Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why you should use gMath and gGraph if you are a math teacher

tldr; version: gMath and gGraph Add-on scripts saved me a lot of time and gave me new functionality while creating my math test directly in a Google Doc.

Full version:
I will be the first to say that it is difficult to use math on a computer. The vertical and horizontal formatting of basic math items makes it difficult to digitally create math. Tools are constantly evolving and it is getting easier, but it is still not easy.

I love using Google Apps and want to use them to create all of my content if possible.

Until now, I used Mathematica to create my tests and quizzes since it took too long to click on the Insert Equation button every time I wanted to type some math. This is why I love (and why I created) the gMath Add-on (it is still in the publishing process so it is not in the Add-on store yet, you can create a copy of this Doc that contains the script: http://goo.gl/15ulvZ) . I do know some LaTeX, so it makes my input easier, but I don't feel like the entry level is that high. The CodeCogs Equation Editor will tell you how to type almost anything you want and I am working on allowing you to save your favorite things to type to help make it faster.

Here is how it helped me create a problem with a set of 3 equations and 3 variables:

The other major component to my tests and quizzes were graphs and graphs of functions. I just made my first Algebra 2 test since I finished the gGraph Add-on (again it is not published yet and in the Add-on store so you can copy it in the gMath doc above or if you only wan the gGraph script you can copy this Doc: http://goo.gl/qbjrg6) and it was awesome. I loved being able to create a system of 3 equations and then drag the problem into the document. It was simple to create a blank graph that I wanted students to graph on for a problem.

I probably saved 30 minutes by making my test using these two Add-ons. Now, I just need to work on allowing the students to answer the test digitally!

What am I thinking on how to do this for my next test??
1. Create a test in a Google Doc using these 2 Add-ons.
2. Distribute the test using Doctopus so the Scripts are already contained in the Doc (since the Add-ons are not published yet, this is the only way I can think of to get them to my students).
3. Instead of emailing them to my students using the Doctopus email, package them individually with the links in an AppleScript code that my Grade 6 coders developed that will only allow 1 window open when you are on the web (it closes all other tabs and windows automatically if they are opened).
***I have yet to test this with a class of students taking tests. The code works and it has been testing with a few students at a time. I will post on its efficacy in the coming weeks after implementing it!***
4. Grade the tests using a Doctopus Goobric. I am also toying with the new DriveApp that allows comments to be programmatically inserted inserted into Docs, since I make the same comments on a lot of the Docs (students repeat the same mistakes).