Sep 282008

I told Sam that I would post this, so here is a sample of the podcast of my lecture. It is rough and unedited. I am torn between editing them right now.  It takes me about 3 to 5 minutes to post these on my school’s Edline website for the learners.  If I edited and took out the “so” (do I really say that 200 times a class, I must, it there on the recording) and the “okay’s” then it would take much much longer.

I am going for information to learners with this.  So far I have had at least one person PER day tell me they have listened to it and it has helped.  That is enough for me to continue all year. 

If I had to edit, then it would take so much time that I probably would not do it, honestly.

The PDF does not show the steps that I used, nor the animations for the Commutative property.  I refuse to use animations unless it has a purpose.  When I draw arrows, then I use a wipe that goes from the beginning to the arrow. 

For the Commutative property, I used a rotation that had (a + b) rotating around the “+”.  That gets the idea of movement across to the learner.  I ‘think’ it helped.

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Sep 212008

The first part of technology that I am using is my laptop. It is my personal laptop, and I have a cable lock for it just to keep it from wondering away when I am not looking.  It is nothing special, a Toshiba Satellite, 12.5 inch screen, 3 years old.  I use OpenOffice on it exclusively (mainly because I purchased it when I was in grad school and broke.) I have had great luck with OpenOffice, and I make my daily powerpoints for Alg 3-4 with it.  Very easy to use, and I have constructed some simple graphics on it to make my points.  I am running into the barriers of the software though, and I will be installing the 2007 version of Office I bought under the “ultimate steal” campaign they have.  [$60 for the full Ultimate version of Office!!!].

Okay, laptop connected to the projector on the second video cable.  I also purchased an Elmo, HV-110xg off of eBay over the Summer.  total cost including shipping was $120.  Totally worth it.  This shares a video cable, so I have to swap devices.  Takes about 3 seconds.

So the laptop is running the presentation that I have carefully built to teach the lesson. I turn the presentation to a pdf, and upload the pdf to Edline (our district’s online software).  If someone has a question not addressed in the presentation, I can switch devices to the Smart Panel using the projector’s remote and do the problems and address the questions on the whiteboard.  More importantly, I can have the learners come to the board and work the problems on the white board.  I use a remote control for the presentation, so I am teaching from the back and sides of the room, not the front.  I am not tied down anywhere.

I also have an iPod, 80 gig, that is record my lectures on.  Very powerful to upload the presentation, and the MP3 to Edline. I have had several learners tell me they listened to the MP3, and looked at the presentation, and were able to figure out the assignment.

The iPod works terrifically.  The iTalk I use retails for $50, but on eBay I snagged one for $12.00 including shipping.  Plug it into the iPod, hit record voice memo on “low” quality, drop it in my shirt pocket, and I get stereo recording of what I am saying.  It will pick up a learner if I am close to them, but otherwise not.

Sync the iPod to my laptop during break, import it into Audacity with the LAME MP3 encoder installed and export the .wav file as an .mp3 file.  Reduces file size significantly, and makes for faster uploads and downloads.  More importantly, it can now be listened to on any device in existence today, even cell phones.  Total time is around 3 minutes, total software cost = ZERO dollars.

I can also play video from the iPod and show it over the projector.  Using the Apple Component AV Cable I can connect my iPod to the projector (remember that 5 wire cable I ran?)  (Retail cost = $50)  Now I can show the YouTube videos that my district has blocked on my iPod.  Some very great videos on YouTube, if you are selective.  I can also play music over the speakers I installed. That is nice for beginning of class, breaks, etc.

I have also been using Geogebra to model mathematics over the projector.  More importantly, I have been asking the learners to bring in photos on their cell phones and use those pictures to model the mathematics.  Now the cell phones actually have some valid use in class!  When I purchased a SD card for my cell phone, it came with one of these adaptors, so I didn’t have to purchase anything else to read the little cards that they have in their cell phones.

Whew. That is a lot, but it is not hard once I got started and did it.  It took three weeks to get a system down though.  I spent all summer trying to do this, and then that, and then this again to make sure it would work.  The effort is worth it though.

