Archive for Group Work

Collecting Dust – an overview of my favorite teaching technology, part 1

    It has been over 2 years now since I retired from teaching.  I taught math for 29 years with a passion for utilizing the newest and most effective technology. I bought most of the technology I used in my classrooms (and outside of them) with my own money so I could always be on the forefront, and could use it every day in my classes.  Waiting until my college or district could check out the technology, then approve it for me, took too long for my taste. I actually had a side job to earn money just for this purpose!

Well, my home office is now FULL of that technology.  All of it is in excellent condition, but most of it is not getting used, which is quite sad!   I now do a lot of consulting from my home office, so I use some of it,  but the items that were perfect for inside the classroom are just sitting around collecting dust.  I have decided it is time to “clean house” and try to get those items into the hands of folks who will use them again.  I am going to start a series of blog posts about some of the items I have available and how I used them to help my students. If you are interested, please email me and I will give you more details.

For many years I was an avid user of eInstruction’s mobile interactive white boards – MOBIs (and I still am).  I have a classroom set of 6 Mobis that my students would use to share their group work with the class from.  While they are not brand new, they are still in great condition.  The students really enjoyed being able to participate from their desks.  I placed a color tab on the edge so I could refer to a group by color.  The photo above shows the “purple” Mobi.  Many students admitted that they preferred being able to participate from their desk and not have to go to the board.   The screen I was projecting their work to could be split up so I was able to show one group’s work, or all 6 at once.

These Mobis can also be used to teach from, as well.  I disliked being stuck at the front of the classroom at the board, so instead, I would connect a MOBI to the my computer and then I was free to teach from anywhere in the room.   This was especially helpful when students were in groups, as I could walk around helping and also writing something helpful for all students on the projected board from anywhere.

I did prefer to use an eInstruction MOBIVIEW to teach from, instead.

The main difference between the learner MOBI and the MOBIVIEW is that the MOBIVIEW has a large touchscreen that can be used to run student clickers as well as their learner MOBIs…a little taste of my next blog post.  Stay tuned!!



Working on iPads in a Flipped Math Class

This is the 2nd semester I am flipping my Intermediate Algebra classes.   The students are required to access the online ebook and take notes BEFORE coming to class.  I have Livescribe pencast examples available for them to view on the course calendar as well.  For more information on how I am flipping my classes, see the article I wrote for eCampus News.

Flipping the class frees me up to have the students do group work and activities during class to reinforce the topics from the lesson.  I can more easily work individually with students having difficulty, while the rest of the students are helping one another.

I was awarded a chance to teach in the iPad classroom this semster, so I have been looking for ways to have my students create and share on the iPad, rather than just use it as a calculator or to search the internet.

Today my students  were working in groups on a handout.   After completing the page, each group was assigned 1 of the problems and required to write their solution or graph on an iPad to share with the class.    The application we are using on the iPad is called Doceri 2.0 (previous blog post about the app).  It enables students to show their solution as an animation or video.   Students can even edit their work before exporting it as a video.   Since the classroom can get pretty loud, I had them record the animation, while picking up the sounds from the classroom (then I deleted all sound before uploading the following videos to YouTube, to protect the students’ privacy).

To present their animation, each group had one member connect their iPad to the Apple TV that is in the room and then “play” their animation.   We discussed the group’s solution or graph and answered any questions before the next group presented to the class.   I was really pleased with how well it worked!

I was able to get permission from a few students to share their work.

This first video is a student’s graph from today’s flipped Algebra class.   They were to graph the linear equation by plotting points.   The student chose to have graph paper as their background for their animation.

The second video shown here is another graph done by a different group/student.   This student found the x-and y-intercept of the linear equation and then graphed the line.

The third video was created by a student who  was given a problem to solve a formula for a given variable.

The students seem to be enjoying the experience!

I have really enjoyed watching them work through the problem, as opposed to just looking at their final solution/graph.    If the classroom was quiet (but how much fun would that be??), I would have had them explain their steps in the video.

I will post more of their work as the students progress in their math ability and their ability to show their solutions on the iPad!  This is only the 2nd week of class, and they have progressed quite a bit already.  Many of them had never used an iPad before, and none of the students had ever used Docer 2.0.  I am really proud of how hard they are working to succeed in my class!



