Today, I have been working on getting materials ready for my professional development sessions here at school. I was working on a handout, and I wanted to include icons on the handout. I know I can take a screen shot of just a portion of the screen, but I also remembered that I had learned about how to get various sized icons for any application on my Mac through Preview, but I couldn't remember how, at least at first. But now I remember!

I figured, what better way to make sure I remember than to blog it! Not only will I be able to access it later on, but I can also share it with everyone else! So here is a quick tutorial on how to do it!

1. Open your Applications folder. I like to do it through the Go menu, but however you want to do it will work, as well.

2. Choose the application that you want the icon for.

3. Right-click (or ctrl-click) on the icon and choose Copy "Application" ("Application" is replaced with whatever application you're working with, Firefox in my case).

4. In Preview (open Preview if you already haven't), choose New from Clipboard.

Now you have icons that you can work with! You can take these icons and drag them to iPhoto for use with any of your iWork apps. I hope this helps out anyone who was trying to figure out how to do this.


Disappointing Article

So I was browsing through recommended articles for me from Yahoo!, and I see this headline: Technology reshapes America's classrooms. Of course, I immediately open the article and begin reading, thinking about how they'll talk about Bloom's new taxonomy and 21st Century skills. I was psyched that the media was finally catching wind of what we're doing in our classrooms.

Then I read the article, and I realized that there was no substance to it! The first paragraph was heading down a good road, but then the author takes a wrong turn. This article ends up talking about how computers are being used instead of textbooks (which is a good use), and then begins talking about charter schools and online classes.


Where's all the talk of collaboration? What about getting kids to find information, analyze it, and then create new information? Where's the talk of getting kids to think? "This makes me learn better. It's like playing a game." If all this author got out of technology in the classroom is learning as if students are playing games and online classes, then this guy has totally missed his mark. I think those of us in Pennsylvania should invite Jason Szep into our schools to show him what the 21st Century classroom looks like.


Going Home Already?

So, here I am sitting in the airport in San Antonio. It's a bittersweet feeling, leaving a city and conference as great as NECC 2008 was. As soon as I got to the airport, I felt the need for coffee. Great, they only have Starbucks (not a Starbucks fan). Oh, wait, there's a Dunkin' Donuts here, too! Awesome. I get a French vanilla coffee and chocolate glazed donut, then notice the sign that says "Grand Opening July 8, 2008." I guess that'll be the celebration. Not sure how many people will come to the airport to celebrate, especially since they'll have to get a plane ticket!

I can't believe how many ideas I got from this conference, with the biggest ideas being for using cell phones in my classes. I cannot wait to see how this experiment will work, and I hope it will encourage others to see the possibilities this technology gives teachers. There are so many teachers that I know that are complaining they want cell phones and iPods banned. Why? Is it so bad that kids listen to music while working on a worksheet? I listen to music while I'm working all the time. And if you're worried about kids cheating by texting answers on their cells, then maybe you're not testing for the right things. No offense, but if I'm only writing a date or identifying a participle (not that I remember what they are) or writing down a memorized formula, am I really being assessed on what I know, or trivial facts I can remember?

True, there are benefits to training ourselves to remember some of these things, and it really does make many higher-order thinking problems easier to deal with. But if I need to know the date of a certain event, can't I just look it up? Shouldn't I be learning how to find the information that I need when I need it and how to analyze it to create something new or solve some problem?

Now, does this mean that we should let kids use textbooks and all resources for tests and quizzes? By all means, no. But it it something to think about when designing assessments and how you're going to deliver content.

In my district, there will be three of us teaching our Advanced Algebra courses. The original plan was to have us all collaborate to create materials to use for this year so we're all delivering roughly the same content. However, I didn't really join in on it, as I don't think I buy into it. I know I won't be teaching the class the same in April as I will be in September. And I won't be teaching it the same as I did two and three years ago. I know what I need to cover. I know what the kids need to learn. But I don't know what new methods and technologies I will be using, so it's time to try new things (again).

Over the next two months, I will be visiting the NECC page to see all of the podcasts and videos that were made available. It's like the never ending conference, and it's great! Between reading what other conference-goers have experienced and communicating with them through twitter, Plurk, email, Skype, etc., I have just enlarged my PLN to a point where the learning will not end.



Jeff Rothenberger shared this one with me from a session he saw. Wordle is amazingly easy to use, and pretty self-explanatory. You enter some words or choose a place to choose the words from. Then edit font, colors, arrangement of letters, etc. Then you're given options to print or embed after saving. Here's the first one I did, pulling in text from an earlier blog post:

Reflections on NECC 2008

Don't worry, the conference hasn't ended yet. There's still the closing Keynote. But I felt I needed to sit down before then and gather a few thoughts, even though they're not mind-boggling.

