Using Technology in Junior High Math: Learning with cell phones and iPads and computers OH MY!

My wife is a junior high algebra and pre algebra teacher for Pleasant Valley Junior High. She does not like to give herself credit for the hard work and time she devotes to teaching math. She forms great relationships with the students and with that foundation kids come to class everyday ready to learn math…..even the ones that don’t like math.

One of her goals this year has been to work on shifting to Common Core and more importantly to engage students with the concepts. After a great presentation and keynote speaker yesterday during our professional development day with George Couros and doing some presenting myself I could not help but think that I was missing something. It finally hit me that my wife has been doing some great and amazing things with technology in her math class. I often think that math is such a tough content area to connect with students and to make relevant. Most junior high students don’t think big picture and don’t hear why this or that is important to their lives.

I asked my wife to share with me some of her recent lessons. I hope you find them useful and if you have suggestions or perhaps even other great ideas to share that would be wonderful. 

As teachers we are all “Idea Bandits” where we search, read, and research ideas and then tweak them to make them our own. These ideas originated from me throwing out some questions of help on my PLN as well as her looking online for ideas. 

Idea #1: Students create videos for to help them review

My wife used Wallwisher which is now Padlet(new and improved) with her students. For a review for a test over concepts she gave each student a question to prepare and explain how to solve. She gave each of them a hard copy of all the problems first so they could see what the problem looked like before they watched the video.

To record students they kept things simple to start. They used good old whiteboards and used the camera option to record. They spread out in hallways and classrooms to record. Anytime you try something new you always test the waters, reflect, and make changes. There are apps that can help make this even better like Screenchomp which she plans on using next. This is one app worth having if you have the opportunity for iPads in your school. If you don’t have iPads there are other ways to do this very project using Flip videos for example. I will be adding how to screencast without iPads(my school does not have iPads at the middle school) over on my classroom tools wiki page as well as tutorials on how to use these apps and tools(will be posted within a week).

After they recorded their screencast and explanations the students then uploaded them to Padlet where all students could see all the problems. This way students could go and access the video they needed. There was no wasting time by having to sit through problems they already knew how to do. They could just go to where they needed help. Really, this is a whole flipped classroom and crowdsourcing project that benefits everyone.

Here is a link to the final results of her review assignment. The students really liked this project. The kids did say that sometimes the videos took a while to load. I think if using at home it would be faster as most schools internet is slow anyways

I will be posting her next cool math idea soon. It is titled Texting Olympics. Stay tuned.

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Educational Ideas To Investiage Over The Summer Part 2

6. Open, Collaborative Test – I just love this concept. For my extensions this would be amazing to try. The key is to adapt the idea to what is being taught. This too will be done in my classes this year.

7. Use of Edmodo

Source of Idea: http://mgleeson.edublogs.org/2012/04/29/the-power-of-social-networking-in-education-with-edmodo/

8. To entice class reading and discussions: Young Adult Reading Class…..but my class would be for the middle school kid so it would make it even more interesting

Source of Idea: http://www.wordforteens.com/2012/01/im-taking-class-on-young-adult.html

9. This whole concept has my brain thinking of new ideas

Source of Idea: A Teacher Went into Class with a 5-second Video Clip – What Happened Next?
http://www.davedodgson.com/2012/04/teacher-went-into-class-with-5-second.html

10. I am presenting at ITAG in the fall and I am going to do this. Sharing this might not keep me ahead of everyone, but why not share the wealth? This one is already being tackled by me as we speak

Source of Idea: Do it before everyone else does: Create presentation slides with iPad drawing app Paper
http://thenextweb.com/lifehacks/2012/04/22/do-it-before-everyone-else-does-create-presentation-slides-with-ipad-drawing-app-paper/?awesm=tnw.to_1E88g

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Educational Ideas That I Need To Explore This Summer

As I continue to organize my notes, emails, booksmarks, etc. from all these amazing people in the field of education on my social network I decided to compile a list of things that I want to explore further this summer when I have some downtime. I will post the idea and the source of where it has come from as well.

If you have other topics or ideas that I should check out please let me know.

1. Solo Taxonomy

Source of Idea:
The Secret SOLO’ist Part 4 – SOLOstations!!
http://reflectionsofmyteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/as-i-venture-through-my-trial-of-using.html

2. I love this. It makes so much sense. I don’t teach the 5 paragraph essay, but it has forced me to think of new ways of teaching kids how to write and express themselves for the real world.

Source of Idea:
Good Riddance to the Five-Paragraph Essay?
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2012/05/good_riddance_to_the_five-paragraph_essay.html

3. Maker Faire – I have plans to incorporate a BMS Maker Faire next year. Not sure how it is going to happen, but it will happen. The idea is planted in my head. Let it grow and watch out!

Source of Idea:
Maker High: Why Every School Should Be a Maker Faire
http://gettingsmart.com/blog/2012/05/maker-high-why-every-school-should-be-a-maker-faire/

4. Ustreaming My Classroom – This too will happen next year. I have talked about doing this for the last year. Next year it is going to happen after watching the Egg Drop.

