As many of you know, I retired from teaching full time in May 2015. Since then I have started 2 new businesses.
The first is on my own and related to teaching. At www.ondemandcurriculum.com my mission is to help students, teachers, parents, and anyone needing help in math, by creating a personalized video or interactive to help them understand the concept in a manner that is best suited to their learning style. I also have been creating digital media to enhance ebooks for major textbook companies. This also fits my mission of helping students understand and visualize math concepts.
The second company is with my husband, On A Starboard Tack, LLC. At www.onastarboardtack.com we hope to supplement my husband’s future retirement income by starting a charter business, and selling products related to having fun on the water. We recently became WavePad dealers for AZ and CA, and are on the lookout for other innovative products that make being on the water even more fun.
We just started as WavePad dealers, and I can tell you that we have had a lot of fun playing with the products 🙂
In closing, I want to stress that retirement does not mean staying home and doing nothing for me, but instead it gives me the opportunity to focus on things that I have a passion for: helping others through digital media creation, sailing, introducing others to sailing, and just having fun on the water with family and friends!
Since Livescribe took down the Echo community site where I had over 500 pencasts stored, I have completely quit using their product. Instead, I now use a much better product, which is a free app on my iPad called Doceri.
Doceri allows you to use colors (any color and any size), highlighters, graphics, and the best part is you can edit your writing!
I had created a work-around using my smartpen to place the test below the pencast to write test keys, but that was cumbersome and is no longer possible.
Here is a video where I took a screenshot to answer a student’s question and then wrote over the document using Doceri on my iPad to create an animation/video to answer their question.
If you don’t want to add sound, then Doceri automatically creates an animation from your writing. However, I strongly recommend adding audio. Once you add audio you can upload the video to YouTube to share with your students. In the near future I will try to find some time to write a How – To post on using Doceri to write test keys.
For most students—grade school, high school, and college students alike—they consider mathematics as probably one of the most difficult subjects in school, one that they usually fear. Numbers can get confusing sometimes and you tend to lose count of the times you have tried so hard to solve a problem to no avail.
We have all been there. But once you have started to realize that mathematics is not something you should fear or hate, you will soon find yourself actually having fun. Math is challenging, yes, but the satisfaction you can get with each problem solved is worth it.
For those of you out there who have not yet conquered their fear of numbers, word problems, fractions, and equations that are too long to even write on a sheet of paper, we have compiled a list on simple ways how you can get better in mathematics.
Clear Unnecessary Distractions – When studying, it is preferable that you avoid doing unnecessary things that may distract you from understanding your chosen topic. It is very difficult to concentrate if you keep on peeking on your phone for Facebook notifications. Study where it is quiet to give yourself the needed concentration.
Ask For Help – If you are having a hard time understanding something, it is best if you seek for help. It could be your parents, or your older siblings who have taken the same subject in the past. Or it could be an online tutor who you can ask questions from. If there is a mathematics coursework that you have some questions about, the tutors from homeworkhelp.today will help you understand them. Some people like working alone, but if you are the type of person who works better with others, you might want to consider starting a study group with people who are equally dedicated to improve their math skills.
It’s All About Persistence – Sometimes, it is just a matter of willingness to learn more. Be persistent and do not give up. You will get frustrated at times but once you are over that problem, that feeling will be replaced by fulfillment. There is no better feeling in the world than being able to solve something you thought was impossible.
Take Notes From Your Class – Listening to your professor or teacher during classes help but taking notes makes it better so you will have something to go back to in case you encounter a roadblock. Notes are also good review materials especially if you have a test coming up. You can go back to your notes and find out what you might have missed and correct it.
Ask Questions – During your math classes, do not sit there and just listen. Raise your hand if you know the answer and make yourself recognized by your teacher. If something is unclear, do not hesitate to ask your teacher to repeat it or explain it better. Asking for clarification does not make you look dumb. No matter how your other classmates see it, your teacher will see it as eagerness to learn.
