Tag Archive for education

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….


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.


An Intelligent iPad Stylus

I recently wrote about Doceri 2.0,  which comes out today ( July 24, 2012) at noon PST in iTunes stores!  The old version is called Doceri Remote, which was version 1.2.2 but the new version will just be called Doceri and will be version 2.0.

I thought I would follow up with a review of their “goodPoint” Intelligent stylus.  The stylus has a chord which plugs into the headphone jack; this allows it to be controlled in Doceri 2.0.

I normally use the Wacom Bamboo stylus, which I love, but I thought I would give this “Intelligent” stylus a try.

Doceri vs Bamboo

I tried both with Doceri 2.0, and I have to admit the extra features in the goodPoint stylus were really nice to have when creating animations!   The main features I appreciated were the fact that  you can get a very fine point that is consistent, and that it allows you to rest your hand on the screen while writing with it.    The back of the goodPoint is also an eraser.   I would have used it more, but I kept forgetting it was there, since I have never had a stylus with an eraser before.

To get a better feel for how it compared with my Wacom Bamboo stylus, I compared them with 4 of my favorite iPad apps.

Here are some screen shots comparing the two different stylus brands (2 screencasting apps, and  2 note taking apps).  You decide which has the better handwriting – some are close and some are not.  Sorry my handwriting is not great, but some apps do help it along more than others!

From within the Doceri application on my iPad:

Doceri comparison

Doceri goodPoint stylus wins here!

On the top of the screen, I tried to use the Wacom Bamboo stylus with my hand on the screen, but I could not.  Having to write with my hand not on the screen definitely made my hand writing worse (OK, it is not great anyway, but it was harder to write that way, and not as clear).  With the Doceri “goodPoint” stylus, I was able to rest my hand on the screen while I wrote, which was much more comfortable!  The writing was smoother as well.

Before I found Doceri 2.0, I was using ScreenChomp as one of my favorite screencasting apps on the iPad.  Here is a comparison of Bamboo stylus and the Doceri stylus using ScreenChomp:

Screen Chomp comparison

Close, but since I can’t rest my hand on the screen with either, I would prefer to use the Bamboo stylus here (only because it does not have a chord).

As you can see the writing is similar using both (maybe a little better with the Doceri stylus?), but in both cases I was not able to rest my hand on the screen and still have the application let me write.   For me, that is a huge deal, as I am much more comfortable writing like I do on paper, with my hand on the surface while I write.

Next I thought I would compare my 2 favorite note-taking applications on the iPad (that allow me to hand write).

First I tried Bamboo Paper by Wacom:

Bamboo Paper comparison

Handwriting is close, but Doceri wins since I don’t want stray marks on my screen.

The good news was that the application allowed me to rest my hand on the screen while writing with both the Bamboo and the Doceri stylus, but as you can see in the screen shot above, the Wacom Bamboo stylus created extra marks when I did this, while the Doceri “goodPoint” stylus created no extra marks.  The hand writing seemed fairly similar to me, but it was nice not having to worry about marks when I set my hand on the screen with the Doceri stylus.

Finally, another note-taking app for the iPad I really like is called PenUltimate.  I thought I would compare with that app as well:

Pen Ultimate comparison

This app allowed me to rest my hand on the screen with both the Bamboo and the Doceri stylus.  However, Doceri stylus wins again, since I don’t want stray marks on my screen.

If you don’t mind the stray marks and some apps not allowing you to rest your hand on the screen, then the Wacom Bamboo stylus is a great choice.   However, given that I definitely prefer to place my hand on the screen and I don’t want any stray marks, then I prefer the Doceri goodPoint Intelligent stylus over the Wacom Bamboo stylus.

*Just a point of clarification: I was told by Doceri that the goodPoint stylus should really not do ANY better or worse than the Wacom (or any other stylus) for stray marks in apps other than Doceri.  The fact that it did for me is probably just a coincidence.  They agreed, though, that when using it in Doceri, the palm rejection is a major difference when using the Doceri stylus!



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 

New “Insight” into Teaching with Technology!

Introduction to the Insight 360 system by eInstruction

I have been using eInstruction’s Mobi, MobiView and CPS Pulse clickers, along with their Workspace software now for several years.   At times, having to open different programs to run the clickers with the Mobi was a bit challenging, and sometimes I found it difficult to set up questions ahead of time.   All that has changed with the Insight360 system.

As you can see in the photo, the hardware that has replaced the Mobi and Mobi View looks exactly like the Mobi View (still with the touch screen- yay!), but with new software and menus.   The new software also run the Insight360 clickers and makes it seemless to use them in your classroom!  HUGE improvement!

