Tag Archives: technology

Obfuscatory elucidation

What is it about this email that kept me irritated all night? Something more than the verbosity, I’m sure.

This is from one of my 8th graders who always needs to be the exception:

  • I shouldn’t have to re-take the test because I just made dumb little errors.
  • Sorry I’m late (for the 10th time this semester). Can you check my homework now?
  • Can I turn in the assignment late since we had to drive to San Diego over the weekend?

In this latest example, it’s “can I use different software since my computer plus my browser won’t do what you’re asking?” (For the record, every one of my Internet assignments includes the warning, “Do this wherever you can. If your system at home isn’t working, use the one at the school library/your friend’s house/my classroom.”)

It seems to me that my server or browser is of the “lesser-compatible side of the scale” next to the lucidcharts system. I believe that the creator(s) are aware of the software’s slow-speed and inability for Internet explorer, thus I have taken notice to a window in the top left corner of the screen advertising to “run lucidcharts 20% faster”. Most, if not all of these options are highly unlikely to take effect on my computer, due to recent computer crashes from foreign software (my father had grown rather cautious, thus he is reluctant to install unknown software onto our desktops.) With your permission, I would think it more efficient to create a powerpoint “lucidchart” and to email you the file link early tomorrow as my rough-draft, rather than use the lucid chart system. The final item of business that I am uncertain of is the time the file must be emailed by. Must it be emailed by late tonight, or by early tomorrow morning? Either way makes no difference to me, because it will be done by then.

Also, I think that I should raise the fact that I need to take my chapter test, as well as retake a few quizzes that might help my grade. I figured I would do these tasks after school at the high school, with your convenience and permission. As the last item of work to be brought up, I never requested you to stamp the homework I did over my absence. Would it be possible to receive full credit for completing it, even though it wasn’t stamped right away?

Thank You.

I think this warrants the direct approach: “Little Johnny, as you go through life, you’ll find people don’t appreciate this. You may have noticed that I don’t appreciate this. This will be the last exception I make for you.”


LucidChart: Take a difficult concept, and make it better

Can’t wait to assign this to the Algebra 2 kids so they can develop flowcharts to explain how to simplify radical expressions.

Cell Phones for Learning


The cell phone debate rages in classrooms, staff lounges and kitchens around the world: How can we keep these devices of the devil from derailing learning? Cell phones have the power to disrupt a classroom in many ways: students forget to turn them off and they ring in class, students use them for sending and receiving text messages (whose content may be innocuous and social or may sometimes be more serious, such as personal threats or drug deals), they get stolen or lost and instruction time is lost to their retrieval.

Literature Review

A review of the literature reveals two sides to the discussion. On the first side are the people who reluctantly admit that campus security requires that students have cell phones with them turned off and inactive except in emergencies. Opposing this view are the people who believe cell phones should be embraced as classroom tools that can engage and motivate students better than traditional methods and tools.

Historically, as cell phones became smaller, cheaper and more commonplace over the last 15 years, phones were clearly disruptive in the classroom and had no redeeming value; schools throughout the country banned them outright. After the events of Columbine and 9/11, Beth Lynne points out in her essay “Cell Phones and the Classroom: Schools and Parents Should Adopt Clear Policies to Benefit All,” parents and students began to push for more moderate policies, recognizing the safety benefits of having personal devices for instant communication (Lynne, 2007). However, the school districts’ limited acceptance of cell phones in schools raised as many questions as it resolved. Lynne’s article enumerates a few of these:

  • Should students be able to call their parents during class and have them listen in on the teacher’s reprimands to the class?
  • Should camera phones be allowed?
  • Should students be required to leave phones at home during state-mandated testing (makes cheating easier)?
  • Have there really been emergencies in which a student’s cell phone has been the savior?

Collette Georgii (2007) recommends the simple step of checking in phones with the teacher on entrance to the classroom, the purpose of which is to minimize disruptions due to confiscation or students’ sneaking phone activity. Apparently, this is practical for her, with cell phones previously labeled with name, address and homeroom.