Practice, Practice, Practice – Clichéd as it may sound, practice makes perfect. In order to get better at something, you must burn hours doing it all over again. And again. You will soon find out that, after a few more practice, the problem was not actually that difficult. From there, it will be etched into your muscle memory. And no matter how the problem is presented in the future, say an examination, you know that you have solved this in the past and you will not have any problems solving it now.
Always Keep Your Solutions Neat – Work your problems vertically, with each step on every line. This way, you are able to follow your steps easily. Not only that, your teacher will be able to see how you came up with the answer and could give you partial credit. It will also be easier to see where you might have gone wrong so you could correct it.
Never Ever Use Pens – There is nothing more frustrating that a dirty sheet of paper full of erasure. In Math, more often than not, you will have to erase a line, or an equation, to correct it. Mistakes are inevitable. The best way to work your math problems is to use mechanical pencils and an eraser. You will be saving yourself some paper and the frustration of writing everything down again.
In Case of Doubt, Draw – We are visual beings and word problems are sometimes made to be really tricky. If you find yourself confused with a word problem, especially in Trigonometry, Physics or Calculus, bring out a separate sheet and draw what you have in mind. Visualizing the problem while drawing it helps us understand the question better. Draw a picture of those pencils Jack gave to Rose, or the three-dimensional problems. It will pave the way to solving the problem.
Rinse, Lather, Repeat – In reality, it is going to take you hours of work and effort before you can consider yourself better in Math. But so long as you enjoy what you are doing, half the battle is already won. Talk to your teachers and ask how you are doing. Download apps that hone your skills. Drop the calculator and compute small numbers mentally.
Being better in Math opens a lot of doors. A lot of careers—perhaps including what you have in mind—have strong foundations in mathematics. Whether or not you wish to be a university professor or a scientist, improved mental calculation and good math reasoning skills will be important weapons in the real world to be successful.
Mathematics is the center of it all. Without math, the world will cease to move. Everyone needs mathematics one way or another. And when you think about it, though not literally, mathematics makes the world go round. Some may develop fear of math at an early age, but it is not something you can conquer. Bring our your pen and notebook and visit the nearest library. Get the first mathematics book you can find and read. Challenge yourself today.
Images by Geralt and under Creative Commons License.
Author’s Bio: Liz Wachowski had developed a fear of math at early age, but chose to overcome it later on. Now, she holds a degree in Physics and works as a mathematics tutor.
I wanted to share a blog post I wrote for my new business, On Demand Curriculum (www.ondemandcurriculum.com). Normally, I don’t plan on posting the same content on both sites, but this one seemed appropriate here, since I am talking about the technology I used to create the Common Core in Action videos.
I recently finished designing and creating a set of professional videos for Pearson Higher Education called “Common Core In Action”. It was such a fun project! The videos are going to be used with math content texts for college students studying to be K-8 teachers. This particular set of videos shows how to teach some of the topics in elementary mathematics, to align with the Common Core Standards.
These videos would be a great resource for parents trying to understand their child’s homework, which could utilize many of these methods. Therefore, I am working with Pearson to try to get permission to set up a site where parents could view these valuable resources. Stay tuned!
I was given permission by Pearson to show a couple of screenshots from the videos. I will talk about each screenshot in a separate blog post. The first video screenshot I want to show you is from a video entitled “Common Core in Action: Addition Algorithms”.
To align to the Common Core State Standards when teaching addition, teachers often have the students use Place Value Disks. In this video I created a set of place value disks, where white disks are worth 1 (one) unit, and red disks are worth 10 (ten) units, to match the actual physical items elementary schools are using. I also included 5-frames and 10-frames to help teach addition involving regrouping, which used to be called “carrying” when I was in elementary school.
I used Hyperstudio to design and build the background to my video because I wanted to be able to interact with the place value disks during the video, as I taught the lesson on adding whole numbers using place value.
In the screenshot of the video, the bottom row is comprised of the movable objects:
I have created multiple copies of each object, sitting on top of one another. During the video I “pick up” place value disks or 5-and 10-frames, as needed, and move them onto the place value board. The eraser on the side of the screen (see the original screen shot) is used when I create subtraction videos, so that I am able to “erase” objects I am removing, or subtracting.
