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.