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» T^3 Days 2 & 3: Calculators, Ethics, Zombies, and More
» T^3 2014 Day 2: The Science of Zombies
» T^3 2014 Day 1: Lua, TI-BASIC, Programming Galore
» T^3 2014 Kicks off With Mujica, Balyta, November in Vegas
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T^3 Days 2 & 3: Calculators, Ethics, Zombies, and More
Published by KermMartian on March 9, 2014 at 1:47:18 PM CST | Discuss this article (3)
The third day of Texas Instruments' T^3 2014 International Conference is wrapping up here in Las Vegas, and it has easily reached the high bar set last year in Philadelphia. We have reported thus far on the the conference welcome, the first full day of sessions, and yesterday's special talk about the Science Behind Hollywood program. The second day of the conference was filled with many more fascinating plenary sessions, and the third half-day was split between a series of parallel power sessions and the closing session. I learned a great deal at the conference, had a good time teaching, and it will soon be time to sign up for T^3 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. I also learned a number of other interesting facts that I'll be sharing with you in the next few days, including more information about the much-maligned TI-84+CSE OS 4.2. Without further ado, the events of the past two days.
Saturday, March 8th, was entirely filled with a series of fascinating plenary sessions. The conference began at the early hour at 8am, and I chose to attend "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition Graphing Calculator: Let's Take Advantage of the Color and Free Apps" by Beth Smith. Ms. Smith spoke about some of the things you can do with the color features, and touched on the use of the Transform and Inequality Graphing apps. Although I was familiar with many of the feature, I enjoyed seeing the calculator from a teacher standpoint, and I got to talk with her about missing TI-84+CSE applications and what the community could do to help resolve the disparity. The next two sessions were related to TI-Nspire Lua, first "Lua, the Next Step" with Fred Fotsch, and then "Advanced Lua Scripting in TI-Nspire Technology" with the community's own Adrien Bertrand of TI-Planet. Both talks were highly informative, and I hope they'l inspire me to play with Lua some more in the future, both for LuaZM and the TI-Nspire. Right after the Lua sessions, we had to run to "STEM Behind Hollywood: Adventure, Drama, and Mystery in Your Classroom" which we have already covered in detail here. The afternoon was a little quieter, with lunch, a few more TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition sessions that I dropped into to hear more teacher perspectives, and a great chat with the obliging Dale Philbrick and his colleague Andrew on TI-84+CSE OS 4.2, the TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire Apps for iPad, and TI's future efforts to make the activities available on the devices more encompassing of teachers and students of all ages. I'll be sharing some of that information here in the next few days. The last session of the evening was "Code Red: Using the TI Light Sensor as a Remote Decoder" with Ian Galloway, which let us explore light bulb power computation, remote control IR protocol reverse-engineering, and more with TI-Nspires and light sensors.
The final morning of T^3 2014 has been split between a Power Session and the Closing Session. I chose to go to a power session taught by Zalman Usiskin, described as a vocal proponent of CAS tools, entitled "Ethics of CAS". He had some great perspectives on the advantages and potential disadvantages of using CASes in the classroom. I enjoyed his talk, and found it quite compelling (and he even complimented me on my tie!). The closing session was sandwiched by words from Gayle Mujica and Peter Balyta, and starred Dr. David Salzburg, the science consultant on the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory". He gave a spirited talk about his experiences working with the writers of the show, making sure that all of the science in the show is as accurate as possible. I found this particularly interesting in terms of something Dr. Schlozman said yesterday: people learn science from what they watch on TV, whether they realize it or not, so it's important that they're getting correct information. The conference was edifying and a great teaching, learning, and networking opportunity. Soon it shall be time to fly back home and leave Sin City behind, and look forward to T^3 2015 in Fort Worth. I hope you'll all join me next year at the conference, in person or in spirit.
T^3 2014 Day 2: The Science of Zombies
Published by KermMartian on March 8, 2014 at 3:46:37 PM CST | Discuss this article (1)
Day two of T^3 2014 in Las Vegas is well underway, and the morning has been full of everything from TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculators in the classroom to advanced Lua concepts with TI-Planet administrator Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand. We just reached the end of one of the most well-attended sessions at the conference, "StEM Behind Hollywood: Adventure, Drama, and Mystery in Your Classroom". STEM Behind Hollywood has been "the most successful marketing program in the history of TI Education," and uses the science behind popular shows and pop culture phenomena to captivate students. The session was primarily taught by Dr. Steven Scholzman, MD, author of "The Zombie Autopsies", accompanied by Tom Reardon, a long-time T^3 instructor and the classroom advisor for Stem Behind Hollywood and Jeff Lukens, the science classroom advisor for the program.
Dr. Schlozman led a spirited session about the most popular of the stem Behind Hollywood units thus far, "Zombie Apocalypse". He talked about his experiences working with the program and teaching students about the math and science the module aims to teach. Dr. Schlozman spoke and his childhood attraction to horror movies and how that interest led him to eventually write "The Zombie Autopsies". He walked us through the progression of the typical zombie illness and how those symptoms could be clinically explained in terms of degradation of specific areas of the brain. This neurological perspective allowed him to bring the concept into his classroom at Harvard, and to even get medical students thinking about clinical thinking, differentiating between possible diagnosis and treatments. He showed some of the TI-Nspire screenshots from the activity, including the graphs and diagrams that students can generate while modelling the spread of a theoretical zombie outbreak. The session concluded with questions from the teachers present, many discussing their compliments and qualms in using the activity in their own classroom.
