Monday, December 24, 2012


One Semester Down - Navigator CX: Hardware Kinks

I've just completed one semester using the TI Nspire CX Navigator System. I've experienced a lot of kinks in the hardware, a big learning curve with taking advantage of the robustness of the software, and mixed feelings with the students in regards to using the navigator system. I'll detail them in the next few posts.

Hardware Kinks
1. Router Set Up: Out the box you figure it would work, but no it doesn't. You have to download and upgrade the router firmware (instructions for allowing the router and your computer to communicate) first. The big problem was that the school firewall would not allow the firmware to download. After a call in to the 1-800-TI Cares, the rep suggested that I take the router off campus and upgrade the firmware at home. After trying unsuccessfully for it to upgrade at Starbucks, I finally did take it home and was able to be downloaded the firmware. I had to do it for the other teacher's router as well. I would think that since I bought the system in July and installed it in September that the system should have either come with the upgraded firmware or at least with a disc or link to the newest firmware.
2.  Inability to Access the Access Point.  Quite frequently, the Access Point would not be available and a few, several or all students would not be able to login.  Often times this happened at the most inconvenient time, like right before class or in between two classes. At first (after much time of troubleshooting) we discovered it was the USB cord that came shipped with the equipment. Apparently after a few weeks of use it became in operable. Then it was a problem that I was using Channel 11 instead of Channel 6 or 12 on the router. (Why have 12 channels available for use if only 2 are recommended for use boggles my mind.) Another problem is it takes the router around 20 minutes to initialized after it is turned on in order for the access point to be recognized, and sometimes it still wouldn't work. So I got in the habit of every morning, going to the Network Manager and having it refresh the handhelds. That worked for a while but then another problem occurred. Some of the wireless hats wouldn't connect. After troubleshooting to make sure the other issues weren't at fault, I was still at a lost. I called in to TI Cares and the rep recommended I reset the handhelds for which the wireless hats weren't working. So with my trusty paper clip I would reset the devices. And it worked. 
3. Handheld Stopped Charging: Even though this isn't a Navigator CX problem, I thought I would include it.  
The Handhelds were first purchased in the summer of 2011 and already 2 of them have had charging issues. TI Cares had me send in the first one, and they resent a new one. But for the second one, before they had me send it in, they wanted me to switch out the battery from the non-working one with a working one to see if it was the battery. Small problem, I don't have a tiny screwdriver for the screws to unscrew the battery, so the non-working handheld is still not working until I remember to find a tiny screwdriver. 

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Technical difficulties

Nothing frustrates me more than having a well-planned technology infused lesson and arriving to school the morning of and the technology is not working for one reason or another. Well that has happened more than once to me using the Navigator CX.

At first it was the USB cord, then it was the access point, and now it is a few of the wireless hats. I've troubleshooted most of them during my off period but only after having a class or two miss out on the wonderful lesson I had planned.

I love the software and the capabilities of the Navigators and the Nspires, but the hardware problems are decreasing my motivation to use them in my lessons.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


"Connecting to AP" - Ugh!

Frustrating 2.0!

Imagine having the plan to use your Nspire Navigator Quick Polls and Sending/Collecting Documents. then you get to class and the students tell you they can't login to the network. At first I thought this was because the network router hadn't "warmed up", but after two hours, I realized it was more than that. So I called Tech support. After an hour of trouble shooting and trying different cords, computers and then routers, we discovered that my cord was faulty and they would sent out a new one. .... But even after using a working cord, it still didn't work.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Incorporating the CX Navigator in class

So far (2 weeks), this is how I've been using the CX Navigator

1. Attendance: As soon as students enter class, they know to get their handheld and login.
2. Homework: Since I give homework problems from the book where they can find the answer in the back, the answers, I very rarely will ever grade the homework. But I do have a quick poll set up where as soon as the students log in, the quick poll is asking them which problems gave them the most trouble. Once they answer the quick poll, they can get working on the warm up.  While they are working on the warm up, I go buy looking at their homework to determine how many of the problems they worked out. After I do that, then I end the quick poll and use the results to determine which homework problems I need to go over in class.
3. Classwork. I assign the problems for the Independent Practice, but then send them a file I have created that will allow them enter the answers in to the classwork. At the end of the allotted time to work on the independent practice, I warn them that I'm about to collect all the work so they need to put their answers in. I then the collect the files from the handheld (while also deleting them from their handheld so that other classes won't have an unfair advantage). I then grade the document together in class so the kids can grade their own papers at the same time. I
4. Math Inspired Activities: Whenever we are working on a Math Nspired Activity and a kid says they are having problems doing something, I put them up using the Live Presenter mode. If one kid is having a problem then so are one or two more. Watching me talk the student through his problem on the screen is beneficial to those students who are having the same problem.


TI CX Navigator Class Set up

Class Set Up

I wanted to use it Day 2 of school. And I tried to, but I didn't realize that the router wasn't working (see previous day post), and on top of that, all the handhelds were still in Press-To-Test mode from Spring Final Exam testing. So basically #EPICFAIL. Once I got the router working and the hats linked, I was in business for Day 3.

Adding classes was really easy because if you have ever imported class rosters into software before, this way was a breeze. Even easier was the breeze that I only had to import one file with each student already associated with a class. In my import file I had the students last, first names, student ID, username, and class as columns in the csv file. I decided on a username structure of firstname+first two letters of last name (example JaneSm for Jane Smith). The only problem came when the first name had 8 or more characters (thanks Christopher), but I got around that by changing his username to ChrisXX. The reason I didn't go by just first name is that the class can't have users with the same username in the class as well as in all of your classes.

