Thursday, December 12, 2013


Yesterday while the students worked on their projects using Haiku Deck or Book Creator, they asked if they could make a movie next time.  I had not planned on adding movie apps but since they made the request, I will need to to think about how to use such an app effectively after I research which video app to use.  I know there is iMovie but we are not set up to purchase any apps so I need to look for free apps which would do the same job. 
I also had a student in my Geometry class use my whiteboard to write proofs for his examples of various congruency postulates and theorems so he could snap the pictures of them for his presentation.  I was so thrilled that he took the step to do this.  My students would rather just copy and paste something than create something original so I am working on teaching them to at least note where they get any work.  Any students who snapped pictures of the proof on the board were told to give the student credit for his work. 
So many times they surprise me with their work or their requests. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Too many apps not enough time.

I read about what others are having their students doing in math classes and want to try them in my classroom.  Unfortunately, I am a bit like a child in a candy store and want to try to integrate everything I can into my classroom but it won't work.  A little more than half my students are classified ELL so they do not always have a good grasp on Mathematical language while others are still struggling with the basics such as their multiplication tables.  With the increased pressure for students to do better with standardized test, the new common core standards and assorted dictates by the state, I am coming to realize that I cannot do all the activities I want to do.  I have to take a step back and really look at what concepts so I need my students to grasp, what vocabulary do they need to have and what is the best way to accomplish it.  I've got apps that will quiz my students on certain math topics but I'm not using those as much as I should. I've found websites which have nice instruction that I don't use.  I think over the holidays, I need to rethink my teaching to focus on those topics and see if I can improve my integration of the iPads in the classroom.  It is too easy to get caught up in using apps just to use them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

almost the end of the semester.

Over the semester, I have learned so much.  One big thing I've learned is that students do not share apps very well with each other so I will have to make sure that when I put on apps so students can make their own films/videos/visual podcasts, I am going to need at least 5 different ones.  I also need to make sure I have 5 different notetaking apps and 5 different mindmapping apps.  I am beginning to see advantages with students having their own assigned iPads.  I thought they could play nicely but people keep deleting other peoples work, rearranging and making certain apps invisible or deleting them. 
This just means that I am going to have to tighten up control of who uses which iPads and keeping track of things so that when a project or paper disappears, I'll have a better idea of who is responsible.  All the things that I stumble across as I am learning. 
I also hope over the holidays to get several things set up so I am ready to begin the new semester. I will be making some changes to the process but the changes are due to what I've learned.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Big issue with shared iPads.

I gave my students some time this week to work on their projects that are due Friday.  Apparently, students from one period are deleting work from other periods, some seems to be completely disappearing and the big one which is students do not remember which iPad they were using. They yell their work disappeared and it turns out they grabbed the wrong iPad.  I think we also lost some work when we had to redo the iPads because folks deleted apps, downloaded the latest upgrade, etc. 
I think the next time I assign projects, I am going to have more apps and assign one app to each class. This way students have no reason to mess with someone else's work.  I know for notes, I've had to assign a different notetaking app to each class to make things easier. 
I already know I am going to look up various presentation type apps so when I do this again, each student will have one app to work on and one notetaking app.  I hope to add apps to allow them to create podcasts, etc. It is all one step at a time.  I learn as I go.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Second thoughts on new graphing app.

I had thought about putting a second graphing app on the set of classroom iPads that would allow students to graph inequalities but after Friday's class, I realized that my students do not know enough about graphing to know when they have entered the material incorrectly.  I took them back and reviewed graphing by hand using the slope intercept form and then showed a video on graphing systems of inequalities.  This time the students had a better idea when the graphs on the app were correct or not quite right. 
This reminded me that too many of my students accept what technology produces as always correct.  They don't take time to do a quick check to see if the answer is reasonable or too far off.  So in my opinion, we have to balance the use of technology with students learning enough of the material to know if they get a reasonable answer.  I sometimes think we put too much emphasis on integrating technology and not enough on students understanding the material.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

suggestion from a kid.

Today as a warm up problem I asked one that used a hexagon and rubber bands from one vertex to another.  One of my students asked if they could use the geoboard to figure out the answer.  I had not thought of using the geoboard that way.  I realized that I could have used the geoboard when I was teaching the exterior angle theorem and the triangle sum theorem.  I need to research ways to use geoboard more in my geometry class.  When I went through college, high school students did not use manipulatives and now they do.
The other thing I need to research is the availability of a free graphing app that would allow students to graph systems of inequalities or rotation of conic sections.  As I learn to use the graphing apps I have, I learn what they do not do and what I need covered.  On the other hand, I discovered one of the graphing apps I use has a unit converter so students can find out things like the number of cups in a quart, or number of ounces in a pound.  This is awesome because the kids do not have to keep a conversion chart handy.  I usually let the kids have fun learning the apps so they can teach each other.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Technology PLC

Today we had our first meeting of the Technology Professional Learning Committee. We discussed where we want to head with the group.  After setting goals, we started looking at certain programs/apps that could be used either on the iPad or computers or preferably both.   We looked at Schoology as two of us are already using that, Edmodo which also offers a use with the subtext app and Exit ticket.  I downloaded a 4 week lesson plan so the group of us can learn to use the program and evaluate its use.  I showed the information to the head of the best practices group and the facilitator is rather interested in it.
The two who are currently using Schoology are quite happy with it but both are still learning to use it.  Each program is going to take a while to fully understand and figure out the best way to use so we are using best practices.  I think we are going to explore a new program each time we visit so we can evaluate its potential.  So far, it looks like these three are going to work well in my Math classroom.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dictionary app

As part of the warm-up I have the students do, I include a compare and contrast.  Since over half of my students are classified as ELL (English Language Learners), this type of exercise helps my students develop their vocabulary.  Research indicates that many mathematical terms have both an English and a specialized definition while others are specifically mathematically oriented.  I am hoping my students knowledge of mathematical terms increases.  One of my students asked if I could get a dictionary app put on the iPads so they can look up the definitions.  This is a nice request.  Currently many of my students automatically head to the internet to look up information.  I also allow them to check the internet to help them answer standardized test questions.
I also had my first period students take a quick quiz on ratios using Thump Ultimate.  Most of them didn't do any better than the first time they took this same quiz.  I also had them take a quiz on fractions and decimals.  Something else they need to work on.  The nice thing about this app is that it explains why the choice was wrong.  They get to try the problem again.
As I check the various quizzes in this app, I am finding more and more quizzes that I can use in all of my different classes.  This makes it even more valuable to use in the classroom.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The internet or lack there of.

I arrived at school this morning to find the internet was still down.  I was unable to prep by making QR codes for the warm-ups, I couldn't find the videos I normally use in class, couldn't print off anything or post anything to the web.  I didn't realize how much I use the internet to prep for class.  The only thing that I was able to use today was one of the games.  Due to a medical emergency, I had another class moved into my room and I let them play prime smash.  Several of the kids had so much fun with it.  Several others opened Garage Band and created music to enjoy while waiting for the medical emergency to end.  I heard some really awesome music being created with just a few instruments.  I am looking forward to having things back to normal. 
Tomorrow I am hoping to post the answers for the worksheet I gave the students today.  The answers had too many characters to post as a QR code.  Maybe I am going to have to post the sheet or post them to the classes in Schoology so the kids can check it on their own.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Unexpected complement today

As you know, I teach high school math but what you may not know, is that I teach in a one school district.  K to 12 is in one building and we have a little over 300 students.  Since I've been pioneering the iPads in the classroom, I'm considered the expert.  The tech department passed out a bunch of mini-iPads to the elementary classes. The 5th/6th grade math/science teacher told me today that he had his iPads imaged with all the same apps as on my classroom iPads.  He has his students using prime smash and algeboats to help the improve their skills.  He even said he was addicted to Prime smash......LOL.  As I find programs, I am sharing the apps with him and he is having fun integrating them.
I also found out that beginning in January, the person in charge of our weekly Wednesday inservice/whatever is going to try to give me one day a week to conduct technology training classes for the teachers who now have iPads in their classrooms but are not sure how to use them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Last post till Dec 2nd

With the thanksgiving weekend starting tomorrow, I am not going to post till December 2.  I showed the kindergarten how to create a QR code so she could create a QR code with the url for which has some great math material for pre-k and kindergarten.  She said the kids loved playing with the QR scan program but after a few times of doing this, they will start doing more of the math work.  She likes the site because the answers have sound since her kids cannot read the written material and the sound provides a verbal.
I also spoke with another teacher on ways she can have kids annotate a pdf file and be able to save the work in a safe location as we can neither use dropbox nor google docs.  I know she uses Edmodo so I worked out ways she can use that. 
On the other hand, I am working out ways to have my students take quizzes in a way so they can fill in a blank with the actual answer so I can do something other than multiple choice on the computer.  Since our state is going to be giving computer based tests starting in the spring, I need to get students used to taking tests that way, otherwise they may not do as well as they could.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A web site with quizzes.

