Monthly Archives: July 2014

Equation Editor Awesomeness

First of all, thanks to everyone who wrote a comment or tweeted a reply about my first post. I’m still amazed at how many awesome people were at TMC that I didn’t get to connect with, how darn inclusive and supportive everyone in the MTBoS is,  and how quickly MTBoS can take over your entire day.  So I’m going to post this and then stay off the interwebs until Global Math Department tonight so I can fully enjoy one of my last days of vacation and read an actual book!  Anyway, onto the show…

For those of you that thought my Equation Editor “My Favorites” was just a bit too fast, here is a recap.  I’ll also be talking about it and doing a quick demo on Global Math Department tonight as part of the TMC14 recap–please join us! It’ll be my first time non-lurking.

I offered up an Equation Editor flex session or My Favorites before TMC, but wasn’t sure how many people would benefit, so then I un-offered. I thought maybe everyone else didn’t even use worksheets or maybe they are all latex-y or maybe they are so awesome that they can just think about an equation and it automatically appears on the screen.  And then in the middle of Steve’s teacher-life-changing powerpoint, there it was: a square root with no hat.  I thought, “Well, if this guy who is AMAZING and has been dealing with math FOREVER can’t make a hat, maybe there is someone else that needs Equation Editor help, too.”  So I re-volunteered and I hope I helped some of you out!  Here is a recap:

Rule number 1: The equation button in the ribbon is VERY tempting, like a man with candy in the back of a van. DO NOT GET IN THE VAN.  Good life rule, but in this case it is because: (1) formatting is crap  (2) some things are intuitive, but many are not (3) you can’t copy and edit it in powerpoint (4) it does not play well with printers. If you’ve ever printed a worksheet and just the fraction bars are printed but no numbers, thank the equation button.

That’s actually the only rule.  The rest of the information can be found in this handout.  It has the links to the videos (those are also at the bottom of this post) as well as step-by-step instructions.  It also has this amazing chart that you can print and laminate to keep next to your computer:

Eq Ed shortcuts

Haha, I know it looks like there’s not a space between “and then” but it’s a weird table-formatting-issue, not an equation-editor issue. In normal text it looks like a space!


Really, everything you need is in that handout, so go read it!  Well, I say everything, but there are a few issues with Powerpoint.  I’ll try to make a post about using Equation in Powerpoint soon.

The good news is using Equation in Word is really quick and easy once you make some shortcuts and start working with it.  If you have a question or have any Equation Editor tips I left out, let me know in the comments.  And in case the handout is tl;dr, here are the videos (but really, read the handout!  Don’t you want that chart?!? You want that chart.  Seriously, you did not know ctrl + k, < gave you a ≤, did you?  Plus if you read the handout, you can learn how to get ≤ without using underlining or equation editor!


Making a Macro:

Using Equation Editor (I didn’t have time to show this one, but if you make piecewise functions you’ll want to watch until the end!)

Making Equation Editor Autocorrect Shortcuts (the magic one)

Making Symbol Shortcuts

And if you made it all the way to the end, a gold star for you!

Category: Tech Tips | Tags: , ,

Where are all the great teachers?

Confession: I am not a great teacher.  I think I am a good teacher who aspires to be great.  Well, actually, a good teacher who would like to find  where the magic potion is that makes you a great teacher overnight.

I thought that magic potion would be at Twitter Math Camp.

As it turns out, so did everyone else.

Unfortunately, it was not.

I am dreading this upcoming school year.  Everything is changing, from admin to our department. Not necessarily bad, but change is scary.  I ended last year on a bad note and over the summer had my schedule switched so I lost classes that I was looking forward to teaching.  Back in February, I was excited about TMC because I was excited about where my teaching and career were going.  The last week of July, I was seeing if my hotel reservations were refundable.  What was I thinking going to a four-day conference where I don’t know anyone? I hate people!  Nobody tweets me! I don’t have a blog! Everyone is awesome, and I lecture 95% of the time.  I don’t even know how to pronounce “pedagogy.”

