Friday, March 29, 2013

Too much to do and not enough time

With high stakes testing coming up, I've been focusing more on the mathematics they need to pass the tests.  Unfortunately, I know I should be incorporating my technology into this more but due to pressure I end up resorting to standard teaching methods.  I was realizing today, that I could have taken the practice tests in PDF form, sent them to my students one page at a time, had to work on the problems, create explanations and mark up the forms with the information.  They could have sent the forms back so I could look at the responses to monitor their knowledge and understanding. 
I stumbled across a website today where the author of the article discussed having students create the questions for use with the clickers.  It was noted that many of the students created low level questions.  When I say low level, I am referring to Blooms Taxonomy.   Anyway,  this person gave up but I'm wondering if this could be done with my students.  I am wondering if I can have them create the answers and questions for a Jeopardy game using my SmartBoard. 
I have a few other outlets such as Quizlet and Survey Monkey to check out to create quick quizzes my students could take on-line.  I've read of one technique where you set up three or four quizzes for the week.  If the student passes the first time, they are done, if not they can try it a second time to see if they pass.  Its a mastery learning technique.  I know it uses a lot of paper and the kids like to "loose" it so I don't get them back. This might work better.  I plan to try it in two weeks due to testing happening next week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I have an app on the iPad called Free graphing calculator.  I have not been using it much but I had my students in the College Prep math class use it today because it allows you to enter in a log with a base other than 10 to graph without going through the change of base formula.  That will make things so much easier teaching logs and natural logs. 
This application does more than just graphing in that it has a calculator, a table window much like the handheld graphing calculators with the x and y values,  the graphing window and the window to enter equations.  It is really nice and combines both calculator and graphing functions.  Just like a TI-82.  I am finding it is quite handy to use without having to juggle a classroom set of graphing calculators.
I am still exploring all the functions it has.  I think I"ll be spending the weekend checking it out more so that I can report back on everything it does.
I think putting enough apps on the iPad to do the job without being addicted to the apps is important.  As a teacher I need to stay at least one step ahead of my students and show them ways the iPad can be effectively used as a tool and not a toy. 
I know many of my students would rather go on the internet to play games rather than doing their work simply because most of my student's parents do not work where a computer is used for its productivity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bandwidth and videos

Due to the cost of internet in some places and the shrinking educational budgets, some school districts are electing to go with minimal bandwidth.  This means that the distance classes using face to face technology may get priority and the rest of the school has to be careful of how much is used.  For myself, I tend to make the video a part of my lesson and show it over my smartboard.  This eliminates the need for earphone for each student, requires less bandwidth and I can stop the video to ask questions on the topic.
I realize there is a move to flip the classroom and have students watch a video, podcast, do an interactive activity or such as homework so they are better prepared for the next day's lesson.  This works well if you are in an area where your students have good internet access.  Not all my students have internet access.  So I've been contemplating having things ready to go in my classroom, after school, so students can come in and do the work.  This way the demand on bandwidth is less, the students get the opportunity to do the preview and if needed I can have a cart of computers in my classroom.  Otherwise, if the assignment is one I can use on iPads, I just have them do it on iPads.
With the high stakes testing, teachers have to do a bit more than they used to.  I have to take into consideration, those students who do not have access to reliable internet at home.  This is one way we might be able to improve student performance.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

But it didn't work!

When using iPads in the classroom, not every site works as anticipated.  iPads do not do flash or java applets, so if you send the kids to a site that relies on flash or java, it won't work.  I discovered that one day when I sent kids off to a virtual manipulative web site.  It didn't work so I hurriedly readjusted my plans.  I did research and discovered the iPad's limitations.  So off I went to figure out how to do what I wanted to do without pulling my hair out. 
First thing I did was go to the app store to check things out.  I found Rover which is a browser designed to be used by k-12. It is actually a cloud based flash streaming platform that allows iPad users to access flash based websites. It is a bit slow at times but it allows students to access more sites than in the past. It may run a bit slow for me since we sometimes have bandwidth issues and that often slows down all internet usage.
I do have to try the web page in the web browser on the iPad to see if it works.  If not, I go to Rover and if it works, great, if not then I look for alternate sites.
One website I use quite often is  It has pre-algebra, algebra geometry and algebra II materials.  One reason I like it so much is that in addition to explaining the material, it also has a quiz to go with most of the topics.  I can have the students take the quiz, write down  their work and answers and turn it in.
The thing about the iPad is learning what works and what does not.

