Friday, February 28, 2014

new graphing app

while I was attending the technollogy conference,I talked with someonewho shared a new graphing app called Desmos.  it is bothan online graphing calcultor and an app for the iPad.  this product differs from most graphing apps in that you do not have to rewrite the equations into y=something  aand it graphs inequalitiez. this is nice so my students can check their work and it means students who areweak inrewritting equationz can still finish the assignment.  As soon as I get back to work, I will have this app installed on the iPads.  I have two or three apps to add.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Real World Math

I am thinking of spending some time this summer and creating units for my math classes.  Units that include some real world mathematics such as some real biology population studies and the mathematics,  or which interest equations (compounded or continuous) are used for savings accounts, loans, house buying,  car buying, etc.  I want these units to give students a chance to see how one type of equation works in a few different situations.  Furthermore, I can set up some of the exercises so they use spread sheets, graphing calculators and maybe putting things together at the end of the unit with a presentation, a project or maybe an infographic.  If I work on these units over the summer, I should be able to integrate the technology in such a way as to increase understanding but not just have technology.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I think I mentioned that I went to a Minecraft session a couple days ago.  It only works on computers at the moment but it could be used in a math classroom.  It can be rather addicting.  I started playing the tutorial and when they froze it after 20 min so they could give us information, I just about jumped out of my chair to strangle them because I was really into it.  During the session, I came out with the question of how is it used in Math.  The representative for the game gave me a link to a page with lesson plans.  Most of these lesson plans seem to be for the age group of 7 to 12 but if I make it an after school activity, I could adjust a few things for my students. 
The biggest thing I see about Minecraft is that it teaches perseverance, problem solving, and planning.  This costs a bit but its not a huge amount.
While looking up things about Minecraft, I discovered there is something called Qcraft which teaches quantum mechanics and is free.  It works in the Minecraft world.  Once the school has Minecraft, I want to download Qcraft so that I can play with it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

another view of mathematical tasks.

I took the class on mathematical tasks and learned a few more things.  In addition to ones like you have dogs and chickens.  There is a total of 40 heads and 96 feet.  How many dogs are there?  This one is actually on the internet.  I know because the reading teacher who helps out wanted to try it and found it on the internet.  I am glad to know this because one of my students found it on the internet and copied everything down word for word.  I would have known by the language in the explanation, even if I had not known it was on the internet.  I think if I use this again, I will change the animals so they won't find it on the internet.
The presenter also offered some short tasks that can be given during class and shouldn't take more than 5 mins.  You have a 3 x 5 card and three dice.  You fold the 3 by 5 card in half like a hamburger bun.  You line the three dice up so that all the 7 exposed surfaces add up to 23.  This can take some time and it helps develop both problem solving skills and mathematical vocabulary when you write up how you came up with the answer. 
Some of the places recommended for having good tasks like these include:
School improvement network
Inside Mathematics
Illustrative Mathematics
I plan to check each of these sites out for tasks.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Neat website and app

I went to a talk on aviation and the classroom and got quite a few neat links but found one that is awesome.  Its called Lineup with Math Simulator which is an Air Traffic Controller simulation and it uses Math. It is put out by NASA Ames research center.  What is really neat is there is a free app called Area 33.
The web based version has 2 to 5 airplane problems.  One that we saw, showed 3 planes who all had to go past the same check point and were traveling at the same speed.  You decide how to change the speed and learn to read the "screen" so they all arrive safely.  It is awesome as it gives you a real life situation for practicing math.
The app is called Sector 33 has 4 levels of certification and 35 programs featuring 2 to 5 planes.  I've downloaded it and plan to play it a bit later.  The web based game was awesome so I'm hoping the sector 33 game is a neat.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Correction and website with lots of

I explored earlier today and it turns out the only game I tested works on iPads.  The rest need adobe flash.  I thought I had finally found a place that had games that worked on the iPad.  I should have explored it in more detail but I was at training and tried the one game so I assumed that they all would work.  Rats.  I apologize for this.
On the other hand, I just wondered through  The have quite a few videos to instruct, show examples, etc.  In addition to mathematics, it offers various sciences, social sciences and English.  This website would be good for a blended classroom and would allow students to get additional help with their

