Sunday, October 23, 2011

Over 1,000,000 math fact problems solved!

We are excited to share that over 1 million math fact problems have been solve at aschool.us/math. Over 880,000 of them were solved correctly giving a student an accuracy of 86%.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to draw a simple figure using Inkscape

This tutorial demonstrates how to draw a simple character using a few basic tools found in Inkscape. The tutorial could easily be adapted to most any other vector based drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to draw a simple heart

This simple tutorial demonstrates how to create a simple heart using Inkscape (www.inkscape.org). It can be adapted to most any other vector based drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moodle & Mahara and other updates at ASchool.us

System Update:
Moodle has been upgraded to verstion 2.1.

Mahara as been added to the list of programs available at ASchool.us/moodle. Mahara is an electronic portfolio system that can be connected to Moodle through SSO. I've outlined a few of the great features that can make students lives easier.

  • Single sign-on (SSO):
    Allows users to login to moodle and then move straight into Mahara without having to sign in again.
  • Export Activities to Mahara from Moodle:A teacher can specify which assignments may be exported to Mahara.
  • Drag and drop design interface:
    In Mahara students can create their portfolio through dragging and dropping documents, images, rss feeds, journal entries, etc... and add descriptions and comments where needed.
Course Development:
Integrating Technology and Education is a four week course that will help teachers use technology more effectively. It will cover the following topics through discussion, assignments, and group activities:
  • Presentations, projectors, and document cameras
  • Tools for students
  • Managing technology
  • Online resources
Students will interact with each other through a variety of online systems. The tools that you learn to use in this class will be tools that you can take with you to the classroom not just tools that you wish you could have.

Gimp for Educators is a self-paced course designed to help you learn to quickly and easily use different features in Gimp (www.gimp.org) to manipulate images and photos. The course is presented through both written and video instruction with help available through class forums. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tablet Exploration

I just ordered three Archos 7" tablets for my classroom from woot.com for $75 each. Sure it is an older version of the Android OS but all I was wanting it for was basic web browsing and videos. I'll post more about them when I receive them, the are in the mail but I will not get them for a while since I have to double ship them to get them to Alaska. Over the past several years I have toyed with the idea of creating a web based student response system (SRS) but never had the time to create it. At my previous teaching assignment I enjoyed using Quizdom's Q5's but can't justify the expense in my current position. While searching for educational blogs for an Integrating Technology and Education class that I am developing I came across socrative.com which fits the bill of what I was wanting to create.At this point the website is free.

Review:
I spent a few minutes testing out the features of socrative they seem to be well thought out and worked just fine on my desktop and iPod.

Pros:
Cheap as in free
Easily add impromptu questions.
Easy for students to login and learn.
Both asynchronous and synchronous quizzes.
Visually simple design

Cons:
Not sure how long the website will be around.
You have to enter all of the questions.

Conclusion:
Great website that I am looking forward to using in my classroom.


    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Interactive Clock

    Here is a resource that I just finished creating to help students explore how to read time on an analog clock. It allows the student to jump to a specific time or increment the time forward or backward by hours, minutes, or seconds.



    You may integrate this into your website using the following html code:
    <iframe frameborder="1" height="225" src="http://aschool.us/resources/clock.php?size=200" width="500"></iframe>

    Please feel free to leave any questions, improvement suggestions, etc.. in the comments below.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    For all your random needs

    I just finished adding a new random feature to the list of programs that are available at aschool.us
    For your convenience here is a description to each of the random programs that are currently available:
    • Random Student Selector
      Given a list of names it will randomly select a name. You can continue to select names as long as you want. The program will attempt to favor names that haven't been picked but repeats can occur.
    • Random Student Selector Flash
      This is a flash based version of the previous program. One advantage of this version is that names can be added while selecting names. This can be an advantage for students that come in late.
    • Random Group Generator
      The random group generator can divide up students into a specific number of groups or specific sizes of groups. You have the option of either maximizing the group size or attempting to keep them balanced.
    • Random Group Mixer
      The random group mixer takes two lists of names and pairs names in each group together. If one group is larger than the other then some pairs will include more than two names.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Free Software for the Classroom Compilation

    I'm working on making a compilation on a DVD of educational software that can enhance student learning and productivity. Here is a list of the programs that I'm planning on putting on the disc. Please feel free to add your suggestions. Many of the programs are open source while others are simply free.