But I put on my big girl panties, packed up some cookies, and went.

After the first day, I went back to my hotel, called my husband and said, “Well, I’m not sure if I’m getting enough out of this.  I mean, I got some stuff that I want to use in my class and the keynote speaker (Steve Leinwand) made me want to change the entire way I teach, but I just don’t feel it yet.”  Yes, I said “change the entire way I teach” and “not getting enough” in the same breath.  I wanted that magic potion!  I wanted to be part of the club!  Tell me what to do, say, think, believe so I can have the power.  I also wanted someone with whom I could go to dinner.

But then something happened. I don’t know what it was, but I started getting into the groove.  I wondered down to the lobby and asked if I could join a crowd for dinner (I was so nervous, but did I really expect them to say no?  Actually, yes, I did. I think high school hormones must rub off on me).  Throughout the weekend, I was swept along by some fabulous outgoing people and I also sat next to people who were just as shy as me (or maybe I’m projecting. But it seemed every meal started with long awkward pauses and then all of a sudden two hours went by and I didn’t want the conversation to end.).  I gave a My Favorites presentation with the feeling, “Well, if I could help just one person…” and people actually applauded. (I hate giving presentations only slightly less than meeting new people. What the hell was I thinking when I tweeted Lisa to volunteer?  And that I needed “only 5 minutes, but probably more like 3”?)  I went to even more great sessions.  People invited me to do things with them (walking through the airport and hearing “MEG!” from the bar, I felt like Norm on Cheers.) As the days went by (too quickly), the best thing started to happen: I found out almost everyone thinks they suck.

Maybe it was Mr Kent’s “I am a fraud” post or Lisa Henry’s, but I fell into more and more conversations with people who felt like they weren’t doing everything they could be or should be.  And these were people who seemed like they had it going on.  What do you mean, [insert name here] doesn’t know an awesome way to teach [insert topic here]?  Oh my gosh, someone else had a lesson that was filling in the blanks about vocab, too, and the MTBoS police haven’t taken her away yet?  Or whenever I complimented someone on a presentation/thought/my favorite/blog, the reply was something like,  “Me? Really?” (which is also what I thought whenever someone said something about my “My Favorites”).   I also was shocked at how many people were first time TMCers and MTBoS lurkers like me, especially because I had the feeling that everyone else must be TMC three-peaters and BFFs by how calm, cool, and collected they were.

All that to say, judging by the amount of people who thought they weren’t great, there should have been a very limited number of great teachers at TMC.  But we were overwhelmed by greatness! That does not compute.  I think just by going to TMC puts you in at least the “pretty darn good” category.  But we (I) need to stop comparing and start doing.  Turns out TMC isn’t the magic potion. It’s laying the groundwork, it’s building up the structure, it’s getting support, it’s having so many thoughts going around your head that you can’t fall asleep at night.  It’s breaking bread with people in real life so you can reach out to them online when you need help.  It’s doing what you can with what you have.  It’s making the changes that’s right for you, even if it’s not the “correct” way to change. It’s being inspired, not intimidated.

I can’t change overnight, so I’m going to start with some low entry/high ceiling improvements. I’m going to focus on what I can control in my own classroom and try to worry less about what’s happening outside my four walls. I’m going to have more fun with math.   And I’m going to do what I’ve wanted to do for the past few years: stop lurking and start being a part of the most welcoming community of people on the planet.  I’m going to start tweeting more and try to be part of the conversation. I’m going to plan my own collaboration meeting even though that would probably involve both talking to new people and giving a presentation. I’m going to fill up my blog reader with math blogs again because even if it seems out of my league, there is a joy to reading someone that is passionate in his or her teaching.   I’m going to start sharing my fabulous crap that I’ve worked hard on, but have kept hidden because I feared it wasn’t “great enough” for the MTBoS.

Because maybe we’re all better than we think, including me.

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