The problem with using online quiz or practice sites, is that many sites use java or flash and cannot be used on the iPads.  Today, I had two different classes use to practice.  One class used it to practice identifying congruent triangles using SSS and SAS, while the others class worked on writing an equation using the point slope form.  Both worked really well.  The only issue is that students are only allowed a certain number of practice problems each day before you are told that you need to join.  I liked using the website because if the students missed the problem, they were told exactly what they did wrong and how they should have done it.  The kids enjoyed working and learned the material.  I plan to use this website again.
On the other hand, we are still having issues with google.  I know the tech dept is working on getting us set up with google docs but that won't be for a while.  Up to recently, the head of the tech dept has said no to google docs.  We are not allowed to use Dropbox and we are trying to get the ability to use youtube videos without out getting preapproval through the tech dept to get the one video unblocked for the day.  Life is always a challenge.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm glad it was Friday.

I had my 6th period take the quiz in Schoology but it took almost 15 min to get them all on because they forgot their username, they forgot or changed the password and then the internet got persnickety.  A couple students started the quiz and quit so they could retake it and discovered about the third time they couldn't take it again.  So we are going to try again Monday.  I am going to try making quizzes in a couple of other classes.  It is all one step at a time.  Next step is to have them lean to use the calendar feature so I don't have them always asking "When is this due?"
One shift that is happening is my students are coming in to work on their big projects that are due in about two weeks. I also need to download an app that will let students solve systems of equations automatically so they can check their work.  If they know their answers are wrong, they will know it before they turn it in.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

google and Schoology

Due to reasons beyond anyone's control, we cannot access any portion of google at work.  This is making it much harder because I can't access any google docs, the community, not even my blog.  So until they get that fixed, I have to wait till I get home.
Another teacher showed me something I didn't realize was in Schoology.  As I mentioned earlier, I am learning to use the app and getting my students used to checking it for assignments.  Today another teacher showed me that within the quiz/test option is a way of attaching common core standards. That is cool.  I also created my first quiz. Six questions were short answer and four were multiple choice. I want students to identify the slope and y-intercept in equations in the slope intercept form.  I choose the short answer questions although I now realize that I could have used the fill in the blank type questions.  I am going to keep that in mind. Little by little, I am learning to use the program and in the process I am working on getting students to check it for grades.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

levels and depths

Yesterday, I discovered that one of the apps I chose had more depth than I anticipated and my students are developing some patience.  I used a free app called Thump Ultimate which has several quizzes grouped according to areas such as number sense, basic algebra, etc.  I discovered that each quiz in various area checks for something different.  I found that one quiz under number sense checked for knowledge of ratios which is what we just started in one of my classes.  I had my students take it and the results range from 2/10 to 6/10.  I am thinking of having students retake the quiz at the end of the unit so that I have done a pre and post assessment.  The great thing about yesterday was simply for the first time, my students actually stopped and read the explanations when they missed a questions.  Last time they used this app, they just closed the explanation boxes and moved on, this time they read the explanations.  I do like that about this app.  When a student selects a wrong answer, a dialogue box pops up to explain why the student missed the problem. 
This is a group who up until this year has always rushed through anything that required reading.  They have been slowing and discovered when they slow down and actually read the material, their scores go up.  This is a major step.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Exit tickets

I know exit tickets are a great thing to use for the last few minutes of class after the students clean up. I have posed a couple of questions and had the students create a QR code with the answer but I'm thinking that instead of writing something I can have students play a short game on one of the apps I have on the iPads.  I think that giving a short time to play certain games will allow the students to enjoy a round without getting bored. I have a couple of students who have a very short attention span and easily give up if they can't win.  Using only the last 5 min or so would allow them to develop skills yet not get frustrated or bored.  I am hoping they will also learn.  I could make it the last 10 min and have them play the game, then create a QR code of what they learned from the game. 
Since my students are ELL, any chance I can have them speak or write will help increase their vocabulary development.  Yesterday, three students came up to the smartboard and discussed how to find the answer to one of the standardized test questions.  This is something they were not doing at the beginning of the year but now we have increased mathematical dialogues.  I am thrilled with the developing conversations.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My!

This weekend, as I was planning this weeks activities, I realized that I have so much technology I want to use in class but I do not have the time.  I spent the summer looking for some game type apps that I could have the students use as a reward but would reinforce their mathematical skills.  There is one or two games they like but the response depends on the child.  The 9th graders love playing the games but the seniors are too "cool" to play such games.  One reason is that it is hard to find good games for the students who are below grade level that are not created for middle school students.  I also wonder if my students are so used to playing certain types of games on their mobile devices that they find many of the educational games "Boring." Then I am faced with the question of "How educational is the educational game?"  I read an article that stated the 8 of the top 10 paid "educational" games were not educational and they explained why they took this position.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the push to integrate technology into the classroom with little or no guidance and time.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Break through

Since the beginning of this school year, I have been integrating literacy techniques into my mathematics class.  I have also been using open ended questions and questions that require my students to discuss materials among themselves.  One of the things that I have been having my students do recently is to create word problems using certain key words.  As students share their problems, we take time to correct the grammar, the word usage, etc in the hopes that my ELL students improve their vocabulary and understanding of mathmatics. 
I have a class where I work with students who did not pass the graduation test in Mathematics.  Although most did not pass the test this last time, the majority of them improved their score from last spring and today we looked at all their scores and they decided what they should study next.  This is an awesome shift in their attitude and they seem to be taking ownership of their learning.  This is a tremendous step for these students.
Yesterday, I attended a teleconference where the presenter was suggesting a app called Aurasma but honestly it is something I need to investigate and see if it is worth integrating into math.  I am still not sure what it actually does and how it fits into Blooms Digital Taxonomy.  I know the idea is to have students create but is the creation being used to make something that is digital that is just a regurgitation of the material or if it is a true creation which uses higher order thinking skills.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SAS Flash cards

Due to an early out on Wednesdays, we have a short 25 min "study hall".  Rather than letting kids catch up on their work, I gave them a list of mathematical vocabulary for Grade 8 TAK test from Texas.  Although I do not work in TX, the list has a great list of vocabulary words.  The students began constructing a deck with the word, an image, the definition and an audio component.  The kids were having a great time creating their decks.  The nice thing about this program aside from being free is that it allows students to create a standard deck with the word on front and the definition of the word.  In addition, the students could create a deck with multiple choice, true or false, fill in the blank or a mathematical problem. One young lady was having so much fun creating a deck with audio. 
The elementary immersion program has been looking for something like this so I showed it to the tech dept and he thinks it is going to do precisely what they want because the app can be used to create flash cards for any subject. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I organized a choice of projects and backed the number down from 3 to 1 because my students are not used to creating anything.  The students tend to freeze when faced with what they see as something that is insurmountable.  I am giving them a bit of time once a week to work on it and they are very much into the "Am I doing this right?" and "What do I do next."  Overall, some of the students are starting to take small fledgling steps.  Since they are easily frustrated, I put most students on Haiku Deck to create their presentations.  Haiku deck is free and it allows them to change the theme, text, make lists, add pictures and has pictures available for use.  It is a good app to start students in creating a digital work. 
This project is also allowing students to learn how to write their own material and learn it better.  It is another way of presenting it to them.  I went over plagiarism and explained that if they take anything off the internet, they must give credit to the person who originally created it.  My students are so used to being allowed to cut and paste anything they want in their computer classes that it is a fight to get them to understand they cannot do that without proper acknowledgement.
I do not need to run the text through anything because so many of my students are ELL and if the phrasing does not sound like them,  I simply ask them to clarify what they wrote and usually they can't tell me what it means so they have to rewrite it.
This is also the first time I have assigned something like this so I am trying to help them learn the app, learn to create something that will match up with Blooms Digital Taxonomy, and teach them about paraphrasing and plagiarism.  Did I mange it?  I don't know but I do know this is a learning experience for both the students and myself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

flipped classrooms and other things.

