Posted tagged ‘math’

Math Cartoons

November 26, 2008

 

I’m writing some math cartoons and checking out how they look in wordpress.

\Toon\

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Wireless Writing Tablet

April 8, 2008

I wrote about using a writing tablet in math class a while back.  Now I am taking it to the next level.  I got a grant for a bunch of Interwrite wireless writing tablets for the math department at my school.  The money doesn’t come in until June but I was able to get one early on loan.  According to UPS tracking it should be at the school sometime tomorrow.  I’m trying to set some time aside so I can implement it soon.

Update: I ended up getting Airliner tablets that go along with the Notebook software (that runs on SmartBoards!)  We now have a 8 of these Airliner tablets and they are great.  The writing is smooth, they are durable, the battery lasts all day, and the Notebook software comes with it.  If you get good at running the software then you are ready for a SmartBoard.  My district was convinced of that and when a few new boards were purchased I got one in my room!   I can write on the Smartboard and use the Airliner tablet at the same time – very cool feature.

I can’t say anything bad about the Interwrite tablet but Smartboards have taken over the education world and it makes sense to go with the Airliner if you are looking at gettting some wireless writing tablets.

If you need help with the Smartboard (when you get that too) then stop by my SmartboardTips site.

Online Collaboration Assignment (Sort-of)

March 28, 2008

Inspired by all the wonderful collaborative projects like Flat Classroom and Horizon that are being done around the world I am practicing one with my classes.  Students will be creating a Google Site(Googles version of a wiki) that will review certain parts of the geometry curriculum.  Only the group members will be allowed to edit the wiki but everyone will be able to use them as review.  They will use something like Project Draw to create the diagrams.

Here is the “sort-of” part:

Students from my 3rd hour class are collaborating with students from my 5th hour class.  You might think I’m cheating (and your right) but I think its good practice for me and my students.  Next year I will try to get our sister school across town to join in.  If things go well ideally I would like to collaborate with students in other countries.

Google Calendar for my Classes

March 27, 2008

For a couple of years I’ve tried to make some kind of online calendar for my classes. At first I was trying to update a list of assignments just using HTML.  To do that I had to open the file, update it, then load it up to the server. It took too long and I couldn’t keep up with it.

Now I use Google Calendar. In Google Calendar I’ve created a separate calendar for each class. Everyday I go into the calendar and update what we did for that day. I can also put upcoming assignments and events.

Here is the magical part: I have embedded the calendars into my website. Now when a student goes to the Algebra part of my website they are looking at the algebra calendar. The geometry students go to their website and look at their calendar.

To do this in Google Calendar:

1. Click on the arrow next to the name of the calendar you want to embed and select calendar setting.

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2. Customize the settings as needed and grab the HTML code they give you.  Put that HTML code where ever you want your calendar to show up on your website.

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Now I just update the Google Calendar and my website is always up to date.

As I get caught up with everything I plan to have a link to all the worksheet and notes we go over in class. So any student can go to the website, look at what we did that day, download the notes, download the worksheet, and be totally caught up with class.  I’m living the dream!

Google Apps For My Classes

March 25, 2008

A couple months ago I decided to start taking my math classes to the computer lab once a week.  The first day I asked everyone to start a gmail account.  It was going just fine until halfway through first hour when Google blocked our server from creating any more accounts.  They though we were spammers.  One of the messages that Google gave students as they were blocked was to set up an account with Google Apps.  

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Luckily I already had set up my own website with my own domain so I was able to set up Google Apps before the end of the hour.  I also already had all my students in an Excel file so I had 120 accounts created by the middle of second hour. 

I struck gold.  Google Apps is the greatest way to communicate with classes, and set up collaborative activities. 

Here are some advantages of Google Apps:

1. Set up class email lists.  When I want to give an assignment to a class I simply send an email to 1stHour @ (email).com.  I have even sent emails halfway through class pointed students to a resource that someone had found. 

2. Google Docs.  I have students create Google documents and then share them with me.  I can go in and put comments in the document and grade them.  

3.  Students create their own start page.  I have let students put their own widgets on their start page.  They have the freedom to put various content on their start page as long as they keep a link for their email and documents.

4. Google Sites.  This is the Google version of wiki’s.  It is extremely easy to set up different sites and assign groups of students to work on them. 

