Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making Math Real

I'm always on the lookout for resources for the math and science teachers. Not only do I want to show them how to use the wiki in their classroom, but also to share cool web 2.0 technologies to help make math 'real'. The oft heard, "But what do I need this for in real life?" is a challenge to every teacher, especially the math ones. Current educational reforms address the need to 'make content relevant' with the shift from content to competency. So, with that in mind, I'd like to share a few cool resources.

1. Tim Fahlberg's Math24/7 wiki is the result of his dream to assemble 500 plus mathcasts made by teachers and students alike. (A "cast" is a recording of the computer screen.) Check out his wiki and request access if you want to join the team.

2. My PLN (Personal Learning Network on Twitter) gave me this website this week by TRC, an architectural firm that designs real life scenarios where math is essential. These short videos are wonderful and show how math is 'real'. (I love the cake artistry one myself!)

3. If you just google 'math wikis' you'll see plenty of public wikis that teachers are ready to share. This one has lots of mathcasts made by students at the secondary one level. Alan November reminded the us at the recent Refresh, Rethink IT conference in Montreal that students should be making screen casts themselves. This is a great learning evaluation situation for them and easy to do. With free screen recorders such as JING and the screen recorder option on Smart Notebook, making a screen cast is easy.

4. If you haven't already started using Twitter, you should seriously consider it as a powerful learning network. Don't feel intimidated by the volume and noise of the traffic. Decide on how you want to use your Twitter voice and be selective about who you follow. For example, on the home page, type in math related key words searches and see who comes up. I'm following 'mathmadesimple', a teacher from Indiana. Look at who they follow and learn from their PLN! Twitter is a very powerful search engine that can connect you with like-minded educators.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Presentation Notes & Resources

Thursday's presentation for the QAIS Rethink , Refresh IT conference was proof of Murphy's law, especially as it applies to tech. Everything that could have gone wrong did. My own laptop seemed to be in the throws of an existential crisis and of course it waited for Wednesday afternoon (presentation was Thursday!) to show symptoms of its impending implosion. The borrowed laptop (thanks Mr. H) kept on crashing in the middle of the Prezi presentation as I practiced the night before. I fixed that. The next day at the conference, the laptop and the LCD projector decided to boycott my presentation and one another. I couldn't get an image! Just as I was ready to present cold and sing the praises of teaching with wikis using only the narrative and stand up comedic techniques, a kind man graciously offered me the use of his tiny weeny netbook. Houston, we have connection! Finally, I was up and running. That close call was a good reminder of the importance of plan B and C.

The presentation notes were also subjected to Murphy's law. They mysteriously disappeared and consequently I could only verbally refer to what I offer now.

1. The fabulous picture of a candle burning itself at both ends is the work of Terry Border. The picture is called "Busy, Busy, Busy" and you can find more great pictures at The Secret Life of Everyday Things.

2. I spoke both about Karl Fisch's blog and his viral video "Did You Know - Shift Happens". He is one of the blogger I read regularly and responsible for connecting my English class with another class in Colorado. We are going to share our essays and help make This I Believe go global. My students are very excited about this.

3. The TED talks have become a staple in my own learning and I referred to the following visionaries: Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Clay Shirky (I'm reading his latest book, Here Comes Everybody), Kevin Kelly (who asks the question, "What does technology want?" and Ray Kurzweil (his book The Singularity is Near is next in my reading pile).

4. I also referred to Don Tapscott's book Grown Up Digital. You can watch him on TVO's Big Ideas lecture series (another staple in my iPod).

5. In the prezi presentation, there is a screencast of Tim Fahlberg's Math247 wiki that you can find here.

6. Of all the blogs I read, here are two I would not do without: TeachPaperless (he irreverent, provocative and really, really smart) and Dangerously Irrelevant.

And last but far from least,

7. PBWorks is my wiki engine of choice. There are many other, such as Wetpaint and Wikispaces. Last summer I took an online course with PBWorks and connected with an international group of educators using wikis. That was my first, but not the last, experience with an online course. The bonus was a premium wiki upon successful completion of the course. I recommend it highly and suggest you look for it in July of 2010. You'll be able to find it (Summer Camp) on their site.

Click here for the link to the public wiki that holds my prezi presentation and other goodies.

I've embedded the prezi presentation below.

Good luck with the wikis!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Power of Prezi

I recently spent some time discovering the marvels of PREZI and have decided to use it instead of PowerPoint for classroom presentations. The beauty about PREZI is in non-linear and zoom functions. This on-line presentation tool is easy to learn and FREE. It's a web-based application but you can download of copy of your presentation to your computer for that extra assurance. (We always need plan B when working with tech.) Prezi easily uploads photos, videos, screencasts and can embed a web link. Think of mapping your ideas on infinite space. No slides. Freedom from bullet points.

My next step is to show my students how to use it for their own presentations and then learn from them! PowerPoint is dead. Long live prezi. Here is my presentation on using wikis in the classroom. It's mostly images but you'll have an idea of the powerful visuals, infinite mapping space and zooming techniques.