Posts Tagged ‘Office 2007’

I have touched on the idea of using Poetry in Physics on my blog post My top five list of features in Office 2007!, but this looks at the issue in more depth and it was a must to write it just one day before the National Poetry Day.

October the 7th will be the National Poetry Day and people across the UK will celebrate poetry. What better way to celebrate than getting your students to engage in Poetry in ways and areas they might have never thought possible?

Last year I used the Math Add-in for Word 2007 to create graphs of the Photoelectric Effect and then asked, in the same worksheet, my pupils to put in rhymes what the graph meant and how it explained the Photoelectric Effect. Obviously, it would have been unfair to ask them to do Poetry and coward away from it myself, so I created the instructions for their task as a poem too (a pretty bad, but maybe not so bad for an Italian with English as a second language). The results were quite remarkable and I was pleasantly surprised to see such good Physics in their explanations and such nice rhymes too.

Here is the task I set for my students:

Equation and graph created with Math Add-in

The red line was added by one of the students in response to the second part of my rhymed instructions, see below.

If this is the Photoelectric equation,

Name its parts with some persuasion!

Kinetic energy, Planck’s constant and even work function

Which symbols and Greek letters go in conjunction?

At this point they had to list the symbols associated to the Photoelectric Effect equation. Then the task carried on:

Ok, you know your symbols and letters in Greek,

Another challenge lies ahead for you Geek!

The metal is swapped with one of work function much higher,

In red the new graph draw, if this knowledge you want to acquire!

Now, about this can you rhyme?

Don’t rush it and take your time

To have some fun and give it a go

And make your explanation flow.

And it doesn’t end there, because one of the best poems came from a student who was supposed to be Dyslexic! His poem is below.

The photoelectric effect is easy

UV light hits the metal causing it to become a little queasy

The metal releases a photoelectron without a fight

More electrons are released when the intensity is increased of the light

As long as the threshold frequency is met

The electrons would be emitted I bet

The threshold frequency for a given object

Is the minimum frequency needed for photoelectric emissions to collect

To escape the potential well

The electron must do a certain amount of work to excel

The work function can be defined

As the minimum work needed to remove an electron blind

That is all you need to know

about the photoelectric effect and potential well

When u hear of this effect

Just think how it could be in your subject

The students went on to merge the best parts of each poem created to form a rap that they then sang and recorded using SongSmith, which can be downloaded free of charge from all teachers on the Partners In Learning Network.

If you want to know more about the Math Add-in and how you could use it with your classes have a look at the Innovid I made below!

When I wrote the blog post on my top 5 list of features in Office 2007 I mentioned INK for Office 2007 as one of them and one of the reasons I like it so much is that you can use it in PowerPoint to create very nice mind maps that blend beautifully your own handwriting and powerful images that you can find on the internet. It is very important in the mind mapping process to have the freedom to write and draw on your map by hand and so expressing your creativity. That is why no mind mapping software has yet been able to substitute your hand in this highly effective and enjoyable activity, although iMindmap is very good and the closest to fully hand drawn mind map in my view!

Anyway, although drawing your own images is important in mind mapping, in a subject like Physics accuracy and clarity are also important. That is why using images that can be pasted on PowerPoint together with branches and words handwritten using INK (which you can find on the bottom left corner in presentation mode, or on the review ribbon, if you are using a Tablet PC) can be a very powerful tool. Well, pasting images from the internet can also save a lot of time and still make your mind map very beautiful and articulated.

I made the mind map in the above video to help my A-level Students to understand Magnetic Fields, but then it occurred to me that they would have probably been confused by it without an explanation of “my mind”. So, I decided to narrate the mind map to them! I did that in class, but I also recorded my explanation using Community Clips, so they could download it from our VLE and use it for revision any time they wanted (I would love to be able to say I can picture them with their earphones on the bus listening to my mind map on their iPods, but I can’t).

Anyway, that was the mind map and the idea was that they would have narrated the next mind map I made and the third one they would have both created and narrated. We had a very professional sounding narrator who would give a really hard time to any BBC presenter, but I didn’t think it would be fair on him to display his voice to the world without asking.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and listening to this post and that you will start using mind mapping with your classes too, if you haven’t already!

Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

A few weeks ago I introduced the E.M. Spectrum to my yr 10 classes (14-15 years old) by asking them to produce activities that we would broadcast on our very own online “TV” channel http://www.livestream.com/croesyphysics

Needless to say they were very excited by the idea, especially because they were given complete choice on the type of activities they could create, the groups they were working with and even the software they could use. So, we got activities ranging from News Reports and Revision Songs to Documentaries and Comics. The whole process was highly enjoyable for them, to the point that some pupils who normally would not be that interested in the subject and that would find it difficult to focus on the work given became those who were always working very hard at their project and even came back at lunch time several times to make sure they could complete the activity in time to be broadcast.

Our pupils used a range of sources of information to produce their activities. Many used the internet, but most also checked their facts on Science Textbooks and made sure that their content was both relevant to the AQA Specifications (our examination board) and scientifically sound!

As I mentioned above, all groups had complete choice on the software and format they were using. So, some groups used Photo Story 3 to record short documentary-like videos.Photo Story 3 is very easy to use and very intuitive. It basically lets you choose a sequence of photos and record an oral narration on each frame. Other groups used Songsmith to create lovely revision songs. If you are a teacher, you can download Songsmith free by joining the Partners in Learning NetworkSongsmith gives you a choice of musical bases and by singing to the software your voice is recorded and the base is turned into the melody you’ve created. You can then export your song in Movie Maker and add background images, text and effects, like our yr 10 pupils did.

One of the highlights of our show was the News Report created by our pupils using only PowerPoint 2007 and Movie Maker. Michael asked permission to ITV News to use their music and he then produced the most amazing PowerPoint presentation I have ever seen. In this presentation he included the videos created by the other Reporters in Movie Maker and it looked really professional, as well as containing really good Physics. I think the most powerful message we could get from work like this is that we don’t really need to spend thousands of pounds in highly expensive equipment, nor have a state on the art recording studio in our school, because what really makes the difference is the creativity and engagement of our pupils.

Some other groups used Community Clips to record their presentations directly from their computer screen. Community Clips is a very useful free tool from Microsoft Research that lets you record a video of whatever happens on your screen. You can also narrate what’s going on and your voice will be captured by Community Clips. A Good example of use of this software were the instructions made by our pupils on some useful websites for revision, towards the end of our show!

So, how did we broadcast? Well, we used a free software called Procaster that lets you broadcast live directly on your Livestream channel. But the great thing about Procaster, and what makes it stand out from any other free broadcasting tool, is that you can choose to show just your webcam view, your screen, or a lovely 2-D or even 3-D mix of the two. The result looks very professional and the quality and speed of streaming is also pretty impressive for a completely free service. Your Livestream channel is also free and there is the option to let your audience interact with the show and with each other via the chat built in the channel. You can also link the channel to your Facebook and Twitter to maximise advertising possibilities. Our E.M. Spectrum show went live on Thursday 17th December 2009 at 20.30 (U.K. time) but it’s now available on demand in our Croesy Physics Livestream channel. Please, watch it and have fun!

Croesy Physics Livestream Channel

Have you ever used live streaming software, or websites? What was your experience?

We had a very Special Viewer during our live broadcast, Les Foltos, the Director of edLAB
Puget Sound Center for Teaching
who commented: “Dude.  Really great.  Or as you said it, Bringing Physics to Life is Amazing.” Les also asked our pupils: “What is the benefit of sharing your work in this online show?” and this are some of their comments.

Michael: the benefits are that we are in control of our learning and the research that we did to produce the “TV show” allowed us to take everything in and understand all about what we were learning.

Niall: some of the benefits would be the new and great technologies and software and being able to watch the show on the internet.

Jess: the benefits are that your parents can see it and get involved with what you’re doing in school. Also, it was more fun knowing that lots of people can see it!

I have often wondered whether to use Office Live, or not! I tried it a couple of years ago with my Yr10 pupils and it just didn’t work for them. They would not upload stuff on the share workspace and some complained they couldn’t access the resources I uploaded, or could not log in. So, I gave up for a season, until a few months ago when I created a PowerPoint Template for my Yr 12 Students to use to create a massive mind map on various aspects of Quantum Phenomena and EM Radiation. I designed the template using PPTplex, a PowerPoint plug-in that allows you to view your slides as if they were part of a canvas. You can then use the buttons and scroll on your mouse to zoom in and out of each slide (see my previous blog about it)

The result was that each pupil in yr 12 was assigned a topic and turn that into a mind map on a single slide. Thanks to the zooming features of PPTplex there was no concern about the font size and students could, therefore, fit as much information as they wanted in their mind map. Each slide was a new central concept within a much larger mind map whose template I designed in the background view to include all the pupils’ slides and show how each topic linked with each other! This way they could all work at the same mind map presentation and that saved the hassle to have to collect all their work and paste it in a single presentation afterwards. In addition, it allowed the students to use the amazing features of Office 2007, like smart arts and PPTplex and create really nice and visual mind maps!

