Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thinking blocks - ratios

Today while I was surfing the apps store, I discovered an app that looks like a really good app.  The app is designed to help students learn to do simple ratio word problems.

This app has students using a step by step process to solve the problems. First the student reads the problem and then labels the model appropriately.

  Once they've checked to make sure they have identified the quantities properly, they then actually build the model to represent the problem. The app goes as far as telling the student the number of blocks should they need it.

The students then identify and label the correct quantities . Once the model is correct, the student is told to calculate the answer.

I like this app because it has the student solve word problems in a step by step manner while giving immediate feedback.  It does not make corrections for the students but it lets the student know what was done incorrectly and has the student make the correction.  I also like that the app focuses on solving word problems since most students struggle to solve any type of word problem.

Friday, December 19, 2014

This and that.

Over christmas, I plan to download that math app (Math chat) that allows students to collaborate on math problems and try it out with my husband.  Both he and I have an iPad and he knows math so we can have fun trying it out.  I also want to create quizzes in Practi from mathtoons.  I'll have my husband try them out.
I want to get some things set up in schoology and update worksheets so that students can write directly on them  and send it to me or put in a dropbox of some sort so they can turn it into me and neither one of us has a chance to really loose it or argue over it being turned in.  I hope to set up something that allows me to enter that I got the work and the score they got on it so they know immediately what is going on.
I have a couple ibooks I want to finish off over holidays and I am thinking of trying to do an interactive ibook for the alphabet with pictures and 3 dimensional objects to help students experience objects better.  A 2 dimensional picture is great but if it is 3d object, its better if they can see the 3 dimensions of the item.
I am not going to have much time off to totally relax buy I think I am going to have fun.  I have to start creating lessons for a presentation in February so I'll be doing that too.  I sometimes wish I had a smaller list.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Since I belong to several google plus groups, I am always running across ideas that I would love to integrate into my teaching but I don't always seem to manage that due to either a lack of time or my internet goes down so I can't read the instructions I need to implement the idea.  
For instance, I was just wondering if there is an app out there that would allow me to have students import a web page or pdf to complete the work on it and have a work area easily accessible so students do not have to switch back and forth between screens to do the work.  Since I teach mathematics I like to see the work so that I can determine where the error occurred in the process.  Sometimes it is a simple as they added incorrectly.
I know I need to integrate additional testing such as regular quizzes and I need to add more scaffolding based on the results of progress monitoring and regular quizzes. 
So much and not enough time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I have all these apps but I still have not sat down and actually worked on an overall plan for using the apps and my technology for my math classes.  Many days, I just wing it by throwing something in and finding out how well it works. 
Sometimes, the students do well on the game but when it comes to using the material learned using the app, they are unable to transfer the knowledge.  For instance when I had them use the interactive integer app, they just whizzed through it and then when they did the harder problems, they couldn't do it. So now I am going to have to figure out how to work on helping them transfer their knowledge from the app to using the actual process in other places.
Over the holidays, I have to assemble several integrated lessons for a presentation in February at the state education in technology conference.  I have various things I have been assembling but I have not put them fully together.  It is quite a process.  It seems like I revert to certain activities again and again without working on the whole package. 
One other thing I want to explore over the holidays is google tools to see which ones can make the integration job better and which apps I have that can make integration easier.  I even have a wiki but it always seems to be the time issue for getting everything in it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stick around app.

I was reading an entry for one of my groups that said the Stick Around app is free today.  I am thinking of downloading it later on today because it allows me to create puzzles, even in mathematics, so students can practice certain aspects. 
It allows me to import drawings or photos, add stickers with text, images and or drawings and then it allows me to create an answer key.  It allows a person to set up audio for instructions or utilize things from and to explain everything.
I want to get this and try it out with my geometry students.  It seems like a nice way to create a learning opportunities other than the standard worksheet.  My students will do worksheets but I now they prefer using other things to practice as they learn new material. 
As soon as I get it and a puzzle made I'll post something here and let you know more.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Interactive Integers

