Thursday, October 30, 2014


Last year I had two Origami apps on my ipads. The other night at study hall, a couple of students asked me why I didn't have any origami apps on there.  It got me to thinking that even if I'm not using it at the moment in my geometry class, I should still have it on the iPads so students can do origami.  They can develop an understanding of the importance of lines, angles, polygons and triangles play in the creation of something in origami.  Furthermore, there are books that show how to origami to create three dimensional shapes. 
I just did a search for apps for making 3 dimensional shapes and this article popped up. It is a popular science article on the real world applications of origami.  I found it quite interesting and I can use it in my classroom when we study 3 dimensional shapes.  In addition I found this website that is already tablet ready.  It talks about different 3 dimensional origami shapes.  It has both the background on various shapes but it includes easy, medium and hard origami instructions.
The website has you use your finger to scroll horizontally, or up and down, etc.  It works beautifully on the iPad and perfect.  this is going on my will use list.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Race 2 Achieve final race.

Today there was a k to 12 assembly in the Gym where the councilor gave a talk about it being red ribbon week.  When he was done, I got to have my students race their mousetrap racers.  I even had one student who redid her race car because it kept traveling to the right.  We ended up having two runs.  Unfortunately, none of the race cars made it all the way to the finish line.  Several of them lost wheels during the run.  So after a short intermission where I told the kids they didn't cheer loud enough, the students fixed the wheels.  During the second run, only one made it across the line in about 11.5 seconds.  He was thrilled he won but kind of upset his car was 3 seconds slower than during practice.  The whole school had a blast and we awarded the winner a medal.  As soon as I can grab a couple of pictures from the tech dept, I will post them
This was an awesome experience and if you can do this with your students, I think it is well worth using it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Discovered something about Desmos

Today during Algebra II, while I had students working with Free Graph Calculator before having them do the same set of equations on Desmos, I actually clicked on a tab I didn't usually do and discovered that it has instructional screens on trig: period and amplitude, phase, all trig functions, wave interference and the unit circle.  Then there are instructional screens for conic sections dealing with Circle, Parabola and Focus, Ellipse with Foci, and the Hyperbola.  Then there is a section on Polar Graphing with Polar Rose, Logarithmic Spiral, Polar Conic Sections, and Limacon.  I like that there are four screens on transformations  followed by 4 screens on calculus.

Each screen allows the student to explore and change certain variables so they are able to see what happens with the changes to the graph.  Now that I know about this section, I can assign various screens to my students as an exploration for all my classes.  I also hope to post some pictures later today.

Monday, October 27, 2014

X Blox

X Blox is a nice app that uses manipulatives for various mathematical concepts.
It is divided into learn and play.  There are 5 chapters with 9 levels to learn to use the manipulatives. 
Chapter 1 covers expressions,  chapter 2 is on factors, chapter 3 is on multiple variables, chapter 4 is on equations while chapter 5 is on quadratic equations. Chapters 1 and 3 are very easy to figure out how to use while chapters 2, 4, and 5 are much harder to figure out but no matter which chapter you work, if you do not get the blocks set properly, it won't work right.  The lets learn section is set up so the student can become familiar with the various blocks and concepts for each chapter. 
Once the student has mastered the learn section, he or she can move on to the play section which has three options.  The first option is called the sandbox which appears to be where the student can work out problems that they have on a paper or just play around.  The second option is the X BLOX Express which is a timed game so people can create various expressions within a specific amount of time. Finally is the factor challenge which is timed and again the student creates the problem at the top.
I think this app could be used in Algebra I so as to help reinforce the foundation of Algebra and give students additional practice in basic algebraic concepts.  I need to get this installed on my ipads so my students can utilize the app as we go through the course.
The last think I like about this whole app is that it keeps track of scores and these can be sent to the teacher who can use the results as formative assessment.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I have known for a while that I need to do more assessment. Today as my students used a couple apps, I realized I could use the data from the apps to determine how they are doing or use the results as the assessment. 
For my geometry class, I sent the students to IXL and had them take 5 questions for three topics dealing with triangles.  The results are an assessment and I can uses the results as a quiz grade because they are answering questions.  IXL is nice because you can access up to 20 questions per day per iPad without having to sign up for the service.  I can have 2 different classes do 10 questions on a certain topic and use the results as the quiz score.  I feel kind of stupid because I've used IXL before but never considered using it as the assessment.  <grins>  I think we all go through that.
I had my Algebra 1 classes do card clutter today.  Its a game where students get certain numbers they have to put in order.  If they do not accomplish it within a certain period of time, the app shows them the correct answer and asks them if they want to retry.  I noticed that many of my kids would just hit the move on button so they could brag that they completed level whatever without really paying attention to the information.  The assessment value I gathered from watching the students is that most are pretty good at ordering integers but they are not as good when they run into fractions, decimals or mixed.  I can use this information when I write their homework assignment up.  I can put problems that require them to order numbers so they can practice this skill.  I can also put one or two problems on the warm-up.  I like being able to scaffold by sliding in problems in both the warm-up and the homework.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Today while teaching Geometry, I answered a students question of what are corresponding angles by skipping across the floor.  Earlier this week, I did a number - skip - number cheer and the physical movement reminded her.  I realized I try to come up with physical movements as much as possibly to remind them of mathematical ideas. 
My mind suddenly brewed the idea that I could have students do pictionary using the smartboard in the classroom (I have a fairly small class) and the students could write the answers on their ipads and show them so I can see at a glance if its right. 
The other thing I am working on right now is importing a scanned blank bingo sheet so I can have my students write the words and pictures seperately on a 4 by 4 or 5 by 5 bingo grid.  I like to play bingo as a way of practicing vocabulary.
Finally I downloaded a smartboard presentation on solving 2 step equations that had a wonderful analogy for how to do it.  You start by untying your shoes which are the addition and subtraction step, then you take your socks off which represents the multiplication and division steps.  I love it because it makes an easy reminder to students when they ask "What do I do next?" 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ways to increase literacy in Math.