The old Mobi and Mobi View can still be used with the system as student Mobis, which is great.   The new Insight 360 system makes it very simple to split the screen and allow students with a Mobi (or Mobi View) to write on the virtual whiteboard from their seat, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to use the old hardware!   You can even update your old CPS pulse clickers to the new system easily, rather than having to purchase new clickers!   *I prefer these clickers over other systems I have seen because they work extremely well WITH the Mobi (they are not just stand alone clickers).   From anywhere in the room, I can access live data coming from the clickers (my students) to make immediate decisions about how to change the course of my classroom instruction, and the system works with any software on your computer – like Powerpoint, anything on the internet, or even the Workspace software from the Mobi generation.  So teaching with this system does NOT tie you down to only one application to teach from on your classroom computer.

The best feature (OK, one of the best) is that now you can run the Insight 360 application from an iPad 2!   This frees up all existing Mobis or Mobi Views in your classroom to become student Mobis!   As you can see in the image below, they even went as far as to make a case to house the iPad to give it the look and feel of a Mobi!


I just started this week to use my new Insight360 system, so more information and photos to follow, along with opinions from my students on how they like learning from this new system.

The new  Insight360 is a finalist in the 2012 EdTech Digest Awards Program for the Cool Tool Ward!   EdTech Digest Awards 2012

To learn more about the new Insight360 system from eInstruction, you can visit their website.


Distance Education with the Livescribe Smartpen


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).

Timm Hackett

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/.

My Student Hyperstudio Projects

Student Hyperstudio5 Projects

The final project I had my Math For Elementary Teachers do for the course was to create an interactive Hyperstudio Project.

The projects are too large to be viewed well inside my blog, so I have created a website to house them. The website is best viewed using Safari if possible, if not, just ignore the browser warning, as I have used a beta version of Hyperstudio to export them into HTML5 .

I have many of my student’s projects posted on a THIS WEBSITE.    Enjoy!


Learning to Write His Name!

My Autistic Great Nephew: Update #2:

I heard back from my niece last week about how her autistic son is doing with the Livescribe smartpen and his iPad.

If you have not seen the earlier part of the story, click here.

The story left off where my niece was going to her son’s school for the IEP meeting…

She told me about how much he loves the sound dots and that every time they get a new book he gets so excited to “dot” it!  He brings her everything he owns with writing on it so they can put a sound dot on it.
Then she shared the sad news with me that they did have her son’s IEP meeting, but it was very frustrating.  “They don’t want to use any technology. They also don’t think it is a good use of time to attempt to teach him the alphabet. So we’re just going to keep working on it ourselves”

Lucky for her son, she did not give up!  I got this update from her last week:

“Exciting News!
Last week (her son) started writing his name on the iPad!
This week I got a letter home from the school saying they are willing to try to incorporate using his iPad into his academics at school. My hope is the next step will be for the instructors to start using the (smart)pen so that they can give him lessons that can translate into home use.”

Pretty amazing stuff!!  I am so glad he has her to advocate for him.  What a great thing for him to be able to write his name!

The Livescribe smartpen and his iPad have made a huge difference in my great-nephew’s ability to learn the alphabet and start to learn to read.





Creating a Text Embedded Interactive Worksheet with a Livescribe Smartpen


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.

Pencast PDF with text in the background
(you must have Adobe Reader 10.0 or higher to view this interactive PDF)

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!



Summer Projects for Visual and Interactive Math

Visual Interactive Learning
I have been sitting here staring at my computer for the past week since I got back from an amazing time with a room full of extremely innovative teachers in San Francisco as part of the Livescribe Educational Advisory Board.

I keep staring at it not being able to decide where to start!  I have so many new ideas that I want to implement for the Fall, and now I have even more resourceful people to guide me when I get stuck!

Some of the big ones on my list I have already started working with, but I want to dig deeper and create projects for my students to interact with, and also projects for them to create:

Hyperstudio5 (Roger Wagner will be at ISTE this summer, so that will be fun!)
Livescribe (new cool stuff coming next week!!)

The newest application I want to learn:

I have been playing with WolframAlpha for the past year, but I recently purchased Mathematica and I am excited to see what I can create with it! My goal is to create visual and interactive materials for Algebra and Geometry.    I will post as soon as I start building!  I am still watching the video tutorials for now.   I want to look further into the following links as well:

Wolfram Research STEM Initiative

Wolfram Faculty Program

Lastly, I NEED to learn Photoshop.   My oldest son currently creates all of my artwork for my projects, but in a few years he will be off to college and won’t be around to help me!

Hopefully between spending time with my family and attending ISTE and HI-TEC this summer, I will be able to dig deeper and create some projects for next Fall using some of these great interactive applications!


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