Monday, March 25, 2013

SAS Flash cards and Read along

I had a chance to download and check out some apps from the SAS institute.  The first is Read Along which is for early elementary.  I showed it to a kindergarten teacher and an elementary reading specialist. They both like that the application allows three levels of reading.  First level, the program reads as the words are highlighted.  Second level the program only reads the words the students asks for and the third level for no help.  They plan to use them as soon as their mini iPads arrive.

Now for the big one.  I checked out the SAS Flash Cards and was suitably impressed with the application.  It offers more than most flash card programs I've used and offers enough choice to be happy.  When you make a new deck you can choose your subject.  For math, they offer two different possible types.  One is math and the other is a text, sound, and picture card.  The second type allows you to actually read the question, import pictures and add clarification. Once you've chosen the type of card, you may then choose the type of question.  You have a choice of multiple choice, fill in the blank, true or false or plain.
You have the choice to keep the deck private on the iPad or upload it to the SAS site to make it public.  Once you start using the flash cards, you have a choice of practice or quiz format.  The application provides scratch paper so you can actually work the problem.
The SAS site has lots of decks that people have made and can be shared if you want to see what is there.  I really enjoyed playing with the program and am going to install it on my classroom set of iPads.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I am going to play this weekend.

I went to iTunes last night to check out the Math and Reading programs I mentioned yesterday. I found two more by SAS that I downloaded last night.  One is SAS data notebook which looks like the kids can create notebooks for class including a table of contents and the other is SAS flash cards.  Tonight I am going to download the two elementary apps and will report back on Monday.  It should be a fun weekend.
There was one more app by that company I plan to check out.   It states it supports paperless workflow and I would like to see if it works as advertized.  Once I see how the notebook, flashcards and gloss work, I can determine if I can effectively use them in the classroom.  Since I teach math, the kids generate quite a bit of paper.  It indicates that in one program the kids can do the work in a pdf and send it off but I'm wondering if I can grade it in pdf and send it back. So that is one aspect I will be exploring.  Gives me some things to think about.
I just read about a survey done that indicates math classes tend to use technology a bit more than the other subjects.  I found it quite interesting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two math and one language arts apps

I received a note from NTCM and there was an article on two apps created by the SAS mobile education.  Both apps are for elementary, one math for grades K to 5 to help with number sense.  It is Math Stretch and described as a suite of activities.  I sent the info to a coworker and hope to hear from them.  The other elementary one is Read Aloud that reads a story and the child can follow the story as it is read.  The description states that there are 3 mode, read to me, help me read and read by myself.  I plan to download both and check them out.  I'll report back in a few days with my impression.
On the page, there is the SAS flash cards for high school students.  I want to check this one out as it seems to allow you to add pictures, voice, etc.  I don't know if you need the internet to use the cards or if it stands alone.
So this is one I want to check out for use in my classroom.
Enough for the moment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This blog is coming about due to having to integrate more technology into my classroom and the desire to share my thoughts, ideas, experiences and other things that come to mind.  Just to give a bit of background.  I teach high school math in a small school. I know that school budgets are being cut and the expectations we as teachers face is increasing.  I hope to write about technology I stumble across for all grades and subjects but my main focus will be on math.

The technology I use in the classroom consist of a dual page SmartBoard, a classroom set of iPads and I have access to a cart of computers should I need them.   So I've done quite a bit with iPads including figuring what websites work with the iPad.  iPads themselves do not have flash or use java so many of the interactive websites cannot be used on the iPad.  This just means you find other means to share the information with the students.

Enough for the first entry.  Perhaps more tomorrow.