Thursday, April 30, 2015

Final Geomety Project.

This year I took a step towards project based learning in my geometry class. Due to the end of the year sneaking up, I ran out of time and still need to cover quadrilaterals.  Being desperate, I decided to have students create a project, instead of a final.   I gave the students a couple of worksheets to "discover" each quadrilateral's characteristics.  Now the students are researching area, perimeter, diagonals and the characteristics of the square, rectangle, trapezoid, isosceles trapezoid, kite, rhombus, and a parallelogram.

Next week, they will have 4 days to actually write it up  and put the presentation together. They will have the choice of using Book Creator, inkflow, a movie app, zoodle comic a slide presentation app or any of the other apps on the ipad.

Tomorrow and Monday they will plan their actual presentation and how it will be done.  I will pass out the rubric, and the check list.  The rubric is so they know what I expect and the checklist is for them so they do not forget anything.

They are griping but this gets them out of a final. .  They keep wanting me to give them the information and they think I am cheap because I require them to look up the information in the book.  I've told them the information has to be correct.  I will take points off if it does not meet the rubric I give them.

If you have an ideas for improving this project, please put it in the comments section.  I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Comic Maker HD


I spend a fair bit of time looking for apps that can help me integrate writing into the classroom and provides a vehicle for students to show their knowledge.  Last night as I was searching the apps store, I found a second comic maker that offers more than Zoodle Comic. 

It is Comic maker HD and it is free.
It has a huge variety of backgrounds, characters, and other tools to create your own multi page comics. 

It has backgrounds, characters, bubbles, etc to play with and it offers the ability  to make comics in more than one language.  I am going to try creating my own math comic.  I plan to write the equations in the app that will turn handwriting into print and see if I can import those into the comic strip.

I think if I can create or have the students create comics that will actually be instruction on solving things, the kids might learn a bit better and might be enthusiastic.

Last night, I down loaded the app, tonight I create and tomorrow I share!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Animated icons

I should know better than to read any technical books at bedtime.  I was reading a book on best practices for math teachers.  One of the chapters was bout giving students a lesson preview by creating an animated icon or a short animated look at what the students are doing that day.  So of course, I tried to sleep but around midnight I got up and downloaded two apps to my computer - animation for  kids and animator free.  I went back to bed and got up around two to create two short animations, one using each program.  I think I need to play with both a bit more but I am going to post both so you can see the results.
I created this for dividing fractions in Pre-Algebra. I used Animator Free
It left off the last slide but I still need to play with it a bit.
The second one I used Animation for kids and again I need to work with it.


I hope it works. IF not I apologize.  I am just learning.  I tried to find a link for the second one but have not had any luck.  If I find it I will add a link.

Monday, April 27, 2015

MAC Algebra app

iPhone Screenshot 1      iPhone Screenshot 2

I stumbled across the free MAC algebra app one morning while looking for new apps to try out in next year's class.  It is quite different from most other math apps I've run across because its kind of an all  in one app designed specifically for the math classroom.  When you open it up, there are 5 different tabs across the bottom.
The first tab is where you find many of the formulas used in the algebra class.  Discriminant, slope intercept, logs. quadratic in vertex form, just about any formulas you would need for your algebra class.
The second tab is called symbols.  It is like a dictionary of symbols you are most likely to come across.  It has the symbol, has how it is read and what it means.  Makes for a quick reference.    The third tab is a standard calculator while the fourth and fifth tabs are the features that set this app apart.
iPhone Screenshot 4              iPhone Screenshot 5  The fourth tab allows you to create notes right in the app with the reference materials They are typed notes while the fifth tab is the planner which allows the student a chance to plan how and when to study. 
The only issue I have about the note taking is that if you do not have a keyboard and are not an expert texter, you might have trouble taking notes during class. Personally, I would use this to transcribe notes later on after class.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rewriting the pacing guides

