Archive for April 2013

Sharing Knowledge, Inspiring Creativity

If you have read any of my other posts or pages on this blog you will know that I am a big proponent of teacher created (hacked) interactive books made for the iPad using iBooks Author. See our summer project here. 

So, in honor of attending the #NCTM conference this year in Denver and in hopes of inspiring creativity in others and generating feedback (kind critiques) of my own work I am posting two semi-polished interactive books. After downloading them to your iPad please revisit this blog and leave a comment giving feedback to the work in progress. Thanks!

You will need to download these books from an iPad and chose to open them in the free iBooks app.

Geometry: Transformations75 MB Download to iPad
Geometry: Circles70 MB Download to iPad

About the Books

Both of these books are created in iBooks Author and are only viewable on the iPad. However, if you wanted them in ePub format we can provide that format you will just lose most of the interactive features. 

Both books contain student friendly text, images curated from creative common sources, HTML widgets that allow for exploring patterns and relationships, and quizzes both embedded and online. In addition to these features, the books contain videos, some that are embedded that will play offline and others that are streamed from YouTube.

Posted in , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soccer Ball Math

The Ball Story

It happened to me yesterday. Like all non-expecting, well-intentioned, hard-working coaches who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

I was positioned 10 feet outside of the goal frame instructing my goal keeper on a few points. The rest of the team lined up around the 18' mark, poised and ready for taking shots on our keeper. 

Just as I turned ever so slightly to face the next shooter and motion for her to take the shot. That's when it hit me, literally. That's when the cry of all self respecting men rang out around the world. That's when the wayward shot from the foot of the quietest girl on the team came like a comet screaming for my manhood and hit me square, causing every woman and child in viewing distance to pause, gasp, and then burst out into laughter.  

I dropped. 

I cried.

They laughed. 

The Ball Story Problem

Being a soccer coach I am fascinated with the different designs of a soccer ball. However, the traditional design offers geeky teachers a challenging math problem involving areas of two dimensional regular polygons that are linked together to form a three dimensional solid. 

So, in honor of attending NCTM 13 in Denver this week (and of course the story above) I thought I would share this problem. The students do an entertaining job of explaining the problem in the video below. 

Problem: Find the surface area and radius of the traditional size 5 soccer ball when given the side of the regular pentagonal panels is 4.2 cm. 


Simply handing the students a soccer ball and asking them to find the surface area is also a nice way to address the math practice standards of 'persevering in problem solving.' Hopefully after presenting this problem students will ask good questions such as; What do I need to know in order to find the radius and the surface area? What shapes make up the surface area of the ball? How can I find the area of one of those shapes? etc. 

Obviously you can scaffold the information as you see fit for your students. As you can tell from the video we chose to tell them how many pentagons and hexagons made up the surface of the ball. You could also chose to give them more information such as the formulas for finding the area of a regular polygon. Or you could simply hand them a ball and a ruler and tell them to come up with as an exact of a measure for the surface area and radius as they can. 

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

iBooks Author Hackathon-- #Macul13 reflection pt. 3
This was the event I was waiting for at #Macul13. Finally a chance for Steve Dickie (@falconphysics) and I (@anthonydilaura) to tell a wider audience about a large scale cooperative project that will bring educators together to create high quality, interactive content using iBooks Author.

This hour long presentation was an absolute high for me. This is where my passion lies: collaborating with highly motivated, creative educators to create and share digital content that will undoubtedly innovate the way iPad classrooms will function.

Working with Steve and co-presenting this project with him felt like we had been working with one another for years even though it was only our second time of being in the same room. Steve is an incredibly brilliant science teacher that approaches teaching and learning from a very artistic angle. What he brings to this project and to those hacking science content is invaluable.

About the Project

Here is a brief overview of the project as we described it to our audience. For further information see my article that was published at on March 28th, 2013 and check out the projects website here

What: Multiple two-day events that bring teachers together to learn how to author content using iBooks Author. Collaborate in content area or grade level teams to divide up and conquer common core aligned granular size learning modules that are shared among teachers. 

Who: Motivated and creative teachers working in an iPad learning environment as they will most directly benefit from these resources. 

Why: There are literally 100's of reasons perhaps 1000's if you consider the amount of money a district can save and redistribute to support student learning by having teachers create and use these "digital textbooks." But first and foremost is the reason of student learning. What I have experienced and what research backs is that when a curriculum is more personalized and tailored to differentiate for student needs they are more likely to succeed and own the learning. Content delivered in this manner allows the teacher to re-purpose their face to face time. It allows class time to be spent on a deeper exploration and transfer of content.

Why this is so exciting?

It's not that this technology is so amazing and new that gets me giddy. Rather,  it is the idea of accomplishing this task together, collaborating and sharing with a group of like minded teachers. Let's face it that doesn't always happen in our building, department, grade level groups.

 I don't look at this technology as something so innovative that it will blow our doors off. However, I do believe the results of this project are something that could allow teachers to innovate their classroom practices in a way that blows the doors off their student's learning. That, to me, is very exciting. 

I want to learn. I want to share what I know. Doesn't everyone want professional development to be like this? Learn from others and share what you know put them together to advance education. However, how often do we sit and humbly (or selfishly) remain quiet in department meetings? Or how often do we as teachers not have the buy in for what our PD is about? 

This event will be teacher driven and grassroots. It's not an order coming down from the administrators (at least not yet- ours is thinking about telling departments "no more textbooks"). It will call upon the creativity of many, it will deepen the creativity of many, and it has the potential to deepen the creativity of students.  

