Using Mouse Mischief with your class definitely increases the energy in the room. That’s good, because there’s so much to get excited about—using a mouse, drawing on a screen, racing to see who can answer first, or working with teammates. As every teacher knows, though, the trick is to manage the fun factor, to harness students’ energy for learning and keep firmly guiding them toward the lesson’s goals, so their enthusiasm doesn’t run away with them and leave you wondering how to regain control of the class.
There are many ways to help students stayed focused whenyou’re playing multiple-mouse lessons and they’re enjoying them. Here are five tips to get you started on the right foot.
The single most important thing for managing your class during multiple-mouse lessons? Presentation controls, Presentation controls, Presentation controls. You wouldn’t get in a car and try to drive without knowing the instruments on the dashboard, would you? Same for Mouse Mischief. The row of presentation controls appear whenever you hover your mouse at the bottom of the screen, and they look like this:
Only the teacher’s mouse can operate the presentation control buttons. Play around with these controls when you’re creating lessons (and practice using them—more on this in another post), so that you become familiar with them and using them in the classroom is second nature.
Each button can be used to manage class activity in a different way. Let’s look at the bread-and-butter controls first, and then focus on the three most important (read powerful) ones for managing the classroom during lessons.
You can click the Start timer button when you want to limit the time students have to perform an activity to 60 seconds. If they know they’re racing against the clock, student will focus harder on completing the activity and less time fooling around. One advantage of using the timer is that when the timer finishes, student mouse pointers automatically disappear from the screen.
Click the Pause timer button to temporarily stop the timer. This is handy to do when you see that the students need more than 60 seconds to complete the exercise.
Click the Continue Timer button to continue the countdown timer.
You can use the Next button to advance to the next slide if students are following. If they’re not paying attention, or they haven’t understood a concept, use the Previous button to back up to the previous slide.
The Three Bastions of Multiple-Mouse Control
Now come the three bastions of lesson control, The Pause button, the Show results button, and the Reset button. These three are the most powerful multiple-mouse lesson management tools because they each stop all mouse activity immediately. Here’s how.
1. Clicking the Pause button temporarily stops all multiple-mouse activity. While the presentation is paused, all student mouse pointers disappear, and this button changes appearance to the Play button . You can wait until the class has settled down to click the Play button. Students will be eager to use their mice again, so you won’t have to wait long. Note When the presentation is running, this button changes appearance to the Pause button.
2. Clicking the Show results button ends all mouse activity on Yes/No andMultiple Choice slides and displays students’ answers in a results pane on the slide. You can use this button if students are taking too long to complete the exercise or are not paying attention.
Note: When you click the Show results button, it changes appearanceto the Hide results button , which you can click whenever you do not want students' answers displayed in the results pane. The Show results button is unavailable on Drawing slides, because those slides have their own mouse activity control button.
3. Clicking the Reset slide to clear student activity button ends all mouse activity on Drawing slides and erases the answers they have drawn. You can use this button when students have successfully completed the task, or when they have lost focus and need to start over.
2. First things first: Start the lesson and then give your students their mice.
For optimal classroom control, it’s best to complete the first few steps of setting up a multiple-mouse presentation before handing out the student mice. First, select the teacher mouse by using your mouse pointer to click inside the orange box and pressing Enter on your keyboard. Next, determine if you want students to participate as individuals or on teams. Then hand out the student mice. This is a good way to avoid the potential chaos that could start up while you make these pre-lesson decisions.
3. Use mouse “crowd control”: Identify individual and team mouse pointers in an orderly sequence.
The mouse pointer images for Mouse Mischief are a lot of fun—from dinosaurs to robots and rainbows to bubbles. Students get excited about them, and in all the excitement they sometimes rush to move their mouse inside the box on the screen to see what image it will turn into. But if they all crowd onto the screen at once, it’s hard for them to identify which mouse pointer is theirs. Have them follow an orderly sequence to be assigned a mouse pointer. Tell them it’s like lining up for recess or doing a square dance, two by two. The first pair moves their mice onto the screen, one from the left side and the other from the right, keeping their eyes fixed on their own mouse. When the cursor changes to an image, they say out loud their name and the name of their mouse pointer image (Estaban, Soccer Ball; Marnie, Robot), and then you can have them move their mice to a waiting place on the screen and wait for all the pairs to get their assigned images.
4. Establish clear “driving rules” for using the mice.
Give students clear rules for what to do with their mice while they’re waiting for all the mouse pointers to be assigned or for class activity to begin. You can tell students to sit on their hands, so they’re not tempted to play with their mice. Or you can create a “parking lot” in the corner of each slide andhave them park their mice in the lot until you tell them it’s time to drive. Whatever the rules, make them clear and consistent.
Establishing clear boundaries for mouse activity can help students stay on board with your lesson.
5. Try Team mode.
Sometimes the sheer number of students and/or mice can rev up the energy in the room. One of the ways you can help students settle down into a multiple-mouse lesson is by playing it in Team mode. Team mode not only limits the number of mice on the screen, it also encourages students to focus. Because all students on a team have to agree on an answer in order for the team answer to be recorded, they’ll be“stuck” and unable to move or act on the screen.
Managing a class calmly and gracefully is a both a skill and an art. To do it well, it helps to have a community of experienced teachers sharing their creative ideas. What’s worked in your classroom to keep students orderly during a multiple-mouse presentation? Share your Mouse Mischief classroom management experiments and ideas!