I work at a place where the school waited till the very last minute to change over to the new state version of the common core standards.  At the end of last year, I was told to create pacing guides for 5 different classes.  I did the best I could but I new I wasn't doing it correctly. 
Flash forward to a time after the new standardized tests and my students asking why I hadn't taught this or that.  I told them that until that point, I had no idea what the state was looking for.  Thus I have started tearing apart the new standards, looking at the textbook to see where the standards match up, figure out exactly what standard goes with which class.  Deciding if I need to begin one topic in say Algebra I and then cover it in more depth say in Algebra II.
I do know I am going to have to introduce trigonometric ratios in Geometry since the state included them in the test but I only have to cover the basics.  I can have my college prep math class do more with trig itself.
In the meantime, I am also looking at creating a situation in the classroom so its more like a video game where students will earn points through assignments, activities, projects. The number of points they acquire, will determine their final grade.  As I've been reading up on turning the classroom into a multiplayer game, I like the idea of requiring students to complete assignments correctly before they can turn it in.  This raises the bar and if I provide answers while they do all the work, then they might build persistence.
In addition, I am figuring out how to administer more assignments via the internet or an app so that I have less paper floating around my room.  I do know that it doesn't matter which way assignments are turned in, I'll always be accused of loosing someone's even though it is still in their folder.  If we go electronic, I'll need to set up a way to notify the students so they have a receipt  acknowledging that it was turned in.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Math vocabulary and other things.

Last night was one of those nights.  I was awake at 3 AM so I was

on the apps program to look for new apps to try.  I found this interesting app called Mathcabulary. It is a word search game that integrates mathematical words into the search.  Students get points for all the words they find in the grid but they get more points for the mathematical words they find.

Most grids have two to three mathematical words in them.  The program accepts both math words and conversational words but you get more points for finding the mathematical terms. 

In addition, when you are done, the list shows the mathematical terms at the top.  They are in green if you found them and red if you missed them.  When I saw this at first, I thought it only had math words but after playing it a couple times, I realized that it doesn't matter because many students need to improve their vocabulary after all.

So I decided I can use this in my classroom if I have students do the following:
1. At the end of each round, students can write down the mathematical words.  At the end of playing one or two rounds, the student can add the words to an ongoing list that they define, illustrate, have examples and non-examples so they are building a dictionary.  There is another app I down loaded last night that would be perfect for this particular activity.  I'll play with that one a bit more tonight and then report on it later.
2. They can create sentences that use the vocabulary words.
3.  They can show an example of where this mathematical word will be used in real life.

On to the other thing.  I've found a couple free apps that have some very nice ways of breaking down the material but are limited because they want you to purchase the full version.  I think I can take the idea of how they explain things and create my own explanations and problems in Nearpod so each student has a chance to practice this in a group practice session.  More on this idea later.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stats and Probability part 2

I found two more apps that also work to help reinforce student learning  for probability and stats. The free apps are also from bettermarks  and rightly called data 1 and data 2

The data 1 app covers collecting data and creating diagrams, representing data as percentages and analyzing data in diagrams.  The last section specifically covers median, mean, range,  reading and comparing the median from graphs and charts and comparing and interpreting graphs and charts.  All skills that my students are tested on. 
As with the fraction apps, students can bring up a hint, read up on it or ask for the solutions.

The data 2 app covers basic terminology, rules of operation, Laplace experiments, frequency and probabilities.  Honestly, most of my students do not need the Laplace or frequency sections but they are there just incase they are ever needed.  I enjoy the basic terminology section because it has the student use the vocabulary rather than just defining the vocabulary.  I played with it a bit and discovered that if a student does not get the correct answer after two attempts, it gives the correct answer and provides an explanation. 

Although both apps are set up to administer questions t, the student can read a textbook entry before actually  attempting any questions and as mentioned before a student has two tries to get the correct answer before the explanation immediately pops up. 
The big thing I need to work on is getting the students to read any and all feedback they get when they work with any activity that provides instant feed back.  While writing this, I got to thinking about using Book Creator to haves students create a book on probability to teach others on the topic.  This further step might just help students retain what they learn better.  

