As you probably read from the last post, I haven’t been around for a bit. However, the past week (before Christmas break) and these first two days have been pretty exciting to watch my sixth grade students assemble their first iBook on solving One-Step Equations.

Teaching one-step equations to sixth grade has always been an interesting task, as these problems can usually be solved with mental math. You will meet a little bit of resistance as you clearly show how to use inverse operations to isolate the variable and then show a proper check to verify the solution. Read that last sentence? Yes, a bunch of jargon to middle school students who see the task as useless since they already know the answer. And telling them that they need to “know this for Pre-Algebra” is not a cure all.

This time around, instead of notes and practice, they listened to a few short videos created by our math peer tutors and then set about working on creating a 10+ page book on one-step equations. The result:

With over 130 books being finished, I won’t be able to post a viewing of all of them. Thank goodness (you say). Instead of going into detail about the project, below, you will find a list of tools that the students used and what they needed to accomplish through their book creation.

**Tools:** halfway into our first year with iPads and these students were content creation kings. *I stand firm on the idea that students will dig deeper and work harder if they not only are allowed to create in class, but also are able to share. This project hit both those, plus pushed them to research and gather information on their own.*

- Materials: iPad, notebook, pencil, carpet squares, peer tutor videos on equations, class blog
- Apps used:
**Book Creator**,**Explain Everything**,**Doceri**, Camera, Photos, PicCollage,**Dropbox**, iBooks, Safari

**Tasks**: My math peer tutors, all nineteen of them, spent two days creating one-step equation “how-to” videos for the students. The students then watched these and completed the questions with the peer tutors. Following that they started their book where they were to include an image of their notes/facts on one-step equations, state the inverse operation for each kind of equation, create two equations of their own (preferably with the second one using negatives), and then record a short video explaining the process verbally.

On a related topic, the introduction of video creation this year has been an excellent tool for strengthening vocabulary. Students of all ranges continually impress me with their regular use of math vocabulary in all their videos. This project had them creating four separate videos, all of which had to be less than 90 seconds each. Words like inverse, isolate, check, verify, solution, and opposite were the norm.

Back from the break and looking forward to the rest of the year! What was your favorite lesson or project during the first half of the school year?

Great idea, Dan. Engagement from the students and peer support can help a lot.

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Great post! Such a cool thing to see that teachers are letting their kids use technology like you do. Are you the only one/of the small few at your site? Or is this a school-wide goal?

Thanks John. There are four other teachers (all science) that have an iPad cart, as well. I believe the school is headed in the direction of implementing more devices in the coming years. It has been great to be a leader in this area and work towards finding ways to integrate them into the classroom!

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What a great way to meaningfully engage students! It is amazing how students gravitate towards technology, so when it can be effectively incorporated it enhances learning exponentially.

I do have a couple questions regarding your Creating Equations project. How much time was devoted to teaching the students how to use the technology? Had they been using the tools throughout the year leading up to this project? I ask because, as I begin to investigate effective ways to integrate technology into my classroom I am concerned about how much time it will take for students to get comfortable using different applications and create evidence of their learning.

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