Workshop Notes

Google Docs

If you already have a Google account simply go here to sign in. If you need to create an account go here to create one. Your documents can always be found at and help can be found here. Google is always adding new features so be sure to check often. My favorite recent feature is optical character recognition which allows you to upload a scanned document and edit it. Great for worksheets or tests and quizzes that aren't quite right.

I created my site with a simple text editor but if you don't know (and don't want to know) any html and css give Google Sites a try. It's free and you should find it easy to create a website, embed Google Calendars and create links to files and other sites.


Sometimes I will build my own simulations with Perl or Java but more often I can find what I need on the web. My favorite collection of simulations is from the Physics Education Technology Project (PhET) and is produced by the University of Colorado at Boulder. These sims are web-based and run on any platform. Initially they focused on physics simulations but now they have simulations in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. For those that would like to build custom simulations for physical science I recommend Molecular Workbench. Both PhET and Molecular Workbench have extensive curriculum available both internally and from a strong community of scientists and educators.


I create my athletic podcasts using Apple's Keynote software and acheive animations with the Magic Move effect. Audio and video podcasts are easily created with Apple's Garageband. Most of the external podcasts I use for my classes come from iTunes U which has an amazing, ever-growing collection of lectures that are much better than anything I could produce. To access the free collection simply open iTunes and look for iTunes U in the iTunes Store. To share a particular lecture with your students copy the link by clicking the disclosure triangle and paste it into an email, BlueBoard, Facebook, Twitter or your website.


Dropbox is a free and easy-to-use tool that automatically syncs your files to all of your computers and mobile devices and makes them available on the web. Go the the Dropbox website and follow the instructions to install.

Quest - Online Homework

The Hotchkiss School has a subscription with Quest that allows an unlimited number of teachers and students to use the service. Getting started can be tricky because UTexas needs to verify that you are indeed instructor but after that I've found the service very useful. It has freed me from a significant amount of grading and let the students hang on to their solutions. In addition, the instant feedback gives students the opportunity to keep trying without giving the answer away and the problem variations allow students to collaborate while making sure they each understand the problem.

To get started check the Intructor's FAQ. That will give a quick tour of the service, explain how to get signed up (school code is 2078), and get you started creating assignments.

and More

Hotchkiss Mobile Directory

This is and will likely be a work in progress. It can inly be updated manually so it will almost always be out of date. Use at your own risk.

My Mobile Class Schedule

You probably don't have much interest in my class schedule but I'll share a work around to access your own on your mobile device.

  1. Go to your class schedule in Minerva and take a screenshot of it by pressing command-shift-4 and holding the mouse button down while dragging around the area you want to save.
  2. The resulting image file will be saved to your desktop. Upload to an online photo service (like Flickr) or any other file sharing service (like Dropbox) on the internet.
  3. Navigate to the web version of that image using the web browser on your mobile device.
  4. Save the location as a bookmark and add to your home screen. On iPhone/iPod Touch tap the middle button on the bottom navigation bar.

Slideshows in Preview

If you just need to display a bunch of image or pdf slides it's faster and easier to use Preview than create a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation. (Preview is also better at reading and printing pdfs but that's another rant.)

  1. Simply open the first file with Preview, use the view menu to open the sidebar if it's not already open.
  2. Now, simply drag image files directly into the sidebar in the order you would like to display them.
  3. When you are read to display, use the view menu and choose View Slideshow. For a larger view hit the fit to screen button.
  4. Use the arrow keys to navigate the images and use escape to get out of full screen mode.


LaTeXiT is a utility that allows you to quickly typeset equations using the LaTeX engine. Those equations can then be dragged as PDFs to presentation software, emails, chat windows, etc. LaTeX does have a steep learning curve but you know it it's fast and produces beautiful equations.

Browser Address Bar Searches

This feature is not supported in Apple's Safari, takes a bit of work to implement in Google Chrome and is included in Mozilla's Firefox. Basically it allows you to search any site without having to go to that site first. For example, to search Wikipedia for Justin Beiber I just go to my address bar, type wiki justin beiber and the Wikipedia page for Justin Beiber comes up. I have similar searches set up for Google Images, baseball stats,, Amazon, Fedex, Edsel Ford Library, Minerva, and more.

To make it work in Firefox go to the page you'd like to search and control-click in the empty search field. In the contextual menu that pops up choose Add keyword for this search... and fill in a short memorable keyword. I like to use as few letters as possible like, min for a Minerva search or wiki for a Wikipedia search.

For Google Chrome follow these longwinded instructions. I'm not sure how to do it in other browsers but Google probably does.