As some teachers have noticed, although we block YouTube and confiscate MP3 players, there is a lot of truly dangerous technology that we allow students to work with, including rulers, solvent-loaded markers, and pencils. In an essay in TechLearning.com, Wesley Fryer (2007) lists the rules we have developed over the years to accommodate having scissors in the classroom:

“No one (regardless of age) is permitted to run with scissors. Use of scissors to threaten or injure others is not tolerated. We keep scissors available in our classrooms to use at need, but we recognize the menu of uses for that tool must be limited by the attitudes, language, and actions of multiple stakeholders in the educational learning culture, not merely the teacher of record in the classroom.”

Outside the U.S., restrictions against classroom cell-phone use have fallen; in fact, many countries have embraced the new technology, especially in the university setting (Chinnery, 2006). Pilot programs in Korea, New Zealand, Australia, China and Japan have used SMS (text messaging) for polling and, most commonly, for second-language learners.

In contrast to the American teachers and administrators who reflexively restrict cell-phone possession and use, many teachers have made themselves into cell-phone proselytes. One of these is Marc Prensky, who has built an entire industry (web site, online persona, consultancy, dozens of articles throughout the web) around his own personality of Web 2.0 expertise (Prensky, 2006). Among other cell-phone ideas, Prensky suggests poetry games, phone-in caption contests, and classes conducted only via text messaging.

Probably the queen of cell-phone proponents is Liz Kolb, a former classroom teacher, district technology coordinator and current university professor. In her one-hour presentation, “Cell Phones as Classroom Learning Tools” (2007), she makes the case that cell phones have the capability to become the “Swiss Army Knife” of technological tools for the 21st-century classroom. Among the many creative cell-phone applications Kolb discusses on her blog, are the following:

  • “buzzers” (as used in classroom performance systems such as Qwizdom) where individual students or teams text messages to a special email account set up by the teacher;
  • cameras to be used in scavenger hunts (especially over winter and spring breaks);
  • clients for Powerpoint presentations;
  • mini-recording studios for oral history and other audio projects;
  • instant recording and upload devices for video projects (in conjunction with free video-storage sites such as YouTube and Eyespot.

Position Statement

Kolb’s enthusiasm and creativity is infectious. Her presentation takes viewers through many examples of integrated cell-phone use, in full detail. I was able to set up and use a free account at Gabcast in less than five minutes; I then called an 800 number from my cell phone and recorded an “episode” on Gabcast that was automatically published with a simple URL. She even addresses what you would do when you have a classroom with less than 100% cell phone ownership (give group assignments) and makes suggestions about minimizing families’ costs for cell phone use.

Unfortunately, Kolb doesn’t address two huge issues:

  • How will you get administration buy-in for in-classroom cell phone use?
  • With students using cell phones in the classroom, how can you keep them on the assignment, vs. playing around?

I suspect, the first issue would be simpler to address. You could begin by integrating cell phone assignments into your plans where phone use is only outside the classroom and work your way toward in-class use. When you’re ready to use phones in the classroom, you could either not mention the cell-phone use to the administration or fully document past use and your upcoming plans, overwhelming the administration with your massive organizational skills.

Regarding the second issue, how do we keep students on task currently? Whatever the system is, we know it’s imperfect: students continue to pass notes, throw paper airplanes, chat with each other, and … yes, even discreetly use cell phones for texting.


Chinnery, G. (2007). EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES. Going to the MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning. Language Learning & Technology. 10(1). 9-16.

Freyer, W. (2007). Scissors and Cell Phones. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://21centuryconnections.com/node/262.

Georgii, C. (2007). Teacher tips: How to deal with student cell phones in the classroom. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://www.helium.com/tm/699852/dealing-student-phones-classroomcell.

Lynne, B. (2007). Cell Phones and the Classroom. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://teachingtechnology.suite101.com/article.cfm/cell_phones_and_the_classroom.

Kolb, L. (2007). Teen Content Creators and Consumers. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://k12online.wm.edu/K12_Kolb_Cell.mov.

Kolb, L. (2007). From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Schools. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://toytotool.blogspot.com/.

Prensky, M. (2006). Using Cell Phones in School for Learning. Retrieved December 2, 2007, from http://www.marcprensky.com/blog/archives/000043.html.


Podcasting for Learning


Educators spend time and energy seeking ways to engage students in lesson content. Collaborative activities, connecting with prior knowledge, relevant applications, extrinsic rewards: all are designed to get students engaged.