Many of my students do not have access to the internet nor do they have unlimited data plans.  So I cannot use it.  What I am finding is that I have to integrate short videos into class time for material we are going to cover if I am getting ready to move on or show a video on the topic we are working on.  The kids often sit there and talk to the screen as the material is being presented. 
This morning, I showed a video on rate of change and slope in real life.  Once it was done, I replayed the video and we stopped it at important parts and discussed it.   When we started using the slope formula, the kids did a pretty good job of working the equation.  So at this rate, I may replace part of the direct instruction time with videos to help students learn more.
I find that I have to watch my mindset in regard to technology.  I have been teaching for a very long time and when I started we still did the lecture and worksheets classroom.  High school math teachers did not do much if anything using videos, games or even manipulatives.  We just lectured and let them practice.  Now I'm spending time integrating technology into the classroom and I am working on staying one step a head of the students while helping them learn to use the iPad as a tool, not a toy.  In the last couple of years, my teaching style has changed quite a bit.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Increasing QR code use

This week I have added QR code use in the classroom. First, I added a QR code to their homework which has the answers.  They still have to show their work but they have a way of checking their work. Second, I am using the QR code as their exit ticket. Today I am asking them to find their grade and create a QR code with that grade. This helps them become more familiar with making QR codes and it eliminates the 'I didn't know what my grade was!"  I plan to make the QR codes as exit tickets a regular event in my classroom.  Some of my students do not have a QR scanner on their mobile devices so they used the iPads to scan the QR code, find the answers to their homework and hand write the answers on their homework sheet.  I am happy they are taking some responsibility for making sure they get their homework right.
The next step is to get them to regularly look at what is due so tomorrow's exit ticket will be for them to look at the assignments list and write down what is due this week.  I am hoping by doing this on a regular basis, they will learn to be more aware of deadlines.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Nearpod, Haiku deck.

The training sesson on Nearpod went well yesterday afternoon.  I had elementary teachers who came in to experience it and take their first steps towards creating their own presentations.  Everyone who attended signed up for their free account and that is about as far as we got so we decided to continue the session next week Thursday after school.  I expect to create a page of instructions so they will have both audio and visual instruction during that session.
I have two classes working on presentations using Haiku deck.  This is a nice free app that allows students to select a theme, add text and pictures to create a slide show/presentation. The kids are enjoying working with it because it comes with its own photos.  One class is using Haiku deck to create presentations on classifying triangles.  One girl found a wonderful picture of triangular slices of watermelon to illustrate isosceles triangles.  This is the first time I've had them work on any projects and they did a great job getting started.
The kids love using the iPads in class.  Several students snap pictures of the warm-ups on the board and then copy the material from the photo to their warm-up sheets.  They do the same thing for standardized test questions and for notes so the whole class does not get held up because they copy at a slower pace than others.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nearpod and Schoology

I am working with the tech dept to give a training session on Nearpod this afternoon.  I have a presentation that shows some possibilities and then I'll help them set up an account and start their own presentation.
In a couple weeks, I'll help the tech dept give a presentation on Schoology and using it.  I even spoke to the person in charge of the after school program for college bound students and I am going to show her how it works and how it might serve her better.  I am having fun setting up all sorts of things on it and getting my students to use the discussion.  They love commenting on each other's comments. 
I had first period find two uses of linear equations and then had them post what they found to the discussion group.  It went quite well.
I had kids start using Book Creator and discovered the free version only allows you to create one book.  I don't remember reading anything about the free version only allowing for one book.  It just means I can only let one class use it and once we are done with the unit, I"ll have to delete the book or have the book sent to me to save for them.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Step by step

Everytime, I think I have the kids to a point where they will start running off and doing technology, they stop.  I don't know if it is a fear of being wrong or of failing.  So today, after a quick warm-up, I am going to have them open the Book Creator app and have them do one thing in there.  I think this might give them confidence to start working on the projects a bit more independently.  I told them to choose 3 but I think I overwhelmed them with the choices and they were not sure how to start. Today's activity will help them get started.  I look forward to seeing how well it goes.
On the other hand, I am working on a Nearpod presentation for a training session tomorrow afternoon.  I"ll be working with the tech trainer to show other teachers here, ways to use the app in any topic and use it so their presentation is interactive.  The only down side to Nearpod is the bandwidth issue but it is a good program.  I have been working with the Kindergarten teacher to create nearpod presentations for reading.  She is setting it up so the kids can answer simple questions, draw on the page, and do a short quiz that has pictures to help the.  She is enjoying using it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I am getting quite a few students signed into schoology. So far my seniors have reacted the most positively because the interface reminds them of facebook. One of them posted a comment before anyone else.  I had a hard time getting them to actually log off and start today's work.  The next step after I get everyone registered and on is to start sending information to them so they will get in the habit of checking for messages or posting messages.  This means I need to start a discussion so they can comment tomorrow.  I think the discussion will focus on the word problems they are working on.  Since I work with ELL students, I am trying to increase the opportunities they have to communicate both in written and oral formats. 
Early next week, I am going to have them use a google earth math lesson so they know more about using the program.  I know there is one on linear equations and I need to see if there are others they can use.  On Thursday afternoon, I get to help the tech dept run a training session on using Nearpod.  I am so excited about that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Argggg and did it.

I will start with the did it.  I handed out the project requirements for each class.  I ended up using 4 apps on the iPad.  Book Creator, Google Earth, Garage Band and Showme.  The 5th one I stated they could use any app on the iPad to complete the assignment and they could use their own mobile devices to complete the assignment.  This is the first time I've used learning menus so we will see how it goes.  One choice is for them to create mathematical problems on the topic using Google earth.  I decided that I will have them complete a math problem or two using Google Earth so they know how it works.  I gave them a month to complete it so we will see. So far the only complaints I"ve gotten are with the students who have me for two periods.
As for the Arggggg, I am trying to set up schoology to use with my students.  I am trying to figure out how to get them in as members and I am having trouble finding the information so I am going to have to go to the 6th grade teacher who uses it.  She said there is a way to do this.  When I"ve tried to bring up the help answers, the web page won't come up so I need to try a different browser to see if that is the problem.  I want to get this going as soon as I can.
Yes I talk about what I am doing but it gives me a record of what I'm doing so I know what works and what does not for next year.

Update:  I found out how to get my kids onto schoology using only a username and no e-mail. This is awesome because it means that I don't have to mess with things.  I had them use a common password just to simplify things overall.  First step taken.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Calculators, thoughts and a student question.

This morning I explained to my Algebra II class that beginning next week I will be assigning a set of projects for part of their quarter grade.  At the end a student raised his hand and asked if he could do the projects on his own mobile devices rather than on the class iPad set.  This shows me that he would like to be able to work independently and work outside of class.  I said I'd let them know on Monday but I was beaming inside at his question.  I think I am going to allow it.
When I was growing up we learned our math facts and could do them in our sleep.  Now there are all sorts of calculators for students to use including equation solvers.  Even our state tests will allow calculators that they provide as part of the online test.  My concern is that most students accept the answer they get as the correct answer.  They do not take a min to check to see it is reasonable.  Almost like the idea that if they find it on the internet, it is the total truth. 
I am thinking of having students use the equation solvers when we do systems of equations to show their work.  They will show their work but may check the answers for problems that are not in the book.  If they provide answers only, I do not plan on accepting the assignment.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Next week.

Next week, I plan to pass out a list of projects/activities that students can choose from.  I think the list will have 6 choices and they will select 4 to complete and turn in by a certain date.  I've decided that they can create a book, prepare a podcast, prepare a white board presentation using showme, create a math lesson using google earth and make a short video presentation.  By choosing these general activities all my classes can do something. I need to set up the parameters for each activity so they are doing the higher level of Blooms technological taxonomy and it expands their knowledge.  It will also require they actually create a detailed product which I like.
This is a big step for my students and I hope it works.  I will have to schedule time for them to work on the projects but I think it will work.
On the other hand, I've been asking questions that have been opening up mathematical dialogue to develop their language skills.  I work with quite a few students who are classified ELL. Today, I asked can you take two concave shapes to make one convex shape.  This question produced a good conversation among my students as they talked about it.  Warmup questions are good for introducing material, reviewing or working on vocabulary.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A thought that lead to a question.

I was reading about Amazon's new kindle match program.  If you purchased a hard back copy of a book in the past so many years, you can buy the kindle version for either $0, $1.99 or $2.99.  Some are available and some will soon be available.  One of the books I purchased for work is now being offered in kindle format.  This lead my mind to wonder if I could copy a page from the kindle book to move into either one of the apps on the iPad so my students can work on the page on the Ipad and then turn it in.  I know I can use the physical book and scan it using a copy machine or via the scanner in the library but this makes things a bit more complex in that it requires a few extra steps. 
The most obvious way is to do a screen shot and use that for the students to mark up or write answers on but I would probably first have to convert the screen shot from jpeg to a pdf. 
hmmm. This is beginning to offer so many possibilities.  To me using technology in the classroom is all about opening possibilities.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Virtual manipulatives.

