Math Needs to be a Talkative Experience, Technology Helps Facilitate…

Math is not how I remember it from my childhood; the ‘drill and kill’ memorization of facts. In my middle school, we are starting to implement the Math Workshop Model a method of teaching math with components consisting of (but not limited to) mini lessons, centers, etc. — and a feature called the Number Sense Routine. From my understanding, this is to have students talk more about math; their thinking/rationalizing process and to use terminology in their daily math vocabulary.

But I thought you’re the tech coach…

In one of my sixth grade classes, I asked if I could come in and try a tech tool with the students to help facilitate discussion. I wanted to utilize Edji (which I heard on a podcast stands for “Educational Emoji“)!

This was my procedures:

  • I reached out to the teacher and collaborated on a type of Number Sense Routine where the students were shown four choices and must select which one didn’t belong. We agreed to x-13(x+2)x2, and 4-2y.
  • Taking the image of the four choices, I uploaded it to Edji with the directions, “Which one doesn’t belong?” This prompt was linked & posted in their Google Classroom Stream.
  • The students silently clicked on the square they felt didn’t belong and entered text stating why it should be removed from the group.
  • I then activated Edji’s feature, ‘heat vision’, where the students could then see everyones’ responses (pictured below).
  • After they explored the responses, the students then got into groups based on their answer. This was when I provided the twist, they needed to come up with an argument as to why their square should stay.
  • A speaker for the group was selected. They came to a central table with me. Each shared their group’s conclusion and I selected which possibility [x-13(x+2)x2, or 4-2y] would be removed. I used this opportunity to listen for terminology, examples included:
    • “My expression uses the distributive property of math”
    • “My variable is an ‘x’ like the majority of the choices”
  • Unfortunately, I had to select 4-2y because their argument contained no terminology.

What I loved about this activity was two-fold. First, students had to select a possibility without peer pressure (Edji allowed for each voice to be heard without any influencing), forcing them to have to create their own conclusions. Second, it gave me a quick insight into my groups before they came together. Even though ‘heat vision’ wasn’t turned on for the students, yet, in my dashboard, I could see all responses. I find, especially in middle school, students are afraid of sharing their thinking out loud because they don’t know if their peers will accept or reject their thinking; which to the middle school mind means that they are accepted or rejected.

Do you teach Math with technology? I would love to read about your experiences in the comments below.

What Can Be Gained By Asking a Question…

Let me tell you about Kelly’s class one day

One of my 6th Grade Science Teachers, Kelly Lee, was facilitating a lesson on physical and chemical changes. The question arose — is boiling an egg a physical or chemical change — the students were encourage to research that night and be prepared to discuss the following day. The class dismissed and proceeded throughout the rest of their schedule making it to another teacher’s class. Still buzzing, the teacher overheard and gave the students their thoughts. BINGO! A clash, the two teachers have differing views. So Kelly goes out and does some digging… until she finds:

Now this is great and all, but let’s get back to this post’s title… Kelly reached out and asked a question.

Setting the stage for an awesome experience

When was the last time you spoke to a professor on the other side of the country who’s in charge of their own lab? If you ask me, I would tell you January 31st 2019. That’s because Kelly tracked down Professor Gregory Weiss from UCIrvine’s Department of Chemistry and asked the crucial question, would you speak with my students?

Professor Weiss agreed — Skype was selected as the preferred platform — Arrangements were made with myself and the district’s IT department to get everything setup — Students were offered the chance to participate by signing up through a Google Form.

What an engaging opportunity! Professor Weiss knew just how to explain the science to his audience. His enthusiasm for what he does was infectious. Also, I must give it to the students who stepped up during the Q&A to ask great questions.

Before you go…

It’s funny sometimes how things have such amazing timing. Just prior to being brought into the loop on the above experience, I was listening to an episode of Jake Miller‘s EduDuctTape Podcast where he had on his first guest, Ann Radefeld. During the episode, Jake and Ann discuss ways to connect with a global community and participate in virtual field trips. Jake shared a fantastic resource with the listeners: SKYPE A SCIENTIST, a site which tries to connect classrooms to scientists. You can listen more about it in the episode:

Have you ever had a virtual guest in your classroom? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Flipping the Learning by Starting with a Question… and a Bonus!

My instructional practice question for you is this, why spend class time teaching the features of a product rather than your content or providing time for researching?

The scenario

One of my teachers would like to have her students create infographics on how a topic of the student’s choosing affects the systems of the human body while showcasing how the systems are interconnected. But, she is crunched for time to do the research and didn’t think she could teach what is an infographic. Our solution, flip the learning on this topic. We found some great examples of infographics and a TED Talk about visualizing data. Using Edpuzzle, we combined all of our items together to give the students an overview of what “is” an infographic.

Want to try out a ‘Student’ version?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I want to utilize Google Classroom on this blog more as a means for other educators to see real examples. This activity is linked to an “Assignment” in a Google Classroom I created for this blog (Code: mfq04n). If you try to sign up with your school account and get an error message, it is probably because your school’s domain is locked down and you can’t join outside of your domain. You may have to join with your personal Google account or create a free Google account.

Don’t have time to try it as an assignment?

You can watch the video embedded below, but your responses are not saved and you will be able to skip ahead. This will also allow you to copy this Edpuzzle to your account’s Content.