    Office/Desktop Publishing:
    Graphics:
    • Gimp (Win, Mac, Lin) http://www.gimp.org
      Photo editor. I've used this program extensively for editing images from simple crops to image creation.
    • Picasa (Win, Mac, Lin) http://picasa.google.com
      Photo album. Can be used to create basic video clips or slide shows. I used this extensively to organize the files for the yearbook this past year and found the face recognize feature very useful.
    Organizational:
    • Xournal (Win, Lin) http://xournal.sourceforge.net
      Digital paper, can be use with a smart board or to annotate PDF files. For our daily grammar activities in class I would scan them to a PDF and then my students or myself would mark them up using a Wacom Bamboo pad as students called out corrections.
    • FreeMind (Win, Lin, Mac) http://freemind.sourceforge.net
      Concept/Mind-mapping software. Students used this extensively to create study guides. Very quick and easy to use.
    • Dia (Win, Mac, Lin) http://dia-installer.de
      Create diagrams and flow charts. I used this more in the past but it is still a good piece of software.
    Audio/Music/Video:
    • VLC (Win, Mac, Lin) http://www.videolan.org/vlc
      Plays most any audio or video file.
    • Audacity (Win, Mac, Lin) http://audacity.sourceforge.net
      Sound file editor/recorder. I've used this program extensively when creating my online spelling tests. Both the Windows and the Linux versions.
    • MuScore (Win, Mac, Lin) http://musescore.org
      Musical score editor. I have not used this very much yet but plan on using it in the classroom this next year.
    • OpenShot (Lin) http://www.openshotvideo.com
      Video editor. I just started using this program this last spring and am very impress with its offerings.
    Science:
    • Celestia (Win, Mac, Lin) http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
      Allows you to explore space from your desktop
    • West Point Bridge Building Software (Win, Mac) http://bridgecontest.usma.edu
      Bring the engineering lab to your classroom. This software allows you to build and test bridges within the confines of your classroom.
    • Google Earth (Win, Mac, Lin) http://google.com/earth
      Explore the world. Note: Internet connection required.
    • Online Interactive Science Simulations (Win, Mac, Lin) http://phet.colorado.edu
      Excellent science lab activities that can be done and manipulated on the computer.
    Internet:
    Misc:
    • Word Search Creator (Win, Lin) http://wordsearchcreator.org
      Create word searches that can be printed.
    • Hot Potatoes (Win, Mac, Lin) http://hotpot.uvic.ca
      Create a several different electronic activities such as word sorts, crossword puzzles, matching, and multiple choice activities.
    • GnuCash (Win, Mac, Lin) http://www.gnucash.org
      Persona/Business accounting software. I have not yet integrated this into my classroom but I'm working on it and see that it has some great potential.
    Computer Maintenance:

      Word Fun

      Wordle: Prepositions
      A classmate of mine shared this website with me that she uses to help her with an icebreaker activity. The website is Wordle.net. You can make interesting word designs patterns given a list of words. Here is a sample that I made using a list of prepositions. I'm sure that I will come up with some more creative uses for it as I later.

      Wednesday, June 8, 2011

      Word Scramble Creator

      ASchool.us is pleased to offer yet another script to help make your teaching life simpler. Especially for you moodlers. The Word Scramble Creator is a simple web application that takes a list of words and scrambles the the letters of each word. The student then has to unscramble the letters. The output is very simple friendly so that it can be printed or copied to a word processor.

      Here is a sample of what the output looks like.

      Sample Scramble

      Unscramble the following words.
      bmelsrca: ________________________
      wodr: ____________
      nrrageote: ___________________________

      Created at www.ASchool.us/scripts/scrambler.php

      You can find the Word Scramble Creator at http://www.aschool.us/scripts/scramble.php

      Sunday, June 5, 2011

      Math Facts Approaches 600,000 Correct Student Responses

      I was creating some statistics from data at Math Facts this afternoon and realized that there are 600,000 correct student responses to math fact questions so I decided that again it was time to crunch some numbers.

