This journey of creating this website and the videos on my YouTube channel WOWmath.org, has been long and invigorating. I have learned many things that I hope can help you. They key to using technology in the classroom is to start with what you have and be willing to learn and adapt over time. I truly believe that God has given me this passion for using technology in the classroom and I hope that I can help/challenge you to join me on this journey.
My first webpage was created with Microsoft Frontpage. This program looks a lot like Microsoft Word, so it is a little easier for most people to use. I recommend it for beginners to start off with. What might actually be easier for a beginner would be for them to create a Google Site, but I must say that I have not done one. After several years, I ended up switching over to using DreamWeaver and I have been very please with it ever since. Please remember to never feel like you need to have a flashy website when you are starting off. Lastly, up until May of 2010 I had my website hosted on our school server, but now I have purchased my own domain (WOWmath.org) and server space. This way I have more freedom of what I put on it, for example Google Ads.
When I first started creating videos, I used Camstudio (This is a free video screen capture program) and uploaded them to my school’s server. I did this by scanning pictures of my notes and then recording the screen as I talked through the problems using the mouse arrow as my pointer. I later started to find PowerPoints online and recorded myself as I described the PowerPoints to the class.
After a while, I started using a slick free video screen capture program called Jing. The problem I found with Jing was that I needed to have my site tech guy constantly install updates or it did not work. The program also only allowed videos to be up to 5 minutes long. The benefits of using Jing, was that it automatically uploads to a Screencast account so you have a link to the video and you don’t have to store or upload it yourself. Lately, I have been using Quicktime 10 on my Macbook Pro, but the only problem is that I have to convert every video or else the audio and video do not match up when it gets put on Youtube. I have also found Screencast-o-matic to be better then JIng
My newest endeavor is to create videos with a Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Webcamconnected to a broken overhead projector (You can see a picture of it to the right). This has been my favorite method. I tried to use an Elmo document camera to record my videos, but my computer did not have enough processor speed. The audio and video where not matching up and the files were enormous. It is very important that you have a strong USB2 port on your computer. If you do not, the quality of the videos will suffer.
Almost all of my videos where recorded as I taught my class. I first uploaded these videos to my school server, but that was slow and the school district said I was taking too much space. My next step was to move them all over to TeacherTube. What happened then, was that when they upgraded, all my links to my website were disconnected. While using TeacherTube, I noticed that the server speed was very slow to watch and upload videos. It also did not have a very good system for organizing videos at the time. Now I am on YouTube and loving it (By the way if you create a YouTube account, make sure you choose a name that you like. I wish I could have a different name now, but you cannot change your username.). It is so easy to upload lots of videos to YouTube and the server speed is phenomenal. I love all the comments that people all over the world leave about my videos. Some teachers might worry about students not being able to access them from school because YouTube is blocked by a district server. What I have done about this is to upload them to the public access school server and put a link on my website. The problem I have run into is that our public access server at school is quite small, so I have to put videos off and on throughout the year.
Myself and a colleague, were blessed by my district with 25 iPod Touches and two 20 iPod syncing devices from Parasync for our classrooms. Since I now have all these videos, I have synced my videos into the iPods for students to check out and watch in class (My father converted all my initial videos for me to an MP4 format to fit the iPods, but lately have been converting them with free converting programs like WM Converter or Any Video Converter). Several students each period have volunteered to watch the videos when I teach the class. This way they can stop and rewind if they day dream or need to rehear something they did not quite understand. What is so nice about this is that students do not have to feel dumb for asking me to repeat something. Students who are absent can also check an iPod out to catch up on what they missed. Along the way I have found some good iPod Apps, but I have been disappointed in that most of the good ones are for elementary math. I hope more good Apps will come out in the next several years. Below is a list with links, of my favorite Apps. I was blessed with a grant for $200 in iTunes gift cards, so I have been able to buy quite a few.
Many people wonder how I got the money to do things like this. Well, most of what I have gotten was through Grant proposals, but some was from just talking to the right people in the district at the right time. If you have an inventive idea that will help students become more successful in the classroom, there probably is money out there somewhere to help you do it.
During the Fall of 2011, I have done a version of “Flipping” my AP Calculus AB course. My students have been watching the videos of the notes before they come to class and then we talk about the notes they took at home and practice problems like them in class. It seems like they really like it and the students seem to be successful with it. Flipping the classroom is only possible because I took the time to create the videos already and I am lucky enough that all of these students have internet access from home. My Algebra 2 students do not all have internet at home, and many of them struggle with doing homework regularly. I do not see all of my Algebra 2 students watching the notes at home even if they all had internet. I have been able to do an alternate version of a flipped classroom and my students really like it. I start off every period with a warmup of review topics. Then I give a quick overview of what they will learn that day. I then let them watch the notes on the iPods and work on homework during the period. When students are ready, they take small quizzes on computers in the class which I then quickly go over missed problems with each student. This method lets me work along side the students and give more individual attention where it is needed. I keep encouraging my students to get ahead from home, but it seems that not many take me up on it. I’m really excited about the possibilities of this new teaching style.
Most recently I have been using the iPad App Explain Everything to record videos. I like it since it allows me to roam around the class, as well as pause and restart my recording. It uploads videos to YouTube easily and allows you to upload many different types of document to write on.
In 2013, I had the privilege of being honored by the Chinese Cultural Center and the Tulare County of Education as the High School Educator of the year. It was such a huge honor.
Please feel free to email me with any questions about how to do what I am doing. I would love to see more teachers creating resources like these. Good luck and God bless.