Source of Idea
Period 5 Egg Drop (Broadcasting live at ustre.am/2MBz)

5. Technology Upgrade – I am ready to get back in the technology game. I am ready to get myself and my students one step ahead of everyone else in my district. Reading this post motivated me to get going!

Source of Idea: http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/05/gaia-3d-finally-ed-product-that-doesnt.html

Part 2 will be up in a day or two. This is a good start.

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Friday Morning Reflections and Thoughts

This morning I forced my way out of bed despite how comfortable my blankets felt. You ever those mornings where you wake up and your bed feels like it has been changed into a cloud of heaven where you are afraid to move because if you do you might not ever be that comfortable again. I was in that moment this morning.

I went to the gym to workout where nobody was there. There was probably a total of 10 people. For some reaosn my mind flipped a switch and I got to work. Knocked out some good excercies and also did my Initial Test for my new program goal – 100 Push-Ups. My training guide for this came in and therefore I tested to see where I currently am.

I completed 40 successful push-ups with proper form. For my age group(30-39) that places me in the Very Good category(37-46). Now I will follow this 7 week program to move towards 100 push-ups. A new little challenge to help me stay motivated.

I also ran a mile to test the foot again. Ran an 8 minute mile and felt great. I think the foot is back where it needs to be. Now I need new shoes and a new focus mentally and it is on.

I would also like to give a big THANKS to EA (Electronic Arts) for their brilliant app sale approach. Not only did I previously not own any of their apps, but due to their sale I now own 5 apps and probably another 5 or so more before this sale ends. AGGHHH! Apps are taking over my life just like I talked about with students.

I made this comment the other day. It is not that kids are necessarily lazy. The problem lies with the fact that they live in a world where everything is instant. They know longer need to know unnecessary facts because all of those things are in the palm of their hand(literally). They need the skill sets to learn how to sort, organize, analyze, study, etc. the data. They need the skill set to be able to problem solve. They need the skill set to know what to do when they don’t know an answer.

As teachers and schools we are so far behind. Frustration sets in because we are asking them to do things with technology and methods that are outdated. A computer is fine and fast. Buy why type in a long web address when they can push a touchscreen app button and there it is? We are behind times.

Not sure where I am going with this point as I became sidetracked talking about EA apps. Back to the games. If you don’t own Pictureka! give that one a whirl. Amazing how a 60 second timer can prevent you from finding three fruits. The insanity!

Well, I am stopping here as I have officially lost my mind. My brain has been drained from any more thoughts or ideas. I started losing my mind last night and I am in need of a break to refuel my thinking cap. Have a great weekend. I must tend to reading for both the Cybils and my very own book tournament. Of course, playing more apps on my ipad and drinking coffee and listening to X-Mas music and……………

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TBR Pile Increasing in Size and Other Obvious Observations

As I am scrambling to stay caught up with the reading(I thought I was doing good within my group until everyone updated their reads and now  I am way behind) more and more books keep coming in the mail. Here was the picture I posted earlier in the week.

Here is an updated view of the books I have left to read now. It is close to reaching my ceiling. What a fun opportunity. I just wish my weekends were not jam packed with things going on so I could devote a day or two to just reading. Ah well, keep on trucking when I can

This weekend we had the first snow. What joy! My kids love it as they were up at 6:30 both mornings ready to go outside and play. I just need snow on Christmas Eve and Day and then it can go away. I had to coach a basketball game in Clinton and that was nice 90 minute drive both ways Friday night.Why is that people become so stupid when snow hits? Hello! We have lived here in the Midwest forever and at one point do people stop acting like they were so surprised to see snow. While driving in snow one does not need to drive 100 mph nor do you need to drive 15 on the interstate either. Stick to the happy medium and you will be fine unless some semi decides to drive you off the road. I’m just saying.

Postcards were delivered to our partners in in our Christmas Card Exchange. I cannot believe that sending out one little piece of paper to countries around the world costs 98 cents while anywhere in the US is only 28. I know that in the big picture of things this is not a whole lot of money, but really a 70 cent difference? It is not like I am mailing out a box with bricks in it. Check out our Coffeechug and his Little Lattes Global Center by clicking here www.coffeechug.wikispaces.com

 I purchased the new Apple TV for my birthday(yes, I turn the lovely age of 30 this Friday!). This little device is so cool for a gadget geek like myself. My favorite feature is that my daughter can watch Dora and if nothing is on TV she can push one button and the cartoon automatically shifts from the iPad directly to my TV in seconds. That blows my mind. I don’t know how it works, but it simply amazes me. Not to mention all my music can now be streamed anywhere in my house where my Apple TV resides. How the littlest things just make my day.


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Why We Can’t Stop Playing Angry Birds

Why We Can’t Stop Playing Angry Birds, Wall St Jrnlhttp://on.wsj.com/f8CBNt

Angry Birds has consumed my life once before. It has not consumed my life ever since I lost all my completions when I had to reformat my iPad. However, Trucks and Skulls which plays exactly like Angry Birds has taken over my life.

What game has consumed you?

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