Saturday, February 22, 2014


Everyone loves a good game of old-fashioned Bingo, right? But those chips all over the floor at the end of the day -- not so good. Enter the iPad and BingoBaker!

This is a great activity to use when you have quick-to-solve problems, not long multi-step problems. We were working on simplifying expressions with square roots, so this was a perfect skill to practice with a bingo game.

Setting the game board up is easy -- go to You can use the site even if you don't sign up for an account, but if you do, you can save your games and, if needed, print more than 8 paper copies. The cost for an account is a one-time fee of only $9.95. 

Enter what you want to show up in your 24 boxes and click Generate at the bottom. The next screen will give you a link to play your bingo game online. I create a QR code for the link so my students just need to scan the code to get to their bingo board. The great thing about this is every student's board will be different! BingoBaker randomizes the board every time someone else accesses it. (If you print the boards, it will do the same thing.) Instead of placing a chip on a box, they simply tap on it and it changes to a yellowy-orange color. (The first time you play this with your class, let them "play" with the board first, making patterns, etc, to get it out of their system!) If they tap on a box by mistake, simply tap it again and it goes back to white.

Almost forgot to mention -- even if you don't have a class set of iPads, this also works great on smart phones. This is actually how I did it the very first time I used BingoBaker. I told the class to bring their own devices, but for those who did not have any to bring, I was able to print out the bingo boards on paper for them.

Although I use BingoBaker for math problems, I can see it being used for practice with vocabulary in any content area, learning capitals, chemistry symbols, foreign language, or just about anything. I put the problems up on the SmartBoard so it's easy to flip through the slides quickly. You could also have some type of photograph up on the SmartBoard that they have to identify it and find the name of it on their bingo board. The possibilities are endless!

The class loved this fast-paced game (they don't even realize they're doing all those math problems!) We were running out of time at the end of class and they all begged me for just one more problem!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thank you, PLN!

How did I get started in Twitter and growing my PLN? That's a question I asked myself recently. I had to think for a few minutes about my first experience with Twitter, and what (or who) made me decide to give it a try. I guess I'd have to credit @ipadsammy (Jon Samuelson) for getting me started. I'm not sure if he'll even remember this, but back in December 2012 he encouraged me to start a Twitter account and following other educators across the country. I'm still not quite sure how I even found Jon. It's kind of like "what came first, the chicken or the egg?". I started following him around the same time that I discovered @mathycathy's (Cathy Yenca) blog, and I'm not quite sure whether I found her blog because of Jon, or I found Jon because of her blog. But either way, they were my original inspirations. (Thank you so much to both of you!!)

At first, I just Twitter-stalked. It took me a long time to feel like I had something to say that others might think of as interesting enough to read. I just absorbed anything and everything I could about using iPads in my math class. After an almost full year of utilizing these wonderful tools in my classroom, I finally decided I wanted to begin blogging about some of my experiences so I could possibly help others, as everyone in my PLN did for me.

With that said, here's a list of those in my PLN that I feel have really been the biggest inspirations for me in either iPadding and/or blogging. Most of you probably don't even know me, but you have made a difference in my work, so thank you!

  • Jon Samuelson, Alison Anderson (@tedrosececi), and Curt Rees (@CurtRees) - I learned so much from your Techlandia podcast, not to mention had a lot of laughs!
  • Cathy Yenca - the fact that you blogged about your first experiences with iPads and you teach middle school math like me has been a huge plus!
  • Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4u) - so many great ideas from your blog, you're so creative!
  • Fawn Nguyen (@fawnpnguyen) - love your stories and your attitude!
  • Aimee Bartis (@aimeegbartis) - thanks for the advice!
  • Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent) - thanks for sharing my Stick Around puzzle on your blog!
  • Jenny Magiera (@MsMagiera), Sue Gorman (@sjgorman), Jeff Herb (@InstTechTalk), and Jeff Bradbury (@TeacherCast) - love your podcasts too!
  • Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis), Andrew Stadel (@mr_stadel), and Julie Reulbach (@jreulbach), - fellow math techies with great blogs!
  • Jen Kimbrell (@TechwithJen) - great ideas from the Technology Tailgate crew!
  • Terri Eichholz (@terrieichholz) - you engage my mind!
  • Erin Klein (@KleinErin), Drew Minock (@TechMinock), Brad Waid (@Techbradwaid) and Courtney Pepe (@ipadqueen2012) - great AR ideas!
  • Emre Firat (@EMREFIRAT2012) - thanks for the Google assistance!
  • and to everyone else I failed to mention, thank you too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Observation

Today, my supervisor came in to observe me. My lesson was focused on practicing converting between scientific notation and standard form. I introduced this concept to my classes on Friday, but with a snowday on Monday, most of the students forgot what they had learned after the three-day weekend. I had my work cut out for me!

I started by having everyone sign into Showbie and look at the comments I made on their classwork from Friday. Many of them still needed a lot of practice to get close to mastering this concept. Next, they completed the Do Now, also in Showbie, which asked them what type of exponent a really, really small and a really, really large number would have, positive or negative. Then they had two problems to complete and submit.

The next part of the lesson was where the fun came in! I had 12 stations set up around the room for the students to visit. At each station, they used Aurasma to view a Tellagami video (Gami) that I created, with the avatar reading a word problem to them, asking them to convert a number from scientific notation to standard form, or vice versa. I tried to make each word problem something that would be interesting to them, like the number of burgers sold at McDonald's, the amount of the national debt, the age of the Earth, or the speed of the fastest computer. The room was filled with the sounds of the various accents of the avatars reading the problems, and students moving around the room solving the problems. My supervisor walked around the room too, looking over the student's shoulders to see the Gamis. 

When they had completed all 12 stations, they scanned a QR code on the SmartBoard that led them to a Google form survey. The first question asked them how they were doing with this concept, ranging from "I totally get it" to "I'm totally lost" (only one student said they were totally lost). The second question asked them which fact they found the most interesting - not surprisingly, the McDonald's fact won. The third question asked what was their favorite activity that we have done so far this year. QR code scavenger hunts won this one by a landslide! (Guess I'll be doing them more often!)

If the students finished the survey, they could start a Versatiles activity that I created for practicing scientific notation. Since we had a 2-hour delay today, classes were 20 minutes shorter than usual, so only about half of the students actually completed all 12 stations and got to the Versatiles. My supervisor sat down with several of the students to see what they were doing and they explained to him how to use the Versatiles.

When we were just about at the end of the class, I asked them to put their iPads back in the cart and grab the homework from on top of the cart on their way out. As one student looked at the homework, he said, "This'll be a piece of cake!" That was like music to my ears!

As for my observation, my supervisor was impressed with the technology being used in my classroom, and how comfortable the students seemed with using it. He also said he now totally understands why I'm teaching a professional development class on using iPads!