Teenagers in 2007 are engaged in the Internet, both as consumers (of web sites, downloadable music and video, email, etc.) and as producers (of social-networking sites, and of classic web pages for themselves and various organizations they may interact with). An obvious way to get students involved in the material they are meant to learn is to use the Internet.

Literature Review

The literature about student involvement with the Internet is extensive and growing rapidly.

A 2004 survey (Lenhart & Madden, 2005) of over 1,000 teenagers distributed throughout the United States found that teens, in addition to being obsessive and savvy content consumers, were also regular creators of content, including traditional web pages and blogs. ”Fully half of all teens and 57% of teens who use the internet,” say the authors, “could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations.”

The imaginative and broad collection Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents’ Lives (Alvermann, 2006) persuasively describes teens’ interactions with the Internet and other new media as brand-new ways of relating to information: “Adolescents, along with the larger population, are developing new literacies in order to negotiate their media worlds.”

Beyond surveys and academic analysis, stories abound of students who learn better and learn more deeply through creation of digital content. The California Teachers Association newsletter California Educator (Posnick-Goodwin, 2007) lists successes from classrooms of all grade levels. High school podcasting classes are about “helping students research information, create quality presentations and polish their public-speaking skills during narration.”

McQuillan (2006) provides an excellent review of the many ways podcasting can be used educationally for language acquisition. Although the document focuses on iPods and iTunes and is published by Apple, it really describes the general technology of podcasting. The paper lists the technological features of the medium that make it new and powerful for consumers: ability for the listener to slow speech to any level (even without changing pitch), random access within any recording, simultaneous access while “multi-tasking,” and optional pictures and video. In addition to these features that enhance the experience for the consumer, students can learn through content creation, including making their own recordings of native speakers as well as developing presentations (audio-only or image-enhanced).

The lazy high-school teachers among us will find many comfortable excuses not to podcast: “Most of my students have no Internet access at home.” (That is, they will never see the podcast content we develop.) “None of my students have the interest or skills to create podcasts.” “Students aren’t allowed to have iPods on campus.”

Eric Langhorst, an 8th-grade history teacher in Missouri, relates stories that make me wonder (Langhorst, 2007). He describes using teacher-created podcast content to support struggling readers, to connect students and book authors, and to provide summary information before unit tests. He provides non-connected students with CDs. (I think it might be simpler to configure a classroom PC to be a secure download station.) It seems likely that the pressure (on districts) provided by stories like these will eventually eliminate many rules against campus iPod persence.

Position Statement

Those of us who work with teens know well that their daily after-school activities – in addition to the traditional sports, homework, and family time – now include many hours of Internet use, and the Internet hours are diverse and often creative. Students are not just crashing in front of YouTube or just updating their MySpace pages or just downloading music, anymore than students of an earlier generation might have watched only Channel 5 all night. Instead they are moving around between tasks and destinations, and they are multitasking: downloading while updating their MySpace page and watching YouTube videos. This demonstrates an extraordinary level of comfort with the Internet and a level of engagement with the medium that all teachers strive for in their classrooms.

Obviously, we need to consider the Internet, especially as an opportunity for creation, in all of our lesson plans. Our assignments need to include development of web pages, podcasts, and other new digital content in our short- and long-term assignments. We need to actively seek to replace the old methods, which have ceased to be practical, with modern means. Podcasting is one of these.


Alvermann (2006). Reconceptualizing the Literacies in Adolescents’ Lives, Second Edition. New Jersey: Routledge.

Langhorst, E. (2007). After the Bell, Beyond the Walls. Electronic Leadership. 64(8). 74-77.

Lenhart, A., & Madden, M. (2005). Teen Content Creators and Consumers. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project.

McQuillan, J. (2006). iPod in education: The potential for language acquisition. Retrieved October 28, 2007, from http://e2t2.binghamton.edu/pdfs/iPod_Lang_Acquisition_whitepaper.pdf.

Posnick-Goodwin, S. (2007). The Information Age: Teaching and Learning on the Cutting Edge. Retrieved October 28, 2007, from http://www.cta.org/media/publications/educator/archives/2007/0907_feat_01.htm.


Problem-Based Learning Environments

I’m convinced kids will play with numbers and many other math concepts if you can just trick them into it.