Posted in , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Letter to #MASSP-- Encourage Collaboration

Hello Michigan Secondary School Principals,

Many of us had the chance to chat at the iPad Summit held in East Lansing a few weeks ago. But for those of us who didn't I wanted to take a moment and inform/remind you about the iBooks Author Collaborative project going on this summer. If you're currently, or will be soon, educating in a 1 to 1 iPad environment at any grade level this project is a worthy investment of your money and your staff's time.

We all reach a point in our iPad initiatives when we must evaluate the technology, address how it is transforming our teaching and learning practice, and answer the question 'how will we sustain the program?' I deeply believe this project can help us address all of these concerns.

Collaborate - Create- Share
The iBooks Author collaborative is a project that will bring teachers together to create and share high quality, digital 'textbook' content. Teachers participating in this event will also have access to the content created by other teachers so that they can adopt their work and personalize it for their own students.

We know, and research shows, a personalized learning experience is a contributing factor to an engaging and successful learning experience. Teachers will have the ability to update and personalize these interactive ebooks which is unlike any other hard bound textbook.

The vast amount of digital content readily available online along with access to high end authoring tools like iBooks Author makes a great case for this project. However, to the average teacher, the task to create this digital content can seem daunting unless we work together. I have no doubt that by participating in a hackathon event this summer your staff will be well on its way to authoring authentic content, increasing their expertise in their field, stimulating their creativity, and leading your school into a deeper and more meaningful level of tech integration.

I want to ask you to encourage your creative and motivated staff members to get involved. The cost of the two day event is minimal ($30). I want to ask you to support their efforts, possibly offer participants $200 for creating shareable content. What could possibly cost the district $2000 this summer (sending 10 hackers) could possibly lead to saving tens of thousands of dollars in the coming years by not having to purchase textbooks.

In conclusion, we truly believe the better reason for getting involved is the benefit to student learning that will occur as a result of your teachers getting highly active in collaborating, creating, and sharing these resources.

Please feel free to ask further questions or direct teachers to our website and Google Community.

Posted in , , , , | Leave a comment

iPad 2, Year 2, Audience of 2-- #Macul13 Reflection pt. 2

Last year my colleague, Shawn Jacob, and I had a fabulous time sharing our school's (Zeeland Public) 1 to 1 iPad journey at Macul12. We named our session "Create, Consume, Collaborate and Communicate- the high school iPad experience." It was awesome and we had a sold out crowd, it was literally standing room only. So we thought 'let's do the sequel.' People will want to know what we learned in year one, what we've changed in year two, what were talking about for year three, and how we are going to sustain the initiative in years to come.

We all know how sequels go, or better yet, don't go. It's not that we suck... at least, I don't think we do. We had our magic trick planned and ready to go (pulled due to lack of audience) who else does a magic trick to start their presentation?

Alright, for all you who "wanted-to-come-but-couldn't-make-it" here is a quick summary.

Year 2- What we're doing differently

1. Focus on Digital Citizenship
It quickly became apparent that adolescents might be well versed in digital technologies (although not all) however, they are not well versed in the digital ethics and understanding of the trail they are leaving of themselves online.  

This year we focused more on digital citizenship. Students were required to attend an hour long presentation on online ethics. Parents were encouraged although not forced to attend. We hosted another presentation from a local lawyer on the dangers and consequences of sexting.  

A small group of teachers from the elementary level took sometime looking through age appropriate material for students to learn more about digital citizenship. A decent amount of our website ( is dedicated to equipping parents, students, and staff with resources for addressing and teaching online behavior. 

2. Focus on Instructional Strategies
The theme of concerns from teachers after the first year really drove to the heart of the question "what should I be doing to effectively leverage learning and teaching with an iPad?"  This lead us to layout some strategical practices so our teachers had some targets to shoot at. Here is where we landed:

A. Online Presence. This should be our first step, certainly for those who didn't already have a classroom presence online. For many of our teachers this was already being done so their next move was to ramp up the interactivity. To move away from a static one-way communication space of a website and towards a more social platform, such as Edmodo or Moodle.

B. App-lied Learning. This is sometimes where people say "but it's not about the apps" and of course it isn't but why else did you buy the iPad? Yes, we want our teachers to use the apps for creating, consuming, critical thinking, collaborating etc. We felt it was important to support our teachers in how to use the App eco-system to enrich student learning. This meant re-creating the Blooms Taxonomy Wheel for apps for our teachers and training them on how to use the iPad to collect student work.

C. Data Driven Instruction. With a piece of technology in the hand of every student we knew that collecting data would be much easier. The question then became how do we use this real time data to support / differentiate student learning? Many of our teachers are leveraging the data collecting ability of sites such as,, Moodle Quiz maker,, and Teachers can use data collected through these online assessments and re-route students during face to face time to better meet their needs.

D. Authentic Audience & Project Based Learning. These two are goals we are striving for but certainly have a way to go to fully implement. The idea being that we really want our students to be producing real world artifacts and problem solving for a real world audience. 

3. Professional Development
Finally one other concern coming from our teachers was around the area of ongoing professional development. They expressed their desire to have someone available full time to work with them towards integrating the iPad into their instruction. This is where my job was created and it has been a real pleasure to serve my k-12 staff this year in this capacity. In addition to face to face support we have ramped up our online professional development as well by offering video tutorials for teachers to view when and if they want. 

Changed Practice- Shawn's example of teaching with an iPad

My colleague and english teacher, Shawn Jacob, did a great job of highlighting a few changed practice behaviors that are indicative of many of our teachers habits. These behaviors include using iTunesU to distribute course materials, using for his class to publish to authentic audiences, using to conduct research, and finally leverage the iPad for creating great content. 

Shawn is an excellent example of a teacher integrating the iPad in a meaningful way and on a daily basis. The stories he tells about students and their use of the device to build meaning and content is truly spot on and humorous. 

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment
Powered by Blogger.


Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark. Converted by