TI-nspire makes a GREAT math (or any subject) clicker!

I had given up on graphing calculators for a while, since I really wanted the students to engage more in class and use clickers. I found the perfect balance recently!

The calculators by themselves are pretty amazing, but there is a learning curve that made it too much for me to want to use them with my students.   However, I was recently introduced to the TI Navigator system, which turns this amazing calculator into an even more amazing clicker (student response system)!

That is worth trying out for me!   I have a loaner set I will use this Fall with my Algebra classes.

It is a bit bulky, but the case charges the calculators and allows me to send data to all of the calculators at once (if I don’t have the yellow Navigator caps on.  The case will not close with the Navigator caps on).

The calculator has a color screen, along with a mouse track pad and a full keyboard on the bottom.    Lots of handy math symbols are easy to get to directly from the keys as well.  (The calculator shown does NOT have the yellow Navigator cap on.)  But let’s get down to how to use this with the Navigator system!

I downloaded theTI-Nspire Navigator teacher software from their website and then set up a sample class with 5 students.   As you can see below, I named them Student 1, Student 2, Student 3, Student 4 and Student 5 (I am so creative!). You will create usernames for each student and then either create a password for them, or let them create their own.  You can also upload a CSV file into the system to automatically populate your class!


I am using the TI wireless network  access point  (it looks like a Verizon MiFi) to connect all the calculators to my computer, but you only have to set that up one time. Once you “Begin Class” (top right of the image above), then the students can log into ANY of the calculators (they don’t have to have the same one each time!) and make sure they are connected to the network you created.  It will tell them they are logged in, and they will show up on the teacher’s computer that way as well.

There are 2 main features I plan to use the calculators with the Navigator system for:  1. grabbing screen shots of all (or some) student calculators, and 2:  polling the students – asking them a question like using a clicker, but the question shows up on their calculator with the tools they need!


At any time during the class, I can grab live screen shots of all student calculators, or just one student’s calculator.   I think this will be very handy to “check in” on student progress to see where they are in solving the problem given or to see if they are even paying attention!

I can even “call on a student” to share their screen to see how they solved a problem (by making them the presenter).


The 2nd, and main use, of the Navigator system with the TI-nspire calculators for me is using them to “poll students” during class.

I was really amazed to see the variety of questions I can create and send to the students’ calculators!  Other clickers (student response systems) I have tried have a few of these options, but this is truly an incredible list for math!

In the above screen I chose the “Drop points” type of question, and typed in my question (see below).
I have a lot of math templates I can choose from as well, if I need to quickly type in a fraction or other math symbol.

I created a question for the students to drop a point on the graph where the ordered pair (3,-4) is located.  That would not be possible on any other clicker I know of!  To send the question to the calculators I just hit the “Start Poll” button at the top of the screen.  I can create questions ahead of time, or real time during class, to poll the students with.

The photo above shows what was sent to the calculators.   As you can see they have a split screen with the question and a set of axes to plot their point on.  The students use the track pad on their calculator to move the point to the desired location.


Once they have answered the question, they hit the “Doc” key and choose “submit” (they are submitting their document to my computer).  The teacher’s computer then shows that student has responded.

The teacher can hit “Stop Poll” at any time to stop the students from being able to answer the question any longer, and gather all the data.   The data is stored on the computer and the teacher can access it immediately, or look through individual student responses outside of class.

The system allows the teacher to set up questions where students can show steps, and the teacher can show multiple pieces of information in the question, like the question and a graph as seen below.


When the students submit their solution, the work is shown as you can see below (different question I was playing with).

The teacher can also look at the solutions of the class as a whole (another different question):

The question is always shown with the solutions given by the students., but this view is nice for the students to be able to see (anonymously) what the different answers looked like from the class.

If the teacher creates the question with a “correct answer”, then the solutions the students submit will be scored as correct or not (the teacher can even give more than one correct answer!).

I realize this is a lot of information at once, but I was hoping that some of you would be as excited as I am about using the TI-nspire CX with the TI Navigator system as a student response system (clickers) in class!

I will write more after I start using it in my Algebra classes and let you know how it is going.


Creating Animations and Video on the iPad using Doceri 2.0

Can I just start with “WOW”!?!

