Category Archives: RMHS

Google Presentation for Unattended Slideshows

Tech Tips for Tuesday

You can use Google Presentation for kiosk applications. Last week, I used it to post my final-exam rules in a constant rotationthrough the entire period.

Just build the presentation in Google Drive, and then use thePublish to Web… option on the File menu. The dialog box lets you select options such as automatic start, automatic restart, and time delay between slides.

I wanted a twelve-second delay, but that isn’t offered in the drop-down field. I found you can just change this in the URL. It’s coded as milliseconds, so I changed the 10000 at the end to 12000.

Here’s the URL I used on my projector screen all day Friday:


Review: Desmos

Desmos is a powerful online graphing calculator available on all current platforms. There is a good Quick Start guide:

Desmos is integrated somewhat with Google Drive. “Integrated somewhat”? The third-party Chrome apps are generally not integrated as invisibly as the built-in apps (Docs, Spreadsheet, Presentation, etc.). In the case of Desmos, the integration looks like this:

  1. Desmos appears as an option when you use the Create option in Google Drive; however, a blank Desmos graph then appears, with nothing created in Drive.
  2. If you want to save anything from Desmos, you need to log in. Desmos lets you log in with your Google account.
  3. You can save a graph you’re working on, but it isn’t saved to Drive by default. (It’s saved in a special set of Desmos files, somewhere in the cloud, associated with your Desmos account.)
  4. If you choose to save a Desmos graph to Google Drive, it is saved there as a PDF. You can print this PDF, but you can’t open it and make changes to it, or use it interactively.

The assignment

I wanted to immerse my Algebra 2 students in graphing parabolas. (This topic is directly addressed in the CCSS standard CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-IF.C.7a.) I had them graph some simple examples on paper using a few sample points. They were required to label the vertex and the axis of symmetry. They then took pictures of their work using the built-in camera on the Chromebooks; they pasted these photos into a Google Document.

I reviewed their work, leaving comments in the document itself. The next day, they used Desmos to graph the same parabola. They were required to paste the Desmos image into the document, after labeling the vertex and axis of symmetry. I moved their final documents into a read-only folder and added a final comment with their overall rubric-based grade.

Working with Desmos in Google Drive

Each application (non-Google and Google) has a slightly different way of handling exports and imports. Once you’re logged in to Desmos, a Share Graph button appears in the toolbar at the top. There are four different export options, three for sharing the interactive graph itself (using a short URL) and one for sharing an image.

I asked my students to export the image. It then appears in the Downloads folder in the Files app. In their original document, they then used Insert Image | Upload to select the image from Downloads.

Desmos does not provide a way to add text to a graph, so the students were left to figure out for themselves how to do this. I envisioned them using Google Drawing, and most students did this, “crowd-sourcing” the solution. They pulled the PNG file created by Desmos in their Documents folder into Drawing, added the text, saved the Drawing, and imported that into their Google Document (using the web clipboard). A few used the third-party app Pixl Editor for its greater capabilities.

The screenshot below demonstrates my commentary, the graph itself (annotated by the student), and a file-naming convention.

Screenshot 2014-01-02 at 8


Saving Work from your Document Camera

Tech Tips for Tuesday

You’re sharing a piece of beautiful student work with the class using your fancy document camera. The student is so proud that he or she would like to get a digital copy. You left your smartphone in your other wallet.

What do you do??

Do you have an old SD card from a digital camera that you’re no longer using? Keep it in the document camera, and snap photos there. The Freeze button on our document cameras has two functions: temporarily freezing the image AND storing the image to an SD card. Hold the Freeze button down for a few seconds until the camera icon appears on the screen. You then have a file on the SD card, which you can recover by popping the card back into your digital camera.


Calling home (semi-)anonymously

We all call home. It’s handy to do it from school, where inbound calls are filtered and blocked after hours.

But how do you call parents when you’re not at school? Do you want your personal phone number visible on parents’ phones, where parents can store it and call you back later at all hours, and where students can see it and use it later for nefarious purposes?

