Jul 262008

Well, I took the first six slides of my version 2 presentation and re-did them with SlideRocket.  If you have not heard of them, give them a peek.  They are a new startup that can do some amazing things with “powerpoints”.  They aren’t powerpoints any more, simply because we aren’t using powerpoint. 


It can be also seen here if the imbed does not take.

What do you think?  Is it worth continuing?  It looks nice, but it can not do math equations, so I really couldn’t use it during the year.  Too bad.

 Posted by at 11:57 am
Jul 262008

So I am giving a presentation to my district math teachers on our first day back to school on Mastery Assessment.  Yikes.  I have made two different presentations. The first one, I edited and edited and had what I think is an okay presentation.  Here it is.

So, I set it on the shelf for a few days, and then re-visited it.  Ick.  I asked myself, “What is the story I am trying to tell?”  “Am I successful in telling a story here?” 

So, I made a second version. Obviously the answer to my second question was no.

There is a minor difference right on the first page.  A little better mixing of Serif and Sans Serif fonts (one of each instead of both sans serif), and there is more to tell inside.

Please, let me have it.  How could I make it better.  Does it now tell a better story?  Is it more coherent?  Obviously the information will be coming from me, the presentation is there to illustrate, not to educate.  But is it doing what I want it to do?

Thanks for any feedback.

 Posted by at 11:19 am
Jul 092008

So, I finished my last post, and realized that I was talking, but showing nothing.  So, start to finish, including the time to upload to Vimeo AND for vimeo to convert the video and Photo Story to render the video and me to type this second post. 

Meaning this is all inclusive time, here.  I am not pulling punches or shaving time off just to make it seem like this was not a big deal.  I started taking pictures at 6:20 p.m., and Vimeo is showing me the video in the window right now at 6:40.  20 freaking minutes!

And here is the link, just in case as well.  http://www.vimeo.com/1312528

20 minutes, start to finish.  This is absolutely possible to do in the classroom.

 Posted by at 6:44 pm
Jul 092008

Well, some of us are not as good as Dan is when it comes to video. Heck, I bet 99% of us couldn’t do the things he does with video.  But why let that stop us from using video, and more importantly, coming up with ways to have our learners constructively use video in the classroom.

So, before we begin, we will need some software.  First, download Photo Story 3 from Microsoft.  You can find it here.  Say what you want about Microsoft, but this piece of software is darn good, it does exactly what it says it does, and it does it fantastically.

Next, you will need some way to get voice into the story (if you want the learners to narrate).  If you don’t want the learners to narrate, but instead you want music, then skip the next couple of paragraphs.  Photo Story 3 has built in music that will solve your problem.  You are ready to go!

Okay, I am doing math, so I need some way to narrate. …. Hmmm, I have an iPod, so I could use the iTalk.  Griffin Technology makes it, it would set us back $49.99.  But I am a teacher and cheap, so I hoof it on over to eBay and find that it will cost less than $20.00 including shipping from many sellers.  Decision made.

But if I am uber-cheap, I want to do it for free.  My laptop has a microphone built in, so isn’t there some software that would record and more?  Yes there is, and it is open source and it is called Audacity.  If you want to do sound, then you want Audacity.  I even used it in a Trig class to demonstrate sound waves, beats, constructive and destructive interference.  Audacity will do all your sound needs.  Cost = $0.

But, I don’t have my laptop with me today.  Yea, I suck.  But WAIT!  Hey, there are two other different ways to do this for free.

www.gabcast.com  and www.gcast.com

Gabcast and Gcast both allow a person to call in using a phone (or perhaps a cell phone!  what high school learner doesn’t have one of those these days!!!) and make an mp3 recording of their voice!  This is called a podcast.  For free.  From a cell phone.  From anywhere  (I see possibilities for storytelling here).

Okay, so we have software that will take our photographs, or any jpeg files and will combine those jpegs into a video.  Along with that video, we can insert music, or, in the case of math, perhaps a learner’s slow explanation of how they did the problem. 

You see, I took my digital camera to school (not really, this is a plan for something I am going to do later) and took pictures, one after the other, of the learners doing a problem.  I just took a picture of the page using my old 2 megapixel camera, which is plenty of resolution for this, and then using Photo Story 3, chained the pictures together.  Next, I recorded a narration, and saved it.  Imported the mp3 file into Photo Story, and now I have my voice, narrating me doing a problem.

