Monday, January 27, 2014

Error Analysis & Self-Evaluation, iPad Style

OK, I admit that I stole this idea from Andrew Stadel. Our unit on exponents is coming to the end (the quiz is on Wednesday) and some of my students are still struggling with the concepts. I decided today would be dedicated to reviewing and preparing for the quiz. After reading Andrew's post, I decided to write up a similar worksheet of all of the common errors I've been seeing. I put the "worksheet" in Showbie as the Do Now for today. The students annotated the problems, trying to correct the errors that I had made, then we went over the problems together. This was a great learning experience for them, and I think it really helped them with the rest of the problems that they encountered today. Seeing the errors someone else makes gives them a more objective look at the mistakes, and helps them to see what not to do.

After the error analysis, I explained the next activity, designed to give them feedback on how they're doing. This is something I tried once last year and it went well, so I thought I'd try it again with the exponent unit. Using the MasteryConnect website, I set up 5 mini-assessments (3 questions each). Each mini-assessment focused on a particular type of exponent problem. Then I printed out the "bubble sheets" for each. I had 5 stations corresponding to the 5 mini-assessments set up around the room, each with an iPad opened up to the MasteryScan app, and a pile of extra practice problems. 

At their desks, students completed one of the mini-assessments, then went to the corresponding station to scan their bubble sheet. The app gives them instant feedback on how they did with those types of exponent problems, along with recording the result for me to view later on the website, which I love. For their own benefit, I suggested they take note of which problems they had incorrect and go back to try to correct them. If they scored anything less than 3 out of 3 on each assessment, they were to take one of the extra practice problems sheets to try more of the same type of problems. Everyone was very intent on getting all of their problems correct. If they just couldn't figure out what they did wrong, they came to me for help. A few students even sought out help from their peers who understood it better than them, which I love to see!

My goal was to give them additional practice so when they are completing the study guide tomorrow, they will feel more confident and be better prepared for the quiz on Wednesday. I overheard someone say "This is fun!", so if they enjoy all the hard work and appreciate the feedback, it just makes it even better!

Friday, January 24, 2014

"It's a piece of paper!"

When my students entered my classroom today, they found a half-sheet of lined paper on their desks. Here's how the conversation went:

Them: What's this?
Me: It's a piece of paper!
Them: What's it for?
Me: For the Do Now.
Them: (moaning and groaning) We have to write on paper! Why?

I guess I've been "spoiling" them. We've been using the iPad cart a lot lately (but not today). I didn't realize how much they liked using the iPads for all their classwork until today. I only wish I had 1:1 iPads for my classroom... 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Environment-friendly, Teacher-friendly Showbie!

Penguin courtesy of Carol Redmond    
QR code scavenger hunts occur about once a month in my class. I love watching my students in action - they are all very engaged in solving the problems they "find", and searching for the next problem to solve. Originally I had my students solve the problems on paper, which got turned in for me to grade. Today's scavenger hunt was entirely paperless (well, OK, I did print out the pages with the penguins and the QR codes to hang up around the room).

Enter Showbie. I have developed a crush on Showbie! It has made my life so much easier! 

In the past, workflow was a big issue. After the first few scavenger hunts on paper, I tried going paperless by having my students solving problems from the QR code scavenger hunt by opening the PDF in an annotation app such as neu.Annotate+ PDF. From there, they would email me every. single. problem. separately. Either my inbox would be stuffed with student emails, or the email system would somehow get hung up and I wouldn't receive any of the emails for several days. What a headache! 

Now, when they scan the QR code, they choose to "Open in...Showbie". They can annotate right there in the Showbie app (in the photo, the student's work is in the black ink). When they tap "Done", it goes right into their folder for me to review later. Then I can grade/comment on it and it goes back into their folder again so they can see it when they go into Showbie the next day (my annotation is in red ink).

I should also mention that I have been putting the "Do Now"s in the shared Showbie folder too. Students go into their folders and grab a copy of the Do Now, annotate it, and tap Done to submit it to me. 

Besides making me a happy teacher, Showbie is hopefully making some trees happy too!

[Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store for this complete Multiplying & Dividing with Exponents QR code scavenger hunt.]

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Favorite Trio: Nearpod, Showbie, and ThatQuiz

I find myself using the trio of Nearpod, Showbie, and ThatQuiz together often. My students and I love Nearpod! After they complete their answer in their "Draw It"s, they take pride in "decorating" their answers, trying to make theirs the one I select to share with the class. They know the answer has to be correct for me to pick it to share, so it motivates them to take their time and try to get the correct answer. That's not to say that I don't also share incorrect answers as well -- I do. I will occasionally select an incorrect answer anonymously, and ask the class to identify where the author went wrong. I like using Nearpod because the students know they are all accountable for completing every problem since I collect the data. I appreciate the ability to go back and look at the students' answers after class if I need to, refer to them during IEP meetings, etc. 

