Using a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse with your Projector in the Classroom

We teach with a data projector in our Grade 8 classroom. And, since we’ve set up this blog, we’ve had a few people find us on google looking for information on how to use an LCD projector as a teaching tool.

This year, we bought a wireless keyboard and mouse combination to use with our digital projector. And, we love it!

4 ways to use a digital projector in the classroom

  1. We create powerpoints showing the agenda for the lesson. We move around a lot in the classroom, and instead of having to return to our daybook to see the plan, it’s right there in front of everybody. It helps students to see where the lesson is going (… and helps us not to forget some important concepts.)
  2. You can use a projector to display a text for a shared reading. If you have a photocopy budget, this can help cut down on the paper you use. You can also do a think-aloud demonstrating how you use your reading strategies to deconstruct a difficult text.
  3. You can use a projector for modeled or shared writing. A lot of balanced literacy revolves around the idea of creating anchor charts and posting them around the room. (For example, brainstorming with your students a list of strategies to help them find good books.) You can use Microsoft Word or your wordprocessing program to type the list of ideas directly on the projector (instead of writing it on flip-chart paper. (We then print the shared writing and post it in the classroom.) If you do your shared writing on the computer using a data projector, you can also then post the file on your classroom blog so students can access the information from home.)
  4. You can use a projector to teach critical media literacy skills. The comprehension strategies that we use in reading (inferring, predicting, making connections, synthesis, evaluation, etc) are also used when we consume media texts. Commercials, music videos, and other online media can provide quick content for students to practice their comprehension strategies, which can then be transferred over to printed texts.

3 Benefits to using a wireless keyboard and mouse with your data projector.

  1. You are not limited to teaching from behind your desk. With some classroom setups, (or if you use a school data projector attached to a media cart that you roll into your classroom), your computer may not be in the most ideal location. A wireless keyboard and mouse allows you to move around and teach from anywhere… (that way, you can sit beside students who need help focusing on the lesson.)
  2. You can share the work. You can pass the wireless keyboard and mouse to older students so they can type in the responses generated by the whole-class discussion. That frees you up to move around and engage the students. (It’s the digital equivalent of asking a student up to the board to record answers on flipchart paper.) We’ve found that students enjoy the opportunity to type during the lesson. (We typically stress that when we generate ideas during a lesson, we’re in the prewriting or brainstorming stage of the writing process. Therefore, we are not focusing on correcting grammatical or spelling mistakes – that comes later in editing.)
  3. You can use the wireless mouse to move forward to the next slide from anywhere in your classroom. If you are a dynamic speaker, you won’t be limited to the front of the classroom… you can change to the next slide in your powerpoint presentation from anywhere.

What to look for when buying a wireless keyboard and mouse combination for the classroom

When we first thought about buying a wireless keyboard and mouse for the classroom, we were excited to see that you could buy a wireless keyboard / mouse combo for around $30. (On sale at Future Shop.)

We tried out the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 (Mouse and Keyboard combo) but were disappointed.

  • It uses standard RF so you just plug in the USB receiver and off you go, however, the range was horrible. Sure, there’s a long cord on the USB receiver, but if you weren’t pretty close to the receiver, it wouldn’t pick up your keyboard.
  • If you typed normally, there would be a lag before your words caught up to you.
  • As well, the mouse was sluggish – a little like a mouse with a dirty trackball: clumsy.

In the end, we settled on a Rocketfish Wireless Multimedia Bluetooth Keyboard and Laser Mouse (which at the time, cost around $100 from BestBuy.)

  • There is a USB bluetooth hub which is plug-and-play. (Our school computers are locked down so that you can’t install drivers on our regular teacher account. We get a warning message stating that the drivers can’t install, however, it still works on our Windows XP teacher machines.)
  • The range is supposed to be 60′. We set up the USB key and found that we can use the keyboard anywhere in our room. (You typically get around 6 to 10 feet with an RF wireless keyboard, so if you want to use a wireless keyboard in the classroom, you’ll probably want bluetooth. Also, with the Microsoft wireless keyboard, we found that if the receiver wasn’t in the line of sight of the keyboard, it wouldn’t work. Our rocketfish bluetooth keyboard works even when we have a filing cabinet between us and the computer.)
  • This model of laser mouse uses an invisible laser, so there’s no red light flashing in students’ eyes. The laser says it’s safe for all environments.
  • The mouse uses AA bateries and has a power switch. (Apparently some wireless mice go through a lot of batteries. The microsoft wireless mouse that we tried was always on, shining a little red light in the cupboard where we locked it away when it wasn’t being used.)

Things to think about when using a wireless keyboard / mouse in the classroom

If you are thinking about using a wireless keyboard and mouse in your classroom, here are a few issues that you might want to think about.

  • Portable keyboard and mouse means it’s also easier to steal. What security measures are you going to use to make sure sticky fingers don’t walk away with your keyboard, mouse, or USB hub?
  • Try to buy the keyboard / mouse from a store that has a good return policy. That way, if things don’t work out with your classroom setup (or you don’t get the range you need), you can always return it.
  • Bluetooth is the way to go. Sure, the RF wireless keyboards are cheaper, but you don’t get the range that you need.
  • You can still have your regular keyboard and mouse connected to your computer. (We have the mouse and keyboard that came with our computer permanently set up at our desk. When we want to use the wireless mouse and keyboard, we just bring it out and it’s ready to go. If we wanted to, we could type on both keyboards at the same time, but that would be like driving a car with two steering wheels.)

Question: Do you use a projector in the classroom and would a wireless keyboard be useful for you?

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Keyboard Trackball June 28, 2010, 12:44 PM

    It seems that something in the page is broken. Its not loading properly and I am very intrested in the post.

    Reply

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