So I was able to import all 5 classes with one file. Since it was the beginning of school, my roster changed every day. If it was a student transferring from one class to the other, all I had to do was select the student in the class, right click, and move to one of the existing classes.  If it wasn't a current student, I just had to add them manually with the information I needed.

I did allow for the option of the students creating their own password, but made sure they wrote it down in their Interactive Notebook for posterity stake.

My coworker attended a 9 day Teacher Cadre on the TI Nspire and had a Scavenger Hunt worksheet to get students used to the Nspire, so I had the students work though that to get used to the handheld. (For almost all of them, it was brand new.)

FYI: Students forget everything so I posted the Nspire CX  poster on one of my chalk boards and next to it, I added some familiar hints: How to login, How to Submit a Poll, How to Open a File, and How to Clear Handheld.

Labels: , , , ,


Navigator CX Set up

TI-Nspire CX Navigator is the official name and Version 3.2 is the big upgrade that occurred in June 2012.

Setup was easy. The package comes with the network router, the installation cd for the software, and the wireless hats. I ordered the 30 user license and received the hats in groups of 10 packaged together in a nice little container.

Installing the software wasn't that difficult, but the software was not the up-to-date software so I had to go to the TI website and upgrade to the latest version. Placing the hats on each of the handhelds was not difficult at all. The most difficult part of all was getting the router to work.  After trying unsuccessfully for an hour I finally called TI-CARES (a number that is on speed dial by now). Basically, the firmware on the network router needed to be upgraded (unfortunately they don't ship it upgraded ???) and my school firewall was not allowing the computer to download the firmware. The techie suggested I do it outside of school.  So I had to lug the router and its power cord and its usb cord home with me. I decided to go to Starbucks instead because I hate doing work from home. Bad choice. It didn't occur to me until I got to Starbucks that my netbook doesn't have a CD drive thus I could not install the Nspire Navigator software via CD. So I had to download it from the TI Website. Note: It is not easy to find on the website, but luckily I already had the link from an email back in June. It took FOREVER to download the software at Starbucks (like over 2 hours). The kicker is when I finally had it downloaded and installed, the firmware still couldn't be upgraded.  So eventually I had to pack everything up and take it home and upgrade the firmware from home. Sigh ...

So now the firmware is upgraded and the network router is functioning. So the TI CARES guy told me I had to add the wireless hats. I assumed manually and had to enter in all 30 wireless hats serial numbers (twice). Apparently I didn't have to do that, but oh well. It was done and I was finished and ready to use it.

Labels: , , , ,


TI Navigator CX, 3.2 love it!

My principal is awesome. I requested at the end of the school year TI Navigator CX system ( a hefty $2600), and she approved it. And I plan to use it. Here is where I plan to document my story.

First thoughts.

1. I love it!
2. Its hard to find people implementing it on the web.

So for those two reasons alone, I will be documenting my story. Stay tuned.

Labels: , , , ,


Hectic to say the least.

My apologies for not posting in over a year and a half. Last school year was so hectic. Here is why:

1. I started teaching night classes (yes plural) at ITT Tech.
2. I had a student teacher that needed to be mentored.
3. I was the only Senior Class Sponsor, so I ran the school store during lunch and managed fundraisers and dues collection as well as prom planning and senior class council.
4. I was still department chair and mentee to two new teachers.
5. I was on the curriculum writing committee for the district.
6. I was still on the school's safety committee, school advisory committee, advanced academics committee, 7. I still was responsible for planning weekly homeroom/advocacy lessons for the school.
8. I had a full load of classes where my smallest class was 28 students.

And on a personal note:
9. I started attending Crossfit classes 3-5 times a week at 5:30 am.
10. I was knee deep into a serious relationship, so he needed to spend time with me after work.

Needless to say. Life was busy. And I made it through by handling every assignment, half-assed.

This year is different.
1. No ITT Tech teaching.
2. No student teacher.
3. No class sponsoring.
4. Still department chair, but only 1 new teacher as a mentee (who happened to be the student teacher from last year), so not as time consuming.
5. No district curriculum writing committee.
8. I have one less class and my smallest class is 15 students.

So, life is going much better.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Its been a long time coming.

Although I haven't posted here in a long long time. I plan to change that. I will be doing video blogs (at the beginning and end of the school day) and posting them up weekly.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


In a perfect world ...

I just have to get this out before the school year starts.

Feel free to add on to this list.

In a perfect world:

1. All teachers are motivated and serious about getting their students to learn.
2. The administration is there to support the teachers by making sure that all the teaching needs are met.
3. The parents are 100% involved in supporting their children's academic learning.
4. Whats best for the students' learning is not a subjective phrase that administrators use to throw a last minute game mandate on you and expect you to implement it perfectly.
5. Students scoff at the idea that teachers are the enemy.
6. Students understand that grades aren't given by the teacher, but merely assigned based on the level of (or lack thereof) competence the students demonstrate on the assignment.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Work backwards to find a solution

End result: All of my students learn all of the content the district wants them to learn for the particular class they are assigned to.

Given: Students with varying motivation, math deficits, and scholarly habits.

So how do I get the end result?

My idea:
Students motivated to learn <---- Topics/Projects/Assignments that are interesting. <----- Teacher incorporates students interests into daily classroom lessons and activities. <------Teacher researches students and finds out about their interests.

Labels: , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]