I was astonished one morning this year to see one of my most reluctant learners approach another student, just before the tardy bell, and begin a little interactive “number trick” with him: “Pick any number between 1 and 10.  Add 2.  Multiply by 5…..”  He had a new toy to share, and he wanted to share it for several reasons:

  1. It amused him, and he thought it would amuse his classmate.
  2. Nobody was making him.

I felt like the worst teacher in the world when I interrupted their math discussion and asked them to take their seats so we could begin math class.

I know one day of intrinsically motivated math discussion, properly guided, is worth two weeks of painful lecture.  So, how can we trick them?

My proposed Problem-Based Learning Environment is a video game.  Students have missions.  To accomplish their missions, they must use the right mix of problem-solving, arithmetic, and familiar common-sense decision-making.

Problems appear as missions, plausible, and surprising, like some kind of weekly rescue-team/detective TV show.  (See “Numbers” on CBS on Fridays.)  There are always more missions, with a revolving core group of characters (good and bad) to interact with, and their content is of course based on the student’s level of proficiency in prior concepts.

The game is current and hip – not funky like a six-year-old educational game.  It has modern graphics and sounds, along with slightly edgy themes.  There might even be some threatening aliens to avoid, to provide a sense of urgency.

To help students accomplish missions, there is a set of tools: formulas, algorithms, identification challenges.  All of these are integrated within the game premise and are only named once mastered.  Once introduced and explored, these tools can (and will) be reused in later missions.

I’m extremely excited about the Algebra 1 concepts covered cleverly in the online games by Tabula Digita (see http://www.dimensionm.com and http://www.tabuladigita.com/).  Students accomplish missions set on a coordinate plane – disguised as an alien landscape – and are even occasionally asked for “coordinates” of their location.  (It doesn’t sound like math this time.  It sounds like science fiction!)  This software is very similar too the ideal software I’ve described here.

Would You Try Harder to Memorize the Slope Formula If Your Life Depended On It?

“A bio-digital virus has been released on a remote island and threatens to infect the world’s eco-system and destroy mankind. As Kep, Commander of a special ops team sent to secure the island, you must locate four weather stations.”

What teen-ager could resist such a backstory?  The world built around this premise is DimensionM, a first-person, 3-D video game similar to the hugely popular Quake and Doom.  As in those games, you run over alien landscapes and shoot at bad guys, who in this case are cephalopod-like creatures that hover in the air.  Even more current than those classics, DimensionM features eerie, post-modern graphic design, from its 70% transparent control panels to its hazy mists and dingy machinery.

Unlike standard first-person shooters, however, DimensionM, developed and produced by Tabula Digita, Inc., in New York, has an agenda, revealed when you continue reading the backstory:  “[You are] given an ordered pair and shown [your] location in a coordinate system….”

Disguised as useless fun, DimensionM is actually an educational game.  It was designed from the ground up by educators with the latest research, built for serious use by classroom teachers.  Students play the game by taking on missions, moving over and interacting with a Cartesian landscape of axes and coordinates.  Occasional transmissions from headquarters require you to report your location, forcing students to live in the coordinate plane.  And sometimes you even die in the coordinate plane, when your special bio-suit disappears and you crumple to the ground.  Who would have expected such risks in an educational game?  Hence the tag line: “Learn Math or Die Trying”

Will students work on an educational game which is transparently educational?  That’s what Mexican academics Gabriel Lopez-Morteo and Gilberto López counted on when they developed their “electronic collaborative learning environment.”  The system is a portal comprising “portlets” (portal elements), their word for open-source objects such as Jabber (chat rooms and instant messaging) and email clients; a collection of these, along with custom math objects (called “Interactive Instructors of Recreational Mathematics”), is available for the individual to install and customize on his or her own page.  The inventors of this system have tested it and reported their results, which they claim (the data actually look ambiguous to me) support their belief that “this approach has the potential to promote the mathematics learning process, basically on its motivational aspects.”

Is this overkill?  What about using the classic “help Mario find his way to the secret treasure” approach, where the story is minimal but accessible through its commonness?  Creative simulations such as SimCalc Math Worlds provide involvement with little commitment. Math Worlds uses a fish-vs.-fisherman story  to explore the difficult concepts of slope and rates, in the context of functions.  Students drag objects on a coordinate plane to change the story’s parameters, and then click the Start button to see how their fish behave.  Although the story isn’t fully fleshed out – are the fish trying to avoid the fisherman’s hook?  is the fisherman even aware of the fish? – the interface is flexible and invites experimentation.

