Monday, April 4, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Basically, if you already have a projector that can do output from a computer, then all you need is the infrared remote from a Nintendo Wii, some cheap infrared pointers/clickers that are available, and that the computer be capable of receiving the Wiimote's bluetooth signals either built-in or with a bluetooth card for it. The video shows how to make your own infrared pens, but there are also pre-made wireless ones available that my school uses and which seem easier.
In my classroom, the Wiimote was installed attached to a dowel hanging from the ceiling next to the overhead projector. It could, as usual for the Wiimote, be powered by batteries, but my school has soldered in an actual power cord instead, running up to the same power-source as the projector so that they don't need to change batteries all the time. The only apparently tricky part is making sure that the Wiimote is positioned far back enough and angled correctly to cover the field you want it to cover.
Then, with the software produced by the guy at MIT, you can calibrate the projected image from your computer to the Wiimote's infrared for the use of the infrared pen/clicker. Additional software is available to allow for "SMART Board" type functions like drawing directly on the screen, etc.
It didn't necessarily run quite as smooth as a commercial product, and you had to make sure your own shadow wasn't blocking where you wanted to click, etc. The makeshift version is certainly not as seamless as the "real thing." But this jerry-rigged system does enable SMART Board type functionality for all intents and purposes, just orders of magnitude cheaper.
Given that I'm also learning how many teachers, taking the path of least resistance, don't very often use the technology their districts have invested thousands of dollars in...I'd think this might be more efficient for many districts (or just for your individual classroom! The great thing is, an individual teacher could do this on his or her own!) than investing in the "real thing." The marginal return of actually buying a commercial product compared to setting up your own improvised interactive whiteboard does not seem worth it to me anymore after having been impressed with the resourcefulness of this.
I'll also point out that it's these sorts of little tips and tricks of the trade you come across that can only be learned from actual experience in the classroom and interacting with actual teachers, and which get passed around mainly by sharing with colleagues like this, which is very exciting.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Before class started, my co-teacher made an announcement about movie etiquette and how it is important to keep quiet so as to understand the more profound aspects of the movie. This made those who were complaining about noise, very happy, including J. Once the movie started, I noticed that she kept looking at her lap again. I walked up to the wall and stood behind her desk for a bit, and on my way back to the front, told her to put her phone away. She did so quietly without any problems. Not five minutes later, while I was sitting in front of her, she was back to looking down at her desk again. I asked her if she had her phone out, to which she responded no. Come on J, I wasn't born yesterday! A minute later, she put the phone that she "was not" using back into her purse for the second time, and then began to work on other homework. At this point, I decided not to engage her and disrupt the rest of the class. I decided I'd rather have her put her phone away and work on homework, than be looking down every 2 minutes during the movie.
I spoke with my co-teacher, and apparently he has experienced the same problems with her, and chooses his battles with her. This is a nice little conflict that I will have to figure out how to deal with as semester continues. J is going to have to learn that I am not going to put up with attitude, and that she is not as tricky as she thinks she is...
Friday, March 11, 2011
I was teaching a class yesterday and as always I start up with a little warm up. I like to be able to walk around the classroom and ask the students’ questions while looking at what they have recorded in their journals. After class, I had a student come up to me and request that I write the answers on the chalk board. She is from Japan and moved to the US about two years ago. She has a pretty good grasp on the English language (I would not have known that she wasn’t born here) but because it is a science class she needs to see the words written out. That way she can look them up after class in her language and have a better understanding of the lesson. I realized that this should be the practice for all my classes because some of the students are visual learners and need to see the answers written down, especially if it has some form of math in it. I know it is important to move around the classroom, but in this case I should check their journals (answers to warm ups) at a different time.
Another day of teaching and another nugget of knowledge!