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Our school has used a cordless phone for a few years, allowing teachers to carry it into their classrooms to conduct school business. The problem has been that the range is limited. But if your school is buying one soon, look at the newer 900 Mhz models. Not only are they clearer due to their digital design, but they have much greater range; in one test we took a 900 Mhz cordless phone down the street and turned the corner before it faded out. Another tip: find one with a paging function, allowing you to find the phone if it should get misplaced (and it will).
If you're buying a calculator, keep in mind that not all calculators are created equal. The solar powered calculators you test in the brightly lit store may display slowly in a dimmer classroom. Try shading the photovoltaic cell a bit with your hand in the store to see if the calculator performs OK under poor light conditions before you buy one (or two dozen for your students).
If you haven't looked at them lately, check out the computer-based personal organizers available for your platform. An example is Claris Organizer for the Macintosh, which integrates calendar, contact, task and note information into an easy-to-use and powerful format. Information is linked and easy-to-find with simple search commands. A good organizer will also have alarms and multiple print formats including Daytimer. Need Bobby Smith's mother's name and phone number? Forgot your wife's birthday? Let your computer manage your data.
Those of us with computers with gigabyte drives often forget there are people out there, like teachers sharing a computer in the library, who must keep their work on floppy disks and work from those. A cardinal rule for you is: always copy the file you're working on to the hard drive, do your work, then copy back to the floppy when done. Working from the hard drive is faster, and when you are done copying back to the floppy, allows you to copy to your other backup floppy as well (because what happens if your main floppy croaks?). And if you have your own computer, you should be making double backups to floppies, or better yet, using a commercial backup utility to save to floppy sets.
You're in charge of the computers in the lab, you're not backing up because those floppies are such a pain, and transfering files is a major chore because a fourth of your floppies drop dead before your eyes at any given time? Well, they're not cheap, but both the Zip and Syquest EZ drives are at least in the US$200 range, and use 100 and 135 MB disks respectively. Not only are they gaining in popularity, they are diminutive enough to pack with you. And with 70-80 times the storage of floppy disks, you might actually feel motivated to do regular backups.
Here's a novel idea: computers making your life easier by automating repetitive tasks. We've been using Quickeys for the Mac for six or seven years now and feel everyone should be using some kind of utility to do things like hitting one key to type out the full name of your school, for example. We even use Quickeys to open, modify and print multiple pages in graphics programs, and log onto the Internet including clicking on all the buttons, all automatically. You can locate CE Software's Quickeys on their website, or track down a power user and ask around about macro programs.
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