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Someone followed my example

Yesterday, after school, the wing had a meeting and I shared how I had my students find the answer to which odds were better: winning the lottery or having quintuplets?  The video teacher is leaving instructions for the kids to research a certain program they will have to use.  He told me, he was inspired by my story and decided to leave this assignment because he was going to head off for the same technology in eduction that I'm going to be at.   I think that is cool.
Over the next couple days or so I want to investigate free video apps that will allow my students to make videos or video podcasts for an assignment. I realize there are the apple apps such as imovie, etc but I want to check out free apps because the school is on a very tight budget.I did download garage band when it was free so I have that but I want to check possibilities out.
Once I get the video making apps on the iPads, I am going to try to have students make a commercial on an aspect of math such as the perpendicular bisector.  the commercial will be no longer than 30 seconds which will make sure the material is there and they have to come to the point.  I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Changing my warm-up

Today for a lark, I asked students which had the better odds
1. Winning the lottery or
2. Giving birth to quintuplets.
This on question lead students on to the internet to find out what quintuplets are and the odds.  They discovered the odds of winning a lottery depended on the type of lottery and could range from 1/14million to 1/175 million.  The offs of giving birth to quintuplets was found to be only 1/800,000.  This actually opened up a discussion on the octomom - the lady who had 6 kids and gave birth to 8 more and the Dion quintuplets. 
The other question that opened up a fair bit of discussion was simply that if you worked 28 hours in a week and earned $195 would you be earning a good wage.
Points included during the discussion:
1. Minimum wage is $7.25 so it is below minimum wage.
2. It would be a bad wage for someone under 16.
3.  If you had no money coming in, something was better than nothing.
It isn't often I get this type of discussion going and it was great.  Many of my students are classified ELL (English Language Learners) so this type of discussion really helps them improve their English.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New use for mind maps.

I had my Algebra 1 class read the section on graphing linear inequalities.  Today, they helped me create a mind map so they can  use the organized information to help them graph linear inequalities.  I am having them practice reading the graphic organizer to help them interpret some pregraphed linear inequalities.  This is one way to help them learn and use the material.  I think for many students this is a way for them to organize the material they are learning in a way that can be easily referenced. 
I also had these same students try out the application Descartes Dots.  Most of them spent the time being frustrated because it is not like most games that they play.  The app gives them points for certain lines and they have to locate the points, then have the app connect the points.  When they have connected everything, they have created a picture.  It helps them become more confident using the Cartesian coordinate system.  They can see the x and y coordinates as they move an arrow across the plane. I am going to have them do this application again until they are more comfortable with it.  I remember that even when they graph on graph paper with a pencil, they get frustrated because they often flip the x and y values on the graph and it doesn't turn out right.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Too many tools?

I sometimes wonder if I have too many apps and too many things I want to do with the iPad during any one period.  Today in one class period, we did our warm-up, standardized test questions, made a mind map using the iPad to organize angle and perpendicular bisectors, median and altitudes. I then gave the students and assignment with about 10 min left out of a 55 min period.  I saw several students using their mind-maps to help them answer the questions.  On the other hand, I would love to have given an exit ticket via the exit ticket app but ran out of time.  I need to create a quiz in ET or in Schoology so I can see where the students are but again I have a time issue.  I also have games to help them improve skills and learn more about certain topics.  I think I need to sit down over the summer and really examine what apps would work best with which unit and I need to have lesson plans that write them in with a purpose in mind.
I think several questions I should ask area as follows
1.  What is the purpose of using this app or piece of technology?
2. How will it further student knowledge?
3.  How can I use the results of the game to provide data for my instruction?
4.  Do I really want to go totally paperless or do I need to see some sort of actual work?
5.  Will this offer guided practice?

I don't look at any of those question right now and I really should.  Often, I throw in the iPad because it seems to be right at this moment.  I think most of us have too much to do and not enough time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Getting prepared

On Sunday February 23, 2014, I will be giving a presentation on using the iPad in the high school classroom at the state conference on technology in education. I am excited as I will be talking about many of the apps I have reviewed here and actually use in my classroom.  I am almost finished with my presentation and I realized I should also include websites that are iPad friendly.  There is nothing more frustrating than to find an interactive activity on a website and then discover it won't work on the iPads.  Yes I know you can download apps that will allow you to use that website but it ends up using bandwidth and the website shows up a bit on the slow side when the students use it. 
In the meantime, I am trying to find the time to explore a website called Easy CBM lite which is free and can provide assessment in both reading and math for grades K to 8.  It allows you to benchmark and progress monitor students, do assorted reports, etc.  I am told it works on iPads so that is what I need to try out so that I can use it. There is a move towards using more and more assessment for the purposes of RTI. Since my classroom has iPads, I do not get access to the computers unless I actually make arrangements and that is difficult because the computers are in use most periods. 
I hope to report on my experience come Monday or Tuesday. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two different apps for the same activity.

