While I am sure I should be grading and doing all sorts of other things instead, I've been spending a lot of the last few days investigating interactive whiteboards and tablets for my class. Then, on Tuesday, I found the penteractive.us site where I could order all the parts for making Johnny Chung Lee's homemade version. On a whim, I called Penteractive for some advice, spoke to a very helpful gentleman, and ordered the needed parts (Infrared Pen with CR1-, Intec Wave Remote "wii", Table Top Tripod, and Wiimote Versiclamp) for a total of $72.20 including shipping. They arrived all the way from Tennessee in two days! So, time to get to work...
I downloaded the software to my Mac and read a number of website accounts and watched some YouTube videos for help setting up my wiimote on Thursday. One problem I kept running into was that my bluetooth setup wizard never seemed to actually "save" my device. Still, I thought I had it working, but, of course, I really need it projecting to the wall, which takes a projector. So, on Friday, I went into work to try it out with my projector. Although the computer and wii had "talked" at home, they weren't at school. I went home and fiddled some more, getting the wii and computer talking again, and "testing" it with the computer screen. Back to school on Saturday, and, again, the wii and computer wouldn't "talk." How frustrating! I did, along the way, learn about another cool feature of my new wii remote: I can use it as a programmable remote control for my computer with the help of a downloadable program called Remote Buddy. I have never been able to get my projector's remote to work properly, so this was a nice side discovery. I may just buy another wii (i.e., Intec Wave) remote for that.
Finally, I figured out my problem. I had been trying to set my wii up using the Mac's bluetooth setup wizard. The wiimote software I downloaded for my Mac, though, does the setup itself and using the setup wizard actually interferes with that process! Yesterday, on my third trip to school, everything worked! It took a lot of experimenting to figure out where to place the wii, and I still am not sure if I have the best spot. Right now, though, I'm going to place it on the little tripod right on top of my projector.
The next step, of course, is figuring out how to use my new tool effectively in my lessons. I want to give all my students opportunities to come up to the board and get involved. I will be focusing on writing and grammar in January and February in preparation for the 7th grade writing assessment the first week of March. I am hoping we can use the wiimote for interactive lessons in writing and revising. For help setting up lessons, I downloaded and started experimenting with the free version of Promethean's ActivInspire software, but I also liked the suggestion I read somewhere to use the Elluminate whiteboard feature. As a member of the learncentral.org site, I have used the free vRoom several times and experimented a bit with the whiteboard. Using Elluminate would mean that I would have to be online, but would have the advantages of letting me use a tool I already have some familiarity with. I could also record lessons with it for absent students.
If anyone out there has suggestions, both for software to use with my wiimote and for lessons that will work with my students, please send them my way!