Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Making of “Why Math?”

Several people have asked me about how I made the “Why Math?” video. When I set out to make it, I was determined to only use the tools and materials that the faculty at my school have readily available. Here is how I did – and did not – meet my goal.

Materials used:

Video Camera – I used a Sony Handycam that I checked out from our school library.

Green screen – In order to make me appear in front of the background images, I used a technique called green screening. While one can buy an official green screen, I just use green bulletin paper off of the paper cart.

Lighting – I used household lamps and florescent shop lights.

Background Images – I drew on a SMART Board using the Notebook software and then exported the pages to picture files.

Video Editing Software – I was determined to use iMovie since that software is on all of our faculty laptops. I was thrilled when I found out that iMovie supports green screening and also picture-in-picture. Unfortunately, you can only use one effect on a video clip. So my dream of not using anything special came to an end when I broke down and used Final Cut Express.

Learning how to do it – I learned from many different teachers via short YouTube videos.

While it did take a lot of time, I am expecting the next video to go much faster now that I know how to do it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Low-Tech Teaching is often Teched-Up Teaching

“That’s pretty funny,” my wife said when she first saw this new blog.

“What is so funny?” I asked.

“Your blog is about technology and yet you drew the logo by hand on a SMART Board,” she replied.

This brings up the great point about why low-tech teaching is often teched-up teaching. When we have a job to do, we like to grab the tool in front of us that we feel most comfortable with. Because of this, often the lowest tech solution to a problem is the best.

So while every faculty member at my school has the Adobe creative suite on their laptops with programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, the comfort level is higher with SMART Boards. So I chose to use a SMART Board to create the TechedUpTeaching logo rather than the Adobe Creative Suite.

And after all, as teachers we love writing on boards . . .

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Math?

A few weeks ago I listened to Conrad Wolfram's TED talk and I started jumping around the room when I got to the 4:00 minute mark. His slide with four points on it matched beautifully the discussion I have each year with my students about why we do math. Inspired and validated by his remarks, I produced this video capturing the essence of the conversation I have with my students about, "Why Math?"

Now it may seem like a video about "Why Math?" does not fit well with a new blog about technology transforming pedagogical practice, but hold on. After the next video (Why Calculus?) I will explore what I see as a problem with math education and the role of technology in the solution.

Until then, whether you have taught or been taught in a math classroom, let me know how you would answer the question, "Why Math?"