I am getting frustrated.  The only real free virtual manipulatives I've found as apps for the iPad is one for fractions, decimals and percents.  I found one free app that uses virtual manipulatives to show how to solve equations but it does not let them play in the way I"d like to see.  All the websites I've found do not work because they either require flash or java which does not work directly with the iPad.  In order to use them, I would have to use an app that sends the materials through another server which then sends the results back to the browser.  It is slow and sometimes doesn't work well. 
I think that due to the rapidly expanding nature of mobile devices, there are going to be areas that are behind.  I have even checked book publisher websites and their virtual manipulatives do not work.  This is rather frustrating in that I would like my students to use both real and virtual manipulatives. 
Oh well.
I gave a test and let students use the notes on their iPads and it went quite well.  I had them place the iPads on the side of the room and they could refer to their notes if they had questions.  The students did a good job and I think I will let them do it again. 
I have several students who regular snap pictures of my notes and examples so they have access to the problems without slowing down the class during lectures.  They are doing this to keep up and they enjoy it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Who is ahead: tearchers or teacher training?

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with a professor from the local university. She was visiting our school to work with some students.  We got to talking about the uses of technology in the classroom and I had the opportunity to speak with her.  She stated that the technology class at her school needs revamping because it is behind in terms of the amount of technology that is available and students are going to need to know how to utilize various mobile devices.  I only got my Master's a few years ago and already what I learned in that class is totally updated.  I've also found that when trainers come out to help us with various programs, the trainer is great at english or social studies but ask about the programs applications for math or science and I usually get a blank stare with the comment "I'm not a math person.  I"ll relay your question to the math person."  I never hear back from them.
I think that technology class for incoming teachers can be designed to change as the mobile device world changes.  Technology is rapidly changing and a technology class needs to be designed to be quite flexible.

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Quarter and learning menus

I want to start learning menus to provide a quarter or chapter end option to prepare them better for the major tests.  Yesterday's idea with the geoboard and Book Creater apps made me realize, I have all the apps I need to set it up and start doing it.  I am not utilizing the full potential yet and this is one way to increase student knowledge of both Math and the mobile devices.  I have showme, garage band, notebooks, book creator, google earth, an app with a word type creator, a spreadsheet and a power point type app.  These alone can give me a good supply of apps to create a menu to meet the different learning styles of the students.  I could easily give them half the period on Friday's to work towards completing the projects. 
I am going to put Google earth on the iPads this weekend along with garage band and schoology so I can implement activities from Real World Math in my classroom, teach them to make pod casts and have a place to pass out and receive work, information, etc.  By the end of the year, my classroom will be so much more integrated than it was last year.  My goal is to have my teaching so it has technology integrated into it effectively by 2016.
This morning on the warm-up, I gave my students a question on the type of triangle that is the basis for a Nautilus and they promptly pulled up the web browser to find the answer.  They showed enough interest so that Monday, I will be playing a short podcast/video from iTunes university on the topic.  Talk about a learning moment. 

I know what I will be doing this weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Geoboards and Book Creator

Yesterday I ended up having a preschooler in my room while I was doing work after school.  I put her on geometry pad and she did very, very, well on it.  She had a lovely time making patterns and showing me her creations.  This reminded me that if I give students free reign to choose a program, many choose this to play with and create patterns.  I think given a chance, students enjoy creating their own original art.  My geometry class will soon start learning about congruent triangles after they learn about classifying angles.  I've decided they can make a small book using Book Creator on classifying triangles by sides or angles using the geoboard for the illustrations and they can put in the information using text.  The next step in the process would be to have students using showme or other such program to make a presentation for the different theorems used in proving congruent triangles.
Each day I find more things I can do with the free apps I have.  I will start this in about 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barron's Algebra App

I had a shock yesterday when I had my Algebra I class do the first quiz in Barron's Algebra App.  In order to unlock the game, the individual student had to score an 80 or better answer 20 problems that only used signed numbers and the four basic operations.  An example of a problem was -2 + 5 -(-3) =
The highest score was 65%.  These are 9th graders who took pre-algebra last year and took a basic college math class last year.  This app gave me a way of obtaining student data in a quick and easy manner so that I know what I need to scaffold.  I think the next time I have them do a quiz such as this on an app, I will record student scores.
I tried using nearpod in my last class yesterday and we had issues with it.  I found out later that there are at least two other classes using the internet at the same time because only 5 students were able to log on out of a class of 20.  Now I have to figure out a way of being able to use it or give it up.
As far as virtual manipulative websites, I am looking at the individual websites to see if they work on the iPad.  It appears that due to several using Java applets, there may not be any apps out there that would allow me to access any of the sites.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Virtual manipulaties vs real manipulatives.

I have been wondering about if there is a difference in student learning when they use virtual manipulatives rather than real manipulatives.  This question came about from watching a student play solitaire on his iphone and when I asked him if he could play the same game using real cards, he gave me a funny look and said no as if he didn't need to know how to actually deal the game.  One of the apps I've had them use requires them to use a virtual balance for solving multi-step equations and some of them had a fair bit of trouble.  I think the trouble was not moving pieces around but transferring the information from the tablet to the problems on the paper. 
The nice thing about virtual manipulatives is that students do not loose the pieces and can easily redo the activity again and again.  
I think on Thursday, I am going to have them use real manipulatives (the squares for one and the long ones for the variables) and see if the transference is any better.  This is a topic I need to research to find information on.  The other thing about virtual manipulatives is that most websites I would use are not usable on the iPad due to the site needing flash. 
Furthermore, there are few apps that allow the iPad to use flash and I have to finish checking that out. Usually these apps run the flash on a remote server and stream it to the iPad.  This can create a bandwidth issue.
So over the next few days, I am going to see which virtual manipulative websites currently work with the iPad and I will post a list as I find them

Monday, October 21, 2013

HUP Algebra free app

I chose this app over the summer because it has some nice videos included with it.  Unfortunately, it turns out my students cannot access the videos because they are through youtube and youtube is blocked by the tech dept.  Both the students and I were disappointed because of that. They learn quite well watching videos.  On the other hand, the program has some nice try it problems that can be checked.  If they make a mistake, the app tells them what they should be doing and they get a chance to rework it.  I really liked that students get a chance to redo it and are prompted in what to do.  The kids actually enjoyed using it and were really focused on it.
I have a couple other apps that do this type of thing and I'm slowly having my students use each of the apps to see how well they work in the classroom.  When they used ultimate thump, they ignored the pop up window telling them how to do it but when I made it a competition for most correct, they paid more attention to what they were doing rather than just going through it and choosing any answer.  These kids can be quite competitive.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I just got told that our school will be getting us updated so we will have access to google docs, google education, etc.  I am so looking forward to having those available.  This is going to make it much easier for me to share scanned material with the students.  I can see so much potential for using the iPads in a style that allows them to learn some 21st century work skills while learning the academic subjects.  Now with google, I'll be able to use subtext and I have to see if schoology uses a google sign-in.  I know many apps are now allowing you to use them with a google sign in.  I am looking forward to it.
This will allow me to assign projects using nearpod that will be presented to the rest of the class.  One new thing in the state math standards are for students to do more project work and more tasks where they have to show their thought processes.  Of course I can send the task out in a pdf file and they can show their work using an app that allows them to write on it and they can get it back to me.
Ohh the possibilities

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Flash Cards by SAS and QR maker

Due to a unexpected short day today, I have been spending the period letting my students learn to use SAS Flash cards.  The hardest part was getting some of the students focused enough to follow directions  I like this app because they don't have to sign in to a web page and they can keep their cards on the iPad so their practice sets are accessible.
The app offers students two types of cards:  the math or the text.  The math cards allow students to input problems while the text allows them to input vocabulary or questions, add audio such as reading the questions, have the answer and a clarification.  Today I had students ask true or false questions about certain math vocabulary words and they put the definitions or explanations in the clarification section.  They can also make or import pictures/images to add a visual to the flash cards.  Once they finish making their decks, they can then run through the decks as a practice quiz or a regular quiz.  The practice quiz will show them the correct answer after each question while the quiz has the student going through the whole deck as if it is a quiz.
I am going to begin using the exit ticket activity on Monday as tomorrow is the end of the first quarter.  I will post a short question such as "What two things did you learn today?" and the students will use the QR maker to write the answer.  I'll scan their codes and then they will put the iPads away.  This will give them a chance to verbalize what they learned or might still have questions on. I am excited about using both Flash cards and QR maker next semester. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


The other day, one of my students yelled Rape in the middle of a class.  She was trying to be funny.  I commented that Rape is a plant.  Suddenly all the students are going to Safari to look up the Rape plant to find pictures and information.  They learned it is a member of the mustard family and you can make oil out of the seeds.  This lead to discussion on where mustard comes from.  It was wonderful. 
I came to a conclusion on using iPads on the next test.  I am going to let them use the iPads but they have to keep them to the side with their notes, then they can bring the answer back in their head.  This way if they decide to check the web, they are not with their papers.  I am going to treat the iPads as I would their notes. 
Finally, I have been working on arranging a distance presentation on origami and geometry.  I know my students love origami and this will help them see more geometry.  I hope to get a presentation on diving and geometry.  I think that would really capture their attention.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I have been having students take notes on their iPads and now one class has a test coming up.  In the past, I have allowed students to use their notes during a test but the notes had to be kept across the room, only one person could be up at any time and they could not take a paper or pencil to the notes. They had to remember the material.
So where the quandary comes in is that I have been encouraging students to use the graphing app for families of graphs, and inequalities.  If I let them use their notes on the iPads, then they do not get a chance to get up, move around and clear their brains.  I know that computer based state testing begins in another year or two and that will have a calculator available to use during the test.
I think for now, I will go with the handwritten notes so they get one more chance to learn the material.

