Saturday, August 21, 2010


It has been a crazy week.  I picked up a class at the last minute for this week.  It was offered by The University of Akron and The Akron Chamber of Commerce and it was titled "Opening Doors to STEM in the Workplace."  We are supposed to get a nice stipend, 2 hours of graduate credit (paid for!), and they fed us lunch every day (good eats all week!).  It was WELL worth it in spite of the timing.  I got a much better understanding of what businesses are looking for in employees. Oh - and at some point, there is a great WCYDWT about CFL and why they are designed in a spiral vs. the original design of 2 upside-down u-shaped tubes. No time to think that through right now (not teaching Geom now) - more about that later.

What troubles me now from this workshop is that the last couple of years I have gotten away from doing the application problems in the textbook because a) students don't tend to do them anyway and b) there has been such an emphasis on getting the content taught for state testing/getting them ready for the next course or college.  After talking to several business people, I now understand that application is key for people to be successful in the business world as well as problem solving.  So, now what?  The obvious answer is that I need to incorporate application problems into every concept or as much as possible.  I am thinking that when I have my practice problems list for my students that there will be 2 parts to each assignment - problems where they practice the concept, and 1 or 2 application problems.

The reason for the title of this blog...
Which brings me to issue #2 on my mind at the moment - school.  It is now 10 days until I have students in my classroom.  I have no planning done other than Day One.  I got the SMART Notebook file done for it and that's it.  I have done nothing this week.  Granted, it's been a busy week for me.  I had Girl Scout meetings three of the five weeknights this week and DH had a meeting on one of the other nights.  We are winding down in summer and the kids are realizing that they will be getting less time with Mommy, so they have wanted more of my attention this week. But in addition to all of that, I think I'm just stuck. Paralyzed with fear and nervousness about setting up my lessons using the SMART Board.

For my 18 years of teaching, I have taught using a chalkboard or overhead projector.  Put up all the notes by hand.  No big deal.  I have my own notes on what example problems I want to use and definitions that I want students to know and other important notes that I want to make sure I pass along to students.  But how do I set up these slides to put up on the screen for them?  Do I put everything up on the screen and use the cool shade to pull down as I go along?  Do I just put the basic notes (definitions, procedural explanations) in and the example problems up and write on the SMART Board to show the solution process?  Do I go through the SMART Gallery and the Internet and see what I can find that someone else has done and modify it or just start from scratch?  Do I go find "creative" stuff on the internet from You Tube and Teacher Tube to integrate in? And on, and on, and on go the questions in my head.

I can't put it off any longer.
That's the bottom line.  I am stuck in my head but I cannot wait any more.  I have to start tomorrow or Monday.  I have four sets of slides to create.  I know that I hate when the presentation slides have everything on them and the presenter reads them to you pretty much verbatim and maybe adds a comment or two.  I don't think that's what I want to do.  But given the visual nature of mathematics when explaining processes, I know I have to have stuff up there (either already on it or a start of it).

The dumb thing is, I have really looked forward to having the SMART Board.  I couldn't wait until I had it.  Now that I have it, I'm paralyzed as far as what to do with it.  But I need to figure it out and fast.  Next year at our new school, everyone will have them and people will be looking to me for some help and advice since I will have had one for a year and I want to be able to give them good advice.  At least I'll understand their inital fears of it due to what I am going through at the moment.  But now I have to get past it.  I don't ever remember having these kind of feelings about using technology before.  I have always just jumped in and figured it out.  Not sure why I am at this point at the moment. Regardless, it is now time to move forward.  Any advice and swift kicks in the rear are welcome... :-)


Dan Anderson said...

If it helps you at all, I've had a smartboard in some of my classes (that is a pain not having it everywhere I am) for 2 years now, and I don't usually set up notes for each class before hand. I tried that route, but I didn't like the flow because it was harder to plan ahead and be able to adapt to the kids needs. I mostly use it as dynamic notes tool that I can find and draw diagrams to mark up and animate. I teach geometry so I working with pictures is nice.

ps. Are the light bulbs in spirals and not u's because of more surface area?

Anonymous said...

My first year with a SMARTBoard I wrote on it just like a whiteboard and then saved the notes to email to absent students and I think it worked okay.

My second year with a SMARTBoard I pre-made almost every presentation and had slides to click through where I could add a note or two as needed. I found myself feeling disconnected from the class and had a mental block making it hard to change plans from what I had pre-planned.

Last year I used the SMARTBoard as a rough template and prepared pages for a variety of things. I often over-planned, but then if a relevant topic came up, I could skip over to a slide with a pre-written problem/image/manipulative (I do <3 algebra tiles on that thing with the infinite cloner) and go from there. The over-planning also led to a lot of slides that I could use the next day.

At this point, I will probably try to refine what I did last year and keep doing most of the writing myself. When I have to write up on the board, I go a bit slower and that's good for their thinking time. Though definitions I know I am going to need I pre-type as my handwriting is not that awesome and as they copy down the definitions I have time to make a quick lap around the class.

If you premake slides, using cover-up blocks or the shade if you are worried about giving everything away has worked well for me. The spotlight tool is also great for visual emphasis and it's the little stuff like that and color that I find perk up the students a bit (them being 'digital natives' and all).

We're switching laptops right now, but if you are interested I could send the algebra tiles notebook file I have. It's something you can have small groups of students (2-4) come up to the board to work on during practice time in class.

Have fun with it! The SMARTBoard is a tool, just like anything else. Finding out how it fits into your teaching style is what's most important.

Lisa said...

@Mythagon - Thank you SO much for sharing your journey with your slides for SMARTBoard. I appreciate you sharing what you found worked and didn't and that makes sense to me. I'll have to ponder that some more over tonight and into tomorrow as I start planning. Very valuable - thanks!

@Dan - Thanks for sharing what works for you as well. I appreciate the feedback from people who have had experience with it. It is good to know that setting up a bunch of stuff isn't always helpful.

On your ps - that is what we were told (although when it was mentioned, I was curious how much difference there is and then I wondered how much difference there is between the spiral and a traditional light bulb).

Dvora said...

When I first had a Smartboard, i began to explore with PowerPoint. I would put in key notes, definitions and example problems, but write in the solutions on the board in class. I included extra blank slides for hw questions or the like and found it not too har dot add an extra slide when needed. I also would plan ahead and if i did not do all of a lesson, no problem picked up there the next day. I would save the lesson at the end of class as a class record for absent students, but learned to give it a new name so i still had my original. I used animation over time to bring in things when i wanted and invested in a wireless clicker so I could advance or go back slides without needing to stand at the board the whole time. My students liked not having to try and decipher handwriting all the time. I learned how long to pause to allow for note taking. It was all a process. I also would use the smart notebook software on occasion too. Give yourself some time to experiment. It is a process the first year, but i found it made me even more prepared for class. I have lots of resources i could share if you like. Let me know.

KFouss said...

Wow - what a week! I'm happy for you that some things went well... I just hope you're not feeling too overwhelmed with it all. I don't have a Smartboard (we have tablets) but I agree with the idea of not having everything prepared - you'll kill yourself and it doesn't allow much leeway. There are classes in which I prepare notes ahead of time but some that I don't. Depends on the class/topic/etc.

Hope you have a great weekend at the fair!