Thursday, December 12, 2013

Solving Word Problems with Tellagami and Aurasma

Last Wednesday, I gave my students a preview of our next project, and they were super excited to do it! We were working on two-step equation word problems, so I thought using Tellagami and Aurasma would be a perfect combination for our project. First I had the students write their own word problems. Once I had approved their idea, they typed up the problem and added a picture to go along with it, which would serve as the Aurasma trigger. Then they used Tellagami to create a Gami (movie) with their avatar reading their word problem. Next, they used Aurasma to create their aura, using their photo as the trigger and their Gami as the overlay. They thought it was so cool! On Friday, my two Pre-Algebra classes were supposed to switch problems to solve. Unfortunately, the weather did not know about my plans and kept us from completing our project until the following Wednesday. Finally, on Wednesday the students rotated through the stations, watching/listening to the Gamis read the word problem to them, then writing the two-step equation, solving it, and writing their final answer in a complete sentence. It was a very motivating way to get the students to solve word problems, which is usually one of their least favorite topics. App-smashingly fun!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Solving Equations with Explain Everything

Click on the image above for the PDF
I love Explain Everything and the students did really well with it when we did our ice breaker activity ("All About My Partner" App-tivity) at the beginning of the year. I thought it would be the perfect way to assess their ability to solve multi-step equations because I could have them explain their thinking process as they are solving the equations. I wanted them to not only explain what they were doing, but why. This is great for the Common Core Math Practices! I gave each student the assignment shown. It looked a little overwhelming at first, but when they realized they only had to solve 7 equations, they calmed down. Each student had to pick one equation from each column to solve. I had them circle the problems they picked, and used this sheet as a place to record their grade. I graded them on how they explained it, how they showed their work, and the final answer. Overall, they did a super job!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Click here for template
Last night I threw together a quick QR code scavenger hunt for adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. I asked my students to bring in their own phones or tablets, but I ended up with only about half of them with devices. Not a problem -- I had them work in pairs! Students were able to use the template I created for them to help organize their work. There were 8 QR codes / answers hanging around the room. They could start at any QR code and scan it to get the problem. They would sit with their partner to solve it. When they had their answer, they looked around the room to find that answer on one of the QR code signs. Then they scanned that QR code to get the next problem. They continued around the room, scanning and solving, until they finally arrived back at the QR code they started at. They all were engaged in this activity and did a great job solving the problems. What I like about this app-tivity is that it is self-checking -- if they get an answer that isn't found on any of the signs, they either made an error, or simply forgot to simplify their answer. What they like is it gets them up and moving around, using technology, and working with their friends.

This app-tivity is sooooo easy to create! I use the 
QR Beamer app to type in a problem and create the QR code. Then I save the code to my camera roll. In Word or Pages, I type one of the answers at the top of the page and insert the picture of the QR code at the bottom of the page (make sure the answer doesn't go with the problem that the QR code brings up when they scan it -- mix them up). Scan all the codes you create to make sure they work. I also like to create a worksheet for them to show their solutions to each problem. Make sure to explain to your students that they must use the "clues" to lead them to the next problem, and that they cannot just go to any QR code they want to. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Integer Addition App-tivity

In the past, I've taught integer addition with the 2-sided red and yellow chips, which worked well. The only problem with the chips was that they always ended up all over the floor! Then I discovered the Interactive Integers app -- so cool!! Students model the problem with the infinite supply of red and yellow chips. Then they make zero pairs by dragging a red and yellow chip together and "poof!" they disappear! The kids love it! When they cannot make any more zero pairs, they have their final answer! After they've practiced with this a few times, then I ask them to try to predict the sign of the final answer before making the zero pairs, and finally I ask them to predict what the final answer will be, not just the sign. When we are done practicing with the app, I explain to them that even if they don't have any chips or this app, they can still draw + and - signs on their paper and either cross out or erase zero pairs to get the final solution.

Next, we use the same app in the number line mode. Students must first set the starting point (the first number in the problem) by tapping the + or - sign to move right or left. Once it is set, it turns yellow. Then they use the + sign to move to the right if the second number is positive, or the - sign to move to the left if the second number is negative. After we are done with this portion of the app, I explain to them that they can use the number lines on their desks to do the same thing (or draw their own number line if there isn't one available). Most students preferred the number line method to the chips, but now at least they have 2 strategies to use for integer addition.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"All About My Partner" App-tivity

One of my usual first few days activities is to have the students complete an interest inventory, which, to say the least, is not very interesting to them. This year since we have iPads, I decided to step it up a little and make it more engaging for the students. The app-tivity I created for them is called "All About My Partner". Besides getting them to use technology, I also wanted to incorporate some communication skills, since the common core is all about communicating about math. 