I recorded a class, synced the recording to my laptop, converted it to an MP3, uploaded to Edline, and let the class listen to it, all in the span of 3 minutes.

They ask me if I am recording and remind me now.  That is successful. They tell me they listened to it over the weekend.  That is successful. 

 Posted by at 5:58 pm
Sep 212008

I have been working on seriously incorporating technology in my teaching.  Not talking about technology, but actually using technology so that it is seamless.

First things first, by set up.  I have a ceiling mounted projector, with additional speakers in the center of my room.  The ceiling mount cost about $60 to do, and the speakers are recycled from the old computers the school had when it opened (seven or eight years before).  [Note, $$ listed are approximate]  The ceiling mount is just 4 threaded rods, 3/8th inch, poking through the ceiling tile and through 2 6 foot pieces of angle iron (Lowes, $2.50 each)with holes pre-drilled along the whole length (the most expensive single item at $14.99 each)

Then I have a piece of masonite with holes drilled in the right spots approximately 1/2 way up the rods (18 inches from the ceiling) leveled off and the old speakers wired in place (earthquake precaution) and another piece of masonite about 12 inches below that angled to provide the projector a nice base to project from.  I approximate the cost on these to be about $3 – $4.  I used scrap from my garage.

I also have 4 acorn nuts on the bottom of the rods to make a nice clean finish, and 4 nuts and washers on the middle, with 4 nuts on the top holding above the angle iron.  Perhaps $60 is overstating it, but it should not cost more $60.

Wiring is a pain in the booty, but I have 2 video cables, one of which has a speaker wire built in for sound.  I have a 5 wire RCA for connecting my iPod (3 video and 2 audio) and an S-video (just in case it was only $6.00). I purchased the wires from  Seriously, they have good quality and cheap prices. I have purchased other wires from them as well.  A 10ft Cat 6 cable that Circuit City wanted $25 for, I purchased for $1.50 + $2.00 shipping.  Same cable.

One video cable is hooked into the school supplied computer, which is attached to a Smart Panel.  It is like a Tablet PC in that you can write directly on the screen with a special pen, and then have it projected on a virtual Whiteboard with the projector.

That is the usual set up in my school, everything from here on is my personal take on the use of tech, and personal equipment.  More on that in part 2.

 Posted by at 5:25 pm
Sep 202008

Well, I have gotten into the school year, and I am getting comfortable in the routines.  It was more difficult this year with three preps, so I have spent some time getting more prepared and have had to focus constantly on how I am planning.

Some things I have done to make sure I am successful.

1. I have been using PocketMod to keep myself organized.  I have the current week, the next week, a yearly calendar, and then to do lists for Algebra 3-4, AP Stats, Gateway Math, and UNR Class, with one blank page for general stuff.

2. I have flirted with the idea of installing PlansUnfolding.It is a turbocharged version of PocketMod.  Both are free but PocketMod is web based and requires no installation of Latex like PlansUnfolding does.  However, Latex could be very helpful to learn.

3. One thing that killed me this year was that I did every lesson free hand on my SmartPanel last year.  It worked, it was cool, and it left me absolutely nothing to reuse for this year. I am essentially starting over from scratch! Bad Glenn.  Bad Bad Glenn.

4. So, in response I have chosen my Algebra 3-4 class (everyone else’s Alg 2) and am doing every lesson on OpenOffice Impress.  I would rather be chained to opensource than Microsoft, although I have started playing with Presentations ver. 2007, and it is nice.  I don’t know if my current laptop can handle the software though.

5. Finally, I am recording my lectures for Alg 2 (about 15 minutes per day) and posting the MP3 version of it on Edline for my learners to download.  They actually have been downloading the podcasts.  I am using an 80 Gig iPod video with the iTalk.  I purchased the iTalk on ebay for $12, including shipping.

Finally, I have gone over the deep-end on use of technology in the class room.  I will do a separate post on that.

 Posted by at 6:06 pm