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Math Teacher Uses AV to Create “Mathcast” Whiteboard Movies

Jun 20, 2007 2:57 PM


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Patty O'Flynn, a high school math teacher at Woodland High School in Washington state, has been a technology advocate since she began teaching in 1994. Since joining Woodland High in 1998, the algebra and advanced placement calculus teacher has used AV technology to motivate and teach her kids in grades 10 through 12. “I’ve always been involved in technology via different grants I have received over the years,” she says.

Most recently, O'Flynn's classroom at Woodland High participated in the Educational Service District 112 (ESD 112) Sustainable Classroom Grant during the 2005-06 school year. ESD 112 provides support services to 30 school districts and 23 private schools in Southwest Washington. O’Flynn applied for the grant at the end of the 2004-2005 school year and found out in June 2005 that she was chosen. As one of 10 grant participants that year, she received a variety of interactive presentation technologies over the summer, including a Hitachi Software StarBoard T-15XL Interactive Display Panel, Hitachi StarBoard BT-1 Bluetooth Freedom Tablet, AVerVision 300i document camera , Hitachi CP-S335 projector, Califone sound system, eInstruction wireless response system, and a subscription to eBoard.com.

O’Flynn was trained on implementing the new technology in August 2005. “Prior to receiving the grant, my classroom already had a projector, document camera, and a laptop, but I didn’t have interactive technology,” O’Flynn says. “I wanted to focus on the kids using the technology rather than just experiencing it from my point of view.”

During a training session, Tim Fahlberg, a technology trainer for ESD 112 who is also a former math teacher, mentioned to O’Flynn that she would probably be interested in using whiteboard movies as a teaching tool. Fahlberg got O’Flynn started on what would become known as “mathcast” whiteboard movies, which she has been using in her classroom for two years now.

Mathcast whiteboard movies are made using the screen/voice recording capability of the Hitachi StarBoard. The resulting movie shows the actions taken on the whiteboard along with the accompanying voice recording. O’Flynn uses the mathcasts for group projects, test corrections, as an assessment at the end of a teaching unit, or as a live recording of a class lesson. “We focus on getting the kids to explain themselves as they are solving a math problem," she says. "We’re always saying, ‘Show your work,’ to get to the thinking and reasoning behind the answer. Once you have them explain it, it can sometimes be wrong and it was just a coincidence that they got the right answer. Mathcasts give them an alternative way to express themselves.”

O'Flynn's goal next year is to use mathcasts more regularly so that students can create a digital portfolio over the course of the year. “It will be a good tool for something like the final exam review or as a course refresher for their next math class,” she says. “It really helps kids to hear problem-solving in their own voice using their own words.”

A current project in O’Flynn’s class is making a mathcast whiteboard movie that reviews many of the calculus concepts in the curriculum. Students are asked to make a mathcast movie that ties all of the concepts together while explaining calculus terms and giving examples. O’Flynn has also recorded whiteboard movies for incoming substitute teachers. “The substitute teacher can just press play and know the lesson or know what to do that day," she says. "He or she can even review it online prior to coming to class.”

To store the whiteboard movies, O’Flynn has space on the Woodland High server. Students can create their whiteboard movie and drop it into a dropbox. O’Flynn reviews the movie and moves it to a shared folder where everyone has access to it. Other services such as Google Video can be used to share movies with parents, grandparents, and other interested parties.

For the upcoming school year, O’Flynn has received a $10,000 Qwest Foundation learning technology grant to expand the whiteboard project.

In addition to mathcasts, O’Flynn and her students are enjoying their interactive technology. Students are using clickers to get immediate feedback on assignments and quizzes and lessons are more interactive using the document camera and whiteboard. To learn more about O’Flynn and her experiences implementing interactive AV technology in the classroom, EduComm attendees can attend her presentation on Thursday, June 21 at 11 a.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center. Mrs. O'Flynn will be presenting in a joint session with Michele Conway, an education industry specialist in interactive delivery methods, currently working as the client support and training consultant for Cambridge University Press.





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