I got back from ISTE, overwhelmed with all the new and amazing tools and apps I learned about! Luckily the great folks at Doceri let me play with their beta 2.0 version (which should hit iTunes stores soon) and that made for an easy decision for me to start right there.

I get to use the iPad classroom (25 student iPads, 1 teacher iPad, and an Apple TV!!) to teach Intermediate Algebra in the Fall, so my focus at ISTE was to find iPad apps that allow students to create, not just to consume.   I hit the jackpot with the new version of Doceri!!  Not only can I create lessons, but the students will be able to create animations and videos as well, right from their iPads.

Here is a quick video I made using Doceri 2.0:

Link to the video on YouTube

The new version of Doceri (2.0) should hit the iTunes app store soon, and it is a HUGE update!

The new features I am so excited about are 1) it allows you to work directly from the iPad (without needing to connect to a computer), and 2) it now records your pen strokes allowing you to easily create animations and videos directly from the iPad!  INCREDIBLE!   You can even edit your animations and upload your videos to YouTube!

OK, before I get too far ahead of myself (I am just so excited!), here is the new opening screen on the iPad:
(By the way, I did get permission from Doceri to blog about the new version before it hits the iTunes store!)

opening screen

**UPDATE!  Doceri 2.0 will be in iTunes stores July 24, 2012!!!  

As you can see, Doceri 2.0 can now be used from the iPad alone, and even use Airplay if you are presenting (or just use the iPad at home to create a lesson!!!).

Starting a new project gives you a blank screen, which you can change to any color, use one of their backgrounds, or create your own.  They have included many helpful math backgrounds, along with maps, as well as colors and textures.



After you choose your background, you can start writing on the screen.  What you see at the top of the image below is the new RECORDING menu!!!  It records your writing strokes.  You can go back and edit them, speed them up, or slow them down.  You can even add stops and new slides to your project.  The record button on the top left allows you to record voice as well (while writing, or narrate even after you are done writing).

recording menu


 After recording a video, you have several options for exporting (on the right) to Facebook, YouTube, email, and to your images folder on the iPad.

export options


You can also open your recordings on your iPad with any app loaded that will play a .mov file, including Dropbox and Evernote, so you can access your recordings from any device!  (I also have TechSmith’s Fuse app installed on my iPad, so it found that app and listed it as well.)


The folks at Doceri created quite a few sample projects to help give ideas on how this new product can be used. Here is a screenshot of one of their videos (of course I chose math, but there are many other types as well):

Doceri Sample

*Once Doceri 2.0 hits the iTunes stores, you can pay for the ability to remove the Doceri watermark, and even add your own watermark.

Here is a link to the video version (I did not add any sound):  math 01 – related ratesDoceriSample

Links to 2 more videos I made using Doceri 2.0

Adding Fractions 2

Solving Quadratics by Factoring

Like the original Doceri Remote app, Doceri 2.0 can connect to your computer to share screens, but now there is a MUCH easier way to connect:

QR code

 If you have an iPad2, just point the camera at the QR code and you are automatically connected!  I tried it and it worked amazingly well.  Once you are connected to your computer, you can use your animations and videos to present a lesson to the class, or create one while you are presenting!

**I am using the term “animation” for those projects that do not contain sound.  All writing into the application is recorded and can be shown as animated or as still shots.   These can only be played from within Doceri.  Once you add sound, then a .mov file is created, so I am using the term “video” for the animations with sound added.

Here is the “official” list of updates for Doceri 2.0 (from Doceri):

What’s new in Doceri 2.0

You can now prepare Doceri Projects on the iPad without being connected to a Doceri Desktop AND you can present without a Doceri Desktop via Airplay. Audio recording has been added to create high quality screencast videos based on Doceri projects. In addition, more sophisticated drawing and authoring tools have been added, as well visual file management, improved placement of project timeline controls for easier presentation, and improved screen update time for remote desktop control.