As I talk through the process of adding 28 and 34 in the video using place value disks, I actually move the disks into the appropriate columns in the place value chart shown.
The screen shot shows the point in the video where I have 2 ten disks plus 3 ten disks. I also have 8 one disks plus 4 one disks, but in this screenshot I have already regrouped 10 of the one disks to create a set of 10 ones inside of a 10-frame. This left me with one 10-frame of one disks and 2 one disks left over. The next step in the video would show me trading the 10-frame for 1 ten disk, and moving the ten disk into the “Tens” column. This allows me to explain in arithmetic where the “carried 1” comes from.
When I complete the process, and have the final tens and ones disks in the place value chart, I relate the place value disks to the final numeric representation of the sum by hitting the button on the screen labeled “Sum”. The screen will then show the number 62 (which is later in the video than this screen shot), where the digit 6 represents the 6 red ten disks which will be on the screen and the digit 2 represents the 2 white one disks that will be left on the screen.
If you would like me to create a video showing how to use classroom manipulatives to teach a topic in your curriculum, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I would love to work with you!
I have been very busy these past few years trying to build up my contract business with textbook companies. I have created videos, PowerPoints, and other types of lessons for several large companies.
I was teaching full time and doing these contract jobs, trying to build up my business enough to retire from teaching in the classroom….well, that time finally came. I retired in May 2015 from teaching at Mesa Community College, and have spent the past few weeks building a new business website so I will be able to share my experience with students, teachers, parents, home school businesses, along with other curriculum creation companies.
I am starting On Demand Curriculum by building up the first area, On Demand Math. My goal is to make personalized math lessons and tutorials for students, based on their learning style, on demand. In my experience, students who asked me a question during office hours tended to forget what they learned more quickly than students who asked me a question through email and receive a tutorial that I built just for them that they can watch as many times as they need to. I want to take that concept and expand it so that more students across the globe can receive help, based on their individual needs.
I also realize that there are many parents out there struggling to help their child with their math homework. I want to be there for them as well. A quick tutorial, based on the question they are trying to help their child with, might make a real difference in the child starting to enjoy math (and the parents).
Please help me spread the word that I am now available to help everyone succeed in all levels of math!
You can follow On Demand Curriculum on the following social media sites:
I apologize for not writing more posts this semester, but I have been swamped with work and play 🙂
I just received the new wi-fi Livescribe smartpen called SKY today and I promise to write a blog post soon about the features and how I plan on using it. Wi-fi opens the potential of the smartpen to be even smarter!! I can’t wait!
I have been using Doceri 2.0 along with the Mobi 360 w/ clickers in my math classes and plan on updating all of you on how well that is going (it is going REALLY well, by the way) and how I have used them with my students.
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.
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!)
**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).
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.
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):
*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.
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:
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
USING EMBEDDED PDF PENCASTS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION
I had a college professor contact me recently to show me his embedded pencast PDF (text embedded in the background). It was so fantastic, I asked him if I could write about what he is doing with his smartpen in his distance education classes for English.
Here is a link to open the pencast PDF he sent me. He used it to give a student feedback (he asked the student for permission for me to post this):
Now that you are as impressed as I am, here is a little bit about the gentleman who created the pencast.
Timm Hackett is in the English department at East Carolina University. Rather then me telling you about how he uses the Livescribe smartpen, he has given me permission to share his story with you (he obtained permission from his students to quote them as well).
The Livescribe pen has been a part of my English Distance Education courses at East Carolina University since October 2009. The pen has not only given me the ability to communicate with my students on a more personal level, but it has also allowed me to be more efficient in my teaching. What started out as a way to capture my own notes for writing turned into the most requested method of teaching from my DE students.
DE classes have always tried to emulate face-to-face classes; however, even the most advanced uses of technology fall short of their intended effect. Podcasts are wonderful for audible learners, but disregards students who may be visual learners. Videotaping classes requires a great amount of preparation, sufficient bandwidth and storage space on both the professor’s and student’s side, and cumbersome equipment. Even when faculty use such technologies, the outcome is less than adequate. This often leads to more work for the professor and continued frustration for the students. More often than not, a professor will fall back on what one graduate student described as a “document dump” into Blackboard or Moodle.