I had the school purchase interactive integers (0.99) for my classroom ipad set.  I bought it for my high school students because many of my students need the scaffolding app can offer.  It has two choices for practicing adding or subtracting signed numbers.  One is color tiles and the other uses a number line. 
The one that uses the color tiles has the student choose the tiles that represent the two numbers in the equation and then you solve it by matching up the positive and negative values.  Before the student can match up the tiles, they have to make sure they have selected enough positive and negative tiles to represent the problem.  After they verify the number of tiles, they can solve it and check the results to make sure they did it correctly.  If at any point something is not write, the program lets them know that something is wrong and will not let them finish the problem till it is right.
The number line works in a similar way in that the students have to move the marker to the starting number, verify the position is correct and then they move the marker for the second part of the equation and they check the answer.  Once they choose hard, the student is expected to complete the problems without the use of the number line or color tiles.
I think this app is geared more for upper elementary or lower middle school.  I showed it to the sped dept and the teacher loves it for her students.  Since I work with high school students I would love to see them have to type in the answer rather than relying on the computer to say it is correct and the answer is -2.  I'd like to see the students input the answer and then have the app check it so students are better able to transfer the skills they learned from this app.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Diving into Geometry

My 3rd period geometry class just finished participating in "Diving into Geometry" put on by CILC or the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration.  It was fantastic.  The three divers spoke to the students, got names, assigned jobs and interacted with them in such a way as they were so involved that the whole hour just went and none of the students were bored.
Since there were three divers, three students were assigned to do air checks every 5 mins. They taught the students various signs for communicating information when under water, talked about how to figure out distance using a fin kick.  They covered area, volume, amount of water to fill a pool, the Pythagorean Theorem and a multitude of other topics.  All my students were engaged, actively participating and at the end with five minutes left, they did not want to leave and even wanted to continue till lunch after the next period. 
If your school can do video conferencing, the CILC has some fantastic programs whose cost is quite reasonable and the students find these programs really interesting and they love them.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Keynote and misc.

Over the weekend I played with keynote and discovered that I can create an animated slide in that application and then I can export it as a quicktime move.  Tonight I am going to see if I can create audio to go with a slide and export it as a quick time movie.  This way I can make short videos and up load them to my wiki so that students can either download them or watch them there.  In addition, I figured out how to create certain three-dimensional shapes using keynote so I am proud of myself on that.
I am realizing how many of my students are having issues with adding or subtracting signed numbers.  They often just glance at the numbers and just add or subtract as if they are positive numbers.  I have asked for two apps to be added to my iPads  for next semester.  One is paid and one is free.  I requested the interative integer app be installed as it works with addition and subtraction of signed numbers using both a number line and manipulatives.  I hope this helps my students. The other app is Integers quiz pro.  The second one is more of a practice app, so this way I will have students working on learning signed numbers in two ways.
NOTE:  Last night I downloaded Integers quiz pro and tried it out. It is a quiz app that allows you to choose one of 5 levels and one of several topics to quiz yourself on.  This app is a bit different in that you start with so many points and spend the points each time you take the quiz but you can earn more points by using the app each day or playing with it.  I plan to explore it more and report back on it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Neat ideas

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a 30 min webinar on 3 ways to increase writing in the math classroom put on by Triumph learning and it featured Alex Kajitani.  The three ways were awesome and showed me ways to improve working on vocabulary and expressing their mathematical thinking.  I am so glad I went.   Since the new standards are more rigerous and require students to explain their thinking, 
I had a great time today in that I had all my classes come up with a list of 4 sets of homophones where one word is math oriented and one is regular.  The students came up with some great ones such as (add, ad), (eight, ate), (one, won) (two, to, too) etc.  I got this idea from the webinar and it was fun to try.  I am thinking of looking at other ways to integrate this idea.
Another one is remembering to have students use a non-example with the example on vocabulary words.  I would like to use the Frayer model but I have not been willing to use it due to the amount of paper it requires.  Then today, I realized I can make a copy of it and set it up in my wiki or in another place so students could download it onto the iPad, fill out the graphic organizer and upload it to their folder.  This way I can have students actually do the vocabulary words and do them electronically.
I read something today about the fact that each group of students who arrive in school are different than the previous group in regard to the amount of technological knowledge they have as digital natives.  This is causing us to change our teaching methods to meet their needs and to keep them engaged. 
It is a challenge to increase writing within the math classroom, integrate effective technology and try to keep up with my students.  Over all, it is worth it and I am enjoying.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

more technology

They are redoing the schedule for next semester so that means that I will have to teach a combined Pre-algebra and algebra class of 16 - 9th graders.  I told them I would need an aid in the room to help out.  I can already see that I will be using more digital resources to have students take more responsibility for their learning. 
Today instead of using IXL to find the level of understanding of material, I had my Algebra II students use it to learn solving systems of equations better. Most of my students used it to work on understanding the material and which area to shade.  It was wonderful when a student told me they struggled with the topic because they still had trouble differentiating between the two inequalities signs.  This was awesome.
I will write more on how I plan to integrate the two math classes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Geometry: construction tutor lite