Screencasting with Doceri

  • Create a live screencast as you present, or create, edit and perfect your project in advance and add an audio voice over later
  • Choose to save audio or delete and re-record without impacting your Doceri project
  • Videos may be shared via YouTube, Facebook or email and/or saved to the Camera Roll and any app that responds to video

New Drawing and Authoring Tools

  • New line tools (with snapping), geometric shapes (rectangle, ellipse) arrow tool and a new pen tool with realistic ink flow
  • Easy access to six user-defined favorites from the available drawing tools
  • Place photos from Camera Roll, Photo Stream or another application at any point in your project
  • The new lasso tool allows you to cut, copy, move and paste drawing objects
  • Choose between patterns, colors or create custom backgrounds on any slide in your project

Direct Controls for Keynote and Powerpoint

  • Launch a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation and use Doceri’s one-touch controls to advance your slides
  • Annotate over Keynote or Powerpoint (or anything shown on your desktop), creating a multipage Doceri project while keeping your original presentation file intact

 Completely Revamped File Management

  • Doceri files can now be stored on the iPad Duplicate, merge projects, and transfer to and from your desktop
  • Combine, resize and share screencasts to Facebook, YouTube, Camera Roll or email with a simple drag and drop
  • Full implementation of cross application file sharing allowing “open in” function to copy files in and out of Doceri 

Students Learning -AND having fun!

Today in class I passed out the Mobis!

I have had my students sitting in groups since the first day of class, but today I thought I would add more interaction and have them contribute to the board notes.   There were 8 groups, and I have 4 Mobis.    After putting a problem on the board (computer screen, writing with the Mobi and using software called Interwrite Workspace), I would give 4 groups each a Mobi and have someone from the group post their group’s solution.  At first no one wanted to try it, but after a short time, they were all wanting to have a chance to write with the Mobi!

Some of the students had more fun than others – drawing pictures and fooling around on the screen, but it was OK because they were ENGAGED!

The first four groups would hand off their Mobi to the other four groups and we would work another problem.

I have to admit, some students were able to write using the Mobi better than I can, and I have practiced longer!  You have to look at the screen while writing on the Mobi  – a little challenging at first.   For their first day, they did a great job!

They have really embraced the technology I use in class, starting with having 2 students take notes with Livescribe pens to share with the class on the website.

In a week or two I will introduce the clickers!


Mobile Whiteboards, Smartpens and Bloom’s Taxonomy

What do mobile whiteboards, smartpens and Bloom’s Taxonomy have in common?   A great all-day workshop teaching high school teachers, and their students who are in a teacher education program, how to use mobile whiteboards and smartpens through the use of a hands-on project that focused on Bloom’s Taxonomy!

We started the day learning about Hybrid versus Blended teaching models, and then I introduced the Mobi, a mobile interactive whiteboard made my eInstruction.

Next up was a discussion about Bloom’s taxonomy.

Then, to get them ready to do their first project, we played “Blooms Taxonomy According to  Pirates of the Caribbean”:

I introduced them to the Livescribe Pulse smartpen and another colleague showed them how to draw stick figures so they could create a cartoon based on the pop culture area of their choice for the Bloom’s Taxonomy level their group was in charge of.

They had a great time creating their first cartoon strip and adding sound with the Livescribe Pulse smartpen!   After lunch I gave them a lesson on using the Mobi, eInsruction’s mobile interactive whiteboard.      Each group got a Mobi to use to recreate their cartoon on the Workspace software installed on their computer.   This time they could add color and crop images for their characters and turn it into a movie.

At the end of the workshop, we shared everyone’s finished products on the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy

We had a great time watching each other’s final projects! I had a lot of fun teaching with several of my colleagues for the ATLAST program, which stands for: Achieving Technological Literacy in Arizona Students and Teachers.

ATLAST is a project supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The performing unit is the National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE) in the Maricopa County Community College District. To learn more about the ATLAST project click here.

Clip to Evernote


Group Work in Math

Mobi Stack

Group work in class tomorrow!

I am charging 2 more Mobis today to try out in class tomorrow.   Should have gotten the 3-pack charger!  oh well  :  }    I am excited to try out the feature in the eInstruction Interwrite Workspace software where you can split up the workspace into sections for each Mobi to write in.


You can split the screen between Mobis

This will be perfect for group work!  I can hand each group a Mobi and have them solve the same problem and post their solutions.   Every group will have a chance to see how the other groups approached it – all at the same time!   VERY exciting technology!   I can’t wait to see how it transforms my classroom tomorrow!!


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