More importantly

Imagine having teams of 4 – 5 working on the problem.  In a class of 32, that is 6 to 8 teams, each trying to explain how to do a different problem.    They come up with a video explaining how to do it, post the video to YouTube, or Vimeo, and now we have 8 –  4 minute presentations on how to do the problems for a test.

I did nothing but facilitate the learning.  (hopefully).  Cost = $0.00.  Time = about an hour or less.    Isn’t this what learning should be?

 Posted by at 6:07 pm
Jul 032008

For one of my classes (two sections) I was given an 89 Gig Ipod Video.  This class is (badly) called the Gateway class, and it is a quarter of Post Alg 2 mathematics in Finance, a quarter of Mathematics in Art, a quarter of Mathematics in Technology / Computers, and a quarter of Mathematics in Medicine/ the Human body.

It is a very different kind of math class, where only seniors can take it.  It will be mathematically rigorous, but 100% focused on the mathematics in each of these areas.

So, back to the ipod.  Part of the issue with this is I need, I mean really NEED to use it.  After all, my district just paid $400 for me and five other teachers to each have these ipods.  If we don’t use them in class, we are in some deep doo doo trouble.

So I have made a goal for myself of finding, in advance, two to three videos that are relevant to the course each day.  I have watched a lot of YouTube crap, let me tell you.  Of course there is also DNATube, TeacherTube, Teachers.tv, and Vimeo where you can find some good stuff.  There is also TED.

I have been using these sites to find good video.  Today I watched this one, and it blew me away.  Who know fractals and Africa had such a rich history, and that that exact history influenced Western culture to such a high degree.  I did not.

If the player doesn’t work (I had it work and not work) here is the link: Ted Talk – Ron Eglash

 Posted by at 6:11 pm
Jul 032008

I finished reading “The World is Flat”  by Thomas Friedman about two months ago.  Wow.  It really makes you think about our place in the educational system.  I have a whole bunch of quotes noted on the back cover that I can use later.

The most striking quote I picked up on in the book was on page 11.  It was one sentence.

Where do I as an individual fit into the global competition and opportunities of the day, and how can I, on my own, collaborate with others globally?

The rest of the book can be thought of as justifying that one small challenge.  Why should an individual care about the global marketplace.  I mean, really.  The book talks forever about Walmart, and business?  Should a teacher even care what happens to Walmart and GM and other business?

My answer is an emphatic YES.  We have to care. Those trends will shape the learners we have today and the learners we will have.  Those trends are going to shape the future of all of us.  After all, the future is what I care about.  It is where I am going to spend the rest of my life. (paraphrasing Charles F. Ketterling)

I have mulled over the quote by Friedman almost daily over the last two months.  I had already set up my blog before I read TWiF, but I had not posted to it.  I really didn’t know why I wanted to set up a blog and post things to the interwebs.  Friedman gave me a reason to follow through and post the things I am doing.

Thanks Friedman.

 Posted by at 3:14 pm
Jul 012008

So one of the biggest problems with using skills based assessment, or standards based assessment, or any of the other names that can be given to the process that Dan Meyer has been educating us on is that Alg 2 is just way to darn big.

I mean, really.  Rational functions?  Composition of functions?  If we break these down in to the smaller, little skills that are part of either of these two concepts, then we will never actually assess the larger skill that is essential.

This is a problem. H. already discovered this, and she was very willing to say so.  A couple of other people have said the same thing in the earlier comments on my blog.  Given the previous experiences, should I scrap my idea of using this for Alg 3-4 or should I forge ahead and figure out a way to do it?

I vote for forging ahead.

I already posted a Concept checklist for Alg 3-4.  It is still a rough draft, and I will be editing it and refining it. ESPECIALLY given my most recent idea.

I was introduced to “I Can” statements a couple of times this year, both in different contexts.  What I thought of doing is making the learners do “I Can” statements and then using those “I Can’s” to create assessments based on my Concept Checklists.

Yes, the learners would have to keep track of two different things. They will have to keep up on what they Can and Can’t do AND keep up with how they are doing on their Concept Assessments.  The Concept Assessments need to be linked to the “I Cans” very carefully and justified very well. If they are not justified both directions, then the reason for doing all of this work goes out the window.  The learners will see it as busy work and throw away the paper on their way out the door.

 Posted by at 9:27 pm