Monday, April 23, 2012

Nerd Alert

A while back I read an interesting bit on the use of technology in the classroom. Here's what Kate has to say:

You don't go, "Oh here's this cool technology let me shoehorn it into my classroom." Instead you go, "I think I have thought of the best way to teach this, and it would be impossible in an analog world, but I know enough about the technologies to realize this idea." You don't go to a twenty-minute inservice about and go "I'm going to make an lesson." You use for your own purposes, or you suspect its utility and put it in your back pocket, until your awesome instruction idea needs in order to exist. Your lesson is the fuel and is the oxygen.

When I read this I thought that it made sense. From time to time I stumble across stuff that I think will be useful in my teaching. I usually bookmark cites that look neat, but I rarely find myself going back to them. When something clicks, it happens really fast and I can see an instantaneous way to incorporate this tool into my teaching (or life). Otherwise it goes into the shoebox for later on with the rest of the junk floating around in my brain.

A couple of things that I've borrowed from others and think are worth sharing:

This is an actual snapshot of my board w/o the url. is similar to sticky notes, but accessible from multiple machines. It saved me from the avalanche of sticky notes and random pieces of scrap paper that was threatening to consume my life. No test pits had to be dug- simple salvation.

 Hint: bookmark it. If you navigate away and then type in again your stuff disappears, so you have to go back into your history and dig it up.

- lets you draw an equation using your mouse and then translates this not only into a professional looking image, but also into text that can be pasted into a .tex document. Way cool- can't wait to use this from a smartboard.

This example shows how some students write down the quadratic formula... which isn't quite right.

-This equation editor accomplishes basically the same thing, only with buttons rather than by drawing.

-Courtesy of Carolina, from the PER group at Monterrey: Mendeley. The best way I've seen to read articles, highlight text, and create a painless bibliography. Period. If you're doing a lot of reading of pdf files, this program wants to be your bff.

-For language learners, check out If its dictionaries don't have what you need, then the forums probably do. I've seldom been disappointed.

Note: the translation for your specific locale might be a little bit different due to differences in dialect. For example, in Argentina one never hears about camiĆ³nes, but rather about colectivos. Luckily for you, wordreference hit that one out of the park.

Google Translate is also a good tool, but no substitute for a brain.

Yesterday I played tennis and then went to my mentor's house for carne asada, which is the Argentine equivalent of bbq. It's cooked in a special wood-fired oven and usually features a number of different cuts of beef. Delicious!

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