If you want to up your game, but don't have the dispoable income to do anything really crazy, may I suggest a very cheap asset. I bought a scanner a couple summers ago and it comes in handy all the time. If you don't have one yet, I have no idea what you're waiting for, they are so inexpensive. Mac OS X even has a scanner friendly app pre-installed that allows output to PDF. Windows probably has something similar, but I have no idea. Even with the amazing things computers can do, sometimes you can do something faster by hand. Especially true if you spend most of your creative energy in Word. I know the drawing tools are pretty good, but probably not as good as you would like. A nice high-res scan of a hand drawn graph can really be the key to a nice product. Two examples from this year. I was going to be out and didn't want my Pre-Cal kids to languish. They had work from the previous day to finish but I knew it wouldn't take the whole time. So I prepared some notes on tangent functions for them:


Now, I don't know about you, but when I'm out it's usually unplanned and I don't have a lot of time to prepare what will be needed. So I had a choice. Knowing full well that when I'm out only 40% of what I want gets done, should I spend the 15 minutes to write these out, 20 minutes to type them out, and find something to make nicely labeled tan(x) graphs with (15-30 minutes)? Or spend 15 minutes writing it and 2 minutes scanning it and e-mailing it to my student teacher?

Second example came from a second self-teaching exercise. I wanted them to determine how to solve logarithmic equations. I wanted to have examples. I had limited time. Formatting a typed step-by-step example was doable, but would take way longer than I had and I couldn't annotate as well as I wanted (kids like arrows, you see). A few minutes with a pen and I had what I wanted. You owe it to yourself to get a scanner. And one day, spring for a graphics package that will help exploit it.

AuthorJonathan Claydon