Watch That S Car Go!

…so to speak. Heh.

In an attempt to keep my feet moving forward (because being stuck in metaphorical quicksand isn’t my idea of fun), I’ve listed four projects on my whiteboard. The idea is I have to do something to advance at least two of the projects every day. Today, I’ve been successful. I moved a subnotebook to Evernote (which I’m so very, very, very ecstatic to have back…even if they haven’t worked the bugs and features out in the web version). I’ve figured out (for the moment) how to deal with Dead Bunny (it’ll change tonight *grin*). I could conceivably work through a couple of modules for the instructional design class this afternoon. Oh, and I found how to complete a first editing round on a novel, which I’m going to apply to a novel that’s actually on its third or fourth editing round (and is still horrible…oops).

The real problem in the set is Dead Bunny. Every time I think I get a handle on how I want to deal with it, I change my mind. But I have a really good, logical plan…that I’m hell-bent on ignoring. I sense some self-sabotage afoot… It almost doesn’t matter at the moment, though, because the best thing for me to do next is work on Dead Bunny’s visual brand (since I’ve just spent all weekend doing that for my personal sites). That means stressing over logo design and slide design for the tutorials. That means figuring out who Dead Bunny is, and what image he should project into the world.

I’ve drawn him as a bubbly character (but that’s entirely because I can’t draw), but his name is “Dead Bunny”. He’s not dead, that’s just his name. But do I play on his name and do something I more than likely wouldn’t be willing to look at? Do I go for something “academic” (which I also probably wouldn’t take seriously)? Do I just go for something all together random? Oi!

And it’s one of those things I kind of have to get right sooner rather than later. One of the teachers (the one I draw the stick figures for) wants me to either submit a proposal for Dead Bunny to a local education publishing house, or just flat out apply to work there. I was looking at their site earlier today, and it turns out that they’re owned by McGraw-Hill. They won’t give Dead Bunny a chance on his own merits…but they might consider him as a portfolio entry if I try to apply there. No pressure. *grin*

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GTD Revives the Card Catalog

Not many people are aware of this, but I love libraries. In school, I used to love playing with the card catalog, trying to figure out how many different ways I could look up the same book. (I was a strange child.) When I was in high school, I worked in the school’s library for about a year. One of my jobs was to sort new cards into their proper place in the card catalog. I knew I’d hit the big time when the librarian let me start filing cards in the accession catalog!

Let’s just say I have fond memories of the old card catalog.

Yesterday, I stumbled across Pile of Index Cards, which I’m guessing is part of the whole Hipster PDA/GTD thing just from looking at the site. If you poke around the site a little bit, you’ll notice a filing system that would warm any card catalog enthusiast’s heart. (It certainly made me smile!)

I keep trying to go index card, but my limited living space has made it something of a challenge. Dead Bunny’s book is sequenced on index cards. I’m planning to organize this year’s NaNoWriMo attempt on index cards.

Maybe I could create my own card catalog…

Sequencing in a Curriculum of Prerequisites

I spent some time last week trying to establish an order for Dead Bunny’s book. There are days when that seems to be a fairly simple task. You have to be able to add integers before you can add fractions. You should understand what an exponent is before you start simplifying rational functions.

Right now, I’m trying to work through graphing skills on Dead Bunny’s blog, and it isn’t going as logically as I’d hoped. I’ve already covered graphing in one dimension (the number line). I can address graphing in two dimensions (the Cartesian plane) by introducing the ordered pair. That only requires knowledge of how to use a number line. Thanks to the number line, I can also address the slope formula (which I believe I have covered already).

I can address both the standard form of an equation for a line and the slope-intercept form. To move between them, you have to know how to solve for a variable, which I’ve covered (after realizing that basic skill was missing from Dead Bunny’s collection).

The problem comes when I go to address the Midpoint Theorem and the Distance Formula. After much thought, I’ve realized that knowledge of the number line will actually suffice for understanding the Midpoint Theorem, but the Distance Formula is an entirely different story. I’ve had to help students memorize the formula, but because it’s just a formula they have to memorize, they struggle with it.

