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mouse skills

Dear Otto: Should I fix ‘Thumb clicking’?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Amy:

I teach K-5 technology.  I have made accommodations for several of my students who use the mouse with their left hand (medical reasons).  What about a kindergartener who insists on using his thumb to left click the mouse?  Is there a reason (other than it just looks wrong!) that this habit should be corrected? Unlike reinforcing the use of proper pencil pinch when teaching handwriting, I don’t see the thumb click impeding this student’s future technique.  Handwriting progresses to cursive (albeit very little time is spent developing cursive anymore) so technique is important.  And I know that the mouse continues to evolve – but left and right clicking still works if my student uses his thumb and fingers.

I have seen the thumb-clicking. Sometimes, it’s the fine motor skills issue of not being able to push fingers separately (on the two mouse buttons). Also, it could be from ‘thumbing’ on phones, for texting. In kindergarten, it’s probably the former.

It is a habit that needs to be corrected. It’ll slow him down when he gets older and make him look awkward to peers which could embarrass him enough he wouldn’t want to use the computer. Luckily, K’s retrain easily. Just keep reminding him. Gently change his hand hold. Ask his classroom teacher and parents to join your crusade. He’ll get the message. Have him practice the correct way with the fun websites below under ‘More on mouse skills’.

One thing to do first: Check with parents to be sure there isn’t a physiologic reason why he’s doing it the way he is. If he has Juvenile Arthritis (which he probably doesn’t or you’d see it in other joints or parents would advise you), that can affect the flexibility of his hands, as can other diseases. Having that conversation subtly with parents will also give you the opportunity to engage them as your partner in fixing this issue.

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Categories: Computer skills, keyboarding, mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekend Websites: Mouse Skills

Here are some of my favorite websites to teach mouse skills to kindergarten and 1st grade. It’s from my collection and is constantly updated here:

  1. Bees and Honey1183938_stylized_mouse
  2. Click the square
  3. Jigsaw puzzles
  4. Jigzone–puzzles
  5. K-1 mouse practice
  6. More Mouse Skills
  7. Mouse and tech basics–video
  8. Mouse Click Skills—gorgeous
  9. Mouse exercises–for olders too
  10. Mouse movement–bomono
  11. Mouse practice
  12. Mouse practice—drag, click
  13. Mouse skills
  14. Mouse Song
  15. Mouse Use Video
  16. Mouse—Tidy the Classroom
  17. Mouse—Wack a Gopher
  18. Mousing around
  19. Tidy the classroom
  20. Wack-a-gopher (no gophers hurt in this)

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Categories: 1st, kindergarten, mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #61: How to Get Youngers to Use the Right Mouse Button

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: Kids always get confused when I’m explaining directions that require the right mouse button. I’ve found an easy way to clarify:

“Right click with your mouse”

Student promptly clicks with their left mouse. I know–doesn’t make sense. It does to them. They’re happy to focus on the right hand and have no idea they need to go one level further. My comeback:

“The other right.”

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Categories: 1st, kindergarten, mouse skills, tech tips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: What Can I Use Besides TuxPaint/KidPix?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Mrs. V had this question:

We are switching to Windows 7 on all our computers at school that can work with Windows 7. This means a lot of “free” open source software will not work; so we are “losing” all those programs. My main concern is losing the drawing program TUX PAINT for the K, 1, 2 students. Paint is too hard for them to learn, I think. Are there any other programs/software that could replace that “free” slot?

I haven’t heard that TuxPaint doesn’t work on Win 7. Anyone have experience with that?

Nevertheless, what’s important is that in this particular case it doesn’t work. There is another fun paint program called Kerpoof. It is entirely online–no download–and has many of the tools TuxPaint provides to teach essential mouse skills–drag-and-drop, click and double-click, drag (to paint). You can make a card, a drawing, and/or a story. It has tutorials and tips, and provides lesson plans and cross-references them with state standards. You can also sign up an entire class so you can track them (although the standard Kerpoof drawing program is free). Many teachers use it in the classroom in conjunction with KidPix/TuxPaint.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, art, kidpix, mouse skills | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #13: Powerful Right Mouse Click

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I need a faster way to access menus. Is there one?

