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Sometimes i forget…

April 11, 2009

I had worked on this PowerPoint presentation for my class to introduce their final exam presentation.  I had some really good visuals and nice big fonts with a consistent background.  When I went into class with it, I made the huge mistake of thinking I had prepared for the class.  I forgot my basic rule: the more I talk the worse my class is.  It was dull, and it was my fault.  I didn’t even have the good sense to build interaction into the presentation.   Now this class has never jelled for me this semester, so perhaps I unconsciously have given up on it though I hope not.  But I felt so frustrated with myself and embarrassed at having let my students down when I walked out of the class. 

I went to another training on using the LMS (“learning management system”) our school has adopted last summer.  We are all still learning.  As I attend these sessions, especially this one on the gradebook, I can’t help reflecting on how much of my time these systems eat up in recording grades so that the students should be able to get to them.  (I remember the old days when we got a textbook and spiral bound grade book. It may not have been very student friendly, but it sure took a lot less of my time.)  Our system works well if I want to record grades for an assignment, but if I want to record grades for a student, I can do one student’s and then several clicks later another student.  Students have to run a report every time they want to look at their grades and see recent additions.  This doesn’t seem too teacher or student friendly.  Also, neither the previous system nor the current one allows students to get a snapshot of where they are right now.  For example, they can not find out how many points they have earned related to how many points there are on assignments done up to a particular point in the semester.  That seems like a basic thing any student would want.  Who do they write these systems for?

I have gotten better at putting answers from colored pages of textbooks into PowerPoint.  I scan the teacher’s edition of the textbook page and save it as an image file.  Our scanner saves as .tif files.  I open the file in Paint.net crop the image to as much of the exercise that will work on one slide, then using Effects, I use the photo effect Sharpen set at about 13 to sharpen the image, save it, and then insert it in the PowerPoint presentation.  This gives me a fairly clear answer key that we can review in class after the students have worked on a section of the textbook.  I can save the presentation in .pdf format and make it available for further review and for students who miss the class.  The drawback for me is that I have a Mac at home and have not found any program to does as quick and easy job as the Paint.net program that I use on my PC at work.

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