Monday, May 27, 2013

The Mouse

I remember computers BEFORE the creation of the mouse. Unbelievable, right? I know.  I have a hard time believing how old I am, too.

Before the mouse, we had commands, function keys and, hopefully, a good memory.  I am just at this very moment realizing how grateful I should be for the creation of the mouse, considering the current state of my memory.

When I first heard about the creation of this bizarrely name computer tool, my response was (and I'm being painfully honest here), "Sounds like something created by a lazy man."  Nice, right? Well, I was only 19 and full of attitude, but I wasn't the only one who initially thought the mouse was a ridiculous contraption for the lazy and intellectually inferior.  I read somewhere that John C. Dvorak, long-time computer columnist, once wrote that the mouse would be the reason that the Macintosh would fail. See...even techno smarty-pants get it wrong sometimes!

Regardless of when we got it and what we first thought of it, today the mouse is likely to be the first human interface device that a child encounters. Prepare yourself for a big revelation at this point: Children do NOT come from the womb pre-programmed with the knowledge of how to use a mouse. It's true. I promise. Anyone who disagrees clearly doesn't know any young children. Or any Kindergarten teachers!

So, for the sake of all young computer experts and their brave teachers, here are my suggestions for teaching mouse skills and improving mouse dexterity.

Step 1: How to hold the mouse
Most students have some experience with a mouse by the time they reach Kindergarten, but they most often do not realize that there is a "right" way to hold it. I use the "bunny ears" concept to model how the mouse should be held.  Have the students show bunny ears (or "live long and prosper"), then show how to place a bunny ear on each side of the mouse without touching the bunny nose (scroll wheel).  We NEVER use the bunny tail (thumb) to click the mouse.  The thumb goes on one side of the bunny and the ring finger and pinkie go on the other side of the bunny and hold on to the bunny and control it.

We ALWAYS use the right hand on the mouse, even for left-handed students.  Yes, I know you can configure the mouse to work on the left side, but don't do this to your sweet lefties!  Why encumber them with the necessity to reconfigure the mouse settings every single time that they sit down at a computer when they so easily learn to use the right hand?

Step 2: Placing the mouse and clicking
One of my favorite resources for introducing and practicing mouse movement and clicking is this website created to prepare young students to utilize Mimio's reading program. We all start the website at the same time, but do the first minute or so without headphones, watching on the interactive whiteboard. After the students get the hang of it, they put on their headphones and work through the rest of the interactive practice on their own.

Step 3: More practice clicking
There are endless resources online that will give students an opportunity to practice clicking. Download a short list of my favorites here.

Online puzzles are another great way to practice with the mouse.  There are multiple online puzzle sites so I haven't included any specific sites in this post.  As always, make sure to double-check all websites for appropriate content.


I'm so excited that you are here, but I really have no idea what is going to happen next! Technically (pun intended), this blog is meant to record my ideas and experiences with technology. Fortunately (pun not intended but unavoidable), I know myself well enough to say that there is a good chance that other, completely random things will show up here.

It is very intimidating to consider adding another tech blog to the world as there are already so many out there, written by people with far more experience than I, so why bother? The final compelling reason to move forward turns out to be that I want to honor my experiences, my students and my colleagues by recording what I have learned with them and from them.

Wish me luck!

Tiffani the Tech Diva