The best solution I’ve found is Google Voice. You sign up and are assigned a local phone number. You link this phone number to your own. You can now place calls to parents which will appear to come from the number assigned to you by Google Voice.

To a user, the experience goes like this: Enter the phone number you want to call into the web interface in Google Voice. The system then calls your phone; once you’re connected it calls the other party’s phone. To them it appears to be a regular phone call.

Google Voice comes with a ton of cool features, including voice mail, transcribed voice mail, text messaging, conference calling, and more. Explore the features here.

Be aware that although Google isn’t charging for this service, it isn’t exactly free. Of course, they collect all kinds of data as we use this. 


Homework stamping

My homework process:

  1. Students do homework in spiral notebook, Cornell Notes formatted, right-hand pages only.
  2. I check and stamp homework each morning, usually at the very beginning of class. A stamp goes on the homework and the homework log. (See link.)
  3. I record homework each Friday.

At each desk, I’m looking for both the log (colored paper) and the homework to be visible as I arrive at the desk. I glance at the homework for apparent content, including assignment, name/date/period, Cornell questions and summary, boxed answers. Each visit generally takes less than 10 seconds, especially with an assistant operating the stamp.

Homework log


Supplies (non-digital)

What do you want?

I want:

  • Paper, including colored paper
  • Protractors, compasses, rulers
  • Cheap scientific calculators
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Other cleaning supplies
  • EXPO markers
  • Wire baskets for papers
  • Cubby/pigeonholes for paper distribution
  • Bookshelf
  • Three-ring binders
  • Laser pointer
  • Laser printer
  • Whiteboard geometry supplies, including compass and protractor
  • Origami paper
  • Patty paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Glue Sticks
  • Post-Its
  • Stapler and staples
  • Paperclips
  • Tape dispenser and tape
  • Three-hole punch
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Easel and sheets of easel-size paper
  • Paper trimmer
  • Clipboard

Department services

Can we commit to services the department as a whole will provide?

  • CAHSEE prep in all math & science classrooms throughout the year (five minutes a week or a day).
  • CAHSEE bootcamp in the beginning of second semester.
  • MDTP during the first week, to identify at-risk math students, resulting in remediation.
  • A posted tutoring schedule for all math teachers (and all math students).

Department guidelines

Some things to think about, for guidelines or expectations: what do we expect from all the RMHS math students?

  • In final answers, fractions are simplified.
  • Rounding, when implied or specified, is the last step.
  • Units are always included.
  • To solve equations, work down one equation at a time, with equal signs vertically stacked. Do not mix arithmetic into this sequence. (E.g., putting long division right in the middle of the series of equivalent equations.)
  • Use equal signs to show that two expressions are equivalent, not to mean “and here comes my next step.”

What tools could we tell them to bring?

  • Two sharp pencils.
  • One dark-ink pen.
  • Lined paper.

What skills?

  • Multiplication facts (up to 12×12).
  • Addition and subtraction facts.
  • Memorize perfect squares up to 202.
  • Memorize perfect cubes up to 103.
  • Know how to multiply and divide by powers of ten.

Algebra 1 paths

I notice in the course offerings two important items:

  • We are not offering Integrated Math.
  • We are offering an Algebra 1 Strategic class.

The Strategic class requires concurrent enrollment in Algebra 1 and is determined by low CST results. Is this then only for repeaters? (In other words, it’s not for freshman Algebra 1 students who did bad in 8th grade.)

Do we have a plan for the students who marginally pass Algebra 1 as freshmen? It looks as if they go into Geometry, followed by Algebra 1. So we’ll have students in Algebra II CP have gotten a D- in Algebra 1 and another D- in Geometry.

Any alternatives to this? Is this an individual decision, made in the Counseling office?

Course Catalog

Assigning higher-level classes

We’ll be adding Calculus, Pre-Calculus, and Statistics over the next couple years. Who will get those? Will they go to us, the first crew? Or will we keep our current assignments, and we’ll bring in new hires to pick up the higher-level classes?

Will the department get an opportunity to contribute our thoughts to this process?

When will Chris and Ken create this year’s master schedule?