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.