My Final Project entailed networking a set of TInspire Calculators with in the class and using that network to share graphing documents with all the students.
The graphing documents were generated using TInspire software on a central computer; students would photograph images and either email them to me or post them on the class facebook page where we could select interesting items and insert them onto a graphing document.
Once the document was ready to go it could be transferred to the student handheld calculators where they could apply various functions to model curves with in the image.
Students could then communicate (among peers) how they transformed functions to best fit the curve.
The project covered elements of the IB syllabus and had students actively involved in looking at the world around them with ‘Math eyes’; as such the project also supported the development of students who would be ready to tackle an Internal Assessment in their Senior year. In addition to all this it was fun to get out of the classroom and do something different.
Here is the project video:
As I have mentioned in a previous blog the inserting of an image into a graphing document using the software was not obvious. Not only this but finding clear directions for the process was laborious and in the end unsatisfying; even the youtube videos that I discovered seemed to obscure rather than enlighten and it was a struggle to piece together the process I needed to use. I have a home in Seattle and there is a group of teachers that meet fairly regularly at Mercer Island High School to discuss and share ideas for teaching with the TInspire calculators. This last summer I was back for a short two week period in July/August and had no opportunity to visit with this group; I think it would have been worth rescheduling my Summer to have had that opportunity! (That was never going to happen but hey…I’ll have plenty of questions the next time I do get an opportunity).
During the project many conversations came up that were not conversations one would normally encounter. For example the question of scale. Students noticed that if they changed the scale on their graphing axis then they would generate a ‘different’ function that modeled the curve as well as another students. “How can you tell if a function is the same curve as another function even when it has different parameters?” “Why is this function the ‘same’ but with different numbers?’ “How do you choose what scale to use?” These are the rich conversations that really link text book Math with what is actually out there!
The most demanding aspect to all this was the production of a ‘video’ using imovie on the School iPad. It turns out that when the iPads were bought the Admin at the time felt the need to ‘lock down’ the iPads to the point where it was very difficult to use them. When I checked out an iPad the Librarian was unable to give me a cable and plug to charge the iPad with; my instructions were to return it at the end of every day to be charged. Needless to say that wasn’t overly convenient so I managed to ‘borrow’ a chord and charger from another source. The next issue to arise was transferring images and video that I had on my desktop to the iPad. A day later and my friends in the Tech department had undone security settings and installed Google Drive and I was up and running. On finishing the video I spent two days (not continuously!) with Tech endeavoring to upload the imovie to youtube (and when that didn’t work and they couldn’t figure out why that didn’t work) to email (and when that didn’t work and they couldn’t figure out why that didn’t work) to Vimeo (which after much frustration and two error messages…) “Bingo”. I could download it from Vimeo and upload it to Youtube.
I am highly unlikely to use an iPad again and I am definitely not going to use a School iPad ever again. This is a nuisance as it might well be that using the TInspire software on the iPad is a better way to go. At this point I am going to look at other options before considering that avenue of approach though. (I really really do not want to have to fight and struggle with these School iPads.)
I am going to use the Calculators and develop this project as the rewards were high and the discussion and degree of student interaction was also high. I intend to work out the best way for students to share their calculator work (and graphs) using word documents or Facebook posts or… Once students can share their process with ease communication will strengthen the depth of their understanding and more ideas and options will open up.