So, did it all work so smoothly? Well, we live in the real work! I already knew about the problem of not being able to work simultaneously on the same file. If someone is currently working on one file another user can only open it as a read only. This takes away all the collaborative nature of sharing documents online, doesn’t it? No doubt, tools like Google Docs and Google Wave allow a much superior real time collaboration, but the tools provided by Google Presentations are quite limited compared to the range of features of PowerPoint 2007, which allows the user to create much more versatile and professional looking presentations, as example of which is PPTplex. Some students could not download the Presentation and work on it and one pupil experienced the frustration of not being able to edit the presentation because another student was working on it at the same time. Thankfully, he was quick enough to think of saving it with another name, make his changes and then cut and paste onto the Office Live shared presentation later.

So, is Office Live a useless online collaborative environment? I believe it’s far from that, because of the reasons I explained above. If they could merge the awesome features of Office 2007 with the collaborative power of Google Docs, or even better, Google Wave, that would come close to perfection. But we live in the real world where live can sometimes mean “wait a minute I am rebooting” and collaboration sometimes means “Well you both wrote on the same spot, so I won’t show any of it at all!”

What so you think? Please, leave a comment!

No. 1 – I found a pearl in Excel 2007, or the Share Workbook feature

You can share a workbook with multiple users over a network! Just go to the “Review” Ribbon and click on “Share Workbook” and tick the “Allow changes…” box. It’s as easy as that!

Sharing in Excel

I have used it to create real time polls in my classes and for other collaborative projects. To see the changes made by other users the individual user has to save the work repeatedly, which is not as good as spreadsheets in Google Docs. You also have the disadvantage, unlike Google Docs, that you cannot share the workbook over the Internet, but just on a local network. However,  for schools this feature is just AWESOME, because it lets you share a workbook with entire classes and you retain all the really amazing features of Excel 2007, features like Smart Arts and the new graphing tools that make look Google Docs spreadsheets like primitive cave drawings in comparison!

No. 2 – Triggers in PowerPoint

Triggers in PowerPoint allow you to start animation effects of objects on your slides at the click of other objects, so you can get things to move, change, appear and disappear by clicking on existing objects, or even “invisible” buttons that you have created. The possibilities are limitless. I have seen Blockbuster games designed with triggers and I have made multiple teams games, where from the same slide two teams can play and affect changes on the side of their team. I have also created drop down menus to navigate around your presentation (this is very effective and looks very professional) and spelling and Numeracy games. Have fun with triggers, you will find them in the Timing tool for each animation you create in PowerPoint!

The Timing tool in PPT

The Timing tool in PPT

Download my Innovid on Triggers here.

No. 3 – Ink for Office 2007

Ink has actually been around for a long time in PowerPoint, but Office 2007 has extended it to Word and Excel too, which is a great asset, if you are using an interactive whiteboard, or a Tablet PC. Well the name says it all, with Ink you can use your interactive pen to hand write directly on you PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and even Excel workbooks. I will produce an Innovid on Ink very soon, so I’ll let you know when you can access this one! Meanwhile, if you want to have a go at inking, you’ll find this tool in the Review ribbons. Have fun with it!

Ink

No. 4 – PowerPoint Plex

PPTplex is an amazing plug-in for PowerPoint 2007 that allows you to display all your slides as if they were on a canvas! You can then zoom in and out of each section of your canvas and enjoy the looks of amazement of your audience. You can also look at the PPTplex blog to get your Wiimote to act as the mouse and control your presentation using a Nintento Wii remote control. This is quite amazing!

In Education you can use PPTplex to create amazing mind maps with your classes and to create timelines that really come to life in History, etc…

Have a look at my Innovid on the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network

No. 5 – Maths Add-in for Word 2007

The Maths Add-in enhances the already very good Equation Editor in Word 2007 and lets you solve simple and simultaneous equations. You can also plot 2-D and 3-D graphs directly in Word and trace the curve, or rotate around the axis of your choice!

This is very useful and if you this Maths is the only thing you can use it for think again, because I used it (under suggestion of Stuart Ball, Microsoft) to get my Yr 12 pupils to create a Poem to describe the Photoelectric Effect

Math Add-in

I have made an Innovid about this Add-in, so take a look at it and have fun with it!

Well, these are my top five features in Office 2007. What are yours? Please comment!!!