring phones to class don't matter to the students. As long as they get to have their toys, they are are happy.

Edna then sighs and says, "Could you at least set them to vibrate?" Once on vibrate, the phones make even more noise. The teacher gets fed up and collects all of the phones from her students. She proclaims, "No more gizmos in this class." The students are very disappointed. There seems to be no happy medium when it comes to mobile phone use. The free-for-all didn't work. Simply putting the phones on vibrate didn't work. So banning, not classroom management or curriculum integration, is Edna's answer.

"Hey, don't worry, we still have the good old classroom computer," Edna explains as she walks over to a very outdated machine and inserts a floppy diskette. The game that appears on the screen is very simple and outdated, especially compared to the interactive and complex games the students were playing on their phones. The students' phones (a.k.a. handheld computers) are each far more powerful and interactive than the classroom computer. It's a shame that potential learning tools are locked in a drawer.

Because of unrelated events, Ms. Krabappel is replaced. Her replacement invites phones, texting, Facebook, blogging, Twitter, and other "cool" stuff into the classroom. Of course, the students are thrilled with his paperless classroom. The students are shown to be excited about what they are doing in class, but are they actually learning anything aside from the technology itself?

One of the "cool" things the new teacher does is emails his students a video where he wears jerseys with numbers that are multiples of seven. The jersey video reminds me of Mrs. Burk, the rapping math teacher. The new teacher may be on to something. Lots of teachers are making videos and podcasting. Students seem to respond better to videos that feature people they know.

During class, the new teacher asks, "Who can tell me what the Monroe Doctrine was?" One student recites, "The policy of President Monroe that America has a right as a nation to..." The teacher interrupts the student and asks, "Are you telling me that you memorized that fact when anyone with a cell phone can find it out in 30 seconds?" The student realizes, "I've crammed my head full of garbage!" Again, there seems to be no happy medium. It's either lots of memorization of facts vs. only search for facts. Yes, students need to know how to find information. And yes, there are things that students shouldn't have to research because they remember them.

In the end, The Simpsons' parody of mobile phones in schools probably changes the minds of no one. Those that are absolutely opposed to inviting student-owned phones will see the craziness of the first classroom scene as what would really happen in the classroom full of phones--a huge distraction with no learning. Those who want to give students access to any and all technology in classrooms will witness the excited reactions of Bart Simpson's classmates as evidence that using today's technologies are a very good thing--learning should be chaotic.

The happy medium that I prefer is using school-owned devices. A class set of iPod touches checked out to students for the school year can be more easily managed. Each student would have access to the same hardware and apps. The teacher can control what apps are installed and what features are enabled. Of course, it's costly to outfit a class of students with handhelds. I do continue to be interested in the idea of students bringing their own devices to class. It would be less costly and demonstrate to students that any device can be used for learning. But it has to be done in the right way with the right philosophy behind it. What are your thoughts about mobile phones in schools? Please comment.

If you enjoy The Simpsons brand of humor, you'll get a kick out of other gags in the show. Those in the U.S. can watch the entire episode, "Bart Gets a Z," on Hulu.

New Video & Blog About Mobile Learning

21st Century Education VideoTwo of my favorite educators are Cathie Norris and Elliot Soloway (who have been evangelizing mobile learning for nearly a decade now). This dynamic duo are featured in a new video from the Mobile Learning Institute's video series A 21st Century Education. In the video Cathie and Elliot speak with teachers and students as they travel to some handheld-using schools. While en route, Cathie and Elliot talk about mobile learning. Here are some quotes from the artistic video:

"Mobile computers are the future. Laptops are very 90s. They're your daddy's computer. They're your parents' computers. They're not the kids' computers." - Elliot Soloway

"Just like a business person uses the computer 24/7--they use the computer for everything they do. That's the way we now conceptualize the way we use mobile computers." -Elliot Soloway

"It's going to be amazing to see how many of them [schools] go to cell phone computers rapidly because they're seeing that every child has one, every child knows how to use one, and that's why when we see districts like Keller saying, 'You know what? Rather then fight it, let's see if we can take advantage of it. Let's use the infrastructure that the tel co has. Rather than us spending our money building a wireless infrastructure, let's just use the tel co's structure.'" -Cathie Norris

