Friday, February 27, 2015

Presentations for Mercy TechTalk

I'll be giving to presentations today at Mercy Tech Talk. Here are the links from my presentations:

3D Printing in Education - 11:10 in N-17
Curious about 3D printing? We will walk through the basics of 3D printing and introduce simple programs for creating 3D models suitable for printing. No previous 3D modeling experience is needed. We will also look at some ways 3D printing can be worked into the curriculum and for fundraising.

Flipping with an iPad - 1:00 in Drama Studio
Have you thought about making videos to support your instruction? Maybe even a full flip? With an iPad you can create and distribute videos for your students. We will investigate several apps and accessories you can use to make compelling content for your students without the need for a computer.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fun with Keynote for iPad

Our school is in the process of moving to 1:1 iPads. Part of my job is to provide professional development for our staff. I've decided to share some of the materials I'm putting together here. The references I make to individuals in this material are to members of our staff.

Sorry for the very heavy focus on Keynote in my blog lately. I'm sure I'll get bored and move on to something else soon.

There is a lot of power in Keynote to style, arrange, and edit items. You can use this power when making your presentations or you can co-opt this power for other creative endeavors. The videos below assume you already know some basics about Keynote for iPad. If not you should watch this video for a quick overview.

We first need to learn about the formatting options that are available. You can access the formatting options by selecting an object and then touching the paint brush.

Watch this video to learn about some of the formatting options:



Do the following after watching the video above:
  1. Create a new presentation
  2. Add a slide with pictures and text
  3. Use the formatting tools to change the styles of your objects.
  4. Add an interesting border to your pictures
  5. Change your font and text styles
Have you ever taken a picture to use in a presentation only to find out you need to bring it into an image editor to crop or resize it before you can use it? You can actually do this right in Keynote.

Watch this video about working with the Image Mask:



Do the following after watching the video above:
  1. Go back to the presentation you were just working on or create a new presentation
  2. Add a slide with a picture on it
  3. Tap the plus to put your own picture in.
  4. Double tap your picture to edit the image mask
The last skill we need is called Instant Alpha. This will work best if your picture has a uniform background. This can be used to create silly pictures, but is can also add a touch of awesomeness to your presentation without much extra effort. Thanks to Andy Losik for showing me this.


Do the following after watching the video above:

  1. Create a new presentation
  2. Add a blank slide
  3. Use your iPad to take a picture of yourself or someone else with a fairly neutral background
  4. You may find you need to edit the image mask to crop your picture first
  5. Now put your subject into someplace awesome

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interactive Maps with Keynote and Gimp

When people are learning to make iBooks with iBooks Author they often want to have cool widgets for their students to interact with. As I've shown in previous posts, you can create some pretty easily with Keynote. I really like showing teachers how to use Keynote to do this because if they use a Mac they already have it. When you couple this with a free image editor, Gimp, you can do some really cool stuff.

The example here is not one I've used to teach my students, but one I used at last year's iBookHack. From a teaching standpoint it might not be very good, I'm not really sure since I don't teach social studies. It's just an example of how you might create an interactive map to use with your students. The first video below walks you through using Gimp to create your maps. The second shows you how to use Keynote to bring them together as an interactive widget you can drop into an iBook.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Interactive Practice Widget Built in Keynote

I've been involved in iBooks Author teacher training with Anthony DiLaura for a few years now. You can find out about our hackathon coming up this summer at the ibookhack site.

While working on the iBookHack project I've gotten to meet some amazing educators. One of these is Tara Maynard. Tara saw a cool HTML5 math practice widget in an iBook and she wondered if it would be possible to put something like it in her own books. I showed her how she might reproduce the basic idea of the widget in Keynote and she went on to create this great template. She has shared it so you can use it as a starting point for your own practice widget. If you need a little help you can check out my video below.

The problem is shown, if there are accessibility concerns a button is included that will read the problem aloud to the student. Each problem can provide a hint to help aid students in independent practice and finally the solution is provided so students can get instant feedback to see if they were correct. Since it is made in Keynote the problem, hints, or solution can include pictures or videos as well. Overall it is a great interactive element to include in an iBook and doesn't take a lot of technical skills to implement.

The core idea of this widget centers on creating a "Links Only" presentation in Keynote. If you need a little more information on this you should check out another video I made, which is also included below.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Getting Started with 3D Printing - Find a problem to solve

This week I went high-tech to go low-tech. When I taught physics I taught with a student centered pedagogy called Modeling Physics. In Modeling we have student collect data and then use that data to construct models to explain physics. Basically students do labs, graph the data, find an equation that fits their graph and then they turn that equation into a generic equation that can be used in other situations. Everything works great if you can get the students to collect really clean data and if you can actually convince them to think.

I don't teach physics anymore, but our new physics teacher, Vance, also uses the Modeling Method. He built some apparatuses last week end to collect really good acceleration data. This is just a wood disk with a golf tee glued to the center of each side. This rolls down a pair of rails and is slow enough to allow students to get some really good data. I'd thought about building these myself in the past, but I knew it would be hard to do and that I'd probably screw it up. So I never constructed any. Vance did a fine job in his construction, but he ended up having all the problems I knew I would have had.

Enter the 3D printer. Looking at Vance's system I knew I could knock something out on the 3D printer that would work. This is one of the coolest things about owning a 3D printer. You will see problems and begin to envision solutions. Once you start doing this the easier it becomes. The only risk is that you will quickly assume the 3D printer is the best tool for all jobs. As awesome as it is, it is not always the best way to solve every problem.

I spent about 10 minutes in Tinkercad on my design and then it took about an hour and a half to print. Vance tells me it worked great for the lab. I'm already envisioning modifications for future investigations. The design could be easily modified to investigate rotational inertia and energy, but maybe I'll leave it to students to create these new designs.

Acceleration Paradigm Lab - Teacher Notes

Materials (for each group):
  • 2 bricks with holes or grooved sides
  • 2 five foot sections of electrical conduit
  • 1 wood disk with a golf tee sticking out of the center of each side, or 1 3D printed disk with cones out of each side
  • Dry erase marker
  • A metronome set to 60 peats/minute (or a computer program) - One for the entire class
Basic Procedure:
  • Set the conduit up as a pair of rails spaced appropriately for your rolling disk
  • Let the disk roll down the rails
  • Mark the position of the disk at 1 or 2 second intervals
  • Create a position vs. time graph and find the equation that fits the data (should be a quadratic)
  • Create a velocity vs. time data set and graph from the position data using the secant line created by each pair of points on the position graph. This graph should be linear.
  • Note: If the incline is too steep it will slide rather than roll.
Class discussion:
  • I always have students use the actual variables in their equations, no x's or y's. In addition all constants need units.
  • Once students have equations for both their position and velocity graphs I ask them what each constant represents and how they know. This is pretty easy for the velocity graph, but a little harder for the position graph. It leads to some great conversations and ultimately to a pair of generic equations we will use for the rest of the kinematics unit.
My 3D Model:
This is a part 6 of my series on 3D Printers in Education. Go back to earlier parts in the 3D printer series: Part 1Part 5