Archive for Teaching

Using Doceri to Replace Smartpen Pencasts

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.


Graphing Calculator Emulator

I just purchased a newer version of the TI graphing calculator emulator, the TI SmartView CE for the TI-84 family.  Wow, it is really nice!  It has 3 versions of the calculator:  The traditional black/white TI-84 Plus version,  the new TI-84 Plus C, and TI-84 Plus CE, which are both in color!


The calculator shows up well on the screen, with choices of using a light, dark or having just an outline for the calculator body style.


I have always liked the fact that the emulator will allow the user to make the calculator screen larger.  This helps considerably when showing the students live during a class or taking screenshots of the output.


With the added benefit of color, it will help students see the difference more quickly when graphing more than one graph or plot at a time.   They have a free 90 day trial if you have not already tried out the new emulator, I would highly suggest it!

I plan on using the new emulator to create tutorials that include the graphing calculator for On Demand Curriculum.


Published Work in New Edition!

I don’t usually work on printed materials for textbook companies (only digital materials such as videos and Power Points), but several years ago I was asked to create a student workbook.   It was a new and interesting experience for me!

Apparently it was revised recently to create a new edition, and it came in the mail.  Pretty cool having my name on something!  I have created about a thousand professional videos for textbook companies, but they don’t have my name on them.  I don’t mind because I really enjoy creating digital media.   It allows me to continue teaching students all around the world, and I get to work from anywhere, including my sailboat!



Back in the game

Things have been crazy busy since I retired last May from teaching at Mesa Community College!   I sailed in the Virgin Islands for 3 weeks, then had several projects waiting for me when I returned.   Life has been very good.  But I have not had time to do any more research on technologies for the classroom.

I am working steadily from home (and the sailboat) now, and love having the time to do more research on technology in education.  If you have a product or application you would like me to review, please email me at and I will do some research and write a blog post about my findings.

For many years I have had companies wanting to sponsor me and have me, in turn, place a link to their website on my blog.   I resisted in the past since I had a full time teaching position and wanted to do the research for my own students.  Now that I no longer have students, I have decided to accept sponsors to help fund my research on the best technology for teaching math.  If you are a company, or know someone who would like to sponsor my blog, please reach out at



Common Core in Action Part II


I recently wrote about the video series I created for Pearson, entitled Common Core in Action.  I wanted to share one more screen shot from the videos and talk a little bit more about what using Hyperstudio can do to make videos more engaging and visually appealing for students.

Here is a screen shot from the video entitled “Common Core In Action: Adding Fractions”.


The screenshot above is showing the portion of the video where I am adding two fractions with a common denominator of sixths.   The sixths are visually represented by purple one-sixth fraction strips.

I used Hyperstudio to create the stage for my video because I can move objects around the stage during the video.  In this case, I used the stack of one-sixth strips on the bottom of the screen to show two-sixths plus five-sixths as adding a set of 2 purple one-sixth strips and 5 more purple one-sixth strips to obtain 7 of the purple one-sixth strips.

The point in the video where this screenshot is taken, is where I am showing how the improper fraction seven-sixths, can be turned into a mixed number by bringing a red strip to the stage, which is worth one whole.  Lining up the purple one-sixth strips along the edge of the red one-whole strip, I am able to show that 6 of the one-sixth strips are equal in length to the one-whole red strip, leaving me with 1 one-sixth strip left over.  Having the ability to move around the fraction strips during the video makes it easier to explain visually why seven-sixths is the same as one and one-sixth.

Using the fraction strips is important to the Common Core Standards for explaining WHY a common denominator is needed when adding fractions, and not just having the student perform an algorithm by showing them “how” to add fractions.


To give you a better idea of what the fraction strips can do for students when I use them in fraction lesson videos, I created a small video where I move around the fraction strips showing how to visualize equivalent fractions.  You can see that HERE.

In the screen shot above, I have created all of my fraction strips so that they are relative in size to the red one-whole strip.  For example, it takes 2 of the one-half strips to equal the one-whole strip, 3 of the one-third strips, 4 of the one-fourth strips, and 6 of the one-sixth strips.   Another reason I use Hyperstudio, rather than real fraction strips and a document camera to create the videos I teach with, is because I can create any size and color fraction strips I want.

If you would like me to create a lesson for you, please send me details about the manipulatives (like fraction strips) you would like me to use, along with desired colors, and I will design and create a personalized video lesson for you, on demand!


Creating More Engaging Videos

I wanted to share a blog post I wrote for my new business, On Demand Curriculum (   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, and I would love to work with you!

To see the original blog post go here:


On Demand Curriculum – My Latest Adventure

Blog Post Header On Demand Curriculum

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:

Twitter as @OnDemandMath
Pinterest as OnDemandMath
Instagram as @OnDemandCurriculum
Facebook as On Demand Curriculum

Find out more information at


New Tech to Try!

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.

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.


Analytics Plugin created by - Powered by Womens Sunglasses and Human Services Degree.