Student: “How can we possibly be exactly 2/3 of the way through the school year if you rounded to 66.7% when converting the fraction to a percent? That is not the exact answer.”

Teacher: “Wait, wait, wait for it…oh! We just missed it. You’re right, now we have to round it because the exact moment just passed. But, hey, that means you can say less than 1/3 of the year left, right?!” And it’s Friday!

The year is going by so fast. Students will be entering the lab to complete state testing in a couple weeks, and that will be followed by numerous data reports that will point out where my students need specific interventions. Much of April will be spent implementing those and then back to the computer lab the first part of May. Testing, don’t you love it?

In the past years, I was still hitting new math standards all the way through the spring and into June. Lessons were more or less whole class, and I did not have effective ways of pulling groups. With our iPad integration, this year, my classroom has changed for the better in terms of implementing interventions and extension activities.

Here is what today looked like:

  • Students walked into class, grabbed iPad and headphones and set up their notebook with Continue reading

Creating Equation iBooks with Book Creator

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?

Can I Return in the New Year?

It feels like it has been ages since my last post. 50 days to be exact! Wow, time sure flies, and yet when we are so busy it also seems to crawl. Being a first year blogger, I was committed to regularly reflecting and writing technology posts, this year. Sometimes, things like teaching, coaching, my wife, working on my masters, planning, more teaching, and continuing to put a lot of time into the new technology we have in our classroom supercedes my motivation to write. And there are no kids running around our house; how do you others do it?!

As we finish up our first iBooks project, tomorrow, seeing the students’ work has been so exciting; thus, I couldn’t resist putting up a post about it (here).

Now to carve out some time to blog a little more. Wait, track & field starts in March! hmmm…again, impressed with so many teachers in their ability to spend a little time each week to share with the world. Keep on blogging!

#12 – Technology Integration Tools: Socrative

With the integration of iPads in our math class, I have been using a free progress monitoring tool, called Socrative. Students simply type in a five-digit room number and they are connected to the discussion questions and math problems presented on the board or directly on the Socrative iPad app.

There are two apps, a teacher and student version. As students participate, the teacher app shows live results of all responses, whether it is multiple choice or short answer. Additionally, if you are having the students take a quiz, you can monitor their progress as they complete each question. Afterwards, click download or email report to receive a copy of the responses and scores broken down by student. The fact that it comes in spreadsheet form is great for additional data manipulation and grading of the short response answers.

Space Race! The students love that the app provides the built-in option for classroom competition. We can assign teams or have the system randomly assign each iPad a color and the students are off and racing to help get their team to the finish line first.

You know those few students who just cannot seem to get everything together at the beginning of each period, especially in time to work on the math warm up. Integrating the warm up questions into multiple choice or short answer responses on Socrative has provided them with motivation to be engaged right when the bell rings.

So far I have used Socrative for daily warm-ups, practice problems, quizzes, and re-takes. The use of the short answer feature has also been used multiple times to gather feedback on student thinking on how they would teach a particular problem / lesson. Student created videos are even better for hearing students think and speak math, but sometimes I do not have time to listen to over a hundred videos. Scanning a list of responses and looking for key words and phrases is very helpful!

Here is a quick demonstration of how Socrative works:

Socrative, in some ways, is like the clicker system that I used from Turning Technologies, last year. Yet, it is free! Plus, it is not limited to mobile devices, as it works just as well on a PC or Mac. However, using a regular computer for quick check-ins is not as easy, unless students are already working on the computers. That was my main issue last year with laptops, as they would take a good five to seven minutes to boot up.

Day in the Life of a Math Teacher 2012 #DITLife

The day below, comes from Thursday, November 15th, 2012

6:05 – Alarm goes off and I am up and getting ready within a few minutes.

6:20 – Wife’s alarm goes off. I finish up and head on down stairs to let the dog out, feed her, make my lunch and grab a bowl of oats (mixed with bananas today).

6:50 – After checking email, a few new blog posts, and packing up my school laptop, I am headed out the door for my 35 minute drive to school.

7:27 – I get to school and park right next to the door leading to my classroom. Being the youngest teacher, maybe I should not take the closes parking spot, but since there is usually only one or two other cars when I arrive each morning, it is a habit.

7:30 – As I open up school email, I see that a few students have submitted requests via a Google form for me to reset their online practice sections on ratios. I do this, respond to them, and then reset any other students who do not have a score of 70%, yet, in some of their sections. I have used the ThatQuiz website for about a month now for developing practice questions and dipping into the teacher resource bank.

7:40 – Open up SMART Notebook and put together the slides we will be using in our Math Concepts classes. Today, these include our warm up, example questions on ratios and creating equivalent ratios that describes a relationship between two quantities, and then I layout out the group practice directions, on the last slide.

8:05 – I open up our online HW check-in spreadsheet and Continue reading