Today I looked at Geometry: construction tutor lite which is the free version of Geometry: construction tutor.  The lite version allows access to the first two sections of the package which for me are the most important.  The first section is on constructing a line segment, a perpendicular bisector, dividing a segment into an equal number of parts, construction a perpendicular line through a point or an external point or constructing a parallel line through a point.  The second section covers copying an angle, bisecting an angle, constructing a 30, 45, 60 and 90 degree angles. 
It has two modes, one is a demonstration mode which has play buttons so you can show each move, one step at at time and then it has a practice mode so you can practice using it yourself.  It actually has a virtual compass, lines, etc.  If you do not do the construction using the proper tools, it will let you know that you did not do it properly. 
This is nice because I do not have to keep track of compasses, pencils for compasses, or put up with broken implements. It also shows each student the steps so I have more time to circulate and answer questions.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Geometry and star gazing.

I was over visiting people for thanksgiving and they had a local program on which included a short video on geometric shapes in the night sky.  It was awesome because they showed the night skies and how certain stars together created triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons and hexagons.  It was really cool in that I had never realized that astronomers have looked at the sky to find shapes.  This is a cool way to integrate science and math and gives students a chance to see geometric shapes in situations other than in buildings or art.  I placed a link to the episodes on geometry and stargazing. 
I think I might get together with the science teacher to see if maybe we could do a short cross curricular unit so students see how the two subjects work together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Discovery education.

I stumbled across Discovery Education which has a ton of resources for various subjects including math.  According to their banner in my NCTM daily e-mail, they are getting ready to unveil a digital textbook that is made for the 21st century student.  As I explored the math resources for grades 9 to 12, I found a lesson plan that has students researching various proofs of the Pythagorean theorem and then making a poster on the material.  I think they could also make an infographic or a presentation.  There are lots of possibilities.
In addition I found quite a few matching vocabulary sheets, brain boosters or word problems, and a couple resources to help students learn material on their own.  This is wonderful having more resources available.
This site also has materials for grades k to 8, puzzlemaker, lesson plans and it has resources for both parents and students.  I have bookmarked this page for my personal bookmarks so I can use these in the classroom.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Keynote and solving systems of equations.

This past summer I learned how to create animation using keynote.  I just realized today that I could use keynote to prepare an animated presentation showing the steps to solve systems of equations either by graphing, substitution or elimination.  I show videos, demonstrate the process for substitution and elimination but I think I need something a bit more because it is not quite enough to help them learn it as well as they should.  Since I've done a keynote animation showing classification of triangles by sides and by angles, I know the basics.  But tonight, I realized that I could apply the same animation process to create something where coefficients and variables might move around. So I have a process for next weekend - create a keynote animation for solving systems of equations. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Tonight I just discovered OpenEd which is a website filled with common core based lesson plans, videos, assessments, and games for students.  It covers grades K to 12 and best of all it has an app for the ipad or an android based mobile devices. 
All you need to do is sign up to access all the material available.  You can set up classes that students can use a code to get into.  You do not need to have everyone set up their own account, or even provide an e-mail.
During the search for material I can choose to search for a lesson plan, a video, an assessment, or a game.  The descriptions tell you which are free and which are part of the premium package.  You can add any of these things to your class lesson.  The high school section of common core math has classified things according to the standard stands of Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Number and Quality, and finally Statistics and Probability.  I love that each item has information on the common core standard it matches, ratings, type of license, etc.  You can mix and match as your needs require. 
I need to set up a class and try it out.  My only concern is if the ipads can run most of the games or if most will not work.  I am off to check things out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