One of the most creative uses of technology to study math is one built for the student with musical intelligence.  The Harmonic Series Rhythm Player, developed by the Center for Technology and Teacher Education, University of Virginia, is part of a suite of math-oriented simulations that allows users to set up rhythms and polyrhythms by choosing numbers from a variety of series (Fibonacci, odd numbers, natural numbers, …) and hear them played on a simulated xylophone.  Each rhythm is assigned a different pitch, allowing the listener to easily distinguish the overlaid patterns.  If you want to hear quarter notes with eight notes laid on top, choose 8 and 16 and click Play.  (The buttons below 5 do not produce sounds reliably.)  To add triplets to this, choose the 12 button.  You can easily explore such difficult combinations as 17 against 8 with this program.  Although there are a few bugs in this Flash program, there is plenty of valuable opportunity too.

When they’re motivated (end of week, end of year, winter break), kids will fight for every classroom point.  Wouldn’t it be an obvious good idea to turn this into a game?  Especially in a math class, you can make the crucial concepts of ratios and fractions personal.  This is only possible if there is near-instantaneous feedback on their grades.  I’ve been working toward shorter latency on grade feedback, with the (probably distant, probably dependent on handheld technology, at least for the teacer) goal being direct display of the day’s results along with the current overall semester score on the LCD.  Students are happy to share their lives on My Space, and they willingly share their rankings in various online games, so wouldn’t it be natural for them to compare each other’s scores in an algebra class?  Possibly not.  The students who are naturally competitive or at the top of the class would be happy to compete, but students who have a bad test day or miss a week of school for illness might not be comfortable having their status exposed publicly.  Maybe only the assessments that are primarily based on effort – worksheets and other classwork, for example – would be exposed like this, and only with a well thought-out and fair make-up policy.  In fact, it might be fair and productive to extend this game out beyond the classroom so that students could “play” at home or at the school library – earning points for successfully completing exercises.


1. Dimenxian Algebra. Tabula Digita, Inc., New York (2007).

2. Lopez-Morteo, G., and López, G. (2004). Computer support for learning mathematics: A learning environment based on recreational learning objects. Computers & Education, 48(4), 618-641

3. SimCalc Math Worlds, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (2005).

4. The Harmonic Series Rhythm Player, Center for Technology and Teacher Education, Charlottesville, VA (2005).

Review: “Computer support for learning mathematics: A learning environment based on recreational learning objects”

In this era of ubiquitous Internet access, cell phones, PDAs and other digital technologies, today’s teachers face a time-honored dilemma: students who won’t think in school and who avoid homework will spend all their free time on something recreational yet mentally challenging, especially Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). If we could only find an activity which motivated the kids to work as hard on learning as they do on playing!

The authors of the paper “Computer support for learning mathematics: A learning environment based on recreational learning objects” may be on to something. They describe an “electronic collaborative learning environment” and report on its power to motivate high-school math students.

The environment Lopez-Morteo and Gilberto López have built is essentially a portal populated by “portlets” (portal elements), their word for open-source objects such as Jabber (chat rooms and instant messaging) and email clients. In addition to these familiar objects, there are math objects called “Interactive Instructors of Recreational Mathematics” (IIRM). These include games, simulations and other applications, designed to encourage student involvement through problem solving.

Students log into the system and can customize the appearance and contents of their environments – exactly as users of MySpace or other social networking sites might. The authors describe a specific math object, a memory game built in Java called “ArithMem.”

Having established a full-featured environment, the authors tested its ability to motivate math students. Groups of students logged onto the system, watched a lesson presented by the teacher, and then used the interactive elements of the system (programs, spreadsheets, animations) freely. Students then filled out a survey about their attitudes toward mathematics.

Although the authors seemed satisfied with the results, I did not see any convincing statistical evidence that the environment served its primary goal: to motivate students to learn math. Rather than overwhelming evidence collected in the survey, the authors provided opinion and a few weak statistics to support this claim, along with anecdotes to back it up. Nevertheless, I would probably use such a system if I had access to a computer lab for a year and a set of classes with which to try it.


