Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moodle working so far...

I met my algebra 1 students and my new tech toys worked as planned.  Right now, they can go to my Moodle page and look at their textbook, a pdf of today's notes from the SMART Board and the list of homework problems that are due.  They looked at their ck-12 textbook today and found the embedded video on evaluating expressions.  I'm sure there will be lots of questions about finding the book and so on, but I think we are on our way!  Tomorrow they will all log into ALEKS and we will do a pretest so I can see where they are all at.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why put algebra online?

I would like as many materials as possible online so the students can access them at their own pace.  Often, a concept is not clear the first time and there is no chance to go back and try to learn again.  I always offer extra help, but sometimes that isn't enough.  I would like to make math accessible to more students by giving them more learning opportunities.

I would also like them to be able to collaborate with each other.  I will move slowly into Moodle forums and see if the students work well this way.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Much New Information!

I'm using the knowledge I gain in Blogworld to help me make my algebra classroom a better place to learn.  Technology is a major focus for me this year.  I've started managing my ideas using LiveBinders, I have tabs for the different ideas and I can make notes and develop things. One tab is for web resources to try, that is where I'm putting many of the useful activities from blogger posts.

I'm also using Diigo for keeping track of interesting articles and such.

Someday I imagine I'll make a web portfolio that showcases teaching in a way that is useful for others.

Any other ideas out there about how to keep track of this fountain of brilliance we are all unleashing?

Useful teaching technique

If I have a concept that I really want my students (high school algebra 1) to remember, I will occasionally deliver the key point while standing on my desk.  It's a simple thing, but they will ALL be looking at you while you are up there.  I have a schtick that I do every year when I'm teaching them the idea "Whatever you do to one side of the equation, you do to the other".  I was inspired by my high school composition teacher who taught me the immortal phrase "You can't write what you don't know" using a similar technique.  I explain the tribute to my high school teacher, then I repeat the phrase to be learned while I am in places they don't expect to see me.  I usually go out in the hall, peek around the door frame and say the magic phrase.  Then I hide behind the desk, peek over the top and say it again.  Other things may make more sense in your classroom, be creative :-)  I finish by climbing on the desk and doing a little call and response routine with them "okay, first this half of the room, repeat after me..."  You get the idea.  They don't forget this and it's fun.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Blogger Initiative Post 1

- One thing I plan on doing differently is putting more of my Algebra 1 content online.  I'd like to have more of a blended classroom.  I'm lucky enough to teach in the math computer lab, so each student can have their own desktop computer.  I've been using the computers for various activities over the years, but this year I'm expanding things considerably.  I'm writing an online textbook using, I have chapter 1 ready for prime time and the other 8 chapters are pretty well sketched out.  I'm using Moodle to keep track of online resources.  I'm using ALEKS for the 40 min lab that goes along with the regular 80 min class (I piloted that last year, so it's pretty under control).  I have a new SMART Board and I'm planning to make my notes available on the Moodle page.  I will be using other tools to connect the students online, Socrative, Google Forms, Moodle Forums, etc.  I'm looking forward to all this and I'm also looking forward to finding some colleagues in bloggerworld who use a blended classroom and would be willing to share ideas.

Thanks to the new blogger initiative team for helping us to get started :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


- I have a new SMART Board in my room, it's installed and ready to go, so I went in to school yesterday to play with it.  My plan is to do all of my board writing on it so that I can have a file to put online and make my classnotes available.  I would really appreciate insight from anyone else who has done this.  I also have some interactive presentations I downloaded from the SMART Board Exchange, I will be giving those a go as well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Useful book

- I'm reading Will Richardson @willrich45 and Rob Mancabelli's @RobMancabelli book on creating a personal learning network (Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education).  It's basically a manual for what I'm trying to do online and at my school.  Thanks guys!

Friday, August 10, 2012


This is a nice site for keeping a multi-dimensional online notebook.  I found it through a good one that was created by @web20classroom,  I have been using Microsoft One Note to keep track of my ideas, but I may switch to this.  I might have my students use it as an online notebook for a seminar class I am teaching in the spring.  I will have about 15 students who will be doing internships in a STEM field of their choice.  They will each have a laptop and I will be piloting all sorts of PLN, IBL, (insert 21st century acronym here) things with them.

ck-12 textbook

- The first draft of my algebra 1 online textbook is done.  It's pretty rough, but I'm on my way.  Feel free to post comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Curiosity Rover

NASA is doing a nice job publicizing the Curiosity Rover on Mars.  It's fun to follow on Twitter @MarsCuriosity.  I will probably show the video of it's descent instead of a warm up problem while I'm checking homework someday early on in the year. 

NASA has a lot of material using real world data for math problems, for example

I've never used this stuff, but I hope to this year.  The Mars trip makes it fresh again for me, hopefully the students think so, too.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Great Class!

I just finished the CCSU summer class on Digital Tools for Active Learning.  It was very helpful, the instructors really helped me take all the ideas I've been formulating and turn them into concrete classroom activities.  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blended Learning

I think this is the buzzword that describes what I'm doing.  I think traditional learning methods can work well and I think online methods also work well.  I like to blend these things in a way that allows me to reach as many students as possible.

Wikibook on Blended Learning

Saturday, August 4, 2012


This is an online student response system that looks good.  I am fortunate enough to teach in a room where each student has a computer, so we will be using this next year instead of clickers.

ck-12 textbook

I have finished the first chapter of my algebra book from the site  ck-12 is a non profit organization based in Palo Alto that is dedicated to providing open source textbooks for a variety of subjects.  They provide prewritten concept modules that are easy to edit and combine in any way you want.  The books are available to students online, they can make a pdf or they can export to Kindle or iPad.  It seems like a dream come true to me, they have a lot of momentum right now.