September 1, 2014

Technology Flow

At PCMI this summer we were discussing integrating student work into discussions and I realized I don't do this well. I also realized that I have a document camera that I almost never use - last year I used it to project my homework solutions in PreCalc daily and that one time I was being observed. That might be it. So I stopped to think, why? I am not one to use technology for technology's sake, but the document camera is a great tool and it's easier than having students come up to the board to rewrite their solution. It finally dawned on me that I don't use it because it is such a pain to switch from projecting the computer to projecting the doc camera and it messed up the alignment of the SMART board (the homework was first so it wasn't an issue). Plus, the problems were on the SMART board so once I switched to the doc camera we couldn't reference that information anymore.

So, I'm not going to use the document camera and the SMART board because it interrupts the flow of class. I had to find a way to incorporate student work in another way. Next step: brainstorm.

SMART board:
I already have it and know how to use it and it's already paid for.
I can make slides ahead, add new slides as I go and annotate everything.
I can export the annotated version to pdf (to share with students and coworkers)
Kids can write on the board.
The notebook software slows my computer way down (but they're updating it and adding RAM to the computer - it's 8 years old)

Document camera:
Some teachers use just the doc camera but I like having my lesson plan queued up. I have the technology to have neatly typed things with cool graphics and I'm comfortable using it. Using just the doc camera seems like going backwards.

Someone wrote a grant and then left teaching for a district position, which means I get his class set of iPad minis and an AppleTV.
Use the iPad and powerpoint to have slides and annotate and include photos.
It should run faster than the notebook software. But if the network is down I lose the ability to annotate.
Doceri seems cool but it crashes when I want to export to pdf and it costs $$.
I don't want to make slides on the iPad, I want a full functioning computer for prepping. But I need to be able to add slides as I go. Turns out this isn't common (or even at all possible?).

After a few weeks of struggling to find a system that will do all the things I want I'm mostly going back to my old standby. The people who wrote the grant didn't have a plan for how to use the AppleTVs, they're just as lost as I am. Who knew asking for the ability to both prep and change plans as I go was such an unusual request? Many people recommending using things other than slides but I really like projecting things that are meant to be projected (screen shaped), with the flow of class all lined up (I copy over all the essentials like the warm up and exit ticket format as well as any slides I didn't get to the previous class) but the ability to fill in (many slides have one problem and lots of work space or a note to self in tiny font) and adjust as I go (I can easily add slides - two clicks - when I need more space). The new addition is an iCloud photo stream. I can take photos of student work with my phone or iPad, but instead of worrying that students might see all my photos (not that I take inappropriate photos but my students are easily distracted and might want back stories), I can send them to the specific Math Class photo stream where only classroom photos reside. Bonus - if I get all the iPads hooked up to the same photo stream then I can snag any kid's photo (including screen shots) on days we use the iPads. Assuming the update and extra RAM help my computer out it should only take a few quick clicks to insert a photo into my slides and I don't have to deal with the board getting misaligned.

This was a stressful process. I want things to work smoothly for me and also have the ability to share what I'm doing (did I mention we have 4 new math teachers? My mentee last year really appreciated my filled in notes so I want to offer the same to this year's newbies). I hope this works because I don't want to have to worry about how I'm presenting, worrying about what I'm presenting is more than enough!

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