Friday, October 11, 2013

algeboats light and note taking

I put some kids on Algeboats lite this morning and they liked it.  Basically a boat comes to the dock with an expression such as x + 3.  On the dock are bales with various numbers on them.  Across the top are flags with numbers.  The student loads a bale on board the boat which fills in the x value and then the student attaches the flag to the mast which has the correct total.  Because it is an expression, the students have several different possibilities depending on the value they choose for X.  I like it because they see they can have different answers based on the value they choose for the variable.
In other classes, when I say its time for notes, the students are opening up their notes app and taking notes.  Some write in the notes and others watch as I explain the notes, then take pictures and import them into their notes, annotate and reread.  Today, I had a student ask if she could take pictures of her notes on her phone so she could refer to them tonight when she does her homework.  This is an awesome step for her.  I feel as if the students are making good progress in learning that mobile devices are tools and not toys.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

inequalities and graphing apps.

In algebra 2, we are learning to graph linear and absolute value inequalities using a graphing app.  I like the free graph calc for graphing as it has so many choices and resembles a regular graphing calculator.  It does not seem to support graphing inequalities which is fine with me because the students can graph the base linear or absolute value equation, then do the analysis to determine if they need a dotted or solid line and which part is shaded in.  Too often my students just copy down the result from the graphing calculators or a regular calculator without checking to see if its reasonable. 
Yesterday, all the high school teachers gave students a directions test during study hall. The test had them writing down things like the letter D in the middle of the page, writing down their favorite musical group in a corner, etc.  We did this because the majority of our students do not read directions.  As expected, most students failed the test but the kids got such a charge out of the test.  What they don't know is that they will get another one next month.
Finally, the tech dept and I are still working to figure out how I can have students either send the material to me using e-mail or get it to me via a drop box type of situation.  I am not allowed to use google docs, regular e-mail accounts, drop box or any other type of app like that.  So it is a challenge.  I am doing some research and have a couple possibilities that I need to explore hopefully over the weekend.  I hope by January to greatly reduce the paper flow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hands on equations lite and calculator programs.

I tried the hands on equations lite with some students today and they loved it.  The app has the students watch the video first before they are allowed to try any exercises.  The video shows the students how to balance equations using a real balance so they get the visual for solving equations.  After watching the video they do part b and then part c but part b must be done to unlock part c.  I spoke with one of my students and he loved it.  He said it really helped him understand solving one step equations.  I am going to have them practice again tomorrow for a while.
We were trying to find the value of an angle using the law of cosines.  What I discovered is that in two out of three apps, I have to use acos instead of cos ^ -1 which the third one uses after you hit the shift button.  I also had to have the students make sure they were in degrees not in rads.  Calc made easy uses cos^-1 while freegraphcalc and my script calc use acos.  It was a great learning experience.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Report on Nearpod in use

I used it with my seniors who have not passed the state graduation test.  It went quite well.  The students stayed on task and enjoyed it tremendously.  I had an introduction, then about 3 slides in I had an open ended question. All the student's replies showed up on my screen so I could see what they thought.  I included a practice question to see what they knew, sort of a pretest/poll.  Again, all the student's results showed up on my screen so I could see who still had to answer and what they chose.  Then were 3 to 4 instructional slides with a poll on what is the first step.  The answers for each question showed up so at a glance I could see if anyone chose more than one answer or didn't answer at all.  Then I had a couple more slides followed by a quick 5 question quiz. The quiz does not tell the student what is wrong but the student's answer shows up in red if its wrong and green if its right. This means I can use a quick glance to see if its right.  I like the way I have control over the slides on the iPad and the students cannot wonder off to play games or they become disconnected. 
We have a visitor and I showed it to her. She really likes it a lot and she tried out all the interactive activities. 
So now I know how to use it, I can use it more effectively in the classroom.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finally got a nearpod presentation done.

I learned a couple of very important things this weekend while I created a presentation for nearpod.  First, if you start with a power point presentation, you have to upload it and then clone it before you can do anything with it.  You cannot take the slide and make it interactive.  You have to create a new slide to set up to draw, create a poll, create a quiz, or add a open question or web link.  When I decided to add a draw on it slide, I had to take the original power point slide, convert it to jpg or png and then import it. 
Fortunately, I found a free website Zamzar who will convert files in one format to another and e-mail you the converted file.  Once I got the file back, I inserted it and I am ready.  The others are fairly easy to figure out and use as you just add a slide, determine which type of activity it is and get it set up.
Secondly you can build the presentation from scratch and just set up the slides as you need them.  I am not sure which method is easier but Nearpod is not too hard to use.  They do have a content tool user guide which helps tremendously.  It was due to the users guide I learned I needed to clone the presentation first. 
Tomorrow I will present this and see how it goes.  I would have done it today but we have an inservice.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Additional uses of QR codes

I was sitting here thinking about how I could use QR codes a bit more effectively in class while giving them breaks here and there and not have to repeat myself over and over.  Right now, I use them for warm-ups and sometimes for sending them to web pages.  It just struck me that I could put QR codes with instructions for the next step in the class work, or what paper they need to collect from me.  Students, even high school students, need to get up once in a while and move to help them so they don't get restless.  Since I have my students sit and work in groups, I can have one person from each group go up to the QR code, read it and take back the information to their seat mates or follow the directions and collect worksheets from me.  Then for the next activity, have another student get up so there is not a mass clog at the QR code location. 
I can also use the QR codes as a ending class activity so they place the answer inside a QR code with their QR code maker app and I scan it as they clean up and put the iPads away.  It is a simple for me to scan their answers and check them.  I am planning to start sending homework home soon with a QR code embedded on the sheet with the answers.  They will still have to work the problems so I can see the process but they will know what the answer is supposed to be.  If you know where you are heading, it makes it easier to do the math problem. 
I know there are lots of places out there that discuss using the QR codes in the classroom but each class is different and your choice of how you use the codes will vary.

Friday, October 4, 2013

QR code Maker and updates

Today I had my students scan a QR code that gave them directions to QR Maker and a task to do with the application.  It is nice that the QR Maker will allow them to answer simple questions.  I just had them tell me what is the most important thing to remember?  They wrote their answers in the QR maker and I read the answers.  This is just a task so they learn to use the application. I am thinking of having some problems posted around the room, they do the answers and then record the answers only in the QR so I can check it later.  I plan to try it next week.
I am going to try Nearpod next week.  Due to extra things I had this week, I did not get the presentation finished so I am aiming for next Tuesday.  I look forward to trying it.  I spoke to another teacher who uses Schoology and she indicated that if the internet is sluggish, the kids might have difficulty using that app.  This is going to be fun.
A board member spoke to me of how paperless is the future and we should all be working towards that.  I have no problem once I get all the apps up and running so I can have that but until then, I have to use a certain amount of paper.  My fear is that it will be harder for someone to prove that they turned something in unless you can have it set up to generate some sort of acknowledgement of receipt. 
I saw a nice little item talking about introducing students  one app at a time so they learn to use the apps and not become overwhelmed by them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nearpod, Schoology, Edmodo and Subtext

I am working with the tech dept to get these four programs up and running and integrated as we think these together will give us all we need.  Currently, we are still working on getting Nearpod working in the classroom so that I can use it more often.  The next project is Edmodo because I can set up groups for my students, assign work, have then turn it back in and I can assign work using Subtext.  I worked with Subtext some this summer.  I discovered I can take material off the web or send myself a PDF, add activities, notes, etc so reading materials becomes more interactive.  This is important as many of my students are classified as ELL (ESL) and they do not like reading.  I can link the reading to a video, a picture, or a quiz that I can administer to find out how well they understand the material.
I've never actually used Schoology but I'm told it can help me manage my classroom iPads better.  It was recommended by the tech dept based on one of the teachers in the elementary school who is using it.  The tech guy already downloaded it onto the sink station so now I have to figure out how to use it.  Update:  I found a couple of places online that are comparing Schoology to Edmodo and this will help me determine if they offer the same things or if I need both.
 My timeline is get Nearpod working, edmodo  and subtext, and check out schoology in there to see how to implement it.
On the other hand, if this all helps me have a more paperless classroom, I am all for it.  While writing this, I realized I could stick a T/F quiz in before students read a new section as an anticipation set and then have them find the information to prove or disprove statements which are projected on the Smartboard.  If anyone has experience with Schoology, please post a comment so I can hear from people who are using it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First use of nearpod and airdrop

I tried the nearpod application last period yesterday.  I used it as an introduction to turning sentences into algebraic expressions or equations.  It was fairly easy to set up the presentation because the web site allowed me to import a power point presentation and it converted the power point presentation easily and quickly.  It was when I went to use it that I discovered glitches.