5. Everything is free.  You get the Google ads here and there but no one minds.

6. Google is working on updating it.  I trust the thousands of geniuses Google has working on the security and functionality of Google apps.

7. It looks nice and works well.  I spent a long time looking for a wiki service to use for my classes.  The Google Sites interface and polished look beats them all.

8. I am the administrator.  When everyone forgets their password I can reset it.  When I get a new student I can create an account on the spot.

I am going to try to convince the district to switch everything over to Google Apps.  I realize doing something like that is ridiculous but I know I’m right and if anyone takes a look at it I might get lucky.  Arizona State, Northern Illinois, and a bunch of other schools and companies are using it!  Why can’t we?

Writing Tablet for Math

March 24, 2008

I’ve been using  a CyberPad writing tablet in my math classroom.  This has taken the place of my whiteboard, chalkboard (yes I still have a chalkboard), and overhead projector.  Here are some advantages and disadvantages:

 Advantages:

1. No more messy overheads. I don’t have the classic blue hand from wiping the overhead with my hand.

2. No more worrying about old markers.  I always get a clear crisp pen line.

3. I can write over all my worksheets.  I don’t have to make an overhead to write on since I just write right over the word document open on the computer.

4. I can save all my work as jpg’s and upload them to my website.

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5. I can quickly make a powerpoint and fill in the hard stuff later.  I can make an outline of a powerpoint in a few minutes.   The hard part is using MathType to make all the equations or diagrams that powerpoint can’t do.  Now I can insert the “hard” stuff as I go through the powerpoint with the class.

6. I can have students come up to the tablet to work out problems.  It’s new and students think its cool.

7. I never turn my back on the students to write on the board.  That’s a big one.  I have everything set up so I look at my laptop facing the students and they are looking at the projector screen behind me. 

8.  It can do everything a SmartBoard can do and it’s much cheaper.

Disadvantages

1. It takes a while to get used to the writing. It took a couple of hours of writing to get used to it.  I imagine it’s probably true with learning to write on a whiteboard for the first time.

2. PowerPresenter RE doesn’t work perfectly with Vista.  If you have the program running and then your computer goes to sleep, the program stops working.  You’ll need to restart your computer.  (OF course you don’t have to use that program.  There are many other great ones including the InterWrite package.)

3. You can’t move around.  Some would argue that you are stuck to the desk rather than being able to move around the whiteboard.

I just wrote a grant to get wireless tablets for the entire math department.  I am convinced that this is the best way to go compared to a SmartBoard.  I absolutely love the tablet as a teaching tool.

An Analogy for Teaching High School

March 22, 2008

A friend of mine in college had a knack for explaining everything with a hamburger or car analogy.  I’ve been working on an analogy for teaching.  Here is one using a trip.  I think I would use it as a first day intro speech.  The idea is borrowed from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Families.  He talks about a family as a plane and how you need to stay on course.  This is something like that.

Here is what I would say:

You are all about to take a trip.  We all leave today.  The destination is clear.  At the end of the trip we will all need to be at the place where have all the knowledge and skills from this class.  You will have gotten to a place where you can continue on to a new journey next year. 

Some of you are taking off in jet airplanes, some in helicopters, some in cars, others might be getting on your bike, while some might just be lacing up your shoes to get walking.  How you get there is not important but what is important is that you are taking your own way.  It is not worth it to get in someone elses car, or try to jump up on someones plane so you can spend all year in the passenger seat taking naps.  You need to get there your self.  You can fly together with others, caravan together, or even hold hands with someone else as you walk down the street.  If your in a car you might honk at the biker as you pass to encourage them on.  

Those of you walking will not have a chance to let up.  You will need to continue down your path everyday.  The jet pilots could possibly take some extra time refuelling but they must also make sure that they reach the destination by the end of the year.

My job is to keep everyone on course.  I will make it clear where we are going.  Along the way I will let you know if you have the right coordinates or if you are going down the right street.  Whenever you start to get off track I will let you know.  I am your GPS locator, your map, your compass, and your guide.  You can always ask me for directions. 

It is your job to keep moving.  I’m going to tell you how sweet it is at the end of this trip.  I’ll give you encouragement at major milestones.  I’ll even sit right in the passenger seat if you need me to.  I can’t pedal for you, I can’t press on the accelerator, and I certainly can’t fill your shoes.  It is up to you to keep moving forward.

That’s all I’ve got so far.  I’ll add more as it comes to me.