Thursday, May 29, 2014

Found a nice ebook

I was looking at the iBooks shop for books on iBook author and stumbled across a 21 page ebook on using the iPad to teach math called "Transforming Math with iPad Strategies for best practices".  It is a nice guide with specific suggestions for activities including the use of three dimensional figures and how they are created.  There are lots of examples to check out and it gives me some ideas along with enough information to start playing with it.  
The best thing of all is that this short ebook is free.  I just bought my first Mac and have installed iBook Author on it.  I have been downloading free ebook on iBook author and in the process discovered free ebooks on using the iPad in the classroom so I am exploring those. Tomorrow, I am going to look at "The Teachers iPadoPedia An A-z of using iPad in the classroom." 
In the meantime, I am going to checkout some of the apps mentioned in the ebook I looked at today.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comic book app

I have had the comic book app on my iPad for a while and this is the first time I have been able to play with it.  I have the free version.  It is similar to comic life in that you can set up the way you want to the frames and you can import photos from the camera roll.  I used the frames I had from the animation app I used a couple of days ago to create a strip on rhombus.  I added some bubbles, wrote down the properties illustrated in each frame, selected some word like duh! For each frame and added a title. I was able to save the strip as a PDF, JPEG, and to my camera roll.  If saved as a PDF, it could be opened in another app and if the right app is chosen, you or the students can make additional notes and save this.  I still prefer zoodle comics but this allows me to do different things.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My script math pad

This is put out by the same people who created my script calculator.  The nice thing about this app is that I can use my finger to write down an equation and it changes the equation into a printed form that can be exported for use in other apps.  I created an equation on my script math pad and saved it to the camera roll.  This means that I can use it in any app that allows me to import a picture.  I tried it in showme so I could use it in the lecture.  This opens up some really nice possibilities.  It also means I do not have to mess with any special keyboard apps to get the mathematical symbols.  I am going to have this put on the iPads for next year.

  I made this on the app as an example.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Animation HD

I have had this on my personal iPad for a long time.  This particular app is set up to actually create animated things like a walking man, opening flower, etc.  I tried it today as a way to show how to solve the actual equation.  I tried two different ways.  The first was to write each step on each sheet so only one step is shown and the second was to show the whole problem with one more step for each sheet.  The one problem I found to either way is in playing the animated equation.  I could not set it any slower than 2frames per second.
It appears to work better when animating figures to show congruent sides, angles, and diagonals.  I can export it to my photos, YouTube and one or two other places. In order to save it anywhere else you have to update to the paid version.  I am going to play with this a bit more to see if I can use the free version in my classes but it is going to take some work to use in my math classroom.  These are the frames I quickly created using the program and exported to my photos.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Planning units

I decided I needed a change in my lesson planning.  Rather than looking at things in a weekly unit, I need to plan my teaching through the use of units.  For instance, I need to look at polynomials as a unit where students learn what is a polynomial, use of operations with them, synthetic and long division, roots, end behavior so students see the whole topic for a change.  By planning the material as a complete unit, I can create interactive ibooks, assessments, activities and assignments and plan the use of apps in advance instead of waiting till I get home. 
I hope by creating the lessons in this manner, my students will be more interested and willing to learn the material.  I hope this helps them keep up, rather than giving up.  I see the students taking a pretest before beginning the unit so I know exactly where they are and several quick quizzes to monitor their progression through the unit.  I need to make sure I have differentiated instruction written into the unit perhaps as a menu or as a choice of so many problems out of the total.  Something I have to work on.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Jeopardy Template
While cleaning my desk today, I ran across an assignment from a CILC activity I had done with my students earlier in the year.  The assignment was to create a game with certain elements.  My mind saw this and wandered around before stopping on Jeopardy.  I have a template on my computer for the smart board but is there one for ipads?  After doing a search, there appears to be a jeopardy webiste  which allows you to create your own template without using powerpoint.  I am going to explore this to see if I can have students create jeopardy games to play in class as reviews.  Rather than having me create them reviews, maybe I can have them create the games.  Then the person whose game I use is the person who runs the game.  Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  I"ve included a screenshot which is rather large but You see how you can put the answer in and the question.  Looks easy and only needed a password to set this up.  It did not require me to join anything.  I plan to explore it more.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I just found out that Blabberize has an iPad app called chatterpix.  I am wondering if I can use it to  make mathematical equations talk about how you solve them.  I am wondering if the novelty of such an activity would keep their attention and make it so they learn.  On the other hand, I wonder if it would be too "cute" and not meet the needs of student learning.  At what point are we including technology just because its new and fun to use rather than see if it works. 
I think a better use would be to use it on a comic strip so that students can make the characters talk in the comic strip.  It would be a way for sharing information without as much writing for some of my ELL students. 
I am trying to find ways to have my students write without feeling overwhelmed or shutting down and this might be a way to do it especially if I have them write down the script of the people speaking on the comic strips.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lesson plans for class