"Mobile technologies are going to make a bigger change to our lives than the PC and Internet together. I mean, the PC changed everything. The Internet changed everything. But the mobile technologies is every bigger than that." - Elliot Soloway

Cathie and Elliot work tirelessly to deliver their message to anyone who will listen. I'm really pleased that together they have started a blog called Tech Disruptions. Here's how they describe their blog: "We will address topical issues that arise as technology continues in its inexorable way to engender changes in K12. Here is your opportunity to express opinions about the changes that technology has wrought."

I really enjoy the format of the blog--it's written as a transcript of a jovial conversation between Cathie and Elliot. So far Tech Disruptions has tackled topics like eBooks, mobile phone bans, and cloud computing.

Simulate Sites for Mobile Phones and iPods

Nowadays there seems to be three kinds of websites. There are the full websites that you are used to viewing on your desktop or laptop. Then there are mobile versions of sites for cell phones. Mobile sites are created with a minimum amount of graphics, don't require much bandwidth, and can be navigated with a keypad. Additionally, there are sites formatted for the Safari browser on iPhones and iPod touches. These sites are sometimes called web apps and are designed to be used by touching the screen with fingers. Below you can see that CBS News formats its site according to what kind of device you are using to view it.

2 Kinds of Sites

Phone EmulatorNot all sites are programmed to format themselves into these three types of sites. Chances are that the your website is static and does not change no matter what size of screen it is being viewed on. If you'd like to see what a site looks like on a cell phone, you can use the dotMobi Emulator. The emulator is useful for not only checking your own site, but for pages that you might want students to visit on a mobile device.

If you'd like to see what a site or web app looks like on an iPhone or iPod touch, you can use iPhone Tester. iPhone Tester gives you a preview of what the page will look like on a simulated iPhone.

If you'd like a make a site that will function well on a mobile phone, handheld, or iPhone, you should check out Wirenode. It's a free service that allows you to easily create a compact webpage or site that will format itself for the device that's used to access it. Here's a site I made with Wirenode for the 2008 NECC conference. As you can see, Wirenode support text, images, news feeds, and hyperlinks.

Why would you care what your site looks like on a mobile device? Research firm IDC says that 1.3 billion people will connect to the Internet using a mobile phone in 2008. According to the March 2008 Tween & Teen Lifestyle Report, 73% of teens and 26% of tweens own mobile phones. Besides mobile phones, youngsters also often have access to the Web on other portable platforms like Palm handhelds, Sony PSPs and Nintendo DSs. The bottom line is that the Internet isn't just for desktop computers anymore!

800-GOOG-411, Texting GOOGLE & CHACHA, and 800-2CHACHA

Text GoogleMobile phones can be useful tools for accessing information--even phones with no Internet access. There are some interesting free services for mobile phones I'd like to tell you about that don't require the Web on your phone.

First, search giant Google has a voice service at 1-800-GOOG-411. Dialing this number will give you a voice prompt to enter a city and state. Then you say a business name or category. Google's computer at the other end will verbally tell you some nearby businesses. It will give you a location and even offers to connect you to the business's phone number. GOOG-411 is really aimed at finding local companies, shops, and restaurants. You can't use this to get other information, like weather, definitions, or calculations. For those kinds of information, you'll need to text Google.

Google can be accessed by SMS. SMS is Short Messaging Service and is commonly referred to as text messaging or texting (or tex-mexing as an older friend of my calls it). Here's how it works: send a text to 466453 (GOOGLE spelled out on your keypad). For example, if you want current weather conditions in Phoenix, send weather phoenix. Additionally, you can use this service as a glossary. Send define typhoon and you will receive a text back with the definition of typhoon. Send convert 30,000 feet to miles will produce the message "30,000 feet = 5.681818 miles." To learn more about Google's SMS, check out this page. It has a chart listing the search features and sample queries.