This week and next, I will be going through some word problems from the palette of problems  in the NCTM middle school teachers magazine from May.  I am having them go through the following questions as they work on the project.
1. What do we know?
2. What do we find?
3. What do we need to consider in order to solve it?
4. Solving it.
In about three weeks, I am going to give them a choice of creating a cartoon, making a book, or creating something artistic that will show the information from the four questions.  All of these projects will be created on the iPad using any of the apps.  If two or three students want to work together to create a movie, I would allow them to do that.
In the meantime, I want to get a green screen app, a whiteboard app, and a couple other apps that would allow students who are more of an artist to be able to complete the assignment.  This will have a definite time period and rubric associated with it. 
I want to show that math is not always pencil and paper calculations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Smart Board + ipad

Today I had tried something new with the students. I found two smartboard presentations that had exactly what I wanted for teaching my students how to solve 2 step equations.  After watching how two different equations were solved, I had them go on Gloss on their iPads and they worked some problems.  When they got an answer, they held up the iPad so I could see at a glance how they did. Some problems were true or false in which case they wrote a T or F.  It was fun and it made it easy for me to do a quick assessment to see where their understanding lay and how much prior knowledge they had.  I plan to try it with my geometry class and my algebra 2 class having them use the ipads to show an answer. 
I did try it with  my geometry class.  I used it to see how much they learned of various angles associated with a set of parallel lines cut by a traversal.  It was quite an eye opener.  Only one student actually knew all the answers, the rest of them were unsure of themselves and often picked the incorrect answer. this gives me a place to start so I can incorporate some scaffolding. 
I have added another tool to my repertoire.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Integrating technology into the classroom.

I am finally getting to the point in my growth that I am finding ways of integrating technology into my classroom. 
I have been using i-Spy X in my Algebra I class all week because I've been teaching solving one step equations to the students.  Monday, we only looked at solving using addition, Tuesday used subtraction to solve equations, Thursday they practiced multiplication and Today was division.
I discovered that I could use this app in three different ways throughout the lesson.
1.  Use the easy version of the game to introduce the process to my students before actually teaching the lesson.
2. Use it to practice the process after i introduce the lesson and I can use both the easy and medium levels depending on the student.
3.  Use it to review and get additional practice for all levels of students. 
This way I can use the app to remind them of prior knowledge, scaffolding and differentiation without having to do a lot of extra work. 
I had the students review solving by using multiplication before I taught dividing and I had a few students who needed to remain on the easy level but others who moved on to the medium level and my students who catch on fast did the hard level.  It was awesome and I think it went quite well. 
I can use this app when we do solving multi-step equations because they even have a choice of using all four ops just to have them practice solving single step equations using the proper operation.  It will provide a good review.
Over the weekend I plan to put this into a proper lesson plan format and do some planning using the Lion Grapher that I reviewed yesterday.  That app I can use in stages with this group when I get to finding slope and learning point slope or slope intercept form. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lion Grapher

Lion Grapher is another app from the center for algebraic thought.  It has four modes which make it possible to use this app in a couple different classes and over any unit dealing with finding the equation of a line.
The first mode is the lion mode. In this mode, the student finds the slope to put the line through thd lions head. The student is going to use the origin as one point and the location of the lions head as the other point.  If the student is successful, they get points. If they are incorrect, they lose 25 points each time.
Next is the Intercept mode where the student uses a point and the y intercept to find the line.then the student can use 2points for the app to find the equation of a line.  Finally is the line mode which allows a student to play with the graph of a line by moving it up, down, left, or right.
I like that this app has students exploring the slope from a point on the graph, two points, or the equation of a line from two points, or a point and the slope.  I find that my ELL students really do much better when they have the opportunity to explore in addition to videos and lectures.  I had fun exploring the app myself.
This is a nice app and its free

