Posted tagged ‘technology’

How to Make a TurningPoint Presentation (Video)

March 31, 2008

Using clickers in the classroom is a great way to get instant feedback, keep students engaged and help students succeed in a video game crazed society. Here is a basic overview of getting a TurningPoint presentation ready.

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.

Running Out of Power

March 21, 2008

For a while now I’ve been trying to get some computers for my classroom.  After asking around I found out that the computers are attainable.  The problem is that the third floor is running out of power.  I work in a very old building and it is not ready to run all the equipment that is being put it.  I guess I should ask for a generator next. 

Why haven’t I been using Firefox?

March 19, 2008

Our school’s attendance program was written to only work with IE.  I’ve always wanted to use firefox but I just didn’t want to have two browsers open.  I hear a rumor that you could run IE as a tab in Firefox but I never had time to check it out.  With spring break here I am checking some things off my wish list and I’m now running Firefox.  What a difference.  I am using all sorts of plug-ins after reading this great list.

I’m embarrassed that I haven’t been using tabs.  Now instead of a start page with links to all the sites I use at work, I have a start page with tabs to all the sites I use.  Within those tabs the pages are loaded and I get logged in to where I need to be logged in.  What a nice time saver in the morning when time is at a premium.

ClassMarker.com geometry quiz

March 12, 2008

Classmarker.com is a great tool for online quizes.  They must read user input becuase everytime I think of a feature that would help they announce that the feature has just been added.  I am going to ask my department to pay for the upgraded membership. 

It isn’t perfect for math but I still use it.  There is no way to indicate fractions, exponents or any other math terms or diagrams.  To get around this I create the entire question and answers in MathType and save it as an image.  I upload that image to a folder on my website and use the “link to picture” feature on classmarker to display my question with answers.  For the question and answer input boxes I just put some “.”s so there is a place for each answer and a place to put a correct answer.