This is where the Livescribe can alleviate many of these issues.
Larissa Putnam, a student in the ECU Wells Fargo Partnership East Program (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/partner_east/), stated, “What Distance Education students often feel is lacking in their overall experience is a sense of community and connection; however, putting a voice, and handwriting to a name really personalizes the lecture format in a way that a typed document cannot.”
Even when the pencast is not a lecture, but comments on the student’s own writing, it succeeds in providing feedback to the student. Frank Campione, a junior studying for his BSBA in Information Technology struggled with one aspect of composition. Even after seeing comments in the Word document, Campione still was unclear on the concept being taught. However, after combining his document and a PDF pencast, he wrote “[The Pencast] has an added bonus of giving distance education students more personal input from their professor, something that is lacking in some distance education classes.” One of Campione’s classmates, Paula Daughtry, a student studying Special Education, went a step further in her praise for what the Livescribe pen provided her: “”I really liked how you were able to write and speak concerning my paper. Yes, this is perfect for DE students like myself! I felt that I had a face-to-face meeting.”
Using the technique of the embedded PDF pencast has increased the value of the Livescribe Pen. Now, a professor can print pages of a digital text and embed audio comments directly into the pages, make annotations and audio comments directly onto a student’s paper, and share these PDFs with an entire class. This allows the DE students to listen to or watch a pencast, and even print the document when they are finished.
Perhaps the best comment received was from Vickie Willis, another student from the ECU Wells Fargo Partnership East Program. She wrote, “I liked the Livescribe pen and pencasts so much that I went out and bought one and hope to incorporate its use into my own classroom one day. I believe it will be a great tool to help students struggling, especially with math, by viewing a pencast explaining mathematical computations.”
I am so inspired by Timm’s latest email to me:
“After finding your site and the instructions on using embedded PDFs, I have been asked to present on the Livescribe four times this year. Two have been to my University as a whole, one has been to my own department, and in two weeks, I will present to the Atlantic Coast Business, Marketing, and Information Technology Education Conference in Raleigh. “
What an amazing difference the Livescribe smartpen has made for Timm, and now he is making a huge difference by sharing his experiences as well. If you would like to find out more about him, Timm’s website is: http://core.ecu.edu/engl/hackettt/.
Recently I learned how to embed text behind a Livescribe pencast and it has changed everything!
I created a short interactive worksheet to show what can be created with this process. The following is a screenshot of the text embedded pencast because I cannot embed a PDF file (yet) into a website. A link to the actual pencast PDF is below the screenshot.
If that does not work, I put a link on my website for you to click on OUTSIDE of WordPress (I have some issues with opening PDFs inside WordPress – if anyone can help me to embed
a PDF in WordPress or a website I would really appreciate it!)
As listed in the pencast, the steps to embed the text in the pencast PDF are as follows:
1. Print off the text file onto Livescribe dot paper (I used college-ruled dot paper in my printer)
2. Record a pencast on top of dot paper that has the text printed on it (the text shows you where to write!)
(sorry about the poor photo quality)
3. Connect your smartpen and upload your pencast as a PDF (use the “Computer” connector)
As you can see in this screen shot, the pencast looks pretty strange without the text behind it!
4. Save the original text document as a .jpg (image file) – to do this you must first save it as a PDF and then you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro or the free online utility Zamzar (www.zamzar.com) to save your PDF as a .jpg file
5. Open the pencast PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro or PDF Pro (http://epapyrus.com/en/) so that you can add a watermark to the PDF file
6. Add your .jpg text file as a watermark to your pencast PDF and re-save the PDF
7. The new pencast PDF can be viewed by anyone with Adobe Reader 10.0 or higher
Please add comments on this blog if you know of other free ways to save a text document as an image file and also if you know of other (especially FREE) programs that allow the user to edit a PDF.
Please send me the projects you make – I would love to see them!