There will be a part three on stats and probability in a couple days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Project Based Learning

I have been toying with ideas for projects in my classroom that will require students to create and produce projects in Math.
I already have them create cartoons to solve word problems but I realized last night I could have the students use the cartoons to instruct people in learning to do a certain process in math.  There are at least two books on Amazon that use cartoons to teach algebra.  Currently, I have them use Zoodle Comic as it allows them to spend more time on creating the actual comic strip then worrying about drawing things.  
Since I joined a Stop-Motion in Education google group, I've been playing with ideas for using stop motion to create a project.  I've thought of things like using numbers, variables and operations, made out of play dough and then filmed so the terms move around and show how something is solved.  Then add a voice over to it and perhaps add background music.  Or maybe use small decorated rectangles that move around a step at a time with a Gumby like creature on the side explaining.
Of course, I am thinking of ways to integrate a green screen into this too.  Perhaps I can have students utilize the green screen to shoot a "reporter" in front of a video that shows something mathematical such as the octane of gas and how its found?  Or basketball stats for the local basketball team?  Perhaps even create a rap on something like order of operations,  types of slope, etc.
Maybe even take all of these to create a math book over the year.  Have them use iBook Author to create an interactive book with the videos, comic strips, raps, etc so they have  a portfolio to show the growth in their work. 
I found a nice app that sort of uses comics and cartoons to teach with.  I hope to review it tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stats and Probability part 1

For some reason the people who make the standards, be they the old ones or the new ones, insist that Stats and Probability be integrated into high school math classes rather than being taught as a separate class.  I find it difficult to integrate the topic because no matter when I teach the material, it disrupts the rest of the topics and I'm done with it.  I seldom get a chance to review or reinforce material in time for the state tests.
I found three apps by Appzest, inc could be used in the general math class to help students learn more about the topic without giving up too much time to actually teach it. These apps are not meant to teach students the material necessary to meet state standards but they are good to review and reinforce student learning throughout the year so students are better prepared for state tests.

The first app is Appzest EZ Statistics lite Students get a nice review of mean, median, mode, range, finding missing data, interpreting charts, quartiles and outliers, probability and others.

As with other apps by Appzest, It gives a brief review and then
several questions for the students to work through.  If they make a mistake, it tells them what they did wrong.

A second app by the same people is EZ Permutations combinations lite which covers combinations, permutations, factorials, the probability of simple events, dependent and independent events, compound events, etc. This picture shows what happens when a student selects the wrong
answer.  Again this app follows much of the same pattern
as its others do.

Finally is the EZ graph and data lite app.  It covers interpreting tables, bar graphs, line graphs and plots, stem and leaf plots, histograms, box and whisker plots etc.  This app has a nice selection of questions.

 Some of the apps are free some are paid and I really don't know the difference  but among  the three apps, students get a great exposure to prepare them for state tests. This app has multiple choice questions for practice. I like the review each topic has on the first page of each chapter but the number of questions for each topic is limited but still the immediate feedback helps the students learn.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fractions with three apps.

I managed to download Fractions 1, 2, and 3 apps by Better marks.  I am reviewing them as a trio because they are set up to work like volume 1, 2, and 3 of one book.  The first one is labeled fraction basics, the second is order of operations of fractions and 3 is the one for adding and subtracting fractions.

Fractions 1 reviews basics such as multiplying, dividing, GCF and LCM, prime factorization.  Before you start the actual learning, there is a pre-assessment for students to take so they see how much they remember. The pre-assessment covers all the topics of review.  This app covers the introduction, representing fractions, converting fractions, parts of a quantity, and expanding fractions or equivalent fractions.  Each section has 1 to 5 subsections.  The sections provides practice problems to do.  There are hints, solutions, explanations and if the student makes a mistake, the app automatically provides a hint and a chance to redo the problem. There is also a tab that states textbook so the student can read up on the material and learn to each problem.  In addition, once the student has the problem completed correctly, there is a detailed explanation to read.  When the student clicks on the show solution tab, it automatically shows the explanation.