1.  It used a fair bit of bandwidth so it was a bit slow.
2. There is a place that it shows me who is checked in and is a lovely green color.  For much of the presentation, it was red and the kids iPads seemed to show off line but when I pulled up the list, they were there.
3.  We couldn't mark anything on the pages.

The third item is something I need to research later today when I get a chance.  I would like to use it so I'll try again. I'm working on this with the tech guy so we hope to get it fully functional.

UpdateI found a pdf which has the information for making the slides interactive.  I am going to play with it over the next couple days and use it in class Friday. I"ll let you know how it  goes.

On the other hand, the tech guy did some research on Airdrop which comes with iOS 7.  Problem is, I can't use it because my iPad is a gen 2 and you need a gen 4 to use it so we are researching other ways for me to send worksheets, etc to the students and for them to return it.  We are looking at the possibility of using Edmodo.  So we will see where that goes.

The tech guy is still working on trying to make it so my students can print off their work.  It is all one step at a time and eventually, I'll have everything working the way I want it to.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Printing and notebook apps

The tech guy who works with me on the iPads, is working to figure out how to configure the iPads so I can have students print out material. I will talk to him later today to see if he needs an app with the ipad so it works as an interface or if it can be done directly.  He is also working on figuring out how I can take advantage of the airdrop facet of iOS 7.02 to push pdf's and documents to my students.  It is all one step at a time.  We learned yesterday which settings to use so I can image one iPad with an update and transfer it to the other iPads.  He and I are learning things together.
This is an update on free notebook apps and how they are going.
SAS notebook is nice but the students discovered if they want to import photos they have to use the scratch page but if they want text, they have to use the text page.  They are still trying to figure out how to get text and photos or screen shots on the same page.  I have my seniors using this program.  Each day they play with it, they learn more and share the knowledge with each other.
Goodnotes free is used by my Algebra 2 class and they are enjoying it. They have figured out how to import photos, drawings, etc, add text and handwriting.  They help each other and are having fun learning all of the functions it offers.
Inkflow is used in the Geometry class and the kids love it.  They've imported pictures, screen shots, drawn pictures, written and typed so far.  this one was quite easy for them to use and it comes with a users guide that many of the students played with as they read it.
Yesterday I introduced my 9th grade Algebra I class to Smartnote free and they struggled with it.  You can make text for some or all of the page.  You have to hold your finger down at the end of the type text here message to bring up the keyboard.  This app allows you to record a lecture while taking notes.  We haven't tried importing a photo yet but that is going to happen on Friday. 
Using Smartnote made me realize, I need to see which of the other apps allow students to record something to go with the notes.  That would add one more element of interaction to the notes. 
I have one more notebook app but I won't be able to introduce that to Period one until Monday of next week.  I think I am having fun watching the students explore and learn how to use these apps.  So far it is going well but if the students save anything in photos, other students delete them as I don't allow students to keep photos on the iPads.  I may have to rethink this position.  I need to check a couple apps on that question.
I am learning quite a lot from my students.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Updates, etc

I just updated the iPads to iOS 7 this past Tuesday mostly because students were trying to download the new operating system. Of the three, one downloaded successfully and the other two generated the plug screen of death.  Friday, the students are telling me about the update but agreed to let me do it later today, so during my prep period and after school, I'll be downloading the newest version of the operating system.  I can say, my kids like the new look and feel of the latest operating system.
I had the students in Algebra 1 use popplet to create a map of relations, functions, domain and range, and the vertical line test.  Several of the students understood the difference between relations and functions at the end of the exercise but popplet won't do what I wanted in terms of being a notebook so I found another program to use.  So far, having a different notebook app for each period is working well on the shared iPads.  It is interesting to see the students creating notes for themselves. Some just shove something together while others take the time to make some awesome notes and if I had had to predict everyone who would make great notes, there were a few I would have been wrong on.
Later today, I am going to have to track down another graphing program that will allow me to graph conic sections without rewriting problems into the y = format.  I used it last year and it has a small tutoring section so the students can read up on the topic if they forget.  Actually, I need to go through past blogs to find the name of it but I use it when I teach conic sections.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

increasing higher order thinking questions

I really don't like writing on weekends but I wanted to talk about way's I've been increasing my students critical thinking skills and improving their English.  About half of my students are classified ELL (English Language Learners) and they often have trouble distinguishing the differences in word meanings among common conversation, specialized usage and slang.  One way I increase their understanding of definitions is to do vocabulary exercises where when students define words, we put the mathematical definition, the common usage, and slang if it applies. 
AT the beginning of the year, I would use at least one open ended question such as choose 3 different numbers and two different operations to equal -4.  This shows students that not all mathematical questions have only one answer.  This week.  I put up general questions and had the students write the question.
1.  Write a word problem based on the rate x time = distance formula from here to a certain village.
2.  Write a word sentence or problem using the word ratio, 4, 1/3
3.  Write your own "Which one does not belong?"

These types of questions help improve mathematical vocabulary and thinking.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Interactive notebooks part two

I and my students are finding out more about the individual notebook programs we are using.  For instance, Goodnotes allows my students to take both pictures and screen shots and import them into their writings so they can add annotations with their finger or with a text book.  Unfortunately SAS Notebook requires the students to use a scratch paper to bring in photos or other type of picture.  They can hand write annotations, comments, etc but we are still working on adding typing.  They cannot import the scratch paper material into the text page so students will require two pages.  For inkflow the students were helping each other figure out how to create examples using the geometry pad or geoboard apps, take and crop those pictures and import them to the page.  Every single student was on task in all three classes and it was fun watching students who are not normally engaged doing the assignment.  I have one period left and that is my 9th grade math class.  We are starting with popplet and they will do one or two rectangles/cards a day
The QR codes for warm-ups are going well and a couple students asked me why I was not doing the practice standardized test questions via QR code.  I told them I"d try it for next week and the kids are buying into the technological integration.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Implementing digital apps

Tuesday I downloaded 4 different notebook apps so each of 4 classes would have their own set of digital notebooks as these iPads are shared.  For two periods I had the students write down notes and for one period, I had them write what they knew about midpoint, distance and angles.   The biggest thing I forgot to do was plan time in so they could explore the application before writing things down.  Just for your reference I downloaded SAS Notebook, Goodnotes, Inkflow and Popplet lite.  It turns out Inkflow comes with a 10 page instruction manual the students read.  When they started writing, I had students help answer each others questions on using the app such as "How do I delete something?"  "How do I start a new notebook?"  This way I don't have to answer things. 
I am hoping to have students use these apps as their digital journals. 
In the future, I plan to have them create posters, foldables, take pictures of certain worksheets and use the annotation abilities to highlight certain important items.  I am going to try to have them create posters or word salads on line and import the finished project into the journals. I am hoping this way, it becomes more interactive than just a straight writing exercise.
Only time will tell how it works.  I have one more period today and we'll see if we even get to the app as it is a shorter period than usual due to a pep rally.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flash cards

I am having my students do word problems today and it became apparent that my students have issues with some of the vocabulary in terms of operations. 
I introduced students to the KFCW chart which is a math version of KWL.  They have to list what they know or information they are given.  F is used for the part of What do you want to find?  C is what do you need to consider?  This is where they write down what operation do they need to use? Is there some formula they will need to use?  How are you going to solve the problem?  Finally is W which stands for Work. This is where the student shows their work and the solution.  I showed it to the new Science teacher and she is making her students use the same form for science word problems.  I like the consistency between the two classes.
As my students are working the problems they get to the words telling them what operation to apply and they don't really know those words.  I have the SAS flash card app on their iPads, so I think beginning tomorrow, I will have students create flash cards for operation vocabulary so they can test themselves and learn the vocabulary.  I like the SAS flash card app because they can make either text based cards with the word, a picture, a voice over and the answer or an actual math problem. 
Yesterday, I managed to update the OS on all the ipads and downloaded a few different notebook type programs so I can use a different one in each period.  I am hoping that this will eliminate the issue of one student messing with another student's work.  I am hoping to begin the notebooks around mid October.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interactive notebooks

