Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Theorem Night - Calculus Music Video based on Thriller!

Wow, look what my AP Calculus BC class did for extra credit!  

Where's Vincent Price and Michael Jackson when you need them??? 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cluster Meeting IX - The moment of truth!

Today's Aim: Let's install a Rocks Cluster! 
Tonight's Reading: Building Parallel Programs, Chapter 9
This Week's Research:
Attending Tues: ALL!
BTW, we won some ribbons for PI Day 2010 ( at SCCC!

First Place CGI High School:
CIS(theta) 2008-2009
Marc Aldorasi, Mitchel Wong 

Third Place CGI High School:
CIS(theta) 2007-2008
Frank Kotarski, Chris Rai, Nathaniel Roman  

Let this be an inspiration to our current team: CIS(theta) 2009-2010 Jeremy Agostino, Devin Bramble, Steve Beller, and Arthur Dysart!  

Happy Clustering,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Taking the show on the road!

LIMACON 2010 went well. I attended a great talk in the morning by Al Cavalaro who spoke about important figures in math history. He sure knew his stuff! He included some very funny anecdotes and some little known stories. We talked about Galois, Fermat, Pascal, Ada Lovelace and Grace Murray Hopper just to name a few. I wanted to see his brother, Ron, who usually gives a nice talk about math and computers, but his talk was scheduled opposite mine.
My presentation was going to be at the end of the day. I noticed in the schedule, however, that the computer room was not to be used the hour before. So, I figured I'd setup early to make sure I didn't have any technical difficulties at the last minute! Lucky I did that, because I ended up debugging all sorts of connectivity and audio problems....

Anyway, I recorded a small part of the presentation as you can see above. I showed everyone how I setup my "youtube recording studio" and how I render a screen-cast for upload. In the process I explained how I use Smart Notebook and my tablet to save notes as pdfs. Also, I compared and contrasted teaching a math lesson with VTI vs SAGE.
The only problem I had, was near the end when I wanted to have a hands-on workshop using SAGE. I got everyone to login to sagenb and make an account. Then everything went to hell! The internet connection was so slow that I could not demo much beyond the 7 operators (+,-,*,/,//,%,**) used in python. 
I mentioned that every Wednesday I show a youtube for 5 or 10 minutes if my students are up to date on their work.  I call it "Youtube Wednesday." I show a funny or educational video related to math or computing. So, we ended the session by some of sharing our favorite youtubes: I Will Derive, Mathematicious, Mathematical Mystery Tour, Mechanical Universe, MIT Lectures, Grace Murray Hopper on 60 Minutes, etc.

Oh well, I think I got my points across and my participants got something out of my talk.  They can play with SAGE at their leisure using the CD I burned for them. Hopefully, things will go more smoothly for my T^3 presentation on the same topic in November at Molloy College. 50 was way too short a time frame to do what I wanted, at Molloy I think I get 90 minutes!
BTW, I go to conferences like this to "show and tell." In other words, I like to share my experience teaching with technology with other teachers. I also want to advertise my website, blog and youtube channel. So, yes it is flattering, but please don't try to recruit me! I don't know how many people were trying to recruit me for their schools. I've had a full time job teaching AP Calculus and Computer Science at a local High School for nearly 30 years now and don't plan on starting over somewhere else at this stage.  I also teach part time at the local college at night. All my other time is reserved for the wife and kidz.... 

Teaching with Technology, 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

LIMACON 2010 Eve...

Oh, boy, setting up for LIMACON is proving to be a bear!  I just finished putting together 30 presentation folders I will be handing out at my talk "Look Ma, No Calculator!"  Each folder has a SAGE CD, a Business Card and a Flyer describing the talk.  I put these in a large canvas tote bag along with some of my notes on programming TI Graphing Calculators and SAGE.
I jammed my laptop bag with a Dell Studio 1750 with charger as well as my Radio Shack 170Mhz Lapel Mic and charger (in case the laptop mic fails or I need to be more mobile) and my Smart Airliner Slate and charger plus bluetooth dongle.  I'm leaving everything charging over night too.
I have Smart Notebook and VTI installed on the laptop as well as a copy of the flyer on the desktop so I can display it during the presentation.  I have Chrome installed too so I can use SAGE online.  If that fails, I can use the SAGE CD!  I even have my Smart Notebook CDs and security codes in case the laptop fails and I need to use the PC Podium as is....

