Skip to main content

Write anywhere

As folks know, I'm a big fan of #digitalink -- as a math teacher, as an aspiring creative person, I always want to scribble. I write on everything at home, and always have.  The back of envelopes (when people use to send them), post-it notes, boxes... I scribble everywhere.  I also doodle a lot when I'm bored. Lots of geometric figures, fractals and attempts at people.
But it's also math -- math is drawing, sketching, inking the patterns & graphs we ask them to provide the algebra for.  And algebra! Lord, the notations.
That's why, when we were rebuilding our classrooms and someone asked me my opinion, I asked specifically for desks that would allow whiteboard markers.  And it's been great!  My students aren't encumbered by the limits of paper or the laptop's screen and they don't have to go up to the board to collaborate.  They use the desk-top and a whiteboard marker.  In this digital age, they then use the Office Lens app on their phones to push their work into their OneNote -- it's important not just to do the work, but document it and reflect on it later.
We also use the windows that run down the length of my classroom to write mathematics -- usually I just write the important ideas during a class for them to always have visible (the primary trig ratios during our trig unit, or the quadratic formula) -- and then drop the blinds when I don't want them there.
It does take a few days at the start of the year for students to get over the "don't write on the tables" that elementary school often drills into them.  Yes, I take humourous advantage of knowing that internalized rule and just cavalierly write on the desk at the beginning of the year when they have a question and watch them squirm -- "Sir, you're writing on the desk!" -- acknowledging that they had that rule, and that neither the rule or the ink is permanent helps to break the fear quickly. And other teachers (and guests) will often react negatively -- but once they realize the students can wipe it off and are using it constructively, I begin to see things start to appear on other classes' desk & windows, too.

I do talk to the cleaning staff and ask them to leave the window content up (good ole "PLO" helps) and the students are required to clean the desks off at the end of class (or sigh, I do in case I'm not sufficiently vigilant).  It's not the staff's job to clean up our learning - they're occupied with just the daily remains of our existence.
I also rip up my old towels and use them as table/window/whiteboard erasers.  They're fuzzy enough to get all the marker wiped off and quick to thrown in the wash at home. They are also popular enough that I noticed that other teachers have stolen them for their rooms.  Reminder: bring another few old towels to school tomorrow.


Popular posts from this blog

So you want to hack your OneNote Class Notebook

Taking a brief break from my "Getting Started with OneNote Class Notebook" series (you can start that one here )... This is a little advanced so if you're not comfortable setting permissions inside of Office365 you may want to avoid this.  Or set up a Class Notebook to play with so that it doesn't affect any existing Class Notebooks.  Yeah, the latter is a good option. One of the great powers of OneNote is that you can do some really neat permissioning of the Section Tabs. When the Notebook is created, of course, it gives you an "open permissions" on the Collaboration Space and student-read-only on the Content Library.  And then each student space is wide open to each individual student. But we've found that occasionally you want to mix up the permissions a little.  For example, you could create a space in a student section for your private notes that the student couldn't see, or maybe you want a tab in the Collaboration Space that students cou

Desmos, OneNote & Replay

So using Desmos activities are a great way to encourage exploration and discussion in math class -- if you haven't tried them, I encourage it.  They're collected at  But ... Desmos doesn't give you quite enough.  It doesn't have a way of capturing the work that the student does within their space, and it doesn't allow for annotation of class contributions as we come together to discuss.  Well, not surprisingly, OneNote comes to the rescue.  Using the Windows shortcut Windows-Shift-S it is really quick to snag the Desmos screen and pop it into a waiting OneNote page.  From there, we can grab our pen and (using wireless projection) talk about what all the different responses mean and where to go from there. (An aside : one of the nice features of Desmos activities are the way you can hit PAUSE and it will pause all the screens of the students working.  I always give them a heads up "10 seconds to pause..." and it's refr

Equation Editor comes to OneNote (Win10)

Folks have been waiting a while to get Equation Editor into OneNote (Win10 version... it's been in 2016/Desktop for forever). Now, the funny thing is this won't make a huge deal for me. I tend to just write my equations out, and if it's for more serious distribution I tend to write it in Word.  But for others, this may improve the way they work in OneNote.  And I also think I'm not allowed to call it Equation Editor, but I'm going to ignore that. Make sure you've updated your OneNote (go to the Store and check for any Downloads & Updates). I recommend folks visit the Store regularly to get any updates. I'm never sure how often it looks for updates on its own and Microsoft has moved to a continual, if gradual update process for all of its apps. To start entering equations, click on the INSERT ribbon and then on EQUATION.  You may think, "why not just click on the Math button?" but that is to translate digital ink or text writing into a mat