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Center for Algebraic Thinking

I've told you about using the Tortoise and the Hare app in my classes. Today, we found the slope and the equation representing the Tortoise's run and the Hare's run but in the process I discovered my students did not know the story behind the app so I spoke to their reading teacher and she is going to have them read the story tomorrow in class.  I thought it was something everyone knew but apparently it is no longer taught.
The Tortoise and Hare app is created by the folks at the Center for Algebraic Thinking located at Willamette University in Salem Oregon.  It is a part of the graduate school of education.  What is so neat about this place is they have created and marketed several other apps to help students develop algebraic thinking in a fun way.
Out of the list I have the Tortoise and Hare app, Algebra Equation Builder, Algebra Tiles, Inequality Kickoff, Cover-up, Card Clutter, Diamond Factor, and Submariner algebra.  There are several other apps I need to download and try out. 
I am finding the best way to use the apps is to create a lesson around the app, using it as part of the practice.  This means the students are not just playing the games, they have a targeted objective for using the app.
I discovered they have a page full of math method modules that I want to explore at the Center for Algebra.  So far, I am impressed with what they have to offer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sample lesson

Today has gone well.  One of the trainings I've had this year said you should get kids up and moving around and keep the information in small chunks so I've been working on doing that.
In Algebra I, I started the kids with a warm-up QR so the students take out their iPads, scan the code and each one of them has the questions right next to them.  This is great because I have one student who is visually impaired and several others who are constantly forgetting or loosing their glasses.  They work on this while I take roll and other normal chores.  We go over the warm-up on the smart board and then they get to work two standardized questions.  I always arrange it so that most students should be able to complete half the problems.  At the end of this time, I had them spend 5 mins doing subtraction in i-Spy X.  They are really enjoying this app. Afterwards, we worked on solving some actual one step equations using addition and subtraction.  I start demonstrating the method on the board using the first couple of problems. Then I asked them to do the next few and I walked around observing.  About 10 min before the end of class I had them go to the Hands-on equations lite to watch the video in the first lesson.  The app is set up so they watch the video and then practice some problems.  When there were two min left, the student cleaned up.  The kids had a good time and were very attentive to the video.  I think they really prefer videos to my teaching.
Geometry started much the same but instead of playing a game, we used SAS Gloss as a white board and I gave out certain triangles such as obtuse scalene that they had to draw.  I included a couple of impossible ones such as a scalene, isosceles triangle and they had to explain why it wouldn't work.  My students did quite well and I think I am going to put them on Ten-Marks on Thursday.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I - Spy X app

Since we are now at solving one-step equations in my Algebra I classes, I had students play the matching game where they match the equation with the value for x.  It gave me a feel for how well they already understand the process and how much on the topic I have to teach.  We even had a visitor from the state in class and she had a great time playing the game along with the kids.  Since our school is one of the lower performing ones in the state, we have a coach who comes out to help us with our plan of action and when she visits my room, she gets a chance to see how I am applying technology.
One of the courses I've taken has said that even when you are done with a topic, you still need to have the students practice the material. So today in Geometry, I had the students do Geometry Pro by Mathtoons and I had them do the 9th quiz on parallel lines and traversals.  I understand the company is developing an app to allow you to create your own quizzes on the material you teach.  I signed up for it today because it would be wonderful to have quizzes set up for my students that tests them on specific material.  I'll keep you posted on this.

Friday, October 10, 2014

STEM and attitudes.

I understand that the activity I did with the students using both the tortoise and the hare app and the race 2 achieve are considered STEM activities because they involve technology, math and science.  I really hadn't thought about it that way.  Honesty, I was looking for application of math that my students would enjoy.  So far they have had a blast doing both activities.
I just saw a post by reasoning mind  that I love.  It is ways to counter student attitude of "I can't do it".  I love that it tells me what to say so I can help them overcome their attitude.  I find it interesting that so many people have developed the attitude that I cannot do math and that there is research showing that you can overcome the attitude and become competent in any subject.  You don't have to be born with natural talent, just have the willingness to try and practice. 
I plan to use these replies in my own classes.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Race 2 achieve

I started race 2 achieve unit that was provided free of charge by the National Guard.  This is awesome because I chose the set for trigonometry and I am doing it with my students.  The students are currently finishing up the cars so we can race them down the hall.  We will do time trials and then work our way through the rest of the unit till we have modified the cars so they run better. 

This is what the car looks like when finished. They are still working on operating them but they are working and helping each other to create the cars.  So far this is great because they are all involved in it.  If we don't run trials today, we will run them tomorrow.  This is a great math project and fulfills STEM requirements.