Thursday, February 27, 2014

ICE Conference 2014

I attended the ICE Conference (Illinois Computing Educators Conference) today.  Here are some of the things I am going to use.

1. Keynote Speaker: Mike Muir from Maine  twitter @mmuir
"It's about the learning not the stuff"
"We should have a Pedagogical Focus not a Tech Focus"
"It's not a Formative Assessment it is Formative Feedback"
"Create great learning with Technology"

2. Using Digital Tools as Assessments for learning:  Jamie Gourley and Josh Zwart @Josh_Zwart
Hand Out
Quizlet is an easy program that can work for math.  Check out Josh's trinomial example example:
I also learned that you can put in videos to Google Forms.

3.  Cool Tools for the BYOD Classroom:  Tammy Worcester  @tammyworcester Evernote tip sheet
This is a feedback system that you can draw pictures and submit them to the instructor.  I tried it and it is really cool.
She shortened urls and made a QR code with a Google Document.
She made a Google Form and had us enter our name and the place we were born.  She then took the data and put it in a site called  Instructions are here:
She did a different presentation with Greg Tang and I thought you would like to see some of that info:  Evernote Handout

4.  I saw Nancy Norem Powell  @NAPmath doing a session on SMARTBoard Wigits  and
I learned about how there is a beta version of Extreme Collaboration which was taking information from any device (not a clicker) and using the info on the SMARTBoard.  Click here on how to get it

5.  I met Tony Schlorff who told me about the SMART LightRaise™ interactive projectors which does not need the board.  It shines on the wall and you can draw using your finger.  AMAZING.  He said it costs about a third less than the regular SMARTBoard.

6.  Lastly, I went to a workshop with Our Journey in “Going Google…”  Matt Dusterhoft, Pat Deane & Kate Fahey  Lockport Township District 205  Click here for their handout  twitter:  Kate:@EdTechKate Pat: @ITDeane  Matt:@mduster

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Desmos Obstacle Challenge

Here is the challenge:  To move from the START POINT to the END POINT using equations.  You will have to navigate a little bit through some obstacles.  You can have your students use any equation or certain equations.  For instance, you could have them use all parabolas or all lines.  I have put together a few challenges.  They are below.  You can go to any of them simply by clicking on the image.  If you want to make your own, then just go to and click on the "+" sign (add item) and add a picture of your own.

Click on any graph to go to the DESMOS graph and take the Challenge.  

Desmos has a FACE drawing website that all math teachers need to check out calling it DESMAN.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making a Face with

If you haven't worked with desmos yet, you are missing out.  It is so easy and intuitive.  The students will catch on so easily.  Here is the in class assignment I gave today.  This was a precalculus class.  You can easily adjust this for any high school math class.

This was a student's work was done in 15 minutes of class time.  There is so much math here too.  

Sign up with and make a face using the free online calculator.

Your face must include these things:
1.  A circle or ellipse
2.  A line
3.  A sin or cos wave
4.  A slider
5.  A parabola
Now post your face in a link to this website:

Please go to this site to see all the wonderful examples that my students made.  They will make you smile.

Here are some questions that I had today.
How do you make the sin wave go vertical instead of sideways?
How do you move the circle from the center?
How do you restrict the x values so they don't always show?
How do you make a circle bigger?
How do I make this parabola wider?

Take 15 minutes and make a face today and you will see how much math DESMOS has.  Now this was a fun class.  The students were really active in their pursuit of the math topics. Please try this and let me know how it goes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

8 Ways to Incorporate Empathy into Your Teaching

I read a blog post by Matt Renwick on how Empathy is the Most Critical Skill for Educators to be Highly Effective in Teaching Children.  I thought it was an excellent post.  It helped me to really think about the question of how we can really know what our students are going through.  The post also has really made me think about empathy as a skill that can be practiced and increased.   It also made me think about how I need to be diligent and work at the "Empathy Skills".  I need to take time out from my regular routine and put myself in the students world.  So I made this small list of items that I need to continue working on to help my EMPATHY SKILLS.  

1.  Shadow a Student for a Day 
This is the ultimate empathy skill builder.  This actually puts you in your students shoes for a day.  I did it last year and it was a fabulous experience that I believe I need to repeat yearly.  I changed my perspective on homework, in class movement, lecture, school furniture and more.  If you get a chance, this will change the way you look at your students.  I want to do this again this year.  Summary of my day shadowing a student in a blog post

2.  Questionnaire (Try Google Forms)
Google Forms are so easy to use. The feedback is immediate and flexible.  Overview of Google Forms  It can be anonymous or not.  Ask your students to give you honest feedback on somethings in your class like... How much time they are spending on homework.  Or you could ask about their engagement level in class.  This will give some direct feedback for where your students are in your class.  I have done this recently and it changes your perspective.  It  I make a google form and then change the name using  to give it to my students See an easy video on using tinyurl with your students  See the google form questionnaire that I gave recently.

3.  Listen to the Goals Your Students Have
Give your students a chance to tell you their goals for your course.  Discuss things like homework completion, preparation for tests, class participation, and what they do when they are at an impasse with homework.     Click here to see the blog post on this    Feel free to modify this goals worksheet for your own use.

4.   Do the Homework
This seems too obvious. Take the time and do the homework as you ask them to do the homework.  With all the work shown.  This is an activity that will really help us experience what our students are experiencing.   I know that we can't always do this because it would take too much time.  Give it a try every so often.

5. Think About (Pray for ) EACH Student
This one sounds easy, but is actually difficult.  Go through your class roster, one by one, and think about each student.  Think about them as a person outside your class.  Think of them as a student inside your class. Think of their strengths and weaknesses.

6.  Call Home Early
Parents/Guardians insight is invaluable.  A quick call home early in the year or semester helps us and parents open the communication pipeline.  Also, the question "Could you give me a couple of ideas of how your child best learns?"  or  "What makes your child tick?"   or  " What are some strengths and weaknesses that your child has?"  A call home before your student actually needs a call home is the best.

7.  Look at the Records
Look at IEPs, 504s, Nurses reports, standardized tests, etc.   This seems obvious but it is our job.

8.  Find Activities that your Students are Involved In
Sports, Drama, Video Games, Church, Clubs, Collections, Music, Hobbies, etc... Go to a school activity that involves some of your students.  You will immediately get a different perspective of your student.  It is the same thing as when a student sees you in the grocery store and is so amazed that you have a life outside of school.  Anyway, it is a lot of fun to see students in their element.

Maybe you have some ideas as well?  Please share in the comments.