Thursday, September 19, 2013

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

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.