Really, the Distance Formula is simply an application of the Pythagorean Theorem, which is often taught much later. I could move it up in Dead Bunny’s line-up, but that forces a number of other skills up.

I’ve started trying to trace what prerequisites are needed for each skill Dead Bunny is covering, but it’s proving to be an interesting map. Hopefully, I’ll be able to straighten it out before too much longer.

Dead Bunny Keeps on Hopping

I’m somewhat amazed to discover that Dead Bunny is becoming more and more popular. Many people have questioned my decision to have a mascot named Dead Bunny, but it appears to not be hindering his growth.

That actually pleases me. It means I was right! (I think it also helps that Dead Bunny is dead in name only. I’m not foolish enough to kill my own zodiac sign. Sorry.)

When I first dreamed up the crazy notion to have Dead Bunny mascot the math book (the one the kids asked me to write), I drew up what I felt was a long, yet simple, outline of topics that I would need to cover. I tried to organize it by topic, and then organize the topics into the order I figured one would have to learn them in.

Then, in a fit of total frustration, I created Dead Bunny Educational. Originally, I thought to just work my way down my topics list, writing one post per topic. It really hasn’t worked out that way at all.

Too often, I come home from work inspired by something that happened with one or more of my students, so I’ll blog that topic. Sometimes, I’ll have a series in mind, and post that. Other times, I find useful articles and videos that need to be shared with the world.

Along the way, I’ve been marking up the original outline to link to the post, adding in any that were written but weren’t on the outline. Tonight, I realized that I needed to do some heavy shuffling of the list, so I moved everything to Todoist. It turns out that of the topics I had thought of on my own, nearly half of them have posts now.

It’s pretty crazy, really.

I was surfing around Lulu tonight, and I’m starting to think it might make more sense to group related topics and release them in smaller books. I don’t know, though. At this point, I feel like I’m just brainstorming, just trying to keep myself moving forward so I don’t get stuck.

I’m just pretty happy that Dead Bunny is indeed going out into the world. I just wish I knew whether or not people are finding him helpful…

Dead Bunny

Last month, I became so frustrated with the nature of math education in my state that a number of things happened.

First, I realized that more than just creating curriculum, I really want to develop ways for kids to learn or reinforce skills that they aren’t picking up in math class. That realization alone has helped focus my actions a bit more tightly as I try to learn how to get involved with developing educational game and interactive media. (Suggestions are welcome at this point, because right now I’m talking with potential leads.)

Second, it led to a fit of insanity and gave birth to the Dead Bunny blog. Currently, the Dead Bunny blog is focusing on sharing bite-sized math lessons that are inspired by my work with my own students. I’m having to learn how to represent so much of this in HTML, so it’s going fairly slowly. I’m also working on my first article, complete with art (which has been a nightmare unto itself).

In time, I’ll be adding writing lessons as well (I spend much of my time teaching writing to people I edit for.), and in time the articles and posts will get smoothed out into books.

It feels good to finally be doing something pro-active. I just want kids to have the best chance at success, and the math situation in this state isn’t giving them that.

Trying to Save the (Math) World

I’ve gone insane.

That’s the only explanation.

I’ve lost my mind.

I have spent the past week working out thoughts for a math site. I’m envisioning a pseudo-interactive site (that could actually have more interactivity than I think) filled with tutorial articles and videos. Maybe some kind of cool practice area…I could include the game series I’m working on.

I know I want to help create some sort of solution to help students pick up math from somewhere. I’m incorporating that into my grad school applications. I just…think I’ve lost my mind.

These plans are just huge, and will take me a while to pull together even a basic site. That’s a lot of content to generate.

I have to write a lot of this for the book anyway. I really should just buckle down and get it all done. It can be a goal for 2007…

…even if I think I have gone insane.

Dead Bunny Grammar is a Hit!

I’ll never understand why or how, but Dead Bunny Grammar has made its way around the center by word of mouth. The kids love it. They get it. They actually teach part of it to each other!

I’m a huge fan of peer teaching, so this really warms my heart.

I’m not entirely sure yet, but I’m thinking of creating an actual Dead Bunny Grammar program so others can take advantage. Don’t let the name scare you off. The bunny is supposed to be alive, but one of the students killed it.