PD session 6: Digging into Logger Pro

Show and Tell

  1. Chelsea shows off Schoology Discussions
  2. Adrian demonstrates Planbook
  3. John shows off Wolfram Alpha
  4. Try out some interesting science related queries:

    1. Nutrition: my breakfast 1 bagel + 1 cup of orange juice
    2. Chemistry: Balance chemical reactions, Chemical Thermodynamics and more
    3. Biology: look up phylogenetic trees and get info about species, Find DNA sequences in a genome, calculate family trees, and more.
    4. Physics: Solve projectile motion problems, thin lens equation, and more

Logger Pro

Vernier’s Logger Pro is the data collection/analysis app installed on your mac, and it will also be on all student machines.

It is a fantastic tool for creating fully interactive lab experiences where you can embed movies, text, photos alongside tools to take and analyze data.

Here’s a sample template file to give you some sense of what can be done with Logger Pro.

Here are some specific instructions on how to do various tasks with Logger Pro

We will spend the bulk of our time creating an lab template for a lab you will be able to use in your class next year.


PD Session 6: Power searching and feedback from the Junior High

Power search tips

Senior Paul Vicinanza is Google search ninja, and he’s going to share some of his secrets with us.

Here is a link to Paul’s super search tips.

Also, here’s a chart of very useful search tips.

If you want to try to put these search tips to use, give Lifehacker’s search challenge a try.

Google search challenge:

Junior High Observation

In order to prepare for our discussion, the Junior High was kind enough to complete this survey with their feedback and tips on the 1:1 transition. (You need to be logged in to Westminster’s google docs to view any of these Google docs).

JHS 1st semester 1:1 experiences

Also, here’s a summary of the responses.

For our observations of the 1:1 program in the junior high, feel free to add your observations to the shared google doc I created using this form:

JHS 1:1 Observations

PD Session 5: Digital textbooks and assessments

Cool Tools

Memiary.com is a simple web tool for creating exit slips. Students log in to Memiary, and write what that learned that day in class. Memiary keeps the student’s responses so that they can go back and review them, and also allows a teacher to browse them for quick formative feedback. Students are linked to teachers by entering a teacher code generated by Memiary.

Electronic assesment

Since students will have a laptop with them at all times, you might be interested in ways in which you might conduct assessments electronically, saving paper, and allowing a number of new forms of assessment.

  1. Chelsea introduces her online exam for Environmental Science Class. Chelsea’s final exam for Environmental Science consisted of students writing a series of blog posts to summarize everything they learned, and then commenting on one another’s work, creating a permanent archive of their learning.
  2. Distributing fillable forms using adobe acrobat. It’s very easy to use adobe acrobat to take an existing document you have now, turn it into a form, distribute it to your class, and then collect and summarize their responses in one location. Here’s a very detailed set of tutorials:
    1. Converting a PDF to a Fillable Form
    2. Distributing forms using acrobat.com
    3. Initiating a Data Collecton Workflow: how to collect your form data from acrobat.com
    4. Managing form data: how to convert your data into an excel file.

    Other tools you might use to do online assessment:

    • Webassign.net: this is the leader in online homework/assessment. Webassign has very large problem banks with questions from nearly every textbook, and it is also very easy to create your own questions in webassign. Webassign can be used for more than just homework—you can also use it to create timed exams, clicker questions and much more.
    • Google DocsYou can create google forms quickly and easily, and even set them up to check simple numeric and multiple choice responses automatically. This was the topic of our 3rd PD session:Collaboration using google docs.
    • Other learning management systems: Schoology, Moodle and EdModo, among many others all allow you to create online quizzes and handle online submission of work.


    e-Books are expanding rapidly and there are literally hundreds of options for how to begin to use an e-book in your class, or even create your own electronic text. Electronic textbooks are evolving rapidly—new features, platforms and books are being created almost daily. Breaking News: Apparently, at the end of this month, Apple will be making a big announcement centered around the textbook publishing world.

    Electronic editions of standard texts

    The first place to start is probably checking out an e-version of the text you are using or are familiar with. Typically, these are distributed as an electronic file that is pretty much a copy of the paper text, with a few advantages, like searching. Often, they are also rentals, meaning students purchase access to the book only for a limited amount of time.

    CourseSmart is one online retailer that publishes e-texts. If you sign up for a free account, you can view a free trial version of any text in their catalog.

    Kno-a digital reader for the mac and iPad: Kno sells and rents over 150,000 digital textbooks that offer some interactivity, and good ability to highlight and take notes in the text.

    Webasssign.net also often bundles electronic texts with access to the site so that for an extra fee, students can have access to an online version of the text inside Webassign.

