Building Enduring Mathematical Understanding, one lesson at a time.

Archive for the category “Apps”

Tech Talk: Keynote + Absolute Board = Awesome!

Continuing my series on iPad Apps. . .

When I first received my iPad a year ago last spring, I was DESPERATE to use it in the classroom. My school laptop was getting old and cranky, freezing up at the most inopportune moments. I have used Power Point in the classroom for quite awhile – not to “tell” students information, but to “ask” them questions. I searched through the App store quite extensively, looking for something cheap to do the job, but nothing looked too promising, so I bit the bullet, forked out $9.99 + tax and bought. . .


My kids use an Apple laptop at home, so I was familiar with the program. (We actually bought a “five-user pack” of Keynote/Pages/Numbers way back when. . . I cringe when I think of how much we spent. Who knew what would happen to the App industry?!) The iPad version doesn’t quite have as many features as the Mac version, but an upgrade sometime during the past year brought the two closer together. I have been able to email my old PowerPoints to myself and open them in Keynote. Occasionally there are a few glitches – borders on a table don’t show up, or a cool font isn’t available – but for the most part it has worked out well. I have different slide backgrounds that I use for different activities in the class, and have added to my collection with the ones in Keynote. Working on the iPad is more enjoyable than on the laptop, and moving or modifying slides is a snap. You can “nest” slides under one another, so this summer I combined all of my slides for each day of a unit together, with a general lesson plan as the “top” slide.


Clicking on the triangle by the slide will “collapse” all of the slides underneath.

Drawback #1

One glaring absence in Keynote is the ability to use superscript (and subscript, but I don’t need that NEARLY as often.) It is really unfathomable to me that this is not available in the font modifications. HOWEVER, I have found a work around. Remember when I said I emailed PowerPoints and opened them within Keynote. The superscript STAYS so I just have a “fall back” slide that I go to when I need to use an exponent. I can change the font/color/size and the superscript will change along with it! (Strange, but true!) I use a similar “shortcut” with square roots, as the keyboard shortcut for the radical symbol is non-existant, but I’ve copied it over from PowerPoint. Since the highest level of math I teach is Algebra, it’s not as if I need a full-fledged Math Editor (although it would be nice!) I am playing around with Mathbot and TeXit and learning a bit of LaTex so that I can paste in some more complex equations later on this year.

Drawback #2

I always though it would be nice to be able to “draw” on the slides! It is, after all, an iPad App! There is really no “freehand tool.” You can created shapes and lines and curves, but you can’t just “scribble something out” on a slide. At first I was really bummed about this, but I have come to realize that maybe I wouldn’t really want to, since I would need to use the slide again the following period. It would be kind of a pain to make multiple copies of each of the slides I wish to write on, so maybe not such a deal-breaker. (Although, it still would be an awesome feature just for CREATING the slides, but I doubt that Apple is listening.) So. . .from the multitude of options that I have downloaded, played with, and even used for awhile, the winner in the end is the FREE App. . .

Absolute Board!

It really IS free!


The way I use this in conjunction with Keynote on my iPad is that I will take a screen shot of the PowerPoint slides I plan on using so that they are stored in the Camera Roll. When I pull up Absolute Board I can quickly pick the slide and it will fill the screen. (For awhile I did it ahead of time, but it doesn’t take any longer to grab the slide than it does to select it from the pages stored in Absolute Board.) I can zoom in and out, change pen size and color, and write down a solution process as a student shares it aloud. (I have found that it is a BIG time saver to have me record rather than a student “write” on the iPad. There are other opportunities in class for them to write.)


The “marked up” slides are then saved in Absolute Board, and I can pull them up later. I am not sure what the limit is on the number of “pages” you can store. Every once in awhile I will “purge” the old drawings, but I can also save them to my photo album if I wish!

These two together make a great combination for me!

Tech Talk: Fun Free Apps #1

I’m not so sure how these “Tech Talk” posts fit into my “Finding Enduring Mathematical Understanding” theme, but I will stick with them for now. I am, after all, a closet AppleFanGirl with a Master’s in Educational Technology. (O.k., so the Master’s is almost twenty years old. . .not exactly “useful” – except on pay day.)

If you have an iPad, iPhone, or (newish) iPod Touch, and you read ANY blogs at all, you MUST get this App. (Oh, it’s probably available on Android as well.) It is, amazingly, FREE! Soon, you too will be swiping through your Google Reader with ease. The magazine-like interface is so relaxing. Each post shows the title, an image (when available,) and the first few lines of text. One click and the whole post appears. Another click and you are taken directly to the website. Double click and you are back to to swiping pages.


In addition to Google Reader, you can set it up to show your Twitter feed. Images of pictures and links show up right on the page. A few clicks and you can reply, re-tweet, favorite…


Facebook is another social networking option. Flipboard also “curates” posts in a large variety of categories. (See Tech, Cool, and Sports in image.) A few months before the Olympics, I added one on the Olympics. (Maybe this wasn’t such a good choice, as I too often knew the results prior to watching the broadcast – what a surprise!)


I recently, refocused my Google Reader so that it only contains education related blogs, but then I am able to add some other blogs that I enjoy (kxcd, This is Indexed, GraphJam. . .ok, they are still kind of “mathy”) to Flipboard so that I can read them at my leisure. Originally you could only fill one “page” but now it might be unlimited. I’m on my third page as this point.

It doesn’t take much time at all to set up and then you can change things around add/delete whenever you want. It is DEFINITELY worth it 🙂

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