1. Lopez-Morteo, G., and López, G. (2004). Computer support for learning mathematics: A learning environment based on recreational learning objects. Computers & Education, 48(4), 618-641.

Report: Online Discussion Participation (Online Learning)

Due to technical difficulties, we jumped at the last minute into the Moodle chat system provided by the Office of Distributed Learning.  I was amazed at how quickly this was accomplished.

We spent a couple minutes finding our way – changing our profiles and avatars – and then followed the directions of [the professor] to begin sharing and discussing our real-world experiences with online learning systems.  This included defining “online learning system” and anecdotes about Blackboard and WebCT, two major players who recently merged.  We briefly touched on some tools for secondary-school teachers.

The conversation drifted into equity and access issues regarding public-school students and the Internet.  This thread also sputtered out quickly.

When [the professor] directed us to discuss Chapter 7 in the Jonassen book, we touched on a few experiences with quest- or task-oriented software.  There was a consensus that you could get kids to do all kinds of diligent problem-solving (the kind of productive activity we want them doing) if you trick them into it through games and other computer opportunities.

I found this discussion surprisingly scattered and superficial.  To some extent, participants made an obvious effort to name the person they were replying to or questioning, but careless interleaving of conversation threads continued as if we hadn’t discussed it during the last meeting.  I get the impression there are typists who watch themselves type and then hit Enter without checking to see if the time is right to actually send the drafted comment.  This was in spite of the instructor’s comment early on that we could draft our comments in Word and then copy/paste them into the chat program. (I’m not commenting on anyone’s technical skills as a typist, just on their decisions when to send their work into the stream of discussion.)

Technology skill: more Flash

I’ve had to modify my plans a bit. I’m working as I can, learning to use various features and components, prioritized for simplicity.

I’m learning a lot about what Flash is made of. I build a Cartesian plane, and a couple dots and a line, and then I wrote some ActionScript to build the dots and the line on startup. I originally built the Cartesian plane from lines in Flash, but I got the impression I was adding a lot of data (stored and loaded each time), so I made a GIF image instead and inserted that in a layer in Flash.

So then I lost the ability to draw the objects. I haven’t figured that out.

In the mean time, I’ve put some controls on the screen, along with some static and dynamic text. I wrote the first chunk of code. Now you can select your X1, X2, Y1 and Y2 values, and the application computes and displays the slope. You can see the Cartesian plane, but no lines or dots.

I don’t think I need all the buttons I originally proposed because I think once I get the line and dots re-drawing and finish the output (slope-dependent line color, equations of lines), I’ll have a nice useable application at a good stopping point.

I’ve exported this version as an SWF file.

This Windows server remains flakey. I’m shopping for a new home.




Technology skill: Flash

Because it can be delivered from any web page (regardless of O/S or web server) to nearly any client (regardless of O/S or browser), and has powerful interactivity and animation features, Macromedia Flash has become ubiquitous on the web.  I have mastered HTML, JavaScript and PHP (as well as several other server-side programming languages) and am comfortable with CSS and Fireworks.  However, I have only dabbled in Flash and have always felt this was a skill missing from my résumé.

As luck would have it, while I have an immediate need (for this class) to develop a rudimentary Flash application using ActionScript, I also find myself at the tail end of an algebra class where my students are still not comfortable with the concept of slope.

I propose to develop an application from demonstrating Flash.  The user will be able to manipulate on-screen elements and see numbers react, or vice versa.  I need to have this complete within the next two weeks in order for my students to make use of it.

The application will have the following features:

  1. Cartesian plane as a work area,
  2. A line, randomly placed on the plane when the application starts, and featuring two points.
  3. Display windows showing coordinates of each point, slope of the line, equation of the line in all three primary forms,
  4. Buttons: New Line, Flip Horizontally, Flip Vertically,
  5. Interactivity (points moveable by user, line moveable by user),
  6. Feedback (color of line changes depending on slope).

This project will require use of the graphical tools (and their object-oriented features) in Flash, as well as ActionScript.  Within the time I have, I expect to complete Features #1-3 and the first button by May 20 (in time to review for our Slope test) with other features added by the end of the quarter.