I belong to several groups on google communities which provide me information to help improve my teaching and knowledge to create better lesson plans.  In one of the communities, someone posted an article on making mobile learning implementation more effective.  The five major points in this article gave me a lot of thought because the first point is that content should be short and concise due to the shortened concentration spans of the mobile device users.  This made me wonder how practical it would be in a classroom with integrated mobile devices if the students are classified ELL. 
The second point on keeping the information simple and interesting is quite true.  Unfortunately, as classroom teachers we will have to strike a balance between keeping it simple and interesting and meeting the goals of the activity.  For instance, beginning next year all state mandated testing is being computerized and students need to be able to take it seriously and not just rush through because they get bored. 
The other three points have more to do with using proper multimedia, collaboration and tools. I am working on deciding what app to use so that I can have the students collaborate more often in class as a way of implementing a different type of peer tutoring.  I am also going to pull out some books I have with collaborative activities to see how I can modernized them for use with the mobile devices.  This requires that the app used for the collaboration be the proper tool.   I still have to do some research on the proper collaborative app for my needs and I need to work on learning to write good rubrics and to have students learn to utilize them when creating the final product. 
School ends Thursday and I am done on Friday so on Monday, I begin doing prep work for fall.  I will post ideas and lesson frameworks over the summer.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Using spreadsheets in Math class

Yesterday, I did a quick search on using spreadsheets in the mathematics classroom and most of the activities dealt with finance or something similar.  I did not find much on using them with various functions so I was a bit disappointed.  Then about the same time I went to bed, I wondered if I could use a spreadsheet to prepare tables for graphing linear equations or systems or inequalities. 
I noticed that my students seem to have a disconnect between the equations, the tables and the actual graphs so I got to thinking if I could use a spreadsheet to form a link between calculating the points by hand and using a table on a calculator or app. 
This type of activity might help students see a connection between the equation and the results in the table by going through this middle step.  My students often have trouble seeing the connections between the beginning and ending of a process.
Over the summer, I plan to learn to use all the parts of the Algebra Tiles app so that students get a more hands-on experience to combining like terms, solving one and two step equations, factoring, etc.  I only know how to use part of the app so I need to work on it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Graphs for data

I just realized today as I was reading an article on useful app for iPads if you are in business, that I never use any statistical charts or data visualizations.  My students are often quite visual and such an app would allow them to understand some of the material better.  I realize that I could use one of the iWorks suite on it but I am going to check out free apps over the summer to see what else is available.  I want my students to do a bit more with graphs and charts.  I plan to have iworks but I want students to learn to use other apps so they are better prepared for going into the workforce. 
On a positive note, I am going to the ibookhack this summer and I will share the information with others back at school.  I already have one teacher who is planning how to use ibook author in his class next year and has already said we will work together next year.  I am sooo excited about it.
I just heard about Scoodle Jam which is a paid app that allows students to write, draw, type, collage, and brainstorm with creation tools and cross-subject, educational content.  This is one I think I might check out over the summer to see if it has any real advantages.  Since I work with ELL students, I"ve been working on finding ways for my students to express themselves in written form.  This is going to be fun to see how it goes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Digital Storytelling

Many times it is too easy to dismiss using certain apps because they are not strictly math oriented.  I gave some thought to this topic and remembering the 3 act Math tasks, I wonder if I can have the students create their own digital stories setting up a situation and explaining the math for that situation.  The math will be from what is being studied in the classroom and the situation will be a real life application of that particular math topic.  I teach in a one building K to 12 school and perhaps I can have the students take their finished projects down to the elementary and share them with students.  That opens some possibilities.  This would be a way for students to develop their mathematical vocabulary and get a better grasp of the topic.  This is going to be something I explore over the summer. When I work out the details, I"ll post them here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ways to make a flipped classroom.

I am exploring at least three apps and one website to see about creating videos/podcasts/screencasts for my classroom.  I often have students traveling or absent and I see this as a way to have the material available to the students so they can catch up.  It is also something I could have when I have a substitute in the classroom.
As far as apps go I am looking at
1. Explain Everything
2. Showme
3. Educreations.
Someone suggestsed Knowmia and I just discovered Screen-o-matic  which would allow me to create screencasts on my computer.  It has both a free and a paid version.
I realize there is a huge investment in time to set up the new way of organizing my classroom but once its done, I can reuse or adjust things.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

3 act math tasks

I have been assigning math tasks as homework but my students often need too much scaffolding to do it by themselves.  I just discovered Dan Meyers 3 act math tasks.  The main website has a picture or video and the visitor can ask a question about the video or picture.  What makes this site more valuable are the lesson plans for the 3 act math tasks. 
Act one is the set up based on the video or picture
Actu two is looking at what info is needed to solve this.
Act three is the resolution.
In finding the site, I found this spreadsheet with a list of three act math tasks on the website.
This looks like a nice way to scaffold tasks for my students so they can complete the assignment without getting too frustrated.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A way to reinforce solving equations using elimination.

