Back in April 2009, a colleague of mine told me about the Livescribe Pulse smartpen. Although she teaches English, she had been keeping an eye out for me to find some sort of technology that would allow me to write out math problems for my students quickly and easily.
I went and looked at the smartpen online and was immediately excited about all the possibilities running through my head! I told my husband about the pen and how amazing it seemed, and he and my boys bought me one for Mother’s day! (Can’t wait to see what I get this year!) That was the best gift they could have given me! I have used it almost every day since then.
It started off slowly, just using the pen to answer my student’s math questions when they would email me about something from the homework. I would write out their answer and send them the link, all in just a matter of minutes. It was MUCH more effective than trying to type out a response in an email to them!
Then I had an idea – wouldn’t it be great to use it to TEACH a lesson outside of class. My college was starting up a Hybrid program and so I asked if I could jump on board.
This past fall I started teaching my Algebra classes as Hybrids. In my case, this meant that instead of meeting face to face 5 days a week, we would meet 4 days a week and then one day a week my lesson would be online. It also meant that all homework and quizzes would be online, which allowed students to email me screenshots of their homework questions – a great addition to being able to help them outside of class!
I created a website to house all of my online materials, including my syllabus and a class calendar. I show the students what is expected of them each day in a weekly online calendar, which includes a link to the online module every Tuesday.
I then went about starting to create online lessons, or “modules” for my students to view on the one online day each week. Each module, or lesson, would contain anywhere from 5 – 10 examples that I would have normally done that day in a face-to-face classroom.
Here is a link to an entire weekly module to see how the problems all fit in one lesson.
I am now in my second semester of teaching my Algebra classes as Hybrids. The students seem to really love having one day a week to learn from home, as I ease them into the online learning environment. I really enjoy having an entire day each week where I don’t have a set schedule. I spend that day creating my online lesson for the following week.
This has been just the beginning of my teaching adventure with my Livescribe Pulse smartpen. Come join me on this incredible journey of finding ways to use technology to enhance teaching and learning! The Livescribe Pulse smartpen has certainly been a wonderful asset for me to be able to help my students in more ways than I ever could have imagined!