Unfortunately, Google's texting service is limited in the kinds of information it can send back to you. Suppose you want to know which fruit has the most calories? Google's text service can't answer that question. But, ChaCha can. ChaCha employs actual human beings, so you can send all sorts of questions. In response to my fruit question, ChaCha replied with this text message: "The avocado is the fruit highest in calories with 276 per fruit, and 27.6 g. of fat.". That link directs me to a webpage where I can view the source of the information, which happens to be

ChaChaOnce I send a text to CHACHA (242242), it usually takes about 5 minutes for answer to arrive on my phone. Unfortunately, ChaCha's human guides have not always provided me with accurate answers. When I asked "Who won Big Brother 9?" ChaCha replied, "Adam won the show and 25,000 bucks." While Adam did win the show, he won $500,000, not $25,000. I asked ChaCha to tell me about the training the guides receive. The reply was, "Guides are given very little formal training. We prove ourselves as information gatherers before being hired."

Since ChaCha is actually paying people each time I use the service, I wondered how long ChaCha will remain free of charge. When asked how long the service will remain free, ChaCha replied, "Umm... FOREVER!" That's good news because I am really enjoying ChaCha and I can see many classroom uses. (Note that standard text messaging fees apply to texts to and from ChaCha.)

Obviously, ChaCha would be a great field trip resource. I know when I go places like the zoo, I have tons of questions. For instance, why do flamingos stand on one leg? It would be wonderful to get an answer on the spot from ChaCha. And then, it would be great to verify the answer as part of the post-field trip activities. Oh, and if someone isn't so good at sending a text message, he or she can call 1-800-2CHACHA. The toll-free number allows you to say your question and then the answer will be texted back to your phone.

Verifying ChaCha's answers could be an activity in itself. Try asking ChaCha questions that you don't think it can find the answer to...or maybe something that has more than one answer. When asked to name the planets in our solar system, the ChaCha guide was thorough enough to inform me that Pluto was recently denounced as planet.

With Google and ChaCha, even Internet-challenged mobile phones can be a link to all that information the World Wide Web holds. Keep in mind that text messages can be up to 160 characters long, which can limit how much information can be sent back to you.

How to Cheat

Search for "how to cheat" on YouTube and you might be surprised on how many student-produced videos are online that show exactly how to cheat in school. Methods range from dozens of ways to hide cheat sheets to increasing the length of a term paper. There are even multiple videos showing how to remove, scan, and replace text on a Coke bottle's label. Watch some of the videos below to see for yourself.

Learn how to use an innocent-looking Coke bottle for cheating. The label is scanned, information is replaced, and a new label printed out and attached to the bottle.
This student shows how to hide answers in a skirt. She shows how to make your own skirt that can hold many cheat sheets.
This video shows how to stretch out a rubber band to write down answers. When the band is unstretched, you can't tell that answers are written on it.
Lots of advice and techniques are shared in this video, including becoming friends with the professor, writing on the inside label of a water bottle, and more.
Increase the length of a report or paper by replacing periods with larger ones. A nine page paper can turn into a 10+ page paper with this technique.
See how to make a tiny cheat booklet using paper and a stapler.
This video has insights from interviewed cheaters. "The Buddy Method" is demonstrated in the last half of the video.
This "Cheating Documentary" interviews many students who share ways to cheat, including taping answers inside of one's bangs and writing on various body parts.

Yes, we would rather our students not watch these videos. But, the information is out there and easily accessible.

One concern I hear about inviting mobile devices into the classroom is that students will use them to cheat. Perhaps. While many teachers seem to be focused on iPods and cell phones as cheating tools, they may overlook more prevalent methods of cheating. Watching these videos shows you there are lots of ways to cheat nowadays--and barely any of them involve mobile computers.

Of course, it is possible to store cheats on iPods and other electronic devices. There are videos that demonstrate how to do that too. This one uses the Notes function of iPods. Another video encourages students to record their answers and listen to earbuds in their sleeves while leaning on their hands to listen.