Today in Geometry, I showed a short video on altitudes, medians, and their points of concurrency.  After showing the video, I had students go to Gloss where I had them either draw an acute, right or obtuse triangle and then draw in either an altitude or median.  Based on the drawings I noticed that some of the kids really had no firm grasp of what 90 degrees looked like.  Once everyone had drawn the triangle with the appropriate segment, I had them repeat the exercise using geometry pad which has functions to draw the proper triangles and has a median or altitude choice.  Students repeated the exercise using Geometry Pad and we wrote down where the points of concurrency are in terms of the actual triangle.  Then we took their results and compared them with the points of concurrency for both bisectors.   This helped students visualize things and make connections.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Non linear regression calculators.

Since none of the calculators I've downloaded on the iPads at school do nonlinear regression, I had my college prep class do a web search to find a nonlinear regression calculator.  They helped each other get to s calculator and then just let them spend time exploring the calculator. The kids had a blast checking out how changing one thing could change it all. 
Due to to a change of plans, I had to work with one class on absolute inequalities.  I had the students practice problems on SAS Gloss.  Some used a plain background, some selected a lined or one with graph paper.  They enjoyed having different colors for the background and for the ink.  I enjoyed it because I could easily change a sign, put a smiley face or a frown, adjust this or that and the kids were able to make changes or corrections without a problem.  I like that they did not have to use tons of paper but could do it all on the iPad.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Haiku Deck

Last semester, I had most of my students use Haiku Deck to create some awesome mathematical presentations.  I just read in one of my groups that Haiku Deck is giving access to some of their paid themes to people for free.  It is under their random acts of kindness.  If you go to this link you can get the information necessary to do it and they will be offering various themes every day, Monday to Friday of this week.  I am going to try downloading some tonight when I go back to work. I'd love some extra themes for my students to work with.
I need to have my students play with Algebra Tiles.  It is an app with x^2, x and 1 times but the tiles appear to be the same size and I haven't had the time to fully explore this app.  I need to figure out if you can cause the tiles to change size, split them up or even figure out why the app states that the answer is wrong even when it is correct.  I am thinking that it has to do with the app is set up for people to check at certain points in the process.  I am off to play with the app to see if I can get it to work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trig 1

I forgot I had this app, Trig 1.  This is a lovely app to help students learn about the ratios, using the ratios and practicing using the ratios in certain situations such as finding a roof support, finding the height of a building, etc. 
I like this app because it allows the students to bring up an example to see how to solve a problem and then it will return the student to the original problem by tapping on the screen.  Each section provides more than one practice problem so they can work on areas they have problems with. 
I really like the real world problems this app has students work.  I've noticed that students are good at doing the calculations type problems but once the same calculation is put into a real world situation, they have trouble doing it.  
I have a student who is doing trig right now and I am going to have him spend at least 10 min a day on this app until he's worked every single real world example.  Students need to become good at working real world examples.  I know when I finished high school, I found it difficult to do the same thing myself because the real world examples in our math book dealt with roman galleons and how many people you needed to row them.  Not the most practical skills.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Semi-off topic but still related to math.

Someone I know told me I should read Dracula.  I've never read it, only seen the movie interpretations of it.  He said the original was superior to any media interpretation.  So my first thought was to download it.  So much has changed in the past few years with mobile devices.  We can download music, books and pdf's.  We can create books to upload and sell.  We can create podcasts, interactive books, presentations, documents, etc and place them on the web to share with others. We can find textbooks that have been digitized and are free.  We can set up our mobile devices to be our offices so we can sit on a beach and do our work.  Even printers are now small enough to put in a bag and take with us.  No you don't always need an electrical plug as you can buy those flashlights that you crank and they even allow you to charge your cell phones.  So  if the connection is the right type, you could power your printer.  With the increased improvement in phones, you can use the phone for your office.
I know there is a  push to integrate technology into the classroom but its hard because the textbook publishers are a bit behind the technology and most publishers do not have the digitized books.  Even the publishers who have books available, these books are not interactive because the interactive element adds to the file size.  This does not mean that you as the teacher could not down load a chapter, add links, etc so that students can annotate, make notes, etc and make the students more interactive readers.
Why couldn't we take examples from the books, create presentations so that when the students play them, the steps with explanations come on, one step at a time.  Make it with audio, with drawings etc.  I know it is common to make videos showing the steps etc but some students do not have a good connection so video is much harder to view while a presentation can often be used in the same situation.  I think it is important to create material using presentations, slide shows, audio podcasts, etc. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

sharing results with students.

