Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using Technology in Junior High Math: Learning with cell phones and iPads and computers OH MY!

My wife is a junior high algebra and pre algebra teacher for Pleasant Valley Junior High. She does not like to give herself credit for the hard work and time she devotes to teaching math. She forms great relationships with the students and with that foundation kids come to class everyday ready to learn math.....even the ones that don't like math.

One of her goals this year has been to work on shifting to Common Core and more importantly to engage students with the concepts. After a great presentation and keynote speaker yesterday during our professional development day with George Couros and doing some presenting myself I could not help but think that I was missing something. It finally hit me that my wife has been doing some great and amazing things with technology in her math class. I often think that math is such a tough content area to connect with students and to make relevant. Most junior high students don't think big picture and don't hear why this or that is important to their lives.

I asked my wife to share with me some of her recent lessons. I hope you find them useful and if you have suggestions or perhaps even other great ideas to share that would be wonderful. 

As teachers we are all "Idea Bandits" where we search, read, and research ideas and then tweak them to make them our own. These ideas originated from me throwing out some questions of help on my PLN as well as her looking online for ideas. 

Idea #1: Students create videos for to help them review

My wife used Wallwisher which is now Padlet(new and improved) with her students. For a review for a test over concepts she gave each student a question to prepare and explain how to solve. She gave each of them a hard copy of all the problems first so they could see what the problem looked like before they watched the video.

To record students they kept things simple to start. They used good old whiteboards and used the camera option to record. They spread out in hallways and classrooms to record. Anytime you try something new you always test the waters, reflect, and make changes. There are apps that can help make this even better like Screenchomp which she plans on using next. This is one app worth having if you have the opportunity for iPads in your school. If you don't have iPads there are other ways to do this very project using Flip videos for example. I will be adding how to screencast without iPads(my school does not have iPads at the middle school) over on my classroom tools wiki page as well as tutorials on how to use these apps and tools(will be posted within a week).

After they recorded their screencast and explanations the students then uploaded them to Padlet where all students could see all the problems. This way students could go and access the video they needed. There was no wasting time by having to sit through problems they already knew how to do. They could just go to where they needed help. Really, this is a whole flipped classroom and crowdsourcing project that benefits everyone.

Here is a link to the final results of her review assignment. The students really liked this project. The kids did say that sometimes the videos took a while to load. I think if using at home it would be faster as most schools internet is slow anyways

I will be posting her next cool math idea soon. It is titled Texting Olympics. Stay tuned.

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