The "Cheating Documentary" above ends with the voiceover, "So students cheat. It is something that will never die. The question is, can teachers keep up in the race against students and their ever-going creativity?" The answer is not keeping up--that will never happen. One answer is creating assessments that students can "cheat" on. Rarely are people without some device that they can use to look up a formula or definition. It doesn't make sense to have school assessments so incredibly focused on memorizing information that is accessible anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, emphasis in education is on "playing school" instead of learning what's important for today's and tomorrow's society.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran the story Exam Cheating Goes High Tech, But Its Causes are Nothing New. Here's a quote:

There is an increasing body of opinion among educators that cheating may be an expression of the way schools approach teaching and learning. And as schools and teachers come to face more high-stakes standardized testing, the worse it will become, said Gary J. Niels, who has studied cheating behavior and wrote a 2003 paper on honor codes.

Studies found that when teachers were vague in explaining the relevance and importance of curricula, students perceived the lessons as a waste of time and were more likely to cheat. Fact-driven data that had to be "regurgitated," said Niels, also correlated to higher incidents of cheating.

The article also addresses the ethics of cheating:

"It's a mistake to talk about school cheating without referring to society at large," said Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit consulting and training firm. "We need to connect these dots and ask what is our attitude toward cheating, because kids are going to absorb that attitude. . . . And cheating learned in school is habit-forming."

As I was writing this post, a great question was posed on Weblogg-ed: When are we going to stop giving kids tests that they can cheat on? Many extremely astute comments have been made about "cheating" in schools.

As an aside, I am completely offended and disappointed in the comments on the YouTube pages for the videos above. YouTube doesn't moderate comments and it certainly shows. I'm actually glad YouTube is blocked in schools, not necessarily because of the video content, but because of the nasty, nasty comments.

iPods Episode #10: Photos Part 2

Learning in Hand: iPodsLearning in Hand: iPods Episode #10: Photos Part 2 is available and focuses on various kinds of educational image sets.

First, learn about commercial sources of image sets, like iPREPpress and Raybook. Explore many different kinds of image sets, including visual books, study aids, flash cards, matching games, math manipulatives, converters, response cards, and more. In fact, you can visit learninginhand's Gallery of Educational Image Sets and download lots of great learning tools and resources for the Photos section of an iPod.

Although teachers and students can download pre made image sets, the real value is using software like PowerPoint or Keynote to make your own image sets. Creating your own study aids really aids your study of a topic!

Listen to all 18 minutes of Episode #10 for great tips for using and making educational image sets. Refer to Photos Part 1 for basic information about Photos on iPods.

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Image Set Examples

Meet the Mobile Web

Mobile DevicesBelieve it or not, more people have access to mobile devices than desktop computers. Many handhelds can access the Internet, including cell phones, Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, Nintendo DS's, and Sony PSPs.

The problem is most websites are not convenient to use on a handheld's small screen. So, many sites provide a mobile version of their content. For example, USA Today provides their current news stories in a simplified format at

USA and Mobile

In 2006, mobile websites got their own top-level domain name: .mobi. When visiting sites like on a mobile device, you know you're receiving content formatted for a handheld. Over half a million sites have been registered as .mobi and many more are on the way. Unfortunately, there remains a variety of ways that a website may format its mobile web address, making it difficult to locate a mobile site (if there is one). Once you find a useful mobile site, be sure to bookmark it!

I've added a section to Learning in Hand to help educators use the Mobile Web. I provide plenty of sample sites and tips for classroom use. Educators might be interested in making their own mobile site, so I've included a page with information about ways to create your own mobile homepage. Many web publishers are creating mobile versions of their sites because more and more people are accessing with web with a handheld.

Automatic Suspension

USA TODAYMichigan School District Cracks Down on Cellphones, iPods appears in USA Today. Rather than having electronic devices confiscated or serving a detention, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools have begun automatic suspensions. Students are slapped with a one-day suspension for the first violation. Students could be suspended for up to five days for more than three violations.

