Archive for April, 2017

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You Can Go Home Again (At Least to Visit)

April 26, 2017

I’m one of those alt-cert teachers who was in another career before I decided to become a teacher. Specifically, I spent 20+ years as a computer programmer and network administrator. When I started teaching, people would wonder why I didn’t want to teach computer programming, and I would tell them that I was just burned out on computers.

It’s been long enough now that I feel a little nostalgic about writing programs to do things, and when my principal “suggested” that we keep a log of students going to and coming from the bathroom I decided I’d rather try to write a program to keep track than have to keep track by using a clipboard (along with students’ not knowing how to tell time).

My background is in database programming using a program called Visual FoxPro. Visual FoxPro was discontinued by Microsoft around 2009, so I initially tried to write my program using Access. I gave it a good try, but I could tell that I was trying to make it do things that it wasn’t really designed to do. I honestly feel I made a good-faith effort to find some other RDBMS (relational database management system), but in the end, I knew FoxPro would do what I wanted to do.

The most frustrating part of writing my hall pass program was realizing that it was taking me hours to do tasks that I used to be able to do in minutes, just because I was rusty. As I worked on the program, a lot of things came back to me, and I’ve ended up with something that I’m pretty proud of. What’s more, my students have fallen into the new routine with nary a whimper.

hallpasslog

The only really frustrating part of the implementation is that it has to run from a physical hard drive (since that’s all that was around when this version of FoxPro was written), and the only spare laptop I have is a little Dell NetBook that runs WindowsXP and is named “Baby”. I wanted to use DropBox so that I could run the program on Baby but also reference the data on either my school laptop or my personal laptop. Unfortunately, DropBox doesn’t run on WindowsXP. I’m currently running Google Drive, which is doing this pretty well, but it is often random on how it updates.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to play with programming again, and it really makes me want to look around for other things that I could program as well as trying to find ways to integrate programming into my Geometry classes.

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Tools: Planbook.com

April 26, 2017

I have mentioned it before, but I highly recommend planbook.com. For $1 per month, you get a very flexible planning calendar that you can automatically share on your teacher webpage. I also use it to make notes on particular lessons and reflect on how those lessons went.

planbookpicture

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but I have notes from previous years as well as reflections from this year. When I set up next year’s classes, I will copy this year and edit/move the reflections to the notes tab.

Also, if several teachers from your school sign up, you get free months! We have 10 teachers using it at my school, so I get an additional 6 months free!

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Hello, World

April 26, 2017

In preparation for #TMC17, I’ve been trying to catch up on my blog feed, and reading all those entries made me miss writing on my own blog. The main reason I had stopped was that I was using planbook.com as my reflection tool, so I didn’t need the blog to reflect on what I had done in class.

Reading what people have been writing in the last year made me realized how short-sighted that is. One of the beauties of the MTBoS world is the feedback that we share and receive from each other. There are also some things that I have considered blogging on that don’t have a direct link to a particular lesson plan.