Fractions 2 begins by reviewing material on fractions, reducing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, decimals, mixed numbers, GCF and LCM.  Again there is a pre-assessment to determine what the student's knowledge base. After an introduction, there is a section on fractions and percentages, converting between fractions and decimals.  This app is set up much the way the first volume is set up.

Fractions 3 has a review section covering fractions, parts, mixed numbers, equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, GCF and LCM.  This has the pre-assessment students can take before beginning the material.  This app covers LCD, Addition and Subtraction of fractions using diagrams, addition of fractions, and subtraction of fractions.

I think these three apps plus one or two more apps would make a good unit on teaching or reviewing fractions for grades 4 on up. Just be aware there are a few terms that are a bit different than in the states but I do like the way someone can get a hint or visit the textbook to read up more on the particular aspect of fractions.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Word Problems

I usually give my students two numbers and a word so they can create their own word problem.  I have given some thought to using one Wednesday a month to have them create a set of word problems to accompany a odd news piece from Yahoo or other news source.  Last year, I created the problems that students solved after reading a news article. 
I found an article on dogs that look like lions selling for something like $100,000 each.  They calculated the cost per pound, cost per cubic inch, and cubic foot.  Another had to do with the cost of a cell phone bill due to the number of texts sent.  I think they calculated the per text price, the per day cost and a couple other.
The kids loved reading the articles and calculating these weird things.  Next year, I'll have them start with something I've done and then I"ll spend several Wednesdays teaching them to find the articles, decide what type of questions they can ask and then calculating the answer.  Once I have a good supply, I can use them in class so everyone can see what the others have done. 
I work with ELL students and this should help them increase their vocabulary.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Solving apps

When I say solving apps, I am referring to those where you put in the numbers and the app provides the answer.  I have been rereading the new state standards and many of the standards require the student to actually learn to complete the process.  One example is that students are expected to factor simple quadratics.  This means that if I have them use a solving app, I can have them check their work with it.  I must still teach the process.  The same applies for filling out a table, graphing etc. 
I understand the logic behind this is for students to understand the whole mathematical process involved. 
I am up against the idea that many jobs require the person to use a program where they plug in the values and get an answer out.  They are not always expected to know the whole concept behind the process.  I agree that if they are familiar with the process and the concept behind the process, it is much easier to determine if the answer is reasonable. 
This is something I have struggled with for the past 20 years and I am still struggling with.  Every time I think I've come to peace with my choice, something happens to make me rethink and question my choice. 
Which do I think is better, I am still not sure.  What I've decided on is simply, I will teach the process and have the students use the solving apps to determine if they have the correct answer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Technology vs true proportionality.

Today was the first day of a local celebration called "Cultural Heritage" week.  It is a three day event in which students spend half a day listening to elders and others speak on important topics such as tobacco abstinence, environment, family, etc.  In the afternoon, students work on a local skill such as fish hooks, fish traps, mask carving, beading, crochet, or Kuspuk making.  Kuspuk is a simple dress or shirt that is put together using rectangular pieces.
   These are two examples of kuspuks worn by females.  The thing about making these outfits is that each one is cut individually to fit the person who is wearing it.  You actually hold the material up against the person to figure out how wide and long to cut the base part which is the main body of the kuspuk.  Two more rectangle are cut into trapezoids to make the sleeves.  Two small rectangles for cuffs.  The only pieces that are really cut with curves are the front pocket pieces and the hood.  Even the skirt is made of several rectangles sewn together and gathered.
One lady told me that when you sew like this, you are making the garment so it is proportional to the persons body and it will look good on them.

There is a series of math books out there called "Math in a Cultural Context".  Jerry Lipka up at the University of Fairbanks worked with many, many people to create some wonderful math units that could be used from lower elementary up to high school.  Topics include place value, probability, navigation, geometry, and other good topics.  I've used several in my classroom and they work well.