Technology v2014

I plan on testing out a bunch of technology tools this year.  Over the years, I have experimented with a number of different technologies to support me in teaching math.  First was the hardware, I decided to go with Apple.  While I had a variety of personal reasons, the education reason is that from what I have seen, Apple has better education software.

My decisions so far…

Keynote – I tested Smart Notebook software for a couple of years and found that it was solid.  My one quibble with it was that the Adobe Flash timer crashed my Macbook once a day when I switch rooms for teaching.  When I switched to Keynote and got a quicktime timer from iPresentee, I found a stable simple and featured presentation software.

Omni Graph Sketcher – This is a quick graph design software that I can create everything from graph paper to lines to parabolas in a format that is easily copied to to jpeg or png format.  It is available by just searching for it on the internet.  I do not think new versions will be created. 😦

Evernote – As part of my job, I observe other teachers.  To capture and organize the information, I set up a notebook for each teacher and record a note titled with the date and time for each observation.  It is quick and easy.

Schoology – Last year I transitioned from Edmodo to Schoology because I wanted a system that had a more robust assessment engine.  After a bit of work, I ported all of the Geometry NY State Regents questions to schoology and organized them by standard.  While porting them over, I took advantage of the “Fill in the Blank” question type by taking many of the multiple choice questions and converting them over to “Fill in the Blank”.

Technology that I am going to try…

Evernote/Skitch (definitely) – Throughout the course of the year, I plan on building a shared notebook stack with taking a an Omni Graph Sketch or a PDF as a starting point. (Students will get a print out to annotate as we do it as a class.)  I will then annotate it with Skitch with the class.  I will then put each in notebook for each class.  This Evernote notebook will serve as a note source for any student that is absent.

Remind (definitely) – Too many people keep telling me how good this is.  I will set up a class assignment schedule and based on the interest from the parents/students, I will continue running it.  I will schedule all assignments and tests dates to be texted and of course parent teacher nights.

Ten Marks (should be) – This website seems gray for fluency practice so that students will not be surprised by the traditional exams at the end of the year and hopefully will provide some feedback on what they do know.

Three Rings (Should be) – Portfolios have been a dream of mine for a couple of years. I see Three Rings as an easy way for students to collect and share evidence of work in the class.  If I can get a good approach to a rubric, I will roll this out in the second or third unit. If anyone has recommendations on how to successfully use portfolios in math class, I am all ears.

I just hope that I am not taking on too much…


Lesson Template – Ideas anyone?

As I start the year in Geometry, I am trying to develop a style of teaching that will resonate with my student population.  After teaching Algebra for nearly 7 years, I knew that Geometry would be different because of the amount of content previously not covered or covered little.  This led me to building my current lesson plan format.

The Start
Students start off with one of three different things, each of which is dedicated to them improving their number sense or spatial sense. The first option is a dot talk or a 2d talk to work on their spatial skills.  The challenge with this option is that the image is shown for 3 seconds and as students settle, it is not an easy fit for a start.  The second option is a traditional math talk where students use mental math to solve a problem.  This is a good option, but is better leveraged with Algebra.  The third option is This is a solid option for any math class and good to leverage throughout lessons.  I would like to lean more towards the first option to stretch the spatial skills and enjoy the last one to improve estimation skills.

The Middle
I then have either an activity where students discover a topic or a mini-lesson for those topics that are not conducive to easy discovery. Students work in groups to wrestle with the topic and then they are presented with greater challenges.  Discovery and practice intermingle with students getting a better handle on the topic.

The End
Students write their notes and compare their notes to their peers.  I have to work on this and would like to have some prompts.

Each Friday, I have a notebook quiz and a content quiz.  I pick a random page of the notes for the week and grade their notes while they take a quiz.  By the end of Friday, all of the information is recorded.

Any ideas on adapting/improving the structure?

Math Talks and Estimation

In the past, I set up a lesson, slapped a “Do Now” in the beginning that activated prior knowledge and jumped into the lesson.  This year I decided to attack the math sense skill deficiency.  I have been starting the lesson with a variety of math talks and estimation.  All or the students love them and have them getting more engaged into mathematics.  Estimation180 by Andrew Stadel is a huge hit. My personally created Dot and Shape talks are right up there as well.  I have transitioned over to keynote for all of my presentations and set up the shape and dot talks to last for 3 seconds and then the students have to draw the shapes.  I will be building a library over time for public use once I set up the copyright stuff on the blog.  While I may have lost an easy transition to the new topic, I have definitely gained energy and, I believe, long term gains in math sense.

My Favorite Pedagogical Resources

From reading the blog posts, I have found a number of posts that really move my teaching in the classroom.

Fawn Nguyen – Besides her great collection of resources in her 180 blog, I have found her Deconstructing a Lesson Activity – Part 1 and Part 2 posts to be building blocks of lessons as I am constructing.

David Wees – David does a great job of collecting resources and sharing with the world.  His post on questioning is also fundamental to my lesson construction process.