Monday, January 21, 2013

Made4Math Technology Baby Steps

Our school was chosen for a laptop initiative.  Laptops were distributed last week to 9th graders who returned permission slips and had their student IDs. In our first class day with laptops about 50 - 75% of the students had picked theirs up.

Knowing that we have limited amount of math time, but wanting to integrate the new tool right away, I planned just a few short activities with the laptops.  For the next several lessons, the computer activities will not be heavy duty; instead they will be a way for me to observe my students use of the tool, gauge what might work, and give me a foundation for future planning.

The first tool I implemented was Google forms.  I love Google forms ... they are quick, simple, and easy to manage ... awesome for collecting data.  Tomorrow students will check their homework and check the problems they missed on the Google form.  That way I will know which problems were the most difficult for the class.  I can work those problems into our warm-ups and homework.

Great for Ticket Out of the Door
A second tool I am using is Today's Meet.  Today's Meet requires no set up.  I simple go to the site, enter a name for our meeting, and post the link for students to access.  Then at the end of class I can collect qualitative data about the lesson. I ask a question aloud in class, and students respond on the Today's Meet site.  I can keep that record of responses if I need them for future planning.  Last week I asked which step was difficult in solving systems of equations by substitution.

Another tool I'll use tomorrow is Super Teacher Tools: Speed Match.  I plan for students to match words to equations as a warm-up since our lesson is on solving systems in context.  If students don't have their computers, I have a paper copy.  If they do have their computers, they will play the "game" online.

Our school has adopted "Evernote" as its online note-taking system.  A few students have asked if they can take their class notes online ... and so far I've said yes.  Typing math notes is much more difficult than typing notes for other classes but I want students to try it if they think they can take good notes that way.  I do hope to help students build an Evernote notebook ... possibly on vocabulary.  I think it would be a great way to keep track of the math vocabulary they learn in high school ... since Evernote will be an ongoing tool.

The IT folks just pushed out the virtual graphing calculator over the weekend.  We use TI 83+ in class ... now everyone will have one on their laptops as well.  This is a bonus in working problems at home!  Before I couldn't count on students having access to a graphing calculator at home.  Yes, there are online ones, but not everyone has Internet access.  Now the virtual calculator is installed on their laptops ... no Internet required to access it.

If you use an online tool to support formative assessment in particular, or to present math lessons, please share!


  1. Beth,

    My school will be 1:1 Chromebooks next year, so I've been curating ideas on how to use them with teaching Pre-Algebra. I love the idea of the students checking their homework and reporting back to you what they got incorrect through a Google form! I was thinking of having my students take notes in Google docs next year instead of writing by hand in their notebooks, but I agree with you that it will be a challenge for some things like equations and diagrams. I was curious as to why your school chose Evernote? Are you a Google Apps for Education school?

    1. Hello! I decided against taking notes in google docs because it is painful to type math. But we use google docs or presentation for mini projects - sometimes just one page or even one slide - so that the whole class together contributes to one presentation. Makes the sharing easier.

      I am not sure why my school chose Evernote but I have to admit I do nothing with it. I am concentrating on Google apps for now.

    2. So your students aren't taking notes on the laptops at all?

    3. That's correct - we don't take notes on the laptop. Interesting article from Scientific American came across my Facebook feed today:

      We use the laptop for writing (most often short responses to the math we are doing), for Desmos, Edmodo, for mini-projects as I mentioned before. My students take most of their quizzes online to get instant feedback. I'm looking for more way to incorporate the technology in meaningful ways ... to make the learning deeper.

    4. Thanks for the link -- very interesting article. I'll have to rethink my plans for next year. Have you tried Nearpod? My students love when we do a NPP (Nearpod Presentation). It works well for math because students can do "Draw Its" where they can use a stylus or their finger to write on the screen (we have touch screen Chromebooks). It also works well on iPads or smart phones as well.

    5. I haven't tried Nearpod. It's on my list of tech tools to explore this summer along with Move Note, Haiku Deck, and Blendspace. We don't have touch screens so in that way we are limited. I'm thinking about writing up a Donors Choose plea for Nexus 7 ... which was recommended by our IT.