I gave the students a worksheet on solving systems of equations using elimination.  The first thing I had the students do was to graph the two equations on Desmos and write down the point of interception.  This app is quite good in that it shows a dot where the lines cross and if you tap the dot, it will display the coordinates in (x,y) form.  The other day one of my students stumbled across a section with examples of lines, parabolas, trig, conic sections, polar graphing, transformations and calculus.  Each of these topics has subtopics.  I looked at the trig section and it has period and amplitude, phase, all the trig functions, wave interference and the unit circle.  I tapped on period and amplitude and a small dialog box came up with an sample problem and the graph. It allows you to explore the graph by changing values of the period and amplitudes and the graph automatically adjusts.  This would allow a student to actually put values in of real problems to see them solved.
You can add an expression, text or table.  Furthermore, you can change the window settings.  The more I use this particular graphing program, the more I see uses for it next year in my classes. The bad thing is that you do not have to rewrite equations into the slope intercept form to use it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Talk about a learning experience

I put a problem on the board for most of my classes to do and was shocked at the results.  I put 2(x+3)-3(x-2)=18 up and many of my upper level students had trouble doing this problem.  Only one student in the Algebra I class could do it.  I discovered this using the favorite bad assessment I talk about in yesterday's post.  It is a great assessment that takes all of 5 min and gives a good view of the topic.
Yesterday, I had students work on standardized problems alone on their iPads using gloss.  Over all it went pretty well but I think I'll have them help each other so each group gets all the correct answers.  If a student asked what perimeter is, I told them to look it up.  I think by helping each other, they will actually learn it better and it involves peer tutoring. 
Instead of giving finals, I am assigning projects to three  of my 5 classes using Haiku Deck.  I said they had to use their own words, make their own diagrams and they had to use complete sentences.  One of the students objected that this is a math class not an English class.  I laughed and told them there is English in Math.....LOL.
Next step is to figure out what type of flipping I can do with the limited or no internet my students have on their mobile devices.  Actually, I should think of homework assignments they can do using their mobile devices or assignments my traveling students can use mobile devices on.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Trying to get away from teacher lead activities

Up to now, I've been giving warm-ups and standardized test questions to the students most mornings and then going over the problems.  Too many students would just wait and copy it all down rather than trying to work things out themselves. Last week, I changed to going as far as setting up the problem and letting them finish it.  Beginning this week, I am going to change to the "Best no" where I have students work out the problems on a small piece of paper and then go through the answers with a yes or no.  Finally, I'll choose the best no and put it up on the smartboard so students can see it. I'll have them tell me the good things about it and then have them tell me what was done wrong.  I got this off the teaching channel.
As for the standardized test questions, I am going to have them work in pairs to come up with answers using the iPads to write their answers on.  I"ll check and mark them down for how well they did it on a 1 to 5 scale.  This way I am hoping to eliminate the straight guessing and actually get them to do some of the work rather than waiting till I go over them.  I will go over but at the end of the period once I've given them a grade.  One of the new focuses of our state standards is to build persistence and I've not done that enough.
This summer I am going to try to build more activities for persistence and for formative assessment into my lesson plans.  So much to do and not enough time.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Relating math to real life

In my first period we are doing more vocational math till the end of year and the students are really enjoying it.  Today one of their assignments was to use the internet to research for blueprints such as how are they made, where did the name blueprint come from and how are they used.  Continuing the theme, I asked all my classes to tell me about one of their video/digital games and the statistics that the game kept tract of.  Then I asked the students to describe the  math they found in a TV show or a movie and what the math applied to.  Both questions brought forth a lot of discussion and the students had a good time explaining their favorite digital game or TV show.  In addition to game shows, they brought up "Are you smarter than a 5th grader", Sons of guns, and other such shows.  I enjoyed the conversation that took place in the classroom.

Thursday, May 1, 2014 is the website that was mentioned yesterday in the video clip I watched on the teaching channel.  The motto of the place is transforming education through universal design.  Much of the material on the website is research based and offers professional learning and learning tools.  I looked and the learning tools and was very impressed.  They have a UDL studio so you can create educational materials, an exchange, math puzzles, a curriculum toolkit, a bookbuilder so the teacher can create digital books,  a curriculum self-check, a lesson builder, and several other items.  This is a website I need to utilize over the summer to help me create differentiated lessons so all my students can learn better.  I am impressed and am thrilled I ran across this site.
I finally realized that I do not need to work all the problems in my warm-ups, I can just make sure they have the correct equation so they can do the work themselves.  I should have realized this earlier but didn't and know I'm thrilled I finally got it through my head.  This way students who aren't sure how to do it, have a starting point.