Wish me luck! 

Generally speaking,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AP Computer Science Pep Talk!

OK, guys, we're in the home stretch!  Don't let me down now!
We have a few weeks to finish up Recursion and Sorting.  Then we have two weeks of AP Review which is basically Multiple Choice Mondays and Free Response Fridays on steriods!  We'll revisit GridWorld during AP Review too.  

Then we have the AP Exam the first week of May! During AP Week, we'll do some gaming since different people will be in and out for different AP Exams.  So we can't do anything new until everyone is done with exams.  

After the 2 weeks of exams, we'll do some Graphics programming in java.  We skipped those sections of each chapter since graphics is not on the AP.  We'll have some time to play with graphics as a final project!

Good luck to us all, and to all a good night! 

Learning with Technology,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Setting up for LIMACON is hard to do...

I'm trying to get a handle on what kind of room I will have for my "Look Ma, No Calculator" demo/workshop at LIMACON (Long Island MAth CONference 4/16/2010 SUNY Old Westbury).  

I've been trying to secure some sort of computer room where I at least have a PC Podium to hook up my laptop and demo what I do in class on a PC Projector. I can't get a straight answer as to whether I will have such a set up or not. I need an internet connection too. I want to show off SAGE via Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

I would like to simulate the setup I had at Nassau Community College for my summer class.  Their PC Podium had 3 wired connections for my laptop: (1) internet, (2) video output and (3) audio output. Then I could demo what I did last summer (see a sample from my current Calculus class above). Ideally, I'd like the participants to have their own PC and internet connection so they could follow along. I guess you'd call that a workshop?

Everything else would be set up ahead of time on my laptop. I've finally decided that there's 7 components necessary for my "youtube recording studio."

(1) I need some sort of pen app.  I will be using Smart Notebook, but there's plenty of free open source solutions out there. For example, is very nice and its cross platform. I use Xournal in Windows and Linux. Both Smart Notebook and Xournal can export notes to pdf format.

(2) You also need a mic. In class I usually use a wireless mic. However, when I'm on the road with my laptop I can use an integrated mic. Its right on my display screen next to an integrated webcam. I don't use the webcam, I just record a screencast with my voice, but I might look into the benefits of using a webcam too in the near future.

(3)  I have used Smart Recorder in the past to record the screencast but I don't like the wmv video format it renders. So, I will be using which produces mp4s. mp4s are much more portable, all you need is quicktime to view them and my students can view them even on the Mac platform. Also, if you want to upload the screencast to youtube, mp4s work great!

(4) You want a reliable tablet or remote mouse. I use the Smart Airliner Slate (Wacom Graphire 6x8) but I'm looking to upgrade to a full-blown PC Tablet like the HP Slate. So, I'll need a PC Podium for the HP Slate just like the one I use in the summer for my classes in Baldwin SHS. BTW, I connect the Smart Airliner via bluetooth to my laptop using a bluetooth USB dongle. The problem with the Smart Airliner is that you can't see what you write on the tablet itself....

(5) While you are recording, you probably want a PC Projector to show your students what you are doing live. Some decent speakers would be nice too if you are using a video or audio clip.

(6) I use some sort of Graphing Calculator emulator like VTI or a PC based CAS like SAGE for solving equations and graphing. TI-Smartview or TI-Interactive would be good too!

(7) Of course, you probably want an internet connection so you can use or or as needed.

Well, that's all for today folks! If you are interested in any of the "teaching and learning with technology" stuff, why don't you come see my demo/workshop at LIMACON? 

Part I: Introduce myself.  Hand out flyer, SAGE CD and business card. Show my website, youtube channel and this blog.

Part II: Write a Quad program the old fashioned way on a TI-83 using VTI. I will also make a sample screencast of this part to explain how this works.

Part III: Write a Quad program on SAGE to show a PC based CAS!

Teaching with Technology,