First, I want to go with some new things I have learned, and I'll do them in a list format.
  1. Pennsylvania is so far ahead of many other states thanks to Classrooms for the Future. I have talked with technology integrators from other states that don't know about so many collaboration tools or Web 2.0 apps that can be useful in education. I am so glad that we have our network of coaches and mentors (with teachers joining in now, as well) to share, collaborate, educate, discover, and everything else with.
  2. Even though PA is ahead of the curve, I have found that there are many things that many of us still don't know and haven't seen. I saw in a session today a way to create a slider in Excel to instantly change values, which can be used in comparing graphs instantly. Now I just have to review the process and learn how to do it myself.
  3. Apple has taken away some of their accessibility. They did not have a display on the floor. They were only running sessions. I've heard reasons as to why they have done this, but I don't know if they're true or not, so I won't list them. However, it would have been nice to have been able to stop by and just talk with some reps from Apple. I didn't need to see any equipment in order to communicate with them. I was able to talk with so many other vendors and create some contacts. I stopped by Apangea today, and the one vendor remembered me from last year! These are the connections we need to make.
  4. I don't like having to sit down at a session at a booth to hear about your product. I don't need to see you play on an interactive whiteboard for 20 minutes when I would much prefer to ask the questions I want to ask about whatever it is I'm seeing and getting what I want to see. Next time, if a vendor says, "Why don't you sit down and watch our presentation? It'll only be 5 minutes," I don't know what I'll do. I much prefer the vendors who are more personal and willing to give me what I want.
  5. The next big thing in education will be cell phones. There are already many great tools that can be used to integrate into education, and as more and more teachers begin to integrate this technology, we will see even more robust solutions showing up. I wonder which wireless company will be the first to push their phones as educational devices? Will they create sites and content for education?
I don't think I'm going to blog during today's Keynote. I'll probably go back and reflect on it afterward at some point, as well, as sit down and go through the stacks of paperwork that have been handed to me throughout these past few days. I hope I'll have time to view other blogs on sessions I wasn't able to attend, as well as read the reactions of others from the ones I did attend. As for now, though, it's time to file into the closing Keynote. NECC 2008, we hardly knew ye. Hope to see everyone in DC for NECC 2009!

PA Advocates for EdTech Funding

Fried Pickles at Hooters?

And they were good! I'm so glad I learned about posting pictures directly from my iPhone to Blogger!

On the Shoulders of Technology

As I walked into this session, the presenter Frank Sobierajski had a video of a first date between and pi, which was interesting. He then showed us how he modeled a problem using Geometer's Sketchpad, where you could determine the minimum and maximum distance to place drinks on the edge of a pool, where the distance is determined on where the two friends are in the pool. It was quite neat.

Frank talked about how he was going to show us many interesting things that we may not know. He begins by showing how to create a scroll bar to adjust values in cells in Excel. He mentions that most of what he is showing he learned by playing around, including noticing that if you change the b value in a standard form equation, the vertex traces another parabola! There are many uses of sliders in Excel. He also shows how they can be used with functions to compare graphs.

He next moves into Geometer's Sketchpad and show sliders as well. This is truly amazing stuff. He started from scratch and ended up with sliders that graph a line in slope-intercept form.

Moving on to Word, we look at putting a grid in and make a triangle in it. In the end, we will have a fractal. From there, he follows the 3 r's of fractals: Reduce, replicate, repeat. Back in Sketchpad, he moves to Sierpinski's Triangle. He breezes through creating it, and it's flooring me. This is such a great constructivist session. With tools like this, you can definitely imagine having more explorations into fractals in today's classrooms. I am so glad that Frank says that we're going to get this information at the end of the session.

I'm sitting next to Pat from West Shore (he didn't even see me when he sat down), and we're constantly turning to each other and saying "Wow!" I wonder how many non-math teachers are in this session. It would be great to get their reactions.

Next is The Chaos Game, back in Excel. Basically, you plot three points to form a triangle. Then, generate (randomly) a fourth point, then plot points that are between there, finding out that if you plot enough points, you see Sierpinski's again.

Next, we see stop signs in Sketchpad. Starting with a square, give the students a chance to turn it into a stop sign, letting them explore how to do so, without previous knowledge of the details.

Moving on, we see finding the angle of descent on Millennium Force, again with Sketchpad. Following that, we see some interesting signing in hotels, schools, and hospitals. Who does this? Obviously not mathematicians!

Next, we see great ways to include photography into math lessons. Take pictures of water coming out of hoses or water fountains and have kids fit curves to it. You can even do it with so many everyday objects and apply so many different mathematical concepts to them. Why don't we all do more of this? If you want to talk about getting the real-world connections for your students, this is how.

Another way to use photography in a math class is to have a scavenger hunt having kids find cases of math in their world. Logos also have many interesting mathematical characteristics, as well.

In the end, Frank gave us a handout with an email address to access to access his content from today. Send an email to fsobierajski@nrwcs.org with subject necc08, and an instant response will be sent to allow you to access the info.

If you know anyone who wants to include more technology in their mathematics, or even if you just want to wow some friends or colleagues, check out his material. You'll see what I mean.