ASCD 2012 – Saturday

Today was the first day of the ASCD conference in my hometown of Philadelphia, and I had the opportunity to attend a number of interesting sessions…

It’s Not About the Bling – Technology Through an Instructional Lens

This presentation was by the Multimedia User Group from San Juan, California, where they have embraced  technology as enhancing and transforming instruction:

technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

The group discussed the need to move to a re-difinition level, where high tech and high pedagogy are married.  Many districts, like mine, probably hover at the augmentation level, where high tech are matched with low to middle pedagogy practice.

The “It’s Not About the Bling” acronym provides a framework for student-centered technology integration.  Goals are focused on the student:

Interactions – Non-linguistic represntations – Assessments – Thinking Skills – Build

Teachers in the MMUG meet for 3 Saturdays each year for a day of sharing, collaboration and development.  The message is that it’s not about pretty background and slide transitions, but effective message delivery.

General session – Reed Timmer.  Discovery Education.  Stormchaser

Thanks to Discovery Education for sponsoring Reed’s inspirational speech, which included exciting videos of his adventures.  I was amazed by Reed’s story, and his transformation of chase videos from and old Buick to the chase mobiles he uses today.


I was most interested in the unique data collection methods, which take place in relative chaos…parachutes launched from potato guns attached to hulls of vehicles.  Parachutes open and follow spirals of tornadoes, which collect data on speed and temperature every 5 seconds.  Later, my boss and curriculum director noted “It’s like the guys from Jackass melded with science”.  He’s probably not all that far off…..

Thanks to Janeeta for her gracious invitation to the Discovery Ed dinner, and best wishes to Pat, as he moves on from the teaching ranks to his exciting new job with Discovery!

Differentiated Math Strategies for Addressing the Common Core

This session included a few interesting nuggets for challenging student thought and discussion: Example for defending reasoning: Does .9 repeating equal 1? Discuss and defend.

One colleague noted…We agree that 1/3 = .3 repeating, and that 2/3 = .6 repeating…therefore .9 = 3/3 or 1

There was a intriguing response from the group which I appreciated: “if two numbers are not equal, there must be some other number between them.  What number lies between .9 repeating and 1?”

Finally, thanks to the ASCD crew for the great fun at the tweet-up this evening!  Look me up at @bobloch

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Algebra Technology

TI Publish View – Bringing Interactive Lessons Home

In the past few years, Texas Instruments has been aggressive in developing and marketing its Nspire product line.  I recall the first time I shared the (now) old blue click pad product, and the oohs and aahs from my students when I showed them how you could trick out the keyboard with an 84 keypad.  This was soon followed by the touchpad, and now we have the CX, with its thin design and color screen.


Along with the improved hardware, TI has also improved its software options, providing an opportunity for teachers to create their own lessons and demonstrations on the software.  Files can be easily traded and shared with students, or used on a whiteboard as a classroom manipulative.  Last month, I had the opportunity to attend a free morning of professional development on the TI Publish View feature.  This feature of the Nspire software allows teachers to embed some of the interactive features of Nspire CX files into documents.  The TI-Nspire document player then allows students to open these files and navigate the lesson.

In the short example I created below, the coefficients of a polynomial can be adjust using “elevator buttons”, which are sliders used to change the values.  Students can then observe the value of the discriminant and look for patterns in the values.  Click the link to join in the discriminant insanity!

Additional files to try can be found at the TI Activity Exchange.  What an interesting way to have students explore on their own.  Thanks to Mike Darden from TI for the great session, and Doyt Jones for his continued hard work in bringing these sessions to the Philly area.


Photopeach – Creating Visual Hooks

Saturday morning, I attended a few sessions of Discovery Education’s SciCon, an online convention featuring a number of leaders of the Disocvery Educators Network.  Lance Rougeux presented 10 tools for encouraging student engagement, and today I played around with PhotoPeach, a site which allows for making quick slide shows with nice-looking captions.  Of interest to teachers is the easy-to-use Quiz feature, where questions and answers can be loaded, and a countdown clock included.

I took 5 minutes looking up pictures of quadrilaterals on Google, and another 10 minutes signing up for Photopeach, figuring out the interface, and entering questions.  Definitely easy to use, fun, and something to use in the classroom:

Properties of Quadrilaterals on PhotoPeach

What a great tool for formative assessment, and not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning. Photopeach now goes on my classroom links list!