      Statistics:
      Accuracy of student responses 87.1%
      732,620 addition and multiplication problems solved.
      638,347 addition and multiplication problems solved correctly.

      Multiplication:
      464742 multiplication problems solved at 87.51% accuracy.
      Average time to correctly respond to a question was 2.049 seconds.
      Fastest response times: 0.05 seconds to 2 × 1 and 0.062 seconds to 1 × 1

      Addition:
      267878 addition problems solved at 86.48% accuracy.
      Average time to correctly respond to a question was 2.692 seconds.
      Fastest response times: 0 seconds to 1+2, 0.116 seconds to 1+5.

      Note that some of these statistics include times when students goof around and try to complete the activity as quickly as possible not paying attention to accuracy at all. But this is a very small percentage overall.

      Observations:
      I find it interesting that students respond on average about 0.5 seconds slower to addition problems than multiplication. Also it is interesting that the accuracy of the addition is 1% less than that of multiplication.

      Graphing Multiple Inequalities Using Two Variables.

      First graph each equation as explained in my previous post but only shade lightly. Next determine if the problem is asking for the intersection (and) or union (or).
      If it is an intersection then the solution for the system of two or more equations is only where all of the graphs overlap.
      If it is a union it is where any of the shading is located.

      Be careful of infinite solutions and no solutions.

      For example: Graph the equations y > 3x - 2 and y < x + 2.
      First graph y > 3x - 2.

      Since, this is a greater than equation like to make a little arrow pointing up indicating which side of the line will be shaded.

      Now graph y < x + 2

      Again, I like to make little arrow indicating which side of the line the shading is on.

      Now shade where both lines are.

      Give it a try.

      Thursday, June 2, 2011

      Moodle XML Grading Assistant

      I just finished writing a new web app that can save you some time, the Moodle XML Grading Assistant. The Moodle XML Grade Assistant allows you to quickly create an XML (or csv) file that can be imported into Moodle. Here is a list of the features:
      Step 1
      • Simple to use 
      • Quick Fill. Fill in the same value for all student.
      • You can bookmark your class roster so that you do not have to type it in every time. 
      • Once grade values have been entered that can be modified. 
      • iPod/iPhone compatible (with easy enter number pad)
      • Optimized tab strokes. 
      • Blank grades will not be over written.
      Instructions:
      First you will need a list of student ID numbers. The easiest way to get this is to do a gradebook export to either Open Office, Excel, or csv format.

      Step 2
      Next make sure that all assignments that you want to grade have and ID number. The fastest way to enter these is through the calculations link of one of the categories in the grade book. You cannot modify them there but you can see what they are and enter them.

      Go to http://aschool.us/m/g/ and enter your roster with one line per student. First enter the student's ID number followed by a comma and their name. Note that their name is only for your reference while interacting with the web page. When you are finished click next.

      Step 3:
      If you are satisfied with your class roster you can bookmark it so that you don't have to type it in again. Nothing is saved on the server it is all encoded in the URL. Now enter the ID number for an assignment and points possible for the assignment. Note that the points possible is only for your reference. Click next. 

      To enter the scores simply type in the number. Pressing tab will move you to the next save button and then the next text box. The number pads are for easy entry while using a touch screen device.

      If you need to go back and modify a score the simply click the assignment ID at the bottom of the page, change your value and click save.

      When are finished click download. You will be prompted for a place to save the file. Next go to Moodle and import the file from your grade book menu.

      Your data is temporarily saved on the server while you are working on it. Pressing the reset link at the bottom of the the page will clear out all of the data from the server.

      Future:
      If I see that people are interested in this I'll enable the email feature so that you can truly enter your grades from your portable device. Currently you can enter them but it makes it pretty hard to save them from the portable device.

      History:
      One of my frustrations with Moodle is the ability to quickly enter grades into the grade book. You can import CSV files but that takes a while because you have to match up all of the titles manually. This could still save time if you a have a large class but my classes tend to be small. Next I looked into the XML import option but that wasn't very helpful because it was so hard to edit and add information. 