I"ve been reading up on ways of creating and using interactive notebooks in Math.  All of the ways I"ve found use a composition book and foldables to create the notebook.  I know I am trying to use more technology in the classroom so I can avoid using more paper and have more things my students have to keep track of in class.  So I am wondering if I could use a book creator app or even ibooks author so my students can create interactive math notebooks.  I need to research this a bit more as I want students to be able to bring in their drawings and work and not just rely on what they can import from the internet.  I am also wondering if they can design something that flips or moves for the notebook. 
On a different note, I had my seniors start using mind map for sin and cos graphing.  The areas are altitude, shift both horizontal and vertical, phase, and frequency.  So far, it is going well.  The one thing I learned is that it takes time for them to use the mind map app right now and we are only going to be able to add one or two strands a day.
I am hoping to have my algebra 2 students use it beginning Thursday for finding linear equations.  I have to make it Thursday because some students took the initiative to download iOS7 and one or two got messed up so I have to spend part of today getting the iPads up to date, imaged, and running.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I was doing a search for using mindmapping in Math to get more ideas for using mindmapping in my math classes and ran across this site called mathsrevision from Scotland.  It has nice mindmaps that can be used by the teacher in the classroom using a smartboard and each thought or point will appear one at a time as you click the screen. I am still experimenting to see how well it works on the iPad. 
Once I redid the way I entered my search parameters, I finally got more of what I wanted.  I found you can use it for problem solving and the website gave lots of nice mindmaps. 
I am going to try it with my Algebra 2 later today to see how it works for finding equations of linear equations from graphs, with the College Prep math class for trig and maybe with the geometry class for the basics. 
I downloaded a free mindmapping app and I'll report back tomorrow on how it goes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thoughts on typing, calculators and mobile devices.

I remember taking the mandatory typing and bookkeeping class where I learned to operate a 10 key machine.  Times have certainly changed.  When we took typing, we learned touch typing with the home row and keys and were so happy to get to 35 words per min when we finished the class.  After I graduated and went to college, both the typing and ten key helped me land jobs as I worked my way through college.  Now, I don't know if schools are offering typing much anymore because most students who own mobile devices use their thumbs quite effectively to type in messages. They are much faster than those who use the hunt and peck method.  I've seen them do this on their iPads in class when they have to type things. 
The new mobile devices allow the user to do so many things that you really do not need a computer anymore.  I know typewriters for the most part have gone by the wayside and I'm wondering if desktop computers will be going that way in a few year.
As for calculators, you can now find some that let you use your fingers to write the problem and the application translates it into print.  I wonder if this type of app is going to take over for regular calculator apps and make them obsolete in a few years.  It will be interesting to see where the future takes us.

Friday, September 20, 2013

algebra game

I reported on an algebra application over the summer.  It has a blue background with a monkey on it and is written by Monkey in the Middle apps people. I had my first period class play the game and they enjoyed it. When you click on the first topic - words into equations, it gives you three choices, a game, flashcards or a timed challenge. The game has you helping a monkey go up the platforms and along the way you get 5 multiple choice questions.  If you get the questions correct, you keep going but if you miss the question, the monkey has to start again.  I had one student who did not want to quit when the bell rang.
I am finding games provide a venue where I can have students practice and reinforce skills which they need to work on and not having to take extra time to reteach the skills.  I like doing the games during the last 5 to 10 min of class.  One student even said "Where did the time go?" today when I asked them to clean up.  He is one who normally complains about time going too slowly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Construction lite

Today in two different classes we used apps to help the students learn.
In the college prep math class we used free graphing calculator to learn what the graphs of sin and cos looked like and what happens if you add this or that to the equation.  We discussed it, played with equations and the kids really had a blast.
We started with y = sinx.  I took time to have them read the unit circle so that we could connect the unit circle to the sin graph.   They graphed y = 3sinx on a different line so they could have both equations on the screen at once.  This way they were able to tell me what happened to the graph by adding the 3.  I had them graph y = sinx + 2,  y = sin(x+pi/2) and y = 3sin(x + pi/2)+2.  After comparing and contrasting the graphs, I was able to lead them to seeing how the transformations from earlier math classes applied to trig graphs.  It was awesome.
I downloaded and had my geometry students use construction lite which simulates using the compass and straightedge.  The first two sections are unlocked in this free version of the app.  The sections are lines and angles.  We looked at copying a segment and constructing a perpendicular bisector.  The app shows the student how to do each activity and then allows them to do it themselves using the digital compass and straightedge. 
I just let my students loose to try the sections themselves and as one figured out how to do something, I would have him or her go help others so those who finished early were working as peer tutors with the others.  Although only two topics are available, there is a sketch function that will allow me to have students follow the construction directions in the books and I don't have to keep track of all the compasses, pencils etc.  The kids enjoyed themselves.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Next step in process

I've got the iPads and I've got the students trained to grab an iPad and scan the QR code for the warm-up.  They do this before they get their folders.  After yesterday's origami lesson, I was going to have students write a short summary of the relation of origami to points, lines, planes and intersections but the e-mail was not set up.  So I spoke to the tech dept and they assured me that with the new OS7 I would not need e-mail because it has airdrop which will allow students to turn in their work.  There are assignments I'd like to have them do in a paperless way so that I do not have to correct the paper. This is also going to cut down on the "I turned it in" but its found in their folder/locker/home syndrome.  I can hardly wait to try it out.
Once that is up and working, we can use a spread sheet to program rate of change and use that for an activity in a couple of my classes.  I can have them make presentations on showme or Haiku deck and have them turn it in.  I am just excited.
Ohhh in regard to the origami exercise yesterday, first thing my students said was "When do we get to do that again?".  I am thrilled because they don't usually get excited over math in general.  I know we can use it for angles, types of triangles, etc.  This is going to be a fun year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Foldables, origami and geometry.

Today in Geometry we had a blast doing origami.  We just started learning about points, lines, planes and intersections yesterday.  Rather than bore them with standard learning activities using points, lines, planes and intersections, I decided to incorporate origami.  After the warm-up I showed a video on the science of origami which was quite fascinating.  Dr Robert Lang, a person who can fold just about anything from a single sheet of paper, shared how origami has helped in science.  I didn't know that the way a scorpion is made in origami is the same type of folding used to put the airbag in the steering column.  The video was only 1:46 long but the kids were so interested in the material, they asked me to show the video again.
I had loaded two origami apps onto the iPads earlier this month.  One is Origami instructables while the other is "How to make origami" .  Personally, I prefer the latter because each step allows you to have the app show the actual fold if you want more than just the directions.  My students had so much fun, they didn't want to put away the iPads when the bell went.  Tomorrow, I will have the students create a summary of how they used point, lines, planes and intersections in this activity.
A couple weeks ago, we had a short after school class on Foldables created by Dinah Zike.  I wasn't sure my high school students would buy into them but they did.  They were focused and on task.  For Algebra II, we will be filling in the information over the next couple of weeks while in College Prep math, we created a foldable for the 6 basic trig ratios including as they relate to the unit circle.  It was awesome. I think that high school kids still like to make things and don't often get the chance unless they are enrolled in an art class.  I have to pull out my book on using foldables in math.

Monday, September 16, 2013


In my advanced math class, my students are studying trigonometry.  Last week I showed a short video on the unit circle itself from teachertube.  It did a really nice job of showing how the values are found.  Today I showed a video on how to use the unit circle to find values of various problems such as sin 270 degrees.  It laid a good foundation for how the values relate to sin, cos, tan, csc, sec, and cot.  Tomorrow, I have an activity to reinforce the other ways of looking at tan, csc, sec and cot using only sin and cos. Finished off using a free app for Trig to reinforce the basic identities of the 6 basic ratios.  The app icon is blue with a red X^r on it and trig 1 under it.  The kids are having fun practicing the basic ratios
If I could, I would have students watch the videos at home so I'd have a more flipped classroom but so many of my students do not have internet or limited bandwidth so it is really impractical to do it. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thank goodness it is friday.

