Extra Credit: Goodies for the Teacher and Student
Great things for class -- tested in our secret underground labs.
$35 per year (4 issues)
Roll up your sleeves and pull out that wrench, because Make has some fascinating plans for your spare time. This new quarterly journal recalls classic how-to magazines, but instead of providing plans for bird feeders and bookshelves, Make is packed with colorful step-by-step instructions for creating cool gadgets such as small robots, magnetic card-stripe readers, and kites equipped for aerial photography. Because Make is targeted to the amateur tinkerer, the plans are easy and the tools simple. And it's perfect for school; every science class needs a subscription.
The Fly Pentop Computer
Leapfrog; $100; applications $8-$30
Available this fall
One of the wildest applications coming out this fall is the Fly. It's a computer. It's paper. Well . . . it's both. The Fly Pentop Computer is a nifty little piece of hardware that gives kids audio feedback as they write and draw on special Fly paper. Draw a calculator, touch the handwritten digits and functions with the device to perform an operation, and then hear the answers announced. Or draw drums and keyboards and record your own tunes. Plus, you can load the Fly with Flyware cartridges to add new games and adventures.
Teachers Have It Easy:
The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers By Daniel Moulthrop, Nínive Clements Calegari, Dave Eggers; $26;
New Press (355 pages)
The title is a sly jab at those who argue, unconvincingly, that an educator's life is carefree. After all, teachers are hanging with kids all day and wrap it up at three o'clock, and don't forget those languorous summer breaks. We all know the truth. In few other jobs are workers so endlessly on the go and onstage. There's little time to socialize, grab a snack, or make a call. But the book's biggest target is teacher salaries, which range from miserable to barely adequate; many teachers take second jobs during summer breaks to fill the financial gap. Rich in personal stories, Teachers Have It Easy is a passionate call for improving the lives and working conditions of public school teachers. The foundation of our national education system depends on them.
Credit: Hugh D’Andrade
Thinkmap; desktop edition: $30; online edition: $20 per year and $3 per month
Who'd believe a thesaurus could be this much fun? The old paperbound library standby has been radically reshaped in this animated package, which makes language come alive. Type in a word and a constellation of related terms gets splayed across your screen. Then hop along the visual trail, uncovering dozens of linguistic links. Gone are the days when a dusty old thesaurus offered a featureless list of synonyms. The Visual Thesaurus is more than a new method for finding the right word. It's an imaginative way of giving language exploration the thrill it deserves.