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Xournal for Windows

      Xournal is a note taking program that I've been using on Linux for several years and has finally been ported to Windows. This is great for those of us that work in hybrid environments. Thanks Dirk for posting your work and thanks Denis for making Xournal. Here are the directions of what Dirk did to get Xournal working on windows (http://dirkgerrits.com/2009/10/28/xournal-on-windows/). Now you can download the binary and simply extract the zip archive and double click the exe to run. I didn't even have to install it (download Xournal). Xournal is similar to Microsoft Windows Journal or to other alternatives such as Jarnal, Gournal, and NoteLab.

      I quickly test the software on Windows Vista and the PDF annotation and export appear to work fine. It even opened the annotations that I made in Linux and stored in my DropBox. This is great since I've been wanting to be able to open my files at school from home and vice-versa.

      Sunday, May 15, 2011

      Math Facts Statistics Update

      A few facts about ASchool.us/math
      • Students have answered over 920,000 math fact questions since ASchool.us/math Facts was launched in January 1, 2009. 
        • 9 students have solved over 20,000 problems.
        • The average student has solved 5,701 problems.
      • 2010-2011 school year statistics
        • 106 students solved over 477,572 problems during the school year.
        • One student has solved over 23,000 problems during the school year.
        • 11 students solved over 10,000 problems.
        • The average student solved 4823 problems.
      • 8 locations that are actively using ASchool.us/math
        • Spangle, Washington
        • Caldwell, Idaho
        • Anchorage, Alaska
        • Fairbanks, Alaska
        • Palmer, Alaska
        • Dillingham, Alaska
        • Juneau, Alaska
        • Sitka, Alaska
      ASchool.us/Math has saved many teachers time and enhanced students abilities. To join sign up for a free trial account now. You can learn more about ASchool.us/Math at the at ASchool.us/Math website.

      Sunday, April 10, 2011

      Random Group Generator Update

      This morning I was able to finish an update for the Random Group Generator. Now you can choose to divide the groups based on the number of groups you want or the maximum size of each group.

      First select the mode, then enter the size larger than 1. If you selected max group size then you have the choice between two modes: maximum group size and balanced group size.

      The maximum mode makes sure that every group is filed to capacity before filling the next group.  For example if you have 16 students and wanted a maximum of 6 students per group. There would be 2 groups of 6 and 1 groups of 4.

      The balanced mode makes sure that the group size fairly equal in size. For example if you have 16 students and wanted a maximum of 6 students per group. There would be 1 group of 6 and 2 groups of 5.

      Friday, April 1, 2011

      Color wheel in the classroom.

      In science class we are studying about light and color. The video clips below demonstrate a simple way for students to experiment with different ways to create color and how they mix together. The first demonstration used Inkscape (www.inkscape.org) and allows the student to mix the colors to create new colors whereas the second video uses Gimp (www.gimp.org) and has the computer mix the colors for you using layer modes of addition and subtraction.

      Inkscape Color Wheel:
      If students have been introduced to Inkscape and follow the process shown in the video it should take about 10 minutes to finish.

      Here is a basic outline of the steps.

      1. Create a circle.
      2. Change the color to red.
      3. Select the circle and duplicate it (ctl-d), then move it to the right so that the two circles overlap.
      4. Change the color of the new circle to green.
      5. Select the new circle and duplicate it (ctl-d), then move it down so that all three circles overlap.
      6. Chance the color of the new circle to blue.

        Now you should have the three primary colors red, green, and blue.
      7. Select all (ctl-a) of the circles and duplicate (ctrl-d) them twice.
      8. Select to of the circle the red and green circles, by clicking the first circle red circle and pressing shift to select the green circle, with both circles selected select intersection from the paths menu. Now you should have a new shape similar to that of a football. If you can't see it raise it to the top. 
      9. Next change the color mixture to have all red and all green.
      10. Repeat the process for both of the other overlaps. 
      11. Lower the circles you create to the back if necessary.
      12. Now select the three football like shapes in the center and duplicate them. 
      13. With the shapes still selected again select intersection from the paths menu. 
      14. Now change the color to have red, green, and blue values set to full on.
      Now you have a color wheel.

      I thought that this exercise was pretty cool but the computer can also do it by itself. Check out the activity using Gimp shown below.


      Gimp Color Wheel:

      You should be able to duplicate the Inkscape activity using other vector drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator.
      You should be able to duplicate the Gimp activity using Adobe Photoshop or any other program that has layers with modes of addition and subtraction.

