Classroom Changes: The Paperless Math Class

As a way to help organize myself for the year, I want to document a few major changes that will be taking place in my class. I have exactly two weeks to figure everything out, though I will be busy with faculty meetings and Orientation. So, the biggest change that will be happening in my classroom is that I’m going paperless.

Okay, well, not completely. We’ll probably still do tests on paper. And I might write down notes for myself on paper every now and then. But my plan is to have students do all their note taking and homework in Microsoft OneNote – not only are we a 1-1 school, but every single student has a tablet, which is really the crucial part that makes this possible in a math class. As a school, we totally under-utilize this great resource. An awesome Chemistry teacher this summer showed me a few tools to make this switch really worth it, and the one I am going to highlight today is the one I plan on using.

Interactive Classroom is a plug-in for Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft OneNote (i.e. no new software needed) that allows a PowerPoint presentation that you are using in front of the class transfer directly to a OneNote notebook on students computers. Anything you do to the presentation automatically happens on their computer, and anything they do (which is mostly take their own notes all over the slide) can be seen by you (if they share their OneNote notebook with you). This is easier to demonstrate than explain….

After you install the plug-in, you get a fancy new tab in PowerPoint called “Academic” with a set of buttons that will allow you to start a session that anyone can join:

And then in OneNote, you get that same “Academic” tab, except this time it only has a button that enables you to join a session that someone has shared:

So, the basic deal is that you open up a PowerPoint you have already made and then click “Start Session” (you can also start with a blank presentation and make it all in Interactive Classroom, or change it as you go along too).  Then, enter in the name of the session, which then becomes the name of the page in the OneNote notebook for the student. Here’s what it looks like once you start the session:

Notice that you can insert new slides and add polls and write all over the slides with pretty colors (pretend like I’m writing the red stuff as I chat with the students). The coolest part about the pretty colors is what the students see in their OneNote screen…’

The same pretty colors that you are making on your screen! Cool! And they can write whatever they want on top of what you are writing (or you can have them do all of the writing). Notice that the name of the presentation becomes the page name (which gets added to whichever notebook you have open) and that each slide becomes a new page with the title given from the Title field in the PowerPoint slide. Everything is automatically saved on their computer and everything is automatically organized for them.

Things I’m excited about…

  • Being able to distribute problems instantaneously
  • Showing one student’s work to the whole class
  • Not dealing with loads of paper for homework
  • Automatically having every student have access to GeoGebra, Wolfram|Alpha, PollEverywhere, Google Forms, the web that is world-wide etc.
Questions I’m nervous about…
  • What if this takes forever, i.e. more than a few minutes at the beginning of class every day?
  • What if there are major tech issues (e.g uncharged computers, internet goes down, everything is really slow)?
  • Will the automatic organization lead to them not learning organization on their own?
  •  Is Calculus more interesting than,,, etc?
I’m not expecting this to go 100% smoothly, and I might dump it in a month, but the bottom line here is that if every single student has a tablet, this is definitely worth a try.
  • I had trouble finding Interactive Classroom on Google because that’s such a generic phrase. I would add “Microsoft Academic” to help find it. Or you can download the plug-in from me, from my SugarSync. Is that illegal? It’s a free plug-in…
  • There’s another similar program that goes from a PowerPoint to a PowerPoint if you prefer that, but you and your students would have to both install the program. It’s called Classroom Presenter, and it’s also free.
  • There’s a clunky, but powerful program that does what Classroom Presenter does called DyKnow (which my school also has). It has the added benefit that you can lock students out from the other programs on their computer and send them creepy messages telling them to pay attention. As if I need to feel more powerful. The only downside is that I’m sure it costs boatloads of money.

Posted on August 23, 2011, in Technology. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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