The main reason for such harsh consequences? You guessed it: they might be used for cheating. Forget that handheld devices have potentially great educational value. Forget that assessment should be more than memorizing facts that can easily be looked up. Forget that outside of school, looking up information on your mobile device is not cheating, it's being resourceful (and becoming a necessary life skill). Forget about teaching ethics. Just ban utensils that could enable cheating. Perhaps this should include paper and pens, which are much more commonly used for cheating. Heck, ban the air supply so students can't possibly whisper answers to one another!

Plymouth-Canton's director for student services is quoted in the article, "This was not done capriciously. ...We want to teach people responsible use." What? First, I had to look up the word capriciously. Knowing what that means didn't clear up my confusion. Automatic suspension is not teaching students responsible use. Suspending a student for bringing an iPod to school is in no way guiding learners in how to use technology responsibly. I'm not opposed to suspensions for cheating, but for simply bringing a potential learning device into school? No way.

I enjoyed reading the comments on Michigan School District Cracks Down on Cellphones, iPods:

  • genxer65 wrote: "Kids do need to learn when to use these devices and when not to."
  • o050441 wrote: "Humans survived thousands of years without a cellphone. There is no NEED for this technology to live day to day. It's a luxury, a privilege or even a crippling disease."
  • Eldiablo wrote: "Don't use them during school hours, how hard is that to follow?"
  • mistamilla wrote: "There's another issue being overlooked: the damage / theft of iPods and cellphones. I know this a teacher, you'd be STUNNED at the number of calls our school gets.....get this now....the number of parents that want us, the school, to REPAIR or REPLACE Johnnie's or Susie's damaged property."
  • commonpurposecon wrote: "Suspension just allows them to use the devices all day long and not in school. Have the library confiscate the devices with no guarantee that they will see it again."
  • RD72987 wrote: "Its not just iPods and cell phones, get rid of all of the elements of cheating....People copy other peoples homework in study hall, heck that's what study hall was for."
I realize cheating is an important issue. I know phones and iPods can be distractions. But, schools should integrate students' miniature computing and communication devices into learning. Banning and suspension is cheating students of access to valuable tools.

Free Poetry Resources for You to See

Poetry eBooksK12 Handhelds has made available several poetry curriculum resources for Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, and desktop/laptop computers.

You can download Types of Poetry and Poetry Anthology eBooks. The eBooks are in Mobipocket format and have lots of examples with linked vocabulary words. Mobipocket is a cross-platform eBook reader and you can download it for free. Windows users can even download the free Mobilpocket Creator for making your own cross-platform eBooks. [There are not versions of Mobipocket for Mac and Linux computers--but you can use a Mac to install Mobipocket to a Palm handheld.]

Also available from K12 Handhelds is a Poetry Scavenger Hunt in Microsoft Word format. You can use Palm's Documents To Go or a Pocket PC's Word Mobile to view and complete the scavenger hunt.

Another freebie is a 10-question Poetry Types Quiz in Quizzler format. Quizzler is available for Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, Macintosh, and Windows.

K12 Handhelds also points to additional resources teachers might use, including two great poetry podcasts. The podcasts are from Houghton Mifflin and School Library Journal.

Finally, K12 Handhelds offers a one-page PDF called Poetry Classroom Activities that gives simple and advanced ideas for using these resources. Activities include comparing poems, creating a poetry blog, and highlighting metaphors, similes, and other literary devices in Mobilpocket.

Thanks K12 Handhelds for making these resources freely available!

Screenshots of Resources

Note: Recall my tip in Soft Reset #19... If you are trying to download a file and only weird text shows up in your browser's screen, click your browser's Back button. Then right-click (Mac users can Control-click) and choose "Download Linked File" or "Save Link As..." from the context menu. The file is saved to the desktop. If the file is saved with a .txt extension, click the file name and remove the .txt. Then the downloaded file should have the correct icon and function properly.

Bits & Pieces

It's time again to list many of items that are piling up in my inbox and in my Bloglines feeds. There's a little something for everyone: Palm, Pocket PC, iPod, Mobile Phone, PSP, and podcasting users...

There's a new Google Maps application for Windows Mobile. It's also available for Palm OS. It requires an Internet connection.

Some Australian schools are using the Nova5000 with students. Read about their experiences in the NOVA5000 Australian Trials blog.