    Open source and free textbook resources

    There’s a growing movement of educators who are dedicated to creating quality digital textbooks that are free and easy to use. Here are a few options:

    • CK-12 Flexbooks: Large library of digital texts that can be edited and customized for individual classroom use.
    • E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth: E.O. Wilson is leading an incredible team of designers and educators to create what looks to be an outstanding interactive biology text, but there is not exact word on when it will be ready.
    • Principles of Biology, an Interactive Textbook By Nature Education: Nature Education is delighted to announce the launch of a new series of affordable, high quality interactive textbooks in college-level science. rinciples of Biology consists of 200 customizable modules collectively covering chemistry, genetics, cell biology, animal physiology, plant physiology, and ecology. Each module is a self-contained learning experience, combining textual instruction, high quality figures, simulations, interactive exercises, self-tests, and formal tests.

    Building your own textbook

    It’s much easier than you think to take all the cool websites, worksheets, and ideas you’ve got and put them together into an online course resource/textbook.

    Here’s an article that gives a nice overview of how many teachers and professors are doing this: Building your own Texbook.

    Here are a couple of blog posts by teachers describing exactly how they are doing this in their science courses using Juno.

    More on electronic texts:

PD Session 4: Formative Assessment

Report on interdisciplinary work with Math Department

On Friday, a number of biology teachers met with members of the math department. They are very interested in finding ways to collaborate between the two departments.

Exercises in Computer Problem Solving and Exploration

There are three lessons I find to me more important than any other in learning to use a computer. Here they are:

  1. There is almost nothing you can do from the keyboard to harm or permanently damage your computer.
  2. You will be amazed by what you can learn if you simply begin to explore your machine. Take a look to at menus you don’t normally use. Dig around system preferences. Just click on that application you haven’t heard of in your applications folder and try it out.
  3. Your machine and the world around you are filled with useful help. Starting with the application help (which is often poorly designed), but most often with simply googling “how do I do X?” or simply googling the error message one receives from a program. And this says nothing of the incredible forums, twitter, and all the other avenues of help that are available.

So in this sprit, I present the ultimate solution to solving all your computer problems, mapped out in a helpful flow chart by the incredible web comic XKCD:

Problem Solving Challenges

If you a more detailed, funny, and profane version of this flow chart, feel free to check out this link (warning: NSFW language behind link)

Below is a compilation of the questions you asked in the Google survey I sent out. Try to follow the process of exploring and searching for help to solve your problem. If you get stuck, click on the link for help.

  • How do I rotate a movie I filmed with a smart phone? (hint)
  • How do I get started using Evernote? (hint)
  • How do I add a row to a table in Mirosoft Word?(hint)
  • How do I connect to my networked drives? (hint)
  • How do I edit the passwords stored on my web browser? (hint)
  • How do I find out the members of an email group on outlook? (hint)
  • How do I copy and paste a picture from the internet to a document or presentation? (hint)
  • How do I create scientific documents in Lyx? (hint)
  • How do I get started with Keynote? (hint)
  • How do I connect to a wireless network at a hotel? (hint)

Formative assessment

Good overview of Formative Assessment in Science
Ideas for formative assessment:

PD session 3: Collaboration using Google Docs

The purpose of today’s Professional Development session is to get familiar with a number of collaborative tools that you can use in your teaching and planning.

Bright Spots

  • Adrian Dingle—behind the scenes at adchempages
  • Jason Vuckovic—Blogging on Marine Biology trip to Hawaii
  • Katherine Hicks-Using excel to plot perodic trends

Google Docs and Google Apps

How to login to Westminster’s google apps for education site:

  1. Go to http://docs.google.com and click sign in.

login: your full email address (usually firstnamelastname@wesmtinster.net)
Use the password written on the board in our classroom as your initial password. Feel free to change it.

Pro tip:How to enable multiple sign-ins to google apps (so you can easily switch between your limited Westminster google apps account and your personal google apps account)

Here are some interesting ideas for using google docs in the classroom:

More google docs resources

Where to go for support

If you forget your password and need to have it reset, you can usually reset it by clicking on the “Can’t access my account” link at the bottom of the login window. If you still have trouble, either Mary Reynolds or John Burk can reset your password (or the password of your students).

Mary and John are also available to help you 1-on-1 with Google Docs (or any other app you may desire instruction on).

Google Docs community: A youtube site filled with videos and tutorials explaining how to use Google Docs and take advantage of advanced features.

PD2 Summary

A huge thanks to everyone for all your great ideas and work in our second professional development session. For future reference, here are the topics we covered:

3 minute introductions:

  1. Chanley introduced us to Zotero, an awesome reference manager for firefox and word that makes it very easy to compile a library of references, extract quotes, and then make properly formatted citations and bibliographies automatically in a paper.
  2. Chelsea introduced us to CellCraft, a great flash based game that teaches gives students a great understanding of cellular structures and processes while playing a fun and engaging game.
  3. Valerie showed us the Super Ultimate Graphing Challenge, a great flash based game to help students understand kinematics graphing.
  4. Jen and Maureen showed us the iMovie video projects they had students do to understand biomes.