A: Yes, and you’ll love it. All PC’s have this unique mouse with both a left and a right button. The left one is for all the normal stuff, but the right one is for the most common activities performed from wherever you are–on the desktop, in a program, whatever.

(more…)

Categories: mouse skills, tech tips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #13: Powerful Right Mouse Click

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I need a faster way to access menus. Is there one?

A: Yes, and you’ll love it. All PC’s have this unique mouse with both a left and a right button. The left one is for all the normal stuff, but the right one is for the most common activities performed from wherever you are–on the desktop, in a program, whatever.

(more…)

Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, mouse skills | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy:

Q: I am a Computer Teacher for Early Education (3 & 4 year old) and also Elementary students.  My question to you is if a child is left handed, should you teach them to use their mouse with their left hand?

A: That’s a great question. I’ve seen lots of different answers, but there’s only one that makes sense to me: Allow students to use the hand they’re most comfortable with. If they want to use the left, I set the mouse up so it works for them. Often, it’s a shared station, so I help the student get used to reversing the mouse buttons themselves. If that’s enough to convince them to use the right hand, so be it, but many times, they are eager to take the few extra seconds to visit the control panel and set the mouse up to suit their needs.

By allowing students to choose, I first don’t let my prejudices influence how they learn. I don’t want them to go one way because I told them to. I want them to make up their minds and act  in their own best interests. This also prevents me from interfering with the parenting they receive at home. Moms and dads may have strong opinions on this subject and nudge their children accordingly. I don’t want to interfere with that when experience tells me it doesn’t make any difference.

What do you do with your lefties?

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Categories: classroom management, mouse skills, problem solving | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

[caption id="attachment_7341" align="alignright" width="176"]tech questions Do you have a tech question?[/caption]

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy:

Q: I am a Computer Teacher for Early Education (3 & 4 year old) and also Elementary students. My question to you is if a child is left handed, should you teach them to use their mouse with their left hand?

A: That’s a great question. I’ve seen lots of different answers, but there’s only one that makes sense to me: Allow students to use the hand they’re most comfortable with. If they want to use the left, I set the mouse up so it works for them. Often, it’s a shared station, so I help the student get used to reversing the mouse buttons themselves. If that’s enough to convince them to use the right hand, so be it, but many times, they are eager to take the few extra seconds to visit the control panel and set the mouse up to suit their needs.

By allowing students to choose, I first don’t let my prejudices influence how they learn. I don’t want them to go one way because I told them to. I want them to make up their minds and act in their own best interests. This also prevents me from interfering with the parenting they receive at home. Moms and dads may have strong opinions on this subject and nudge their children accordingly. I don’t want to interfere with that when experience tells me it doesn’t make any difference.

What do you do with your lefties?

(more…)

Categories: 1st, Dear Otto, kindergarten, mouse skills | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: Should Lefties Use Right Hands for Mousing Around

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. I use only first names and the state where you live.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy in

Q: My name is Sandy and I am a Computer Teacher for Early Education (3 & 4 year old) and also Elementary students. My question to you is if a child is left handed, should you teach them to use their mouse with their left hand?

A: That’s a great question. My approach is to allow students to use the hand they’re most comfortable with. If they want to use the left, I set the mouse up so it works for them. Sometimes, that’s not possible because it’s a shared station. Then, I help the student get used to reversing the mouse buttons. Often, that’s enough to convince them to use the right hand!

What do you do with your lefties?

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, an Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, an IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller she just finished. Any ideas? Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab.

Categories: 1st, Dear Otto, kindergarten, mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #61: How to Get Youngers to Use the Right Mouse Button

In my fifteen years of teaching and tutoring tech, I’ve seen everything–and come up with solutions for all of it. I’ll share those with you. My goal: That students (of all ages) feel empowered not frightened by technology, that it is fun not frustrating. These tips will get you there with you and your kids.

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Categories: mouse skills, tech tips | Tags: , , | Leave a comment