Some U.K. schools are using PSP (PlayStation Portables) in classrooms. Read about their experiences in the PSPTeachers blog. They are using the PSP's WiFi connection to deliver RSS feeds to the students. Be sure to check out their cool charging and storage cart. Click on over to this article from Popular Science to learn how to read eBooks and watch videos on a PSP.

Doug Hyde is a library-media specialist at a Wisconsin middle school. His blog, Classroom in Your Pocket, has a useful post about showing video from an iPod on a television or projector.

Karen Fasimpaur wrote about PocketPicture, a great paint program for Windows Mobile. It's free!

The Podcasts for Educators Weblog has a post titled evaluating podcasts. It links to a PDF file for evaluating podcasts for teaching and learning. In the future, the blog will be publishing an evaluation for students and young people to use. Also at the weblog, learn about podcasting through their Online Learning Studio.

Leonard Low posted his Top 10 Freeware Apps for M-Learning on his Mobile Learning blog. His suggestions focus on mobile phones and Windows Mobile devices.

Rolly Maiquez has a couple of blog posts you might want to check out: Useful Palm Handhelds and Language Arts Curriculum Integration Links and Funding Links.

Lynn Lary points to curriculum resources for a interesting lessons using MIT's free participatory simulations for Palm handhelds. Included are materials and handouts for a unit called "Future CSI" and a unit about the Big Fish-Little Fish simulation.

Those of you who are Windows, Palm, and iPod users may be interested in Palm2iPod that sends your contacts and calendar from Palm Desktop to your iPod.

Here are several new freeware applications for the Palm OS:

  • SequenceM: Sequencing application for elementary classrooms.
  • ClipExtend: Bypass the 1000 character clipboard limit so you can copy and paste larger amounts of text.
  • HealthCalc: Calculate BMI, body fat, heart rate zones, and more.
  • Pepe Palm Chat: Send text back and forth through infrared.
  • Checklist by Paper Trail Software: Create and manipulate checklists.
  • Dekses: Puzzle game where you follow the right number order and move the digits to their correct places.
  • Target: Game where you make words out of a 3x3 grid of nine letters.
  • tejpWriter: Word processor with a surprising number of features. I like that it can export to HTML. The applications is a little buggy, though.
  • SimpleChart: Plot up to three columns of data.
  • Subscribe to Palm Freeware's RSS feed.
  • Dale Ehrhart has produced many free educational applications. Read about them on his Pre-Service Teacher blog.
And here are some freeware applications for Windows Mobile:

  • Hubdog: Read news feeds and subscribe to podcasts on your Pocket PC.
  • Free PDA Keyboard: Full screen keyboard for easier text entry.
  • Pocket Notes: Notebook program with different pen sizes and colors.
  • Subscribe to Pocket PC Freeware's RSS feed.

An RSS Button

RSS ButtonRSS (Really Simple Syndication) is becoming more and more popular. Why? RSS allows you to subscribe to content, like news, blogs, and podcasts. As you might already know, my preferred method of reading my RSS feeds is the free Bloglines web service. I can check on updated feeds on any computer with a web browser, including my handheld and mobile phone. Bloglines senses which web browser I am using and formats itself accordingly. Check out my public subscriptions if you want to see the RSS feeds I subscribe to.

RSS is an important part of what's called Web 2.0. What's Web 2.0 all about? The amazing video, Web 2.0...The Machine is Us/ing Us, by Michael Wesch at Kansas State University, does a great job explaining the new ways the web is being used. RSS is dubbed as a way to "describe the content, not the form. So the data can be exported, free of formatting constraints." Content without form is perfect for small screens as information can be formatted in ways that work best for the tiny computer you're using.

Here's proof of RSS's significance in mobile devices: Samsung's new WiBro SPH-M8100 Smartphone (running Windows Mobile) sports a dedicated RSS button (here are some photos). The button launches an RSS reader application. I wonder if you could remap that button to launch Explorer Mobile and go to Bloglines. I also wonder if this is the first of many phones to have an RSS button.