      Note that both Inkscape and Gimp are available for Windows, Mac, & Linux platforms.

      Friday, January 21, 2011

      Free OpenBiblio Setup

      At ASchool.us we are doing an experiment to see how much interest there is in the OpenBiblio library software. Sign up now for your free account. We will start by providing accounts to the first 10 people that Sign up. All others will be setup as resources become available.
      Example book entry
      Your library patrons will be shown Infolinks, Google, and Amazon ads to help fund this experiment if you would like to guarantee the success of this project please consider making a donation.

      Our goal for this project is to provide a web based library solution for small schools based on open source software. This will allow us and you to be able to keep expenses down by using open source software. If this project succeeds we will contribute back into the OpenBiblio project both by contributing code and money to further its development. The ads can be removed for a monthly fee to cover the hosting of your content.

      Example search results
      Why should you use this?
      One of the advantages of Open Source software is that it provides users with the opportunity to enhance, control, and maintain the software. We will provide you with access to the data you enter into your library. This allows you to backup and/or transfer your library to a different system, if you find that this solution does not meet your needs or you would like to move to a different service provide the option is available.

      What are the advantage of setting it up with ASchool.us? 
      With the default installation of OpenBiblio you have to manually enter all of your circulation information. Our install provides a working Library of Congress lookup and extra reports. Both of which are available from the OpenBiblio website but we have them installed for you already.

      Monday, January 17, 2011

      Words Your Way Spelling Inventory

      I've been working on a spelling learning/practice/testing application over at beta.aschool.us and have just implemented a spelling inventory that I found in the book Words Your Way by Donald R. Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, Francine Johnston, Published by Pearson.

      It's setup pretty simple you simply share the links below with your students and when they press enter the results get sent to you via email. One of the benefits of this system over others is that students can not copy and paste the answers from another source. Also you see what each student types in, this includes any corrections that they have made.

      You can share the link two different ways. The first format is easier to read but the second integrates better with websites like Moodle. Use the second format if you need a redirect because you can only use the get format such as http://address.com/?variable=value&v2=value2.

      Make sure to change username.at.domain to your username and domain. Leave the .at. since the @ symbol will cause an error.

      Copy the links below and paste them to where

      Add aschool at woehler. dot us to your address book or spam exceptions list.

      Option 1:
      Primary Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/index.php/spelling/start/603/t/Username.at.DomainName/studentname

      Elementary Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/index.php/spelling/start/605/t/Username.at.DomainName/studentname

      Intermediate Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/index.php/spelling/start/607/t/Username.at.DomainName/studentname

      Upper Level Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/index.php/spelling/start/609/t/Username.at.DomainName/studentname

      Option 2:
      This option should work well if you have a website like Moodle where you can customize links based on the user.
      Primary Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/redirect?tid=603&mode=t&mailto=username.at.DomainName&un=username&id=number

      Elementary Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/redirect?tid=605&mode=t&mailto=username.at.DomainName&un=username&id=number

      Intermediate Inventory:
      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/redirect?tid=607&mode=t&mailto=username.at.DomainName&un=username&id=number

      Upper Level Inventory:

      http://beta.aschool.us/apps/redirect?tid=609&mode=t&mailto=username.at.DomainName&un=username&id=number

      To interpret the result of the inventory you will need the book Words Your Way by Donald R. Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, Francine Johnston, Published by Pearson. 

      I hope that this provides a convenient way to administer the test to your students.




      Let me know in the comments below if you have any problems. Remember this is currently a beta website and may change in the future. If you have found this useful please consider making a donation.

      Below is a short video clip demonstrating the practice mode. The testing mode is very similar except that the saved indicator is blue instead of green or red. This way the student knows that their work is saved but not whether it is right or wrong. The example shown below is integrated with a Moodle installation.

      video


      Sunday, January 2, 2011

      Yet another potentially useful website

      www.ixl.com
      This looks like a great website to help access students math levels and help with remediation.

      Great website.

      I was looking for handwriting paper this evening and stumbled upon this great website. It even has some free fonts and many different creative handwriting templates.
      http://donnayoung.org/penmanship
      http://donnayoung.org/penmanship/make-handwriting-lessons.htm