After we complete our NPP (Nearpod Presentation), I have the students sign in to their Showbie accounts and find the assignment for practicing the skill they just learned in the NPP. They can annotate the PDF right in the Showbie app and save their work for me to review later. Before I began using Showbie, I used to have the students scan a QR code to open the PDF stored on my website, then open it in neu.Annotate+ PDF to annotate, then they would email it to me.

Next, the students get their QR code scanners ready to scan the QR code on the Smart Board, which takes them to an online ThatQuiz. They can monitor their progress by watching the stats on the right side of the screen. If they get any problems incorrect, it gives them a chance to go back and correct them. They like this feature because often they are too quick on the trigger and hit OK before they actually answer the question, causing them to get the problem incorrect, which drives them crazy! Sometimes I ask them to take a screen shot of their final results to show me how well they did, and other times I don't.

These three activities usually take us right up to the end of our 68 minutes class. If there's any time left, they usually get a head start on their homework. The students are so involved in the three activities that the class just flies by!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

iPads, Start to Finish

I read a discussion somewhere fairly recently (I wish I could remember where so I could give them credit!) of using the iPads not just for one isolated part of a lesson, but for the entire lesson, start to finish. I have actually used the iPads for almost the entire class a handful of times, but never for the entire time. Most of the time, I do just use them for one part of the lesson.

Unintentionally, today I did just that. I didn't think about it until after class was over, but it actually got me excited! (I know...I'm sooo geeky!) I started out class with the students signing in to Showbie to access the Do Now. There were two versions of the Do Now in the assignment folder which they could choose from. Then after a quick review on the Smart Board, I had them open Explain Everything, not to use it as we usually do for screencasting, but just to use as a whiteboard to solve practice problems, instead of passing out the physical personal whiteboards, markers, and erasers. Then I introduced the app-smashing project they were going to do by using Reflector to project my iPad on the Smart Board. 

Our topic today was a review of exponents, but squares and cubes specifically. I wanted them to make a connection between "the little number up in the air" (translation: exponent) and the real-life applications of squares and cubes. The project involved using 3 different apps, then submitting their work to the 4th app, Showbie. With the first app, Hands-On Color Tiles, they created 3 to 4 squares and took a screenshot to save it to the camera roll. With the second app, Think 3D Free, they created 2 different cubes and shared them to the camera roll as well. In the third app, Skitch, they annotated on their photos they had just created to show the dimensions of the figures and express them with exponents, then share it to the camera roll. Then they went into Showbie and added their files to their folders to submit their work to me.

I absolutely love the idea of utilizing the iPads for the entire lesson! Besides the benefit of being paperless, it just seems to flow so much better between activities because everything the students need is right at their fingertips, literally, in the iPads. And to the students, anything you do on the iPads is fun!

Having 1-to-1 iPads would make this concept of iPads start to finish much more of a daily routine in my classroom. Our building has 3 carts of 30 iPads, not 1-to-1, but most days I am able to get one of the carts, so I am going to focus on trying to do this on a regular basis. One drawback of the shared carts and not having 1-to-1 is that when students start a project on one day and need to finish it the next day, we have to ensure that they get the exact same iPad. This is frustrating when the class that has used the iPads before us doesn't put the iPads back in their proper slots in the cart. It becomes a scavenger hunt to find the right iPad for each student, which takes up valuable class time each day. Ugh!

One part of the lesson I haven't attempted on the iPads is notetaking. I would love to hear from someone that is not in a 1-to-1 situation but uses the iPads for students to take notes. Do you use Evernote, Notability, or some other app? Does each student need to have their own account? 

I would also love to hear from others who use the iPads start to finish on a daily basis. How is that working out for you? What types of problems do you encounter? What are the benefits you see from this?

Friday, January 10, 2014

eBooks in a math lesson?

Yes, I used eBooks in a math lesson! 

I decided instead of giving a traditional paper-and-pencil assessment at the end of our unit on solving multi-step equations, I would try a more authentic assessment. My students had become very good at solving the multi-step equations, so the real challenge for them was applying these skills to word problems and perimeter problems. So that's what I focused their assessment on.
Using the Book Creator app, I created 3 different-themed books. I put the books in the shared folder in Showbie so they could access them. They had their choice of which book they wanted to work on. Each 2-page spread contained a word problem or perimeter problem on the left side, and the directions and space for their answers on the right side. Next to every problem was a sound clip which read the problem to them as well. Their task was to go through the book reading/listening to each problem, then writing an equation and solving it, writing their final answer in a complete sentence. Using Reflector, I projected my iPad up on the SmartBoard so I could walk them through the basics of how to get started. They picked it up so fast -- they were up and running in no time!

My students did terrific with this project. Click here to download a sample project (open it in an epub reader such as iBooks). They liked the idea of skipping the paper-and-pencil test, and they really love using the iPads, even if it is for school work. They were all very focused on their books. I think next time I will have them create the entire content for the books since they now know how to use the Book Creator app so they have more ownership over their project.