After 30+ years in the high-tech software field, I left that world to become a
6th grade math teacher, and after two years in the classroom, I totally love
it. My focus in the business world was using technology to solve customer's
real-world problems, as well as using it to help us run our company. I learned
that using technology is easy, but using it well is a real challengeone that
requires creativity and clear objectives. When done best, technology-based
solutions bring new insight, illuminate concepts and issues, and provide a
deeper understanding of one's world.
Needless to say, as a new teacher, I quickly discovered that blackboards,
overhead projectors, and even graphing calculators and various manipulatives
had their limitations. In business and industry, information is almost always
communicated to an assembled group using presentation software. Most
ubiquitous is Microsoft's PowerPoint. I've used it for many years in all sorts
of settings and found it an exemplary tool. But like all tools, it can be used
both well and poorly. Unfortunately, the latter is often the case. A
particularly effective PowerPoint presentation is always memorable, because
they're not the norm.
So, my passion is to use PowerPoint to teach mathematics effectively. I don't
want simply an electronic overhead projector. My goal is to use the
capabilities of this technology to present concepts, methods, relationships,
and solutions in ways that enhance understanding and mastery. Features such as
color, animation, sound, video, and selective branching equip the lesson
planner with a powerful set of tools for innovation and ingenuity.
During ToolFest, I plan to develop a series of PowerPoint-based lessons that
will showcase how its features can be used most effectively in teaching
mathematics. I'm open to suggestions from all participants on particular math
concepts to tackle.