Today I gave my algebra 1 students the same 4 inequality problems as a warm-up, rather than the computerized practice they had yesterday.  I asked them how they could do the work today but not yesterday.  One answer I got was that they had the right answer but the computer didn't accept it.  This was true for only one problem and I showed them the breakdown so they could see that for the most part, their answers were not correct.  They had a great time reading how each of them answered each question, who put something like IDK or made up words.  In regard to the one question whose answer was x > 2 and the program marked x>2 as incorrect due to the lack of spaces, the kids started a discussion on why the computer did not recognize it.  I think I will share the results every time I give them any test/quiz type activity online, I am going to show them the results so we can talk about it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Prime numbers and other things

One of my seniors had a breakthrough today.  We were doing a compare and contrast between primes and composite numbers. He said a prime cannot be divided any smaller but it can be divided into other numbers which are composites.  I felt like my students are really starting to develop the vocabulary to discuss mathematics.  Hurray.
I had several classes try some practice problems using Exit Ticket.  I discovered something that I hadn't realized.  When I put input answers I need to list the multiple possibilities or it will mark something as wrong.  For instance, one answer was x < 2 which is how I put it in.  Several of my students put in x<2 without the spaces and the program did not recognize it as correct.  On the other hand, I like the way it shows the different answers and tells me which student put in which answer.  It gives the results in a variety of forms so that I can use it.  None of my students in period 6 got any of the inequalities right so we'll go over the problems tomorrow.
Since many of my students are classified ELL, I think they were scared of making mistakes.  I tried to get them to understand that I was not grading based on the percent results but on having done the practice.  I will give them the practice again early next week after going over the problems to see if they improve at all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Etc, busy day.

First off, I had several of my students try a paid for app called Algebra Tutor. It has two levels for each topic, the novice and the master levels.  Most of my students started with the novice level for using signed numbers.  I put some on solving equations or combining like terms.  They use a swipes and gestures to manipulate the terms and learn more about how the processes work.  It does cost but it is an app that seems to give the students a real opportunity to learn the processes and they enjoy it. 
Second, I think I finally got the exit ticket set up so my students can take a quick quiz tomorrow at the end of the various classes.  I managed to get things set up but the tickets wouldn't show.  I found a toggle switch that said hidden and moved it to visible so we'll see if that works.  I also updated some things on Schoology and we'll see how they work.  I put in several assignments and one discussion questions so we'll see how that goes.  The last time I tried the app, it went well and the kids enjoyed it.  I actually had one class discuss a topic but I had it so they could read each other's entries before posting.  I changed things so that have to post before they can see other answers. 
Third, over the past two days, I've passed out a complex task involving chicken and dogs.  One of my students who would rather  not do a thing, actually spent the class period solving it instead of bothering other people and she got it correct.  The main requirement is that students show their work and then explain how they got the answer in writing.  She did a fantastic job. I think it might have something to do with her being extremely bright and this is the first time she's been challenged in quite a while.  I hope I keep peaking her interest for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Geoboard vs Geopad app

I just started my geometry class on triangle bisectors. Today we walked a movie where the instructor actually showed students where the names for the circumcenter and incenter come from and showed them both the angle bisectors and perpendicular bisectors.  For the last few minutes of class I had students play with the geopad app but a few decided to play with geoboard.   I looked at both apps but only the geopad will allow students to create the triangles, put the appropriate bisector on it and place the circles around the various triangles.  Furthermore, it allows students to move shapes around so they can observe for themselves what happens to the points of concurrency with the various type of triangles.
On the other hand, the geoboard app allows the students to create large triangles in a much easier manner.  They can use a rubberband to make the bisectors but they may not be able to make the bisector perfectly perpendicular or cut the angle precisely in half.  The geopad has an option for that.  In addition, geoboard will not allow students to add a circle.  I do see geoboard as being the better choice for tesselations, transformations, shapes.  All told, I think each is good for certain circumstances.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spread sheets.

I need to find a couple activities so my students can use spreadsheets.  I put documents 2 go which has both a word processor and a spread sheet.  Although, students take computer classes in which they learn to use various programs such as MS Word, Excel, Keynote, Pages, etc, I've found they really don't know how to really use the programs.  It is like they play with it but do not really learn the programs.  I also need to give students a chance to use spreadsheets within a mathematical/real life facet so they see a connection between the computer class and a more real world application.  
I also need to explore two websites tomorrow during my prep period.  I'm told the sites are for grades k to 6 or k to 8 but many of my students are below grade level in many aspects of Math and I'm thinking of registering for the sites and using them as scaffolding to help them improve.  I am assured that both websites can be used on the iPads.  Nothing is more frustrating than to discover that an awesome website I found cannot be used on the iPads.  I am going to try to set up the exit ticket tonight and see if I can get it working for tomorrow and treat the results as a quiz.