IXL more uses

Today my Algebra I classes were beginning linear equations so I had them use the guest feature of IXL and try 10 problems on identifying linear functions vs nonlinear functions.  I used this as the pretest for the unit and early next week, I will have them retake the test so I can see how much they improved.  I like being able to do a pre and post test although I do not always get a chance to use either as much as I like.
Then in my Geometry class, I had IXL on my computer and went to the section on using SSS and SAS to prove congruency and I projected problems on my smart board and had the students write down their answers on SAS Gloss on the ipad.  They would hold the ipads up so I could check answers.  They were pretty good at choosing SSS or SAS but not as good on any other reasons on the proof.  This tells me I need to work on their understanding of the reasons for why they can do certain things.  I then put up a couple questions on AAS and ASA just to check but I could not really use it as a pretest today so I think on Thursday I will have them do 10 questions on AAS and ASA proofs.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Geometry Drawer or Geometry 2D-pad.

Geometry 2D-pad is the version of Geometry Drawer set up to maximize the ipad's ability.   I tried playing with it a bit before I resorted to the help spot on the website because it was not as intuitively obvious to use.  What is nice is that there is a blog you can access for instructions on constructing various geometric shapes using this app.  This  app actually has a users guide but you have to go to the blog site to find it and read it.  If there are instructions contained within the app, I could not find them.
I think I need to play around with this app a bit more to actually figure out how to change dimensions of various shapes.  I also plan to read more on the blog and check out the users manual to learn more.  I think this has quite a bit of potential but until I figure it out, I cannot use it in class.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dragon Box lite

I stumbled across this lite version of Dragon Box app and finally got around to trying it last night.  I downloaded it because it markets itself as an algebra app.  The idea is that as you work your way through various levels you feed the dragon and watch him grow and each level has a specific algebraic lesson associated with it.

 I began by exploring chapter one, lesson one.  I was wondering about the algebra part because I was just touching swirly green masses to get rid of them.  This lead to matching opposite colored items and putting one on the other side.  Not too long afterwards, I began working with the letter C.  I soon discovered they have the person begin learning the process with nonmathematical representations before introducing algebraic representations.  By the time this happens the student is ready  to use  algebra and would be comfortable with it.  this app only has the first chapter and it really gives you an idea of how it works.
Dragon box comes in two versions, the 5 + for younger children and the 12+ for older students.  Its a bit more expensive at $7.99 but it appears to be quite good.  I am seriously thinking of buying the full version so I can see the full package but based on the information it gave at the end, it looks good and goes quite far in teaching algebra.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My script calculator and Boss Maths system of equations.

I knew that in my script calculator, if you put in the equation in just right, it supplies the answer so the students do not have to actually show their work.  I realized this when a young man wanted to use an iPad during the test to answer a couple of simple problems like 2x + 3 = 8. I had a suspicion on why he wanted it because I discovered this myself.  That is why I always require them to show how they got their answers Please note on the picture that it shows the answer.

Right now my Algebra II class is working on solving systems of equations using graphing, substitution and elimination.  I have the Boss Math's app that helps students solve systems of equations. 

I like it because it has an introductory section and shows three ways to solve the equations.  Then there is a test section where students may test themselves on each of the ways and they get scores so they know how they did.  I plan to use these tests for a quick assessment next week to see how they are doing. 
This is what the first page of the introduction looks like.
This app teaches a comparison method but I plan to use it for the substitution and elimination methods.  I would not use this to teach solving systems of equations but I would use it to refresh, differentiate and scaffold along with assessment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Torn between two trains of thought and comic strips.

I have been having my students use Desmos quite often because it allows them to graph without knowing how parts of the equations provide information for graphing.  A fellow teacher of mine told me that his college professor had them graph everything because in the real world everyone uses a calculator.  I understand that but I also think students should be able to look at a graph and know if what they put in is actually close to what it should be.  Many students forget the exponent, the x or other term and it doesn't come out properly and they don't realize it is the wrong equation. 
The second thing I realized is that my students do not read much and may not have any idea how comic strips are put together.  So I did a search to see if I could find something on providing the elements of a comic strip.  I found a lovely document from Plain local school district that has the essential elements of a comic strip.  Since I assigned the students to create comic strips on a word problem and most of them are just putting the information on the frames without any characters, I realized they probably are not familiar with comic strips so I have to take a bit of time to build up background knowledge.