Due to a couple of students taking tons of photos during class rather than working on the assignment, I spoke with a tech guy at school and  he suggested we adjust the profile to turn off the camera.  Great, so I did that and the scan program did not work due to the camera being off.  So one hour later, I redid the profiles so the cameras now work.  These students will be doing their work using pen and paper rather than actually getting to play some of the games.
I just found out that the state mandated test will be given online beginning next year so I'm preparing the students for it.  I am making quizzes that will be given via the computers and many of the games I've down loaded require the student to select the proper multiple choice answer to gain points. 
Over the weekend, I am going to be creating some learning menus with a variety of projects to choose from.  The work will be due one week after we finish the unit and will have things like prepare a 2 min lesson on Showme.  Or create a book on the topic using book creator.   I am hoping this will help more students learn the material and will provide a certain amount of differentiation.  It will be several weeks before I know how well it works.
I had students go to and it worked well on their iPads including the practice problems. Unfortunately, not every website with activities or material works with the iPads.  
I don't know if I mentioned it but the CILC has a series of programs which cost money but are well worth it.  I found one on origami and geometry that I am going to see about requesting with my students. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Downside to technology

Our school has discovered the downside to technology during the past two days.  We use an automated bell system so that the bell schedule changes on Wednesday for the early out.  No one has to mess with it.  Unfortunately, someone made a change that resulted in having a lock down drill go off instead of the first bell for lunch which tells us we have 5 min to lunch.  my kids don't mind it  as they are allowed to sit in the corner with the iPads and have been having fun trying out various educational math games while we wait for the all clear.
On the other hand, I am trying to use the CILC or Center for interactive learning and collaboration which has some nice topics with which to supplement and add to a students learning experience.  I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First full day of iPad integration.

Overall, it went quite well.  I had the students come in and scan a QR code after getting their iPads.  They actually sat down and did the warm-up nicely.  Once we'd gotten over the beginning part of class,  I took time to let the students explore the apps, Gloss and my script calculator.  This took about 10 min out of the period but it was worth it because we then worked on doing one word problem.  We started by listing what we know, what do we have to find and what do we have to think about to answer this question.  It was awesome the way the students worked when I said they had to work in pairs and use one or the other or both apps to solve it.  I saw some really awesome discussion.  I have one period that went to a site to take a test I created and then they read up on-line about square roots.  Tomorrow, all students will be watching a video on the material they are learning.  I see some great things happening with the iPads in my classroom. I did have one student who thought the iPad was a wonderful toy because he took 135 photos during class and he'll discover he'll have a problem tomorrow when we use the iPads......LOL

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Google Earth

I have run across this before but keep forgetting about it. There is a great website called Real Math whose author created over 30 real world math activities based on google earth.  I know there is a google earth app for the iPad because I put it on my own.  So now I can add it to my classroom set.  The author has divided the lessons into 5 groups, concepts, project based, measurement, exploratory and space.  Under exploratory, I found one titled whale watch that sounds quite interesting.  In addition, he has tutorials and teacher materials in addition to the student materials.
I look forward to trying some of these activities in my classroom so it gives students some experience with seeing the connection between math and real world. 
I also got a note about illuminations from NCTM reminding me about this.  Unfortunately, many of the lessons require flash and cannot be used on the iPad.  Illuminations has 108 online activities and 607 lesson plans.  It just means you try some of the activities on your iPad to see if it works.  Many of the lessons do work.  So give it a look.

Monday, September 9, 2013

NASA space math problems

I forgot about NASA space math problems until I got one of their regular updates in my e-mail this morning.  The latest problem is Problem 607: The Launch of LADEE to the Moon.
The description is :
Students plot the altitude, range and speed of the LADEE rocket launch and investigate rates of change including acceleration by graphing the tabular data and determining the slope of the graph using the definition of the slope of a line between two points.
This is a wonderful example of rate of change in a real situation where students can try it themselves.  The material NASA offers covers grades 6 to 12 and has all the past problems available for use along with some other items such as a space math book for grades 6 to 8 which is a standards based with multi-media math resources. 
The information is in PDF form so I can bring it into an app like subtext to interject questions, tags, activities, etc.  Most will require use of a calculator/graphing app, a drawing or note app and they could place their answers into a QR code to turn in.  Hmmmm the possibilities.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I am trying something with QR codes

Yesterday the iPads were delivered to my room and I finished training on using Apple Configurator so I can add and delete apps as I need to.  While I was adding a few apps this morning, I wondered why I couldn't set up my warm-up questions as QR codes so students would immediately get the iPad out and start working while I am taking and record roll and  get my Smartboard up and running.  Up to know I've had to juggle the white board with the smartboard so I could take and record roll on the same computer that is connected to my Smartboard.  I had to go over to school this morning, so I set up the warm-ups in a QR code for Wednesday to try out.  We have an inservice scheduled for Monday and Tuesday so I cannot try it till Wednesday.  In fact, for my first period class I have QR codes set up for them to take an online quiz followed by reading up on simplifying square roots.  I am hoping this make the flow of class better and has the students stay more occupied.  I'll report back on how well it goes and in the meantime I am going to work on becoming more knowledgeable on SubText and nearpod.  I want to use both in my class.

Friday, September 6, 2013

MIT Blossoms

I was doing a search looking for MIT App Inverntor and discovered they also produce the MIT Blossoms website filled with videos for math, various sciences and engineering.  They cover a variety of topics including using geometry to build simple machines.  That looks like a cool one to use as an introduction to Geometry and its real world uses for my class.  In addition, they have a huge list of online resources for math, the various sciences and engineering.  I think that is sooo cool
On the other hand, they have my classroom set of iPads ready and I will get them during my prep period.  So this weekend I am going to set up my lesson plans to incorporate them.  I already have one plan for the students who have to retake the state graduation test.  I am going to put the practice tests on-line so they can do them and the program will produce data to help me figure out what my students need help with.  It will also help them prepare for when they must take tests on computers.  It will take a lot more work but I think it will be good for them in the long run.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

More thoughts on QR codes

It looks like I'll get the iPads for my classroom within the next day or two.  The tech dept wants my list of apps for the classroom set and I decided to have a QR reader and a QR creator app installed.  I am also thinking of requesting students make sure they have installed a QR reader on their personal devices because the iPads are shared.  The reason for this is simply I am tired of repeating the assignment or pointing to where I have the assignment posted on the board.  I am hoping that by making using QR codes, the students will learn to keep the assignment on their devices or the classroom iPads so they can refer to the information each day.  Maybe they'll check as frequently as they check their phones for text's from their loved ones......LOL
On the topic of QR codes, I found a wonderful collection of suggestions for using QR codes in Education that I plan to explore this weekend.  It is nice having so many items in one place instead of trying to search the web.  Three headings that have gotten my interest are:
1. Implementation of QR codes in the classroom.
2. Using QR codes in student projects.
3. Using QR codes in homework.

I've used QR codes before to send students to specific websites that have work or a reading for them and to list an order of activities I want them to do in class.  So this is a way of learning more ways to use QR codes.  I do not have to reinvent the wheel.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Using Word salad and other apps in Math.

I saw someone recommend Word Salad as a good app for the classroom.  Since it resembles Wordle, the first thing that entered my mind was simply "Can I use it effectively so the students learn?"  This was followed by "Can it be used to help build higher order thinking skills."  So while looking up more information I stumbled across this column in which the author suggested using word salad in combination with fotobabble to explain their their word salad.  Nice idea.  The other thing about this column was the author gave ways of using the iPads for think, pair, share and jigsaw.  This gives me a starting point on integrating technology into these activities.
As a side note.  I teach mathematics to students who are either ELL or who do not have a huge vocabulary and they have difficulty solving word problems. They grab numbers and try anything till they get the answer. So today I had them do Think, Pair, Share to find the information they are given (Know), Identify what they have to find, and to consider how they will solve the problems.  Since it was the first time I've done this it went a bit roughly but the students did actually talk.  I'll find out what they found when I grade papers a bit later.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

More real life possibilities for Math

After I wrote yesterday's post, I did a bit more research on sites that offer lessons and activities to connect math to the real world and stumbled across this post in Education World.  The author found 24 places on the internet divided into five different areas.  The first, collections of real world math activities, includes one where students from around the country wrote the word problems.  Then there are the online math activities with specific focus, online data sources (authentic data), math collaboration, and more real world math ideas at Education World.
I pulled up a few sites to check them out and was rather impressed with the ones I viewed.  Also some of the sites are no longer viable including one on using math with planes.  I thought this would be of interest to my students but it does not seem to be up and running, so check each one.
On the other hand, I did not see NASA's educational web page with some really awesome problems.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"When will I ever use this in real life?

This common questions is asked by students who need a reason to study mathematics.  I can point to a chart on the wall, answer it with examples but they still just shake their heads and tell me they are never going to need it.  I stumbled across a lovely website called Appreciate Math which gives some nice real life examples.  There are not too many examples but it looks like the site author recently started.  The entry on Math in Nature has a short 2:44 video I can show my students to give them a chance to see mathematics in real life.  I may even take the entries and have my students read and summarize the material as a way of helping answer that question and to get them to practice their reading and writing skills.
Most of my students see reading and writing as something that only happens in English or Social Studies.  As a school we are trying to increase test scores by increasing reading and writing across the core subjects.