Monday, July 6, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Washing Dishes

Hi all,

Here is Abby in scrubs washing dishes and being camera shy:

Check in often for more videos from Xmas, Easter and this summer!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Check out the cartoons my students made!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Diversity Liveblog!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Best Week of the Program?

Well, the longest week (so far) for the MAC program came and went. Class on Mon & Tues wasn’t too bad (especially on Tues). The toughest part was the middle of the week. Over a 36-hour period on Wed and Thurs, I spent 25 hours at school. Parent-teacher conferences on those days went pretty well, as I met with three parents and felt pretty good about getting that experience. It was tough at first, especially since the students whose parents came in were solid C students who hand in all their assignments, but don’t talk in class too much. Because of that, there wasn’t much to talk about with the parents and I had nothing specific to say off the top of my head. After that, I can definitely see why people say you should prepare at least one complimentary thing to say about every student.

The best part of the week began as soon as I got home: the M basketball game against Clemson was great and scary as heck at the end too. Then, we spent Fri at Cobo Hall in Detroit for the MACUL conference. Initially, I was skeptical about all the stuff we had to do there for EdTech, but I am pretty comfortable with the tools we used and I thought both Twitter and the live-blogging was super helpful. Thanks to Jeff and Liz for the great opportunity. Also thanks to Rebekah, AFab and Brenda (super driving!) for the great carpool into the D. Lunch was outstanding and the company was hilarious. Good food, great time all around.

About MACUL: again, a great time. The WiFi was full of FAIL, but when it did work, it was fun to interact with other MACers throughout each session.

For the first session, I attended a PowerPoint seminar. It started out slow, but really gave some good tips about developing good PowerPoint presentations. A few bullets:

• Best font: Georgia, not Times: the Times font was developed by the NY Times for the express purpose of fitting the maximum number of words on a line to save paper.
• Information density: no more than 6 lines/slide and 6 words per line. More than that, and the reader needs to blink and becomes distracted by other thoughts.
• Place picture-only slides first, then on successive slides layer the text on top of the existing pics. Basically, this forces your content to be associated with that initial picture or figure.
Related to that, I found this to be a great quote:
"Words can only recall images we have already seen."
The upshot: take advantage of or develop prior knowledge using pictures in your presentations and have the students describe what the pictures represent.
• Research shows that people remember more information if they are smiling while listening. To simulate this, try a cool trick: have all your students put pencils in their mouths during lecture. This simulates the smile response in the muscles of the face. Also, kids can’t talk and no one asks for something with which to write.
• Re: text color… when interpreted by the brain, blue naturally falls to the background. Yellow jumps out the most (this is due to humans evolving on a planet whose Sun is yellow & sky is blue). So, use yellow text on a blue background. Actually, the Sun emits more yellow-green that any other frequency of light, so try that on a light blue background.

• Finally, try using DVD-style wide screen slides (some call it old-school letterbox video format): you can fit more pics on one slide.

The next session promised to explain how technology could be used to save assessment time for teachers. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, all they talked about were clicker response systems. Old news. Plus, all I could think of was Liz’s great idea to use cell phones and polling freeware from the web: same functionality with 100% less cost.

The last session I attended was definitely the best. A review of some of the most ingenious Michigan Virtual High School (MIVHS) courses such as the Mathematics of Baseball. Strangely, it was also had the lowest attendance (maybe a dozen, including the speaker, 3 existing MIVHS instructors and 3 MACers). They have entire online courses for phys-ed, science, sign language, drivers-ed and math. They described a theatre course with tons of interactive web tools. At the end, they talked about an awesome math course designed around baseball. The course was designed to fulfill the new Sr year math requirement in MI and deals with the dimensions of the field and the statistics of the game. I’d be really interested in developing an online course through MIVHS about the physics of baseball, or any other sport for that matter. What’s the best way to get that ball rolling? Apply for a job (on the to-do!) and exchange business cards (done!), I suppose.

One other thing I discovered Fri was this great web tool that helps teach math and science: “Gizmos.” Here's an introduction.

Overall, an A+ week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Friday, January 2, 2009


There is a website. I made it for class!

If you have time, feel free to click around and let me know what you think. Any suggestions? Anything missing? Any issues you think might come up?

Also, let me know if you are setting up a website for the semester...

Thanks to Laura K. for broadcasting the synthasite on her blog!