John also showed off the hovercam document camera, which the department now owns six of. If you’re interested in borrowing one, please speak to John.

Following this, we launched into the multimedia extravaganza.

Tagged , ,

PD session 2: Multimedia extravaganza

It’s a no brainer that multimedia is an essential part of science and science education. Our focus today is going to be on learning some tools that make it much easier to incorporate multimedia into your lessons, and a few new ideas for using multimedia in your lessons you might not have thought of.

First, I should give credit to Dan Meyer, who inspired many of these lessons. I also borrowed screencasts and directions from the workshop site he set up for our Atlanta workshop.

Let’s start with an example of a compelling multimedia lesson.

Sample Lesson: little packets of sugar

For more background on the engagement in 3 acts idea, check out this post:
The three acts of a mathematical story.

If you’d like to download the keynote of this lesson to see how it was put together, you can download it from this link. Also, a couple of tutorials:

Multimedia Technique

  1. Recording video and making movies with iMovie

    What is it: iMovie is a simple to use video editing program that allows one great flexibility in creating films.
    How you might use it: Have students produce video presentations on a topic. Film your class and use iMovie to edit. Build a library of simple videos of demos and labs.
    Beginner: Import a clip from a flip video camera and trim it.

      1. Run iMovie 11 (from your dock or the applications folder.
      2. Choose File > Import from Camera

    1. Trim the video.


    Extra Tips

  2. Creating Screencasts

    What it is: Using a software package to record what you see on your screen.
    How you might use it: Create video instructions of how do something on the computer. Use digitizing tablet to make screencasts of written notes. Have students scan work and annotate/explain it with screencast.

    Beginner Install Jing, record and upload a screencast.

    1. Install Jing. Click this link to start download.
    2. Record your first capture. This link will take you to video and written instructions on how to record your first screencast and share it using screencast.com.

    Professional: Record QuickTime screencasts that you can edit in iMovie.

    1. Open the QuickTime Player in your Applications folder. (Remember command+space is very fast search).
    2. Choose File > New Screen Recording
    3. Import your movie into iMovie.

    All-Star: learn Camtasia. Camtasia is a super powerful screen recording program that allows you to add many effects to screencasts, such as zooms, text and object overlays, and much more.

  3. Find and edit photos from the internet

  4. What is it: you can find photos on the internet of just about anything to include in lessons and assessments.
    How you might use it: countless ways. Pull an image of just about any scientific object from the web and edit it to your liking. You could also use scientific images as desktop wallpaper for your projector, generating interesting discussions.
    Beginner: find a photo and copy it into Pages or Keynote

    1. Find a photo using images.google.com. Remember that advanced search gives lots of options for finding images of a certain size, color or in the creative commons.
    2. Copy and paste a picture from the web into a Keynote presentation or pages document. Note: this is best done in Safari.
    3. 1-minute screencast explaining how to do this.

    Professional: Cover up critical information on the photo with rectangles.

    All-star: Edit the photo in Photoshop. Photoshop is the most powerful image editor on the planet. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be amazed with what you can do.

  5. Extract video from the internet to use in lessons

    What it is: Many videos encoded on the web (eg. youtube, etc) are encoded using flash or some other method that makes them difficult to extract. However, with the right extensions, this becomes easy.
    How you might use it: Once you’ve extracted a video, you can put it in a presentation, or analyze the physics of the video using tracker video analysis.


    1. Find a youtube video or other embedded flash movie you’d like to download. Here’s a beautiful video of what’s it’s like to fly over planet earth.
    2. Highlight and copy the url address from the address bar (command+C)
    3. Paste into keepvid.
    4. Right click the highest quality MP4 link and choose “save linked file as”
    5. Link to Screencast

    Professional: Install Keeptube on Firefox, and download youtube videos without having to go to a website.

      1. Open Firefox
      2. Install KeepTube by following this link.
      3. Find a youtube video you want to keep, and press the “download” button

  6. Rip DVDs and extract clips to use in lessons

    What is it: Software allows you to convert entire DVDs, or simply clips of to digital form for instant playback, which you can also add to presentations, or even edit in iMovie.
    How you might use it:Include a clip of a video in a presentation, Analyze the physics of the bus jump in speed using video analysis.
    Beginner: Download Handbrake, and Rip the second chapter of a DVD

    1. Download Handbrake
    2. Link to Detailed Handbrake instructions
    3. Link to screencast

    Professional:Trim the clip in QuickTime Player and insert it into a presentation or iMovie

    All-Star: Build a library of clips for your class and catalog them using Miro.

    1. Download Miro.
    2. Miro lets you sync video with your phone or tablet. Detailed Instructions.