So, day 1, I showed the students an app called Explain Everything

(love it!!). I had them try out each tool one by one in order to get familiar with this app, since we will be using it quite a bit this year. I heard many students comment about how the app was really cool! By the end of our first day, I felt everyone was comfortable enough with it to start actually using it the second day.

Day 2, I handed out their interview sheet with the questions I wanted them to ask their partner. When they had completed the interviews of each other, I gave them each an iPad to begin creating. They were to answer two questions per slide in their presentations, for a total of five slides. They had learned on the first day how to bring a photo from the camera roll into their presentation, so I wanted to see a photo to go along with each question (they could also simply draw with the pencil tool if they preferred). Once they had their five slides done, they recorded their own voices introducing their partner to the rest of the class and emailed their mp4 movie to me.

The students were highly engaged in this activity! The final products came out great, and the app-tivity accomplished what I had set out to do - learn how to use Explain Everything and communicate with each other.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Second Year with iPads

Dr. Ruben Puentedura's SAMR Model
This is the start of my second year using iPads in my class. Last year, our school only had one cart of 30 iPads. Now I'm excited to say that we have two more carts of 30 iPads!! 

Last year, it was my year to experiment and merely work on integrating the new technology into my lessons. This year, my goal will be to move toward innovation. Learning about the SAMR model towards the end of my last school year has inspired this goal.

Keep checking back to see how it's going!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My First Year with iPads

Our middle school got our first cart of 30 iPads in the fall. I was sooo excited to finally get to use them with my students in October! I had spent most of the previous summer researching and investigating how I could integrate them into my lesson plans. I knew they would be very engaging to my students, but I wanted to use them in a way that would increase their learning, not just because they were "cool".

The first few times I let my students use the iPads, it was just to "play around". I wanted them to explore and get comfortable with them before I attempted to use them in a lesson. Some students had already worked with one, but there were some who had never held one before and needed a little help to get started.

Stupid as I am, one of the first lessons I used the iPads for was during one of my observations with my assistant principal. Fortunately, I teach three sections of the same Pre-Algebra class, so my first class was a trial run. There were a few glitches, so I tweaked it a little for my second class. I spoke to my assistant principal after the second trial and told her all about the small fine tuning I had done to the lesson since I had sent her a copy of the original lesson plan. She observed me during my third run-through. There were still some minor issues, but overall she was very impressed that, for one, I had even tried to use such a new piece of technology for my observation, two, that I had made revisions as needed, and three, that all the students were highly engaged in the lesson. This gave me the courage to move forward and try to incorporate the iPads in more of my lessons!

Here are some of the other "apptivities" I have tried out with the iPads:

Oringinally, I thought I had to find "math apps" to use, but I have found that finding good creation apps is much better! Math apps have a very limited use, whereas a creation app such as Nearpod can be used for just about every concept in the curriculum. More bang for your buck (even if they are free)!

I should add that my experience this first year was not limited to using just the cart of 30 iPads that my school purchased. We also initiated a BYOT policy this year, so the students have been able to use their own smart phones or personal iPads in the classroom as well. Some days when I could not reserve the iPads, the students would use their own devices and they would share with a partner who did not have one. This worked out well, especially for QR code scavenger hunts (see photo). In the case of bingo, I had paper bingo boards for those who did not have their own device.

One thing I have learned is that iPads cannot replace the paper and pencil. Some students just prefer to do their math work on paper, which is fine. If I have a lesson planned where students will be annotating on a PDF, I always bring along several paper copies just in case someone would prefer that method. I also found that paper and pencil works much better for assessments. I tried an assessment using a QR code scavenger hunt with students solving equations by annotating on a PDF, and it just led to frustration for many of the students. (I retested on paper the next day and used that as a learning experience for me and practice for the test for them).

I have had so much fun planning lessons with iPads this year, and can't wait for next year! I am also planning on teaching a profession development class on incorporating iPads into the content areas in the fall to share my experiences and knowledge with my colleagues.