Dr. Steve mentioned that STEM Behind Hollywood will soon be introducing a new activity, "Zombie Apocalypse II: The Humans Strike Back." It will teach students about pH, and how understanding pH could save humanity from zombies. T^3 continues with just under one more day of talks, sessions, and meetings, and we will continue to bring you news about everything we discover at this cornerstone annual conference.
"Zombie Apocalypse" Activity from STEM Behind Hollywood"
"The Zombie Autopsies" by Dr. Steven Schlozman
T^3 2014 Day 1: Lua, TI-BASIC, Programming Galore
Published by KermMartian on March 7, 2014 at 10:53:29 PM CST | Discuss this article (8)
We've reached the end of the first full day of the T^3 2014 conference in Las Vegas, and although the night is still young, the educational portion of the day has been chock-full of fascinating sessions taught by knowledgeable, enthusiastic teachers. The day started with a warm welcome from TI Education's Director of Marketing Gayle Mujica and President Dr. Peter Balyta as well as an inspiring (Nspiring?) talk from educational technology proponent Dr. Alan November. We covered the opening session in an in-depth news article posted the moment it concluded. The remainder of the day was filled with a wealth of plenary sessions, with around 150 total sessions taught over a period of six hours. The options ranged from algebra and calculus to physics and statistics. Considering my professional and academic pursuits as well as my work here, it should come as no surprise that I attended solely programming sessions throughout the day.
I began with "Hello World: Lua Programming From the Ground Up" at 10am, taught by Bryson Perry and Becky Byer. It helped me brush up on both Lua in general, which I haven't worked with much since creating LuaZM, and on TI-Nspire specific Lua programming. After a brief lunch in the hotel and a stressful quest to get two packages of books that my publisher shipped to me, it was time to give my own talk at 12:30pm. I taught "Teaching Beginner Programming Concepts with the TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator and TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator Family" to a rapt audience of about 11 attendees. I rushed through a great deal of information, and probably slightly overwhelmed the teachers, but a lot of them did seem to have a serious interest in bringing programming into the classroom. To cement that, the next three sessions I attended were also taught by teachers who had been exploring programming in the classroom. In order, they were "Teaching TI-BASIC Programming to 8th Grade Mathematics Students with the TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator" by John Isaacs, "An Introduction to Easy Programming on the TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator and TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator Family" by Jan Erik Woldmar, and "Make the TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator Family Your Programming Tool" by Mark Von Rosenberg. All three sessions showed me a new perspective on programming our favorite graphing calculators, and showed me that they face some similar and some very different challenges from the ones we tend to encounter with our admittedly more advanced and motivated userbase.
In the course of the day, I also had a chance to briefly stop by the Exhibitors' Hall to see the vendors who came to the conference. I spent time especially with Rick and Rebbecca Rowland of Norland Robotics, the folks who make the calculator-controlled robot kits. They have been stauch supporters of "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus", which they offer as an optional accessory to teachers with their robot. The day concluded with a pleasant two-hour reception replete with food, drinks, and pleasant music and company by the Hotel Rio's pool area. Tomorrow starts bright and early with sessions at 8am, and Cemetech will be bringing you the full story right here. If best comes to best, we may even be able to answer a few select nagging questions about the present and future of TI technology, so keep an eye right here.
T^3 2014 Kicks off With Mujica, Balyta, November in Vegas
Published by KermMartian on March 7, 2014 at 12:30:06 PM CST | Discuss this article (1)
This morning marks the beginning of Texas Instruments' T^3 ("T cubed") 2014 International Conference in the cool dry sunny desert morning. Aside from the long line at the Starbucks to assuage our caffeine requirements, the focus of the welcome session has been words from TI and from the keynote speaker. We first heard from Gayle Mujica, the Directory of Marketing at TI Education (who also pointed out that my TI-Nspire lapel pin had inverted itself). She welcomed us to the conference and discussed a few logistical details, then handed over the stage to Peter Balyta, the new President of TI Education. Dr. Balyta spoke about TI and its goals with technology in the classroom, highlighting products like the TI-Nspire, TI-84+CSE, and TI-Navigator as well as development projects such as STEM Behind Hollywood. He spoke about the TI-Nspire as a "complete integrated learning environment", speaking of the combination of tools available on the calculator and professional development tools, activities, and resources available to teachers. He described the TI-84+CSE as bringing the pedagogical advantages of color screens to classrooms that use the TI-84+ series. He mentioned the much-touted Common Core, and assured the teachers present that TI is putting effort into supporting it and the variety of new standards being produced, including through the new TICommonCore.com. At the end of his remarks, Dr. Balyta handed over the stage to Dr. November, the keynote speaker.
Dr. Alan November is a well-known proponent of educational technology and of improving teaching and learning in the classroom. He gave an entertaining yet fascinating talk about some of his experiences trying to figure out how to get students more engaged in the classroom. He began with a few polls for the audience: who works the hardest in the classroom, and who needs to work harder: teachers, students, or both? The audience overwhelmingly voted that teachers work the hardest, and either both or students need to work harder. One of the focuses of his talk was how students could play a role in teaching other kids; in his words, "[w]e have underestimated the contribution of kids to the learning ecology of other kids". He mentioned numerous anecdotal examples of students participating in the class in new ways, from creating tutorials for other students that engage them better to making each student the expert in one lesson for the other students to turn to for help. Dr. November was a very engaging speaker, and a great start to the conference.
We enjoyed the words from all three speakers, and we'll be covering the whole conference here on Cemetech, from the huge common sessions with hundreds of attendees to the small plenary sessions. Keep your eyes on Cemetech!
From left to right: Gayle Mujica, Dr. Peter Balyta, and Dr. Alan November
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