The Bonus… Let’s Explore How This Was Student-Centered

This was a student-centered project because they had choice in the topic to research, choice in whether to work alone or in pairs, choice in how to present their infographic (digital or on paper) & if they chose digital, choice in which tech tool to use. The students were the drivers of this activity, though they didn’t have a choice in creating an Infographic. This was intentional; the objective of the activity was to present data visually which showcases the interconnectivity of the human body systems.

The buttons above will open each example in a new tab. Names have been removed to protect identities. What I love are the uses of color and images, design structures, heck even GIF’s and showcasing artistic abilities.

How have you flipped learning in your classroom? I would love to read about your experiences in the comments below.

“Sheets is the answer!” And I Have a Template for You…

As Alice Keeler says, “Google Sheets is always the answer!” So when one of my teachers came to me looking for an answer, I went with a Sheet.

The scenario

The teacher would like to have her students self reflect on all the skills covered (through “I can…” statements) at the completion of a unit. When meeting with a supervisor, he suggested making it an on-going process and not at the end of a unit. He also suggested instead of seeing a list of 8-10 skills, which may seem overwhelming, have it chunked and display at appropriate times. The teacher would originally do this on paper, she even tried switching over to poster paper so she could reveal each skill when she wanted but knew there could be a better way.

Enter the Tech Coach

She reached out to me and scheduled a time to meet. We discussed what she wanted to have the students do, showed me the handout she used for a previous unit, and contemplated ways to enhance it. What we came up with is embedded below.

We took the skills of an upcoming unit and set it up in a Google Sheet with 3 tabs: “Skills”, “Input”, “Formula”. “Skills” would be visible to the students; the other two would be hidden. The first skill would be displayed. The student would then need to copy a “✔” from cell ‘H1’ and paste it into one of the levels of confidence. This would signify their reflection on where they feel they are at based on the “I can…” statement. I also suggested the student should provide some sort of evidence on why they believe they are where they are at; maybe through a link to a screenshot of a problem they solved or a screencast explaining how they solved or where they got stuck solving a problem. Once the check mark is placed in a level, the next skill would appear. This happened because of things going on ‘behind the scenes’, so to say. The check mark would appear in the “Formula” tab triggering a formula setup to ‘COUNTIF’ a check mark appears in one of the cells for the levels of confidence. The formula would then display a number, as long as the number is greater than “0” the next skill statement would be pulled from the “Input” tab and displayed in the “Formula” tab. The “Skills” tab is pulling what is displayed in the “Formula” tab, so when the next skill is displayed it will populate on the “Skills” tab for the student.

Want to try out a ‘Student’ version?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I want to utilize Google Classroom on this blog more as a means for other educators to see real examples. This activity is linked to an “Assignment” in a Google Classroom I created for this blog (Code: mfq04n). If you try to sign up with your school account and get an error message, it is probably because your school’s domain is locked down and you can’t join outside of your domain. You may have to join with your personal Google account or create a free Google account.

Want a template of this Sheet?

Click on this link to see a preview and to make your own copy of this template.

What has Google Sheets helped you manage in your classroom? I would love to read about your experiences in the comments below.

Building Relationships and Having Conversations…

When coaches catch-up…

One of my former math teachers, Linda, is now a math coach for our middle schools. Her time is split between my building and our other middle school. I like to check in with her for three reasons:

  • Continue the relationship I built with her when she was one of my teachers
  • Keep myself apprised of what is happening with the sixth grade math teachers
  • For what is about to be described below… collaborative moments

My most recent check-in provided an opportunity to develop an “Appsmashed” activity.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Appsmash“, I define it as utilizing multiple digital tools to create a product that wouldn’t be possible with just one digital tool.

Linda was showing me a math theorem, ‘Fold & Cut Theorem’, which she recently discovered (thank you Dr. Katie Steckles) and wanted to provide an interesting activity for her sixth grade math teachers to try with their students. She found an activity worksheet and several videos but wanted to structure the activity so the students would see certain portions of the videos at particular points in the activity. That’s when I came up with the idea of utilizing three different tools!

  1. Google Docs (utilizing the ‘Publish to the Web’ feature)
  2. Edpuzzle (utilizing the ability to trim videos)
  3. InsertLearning (utilizing the ability to insert questions & embedded videos)

The image below is a screenshot of what the activity would look like for students:

Want to experience this activity as a student?

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I want to utilize Google Classroom on this blog more as a means for other educators to see real examples. This activity is linked to an “Assignment” in a Google Classroom I created for this blog (Code: mfq04n). If you try to sign up with your school account and get an error message, it is probably because your school’s domain is locked down and you can’t join outside of your domain. You may have to join with your personal Google account or create a free Google account. 

Want a copy of this activity to use for yourself?

This link will open a shared version, make sure to click the “copy” button at the top to add it to your InsertLearning account.

What kind of “appsmashed” activity have you created? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Utilizing Technology to Scaffold Global Issues Problem Solving…

I share a space with my building’s Gifted and Talented Teacher Resource Specialist, Rebecca McLelland-Crawley. This enables us to have some great coaching conversations as well as moments where we can integrate technology into the PRISM (Performance Revealing Individual Student Magic) program. The following is a joint posting about how we utilized technology to enhance a problem of practice.

 

“Each year, students in PRISM, our middle school gifted and talented program, have the opportunity to sign up for various research tracks for enrichment. One of these opportunities is Future Problem Solving Program International’s Global Issue Problem Solving. Students use the FPS Six Step Model to explore challenges and propose action plans to complex societal problems.
The students work in teams of four to solve a futurist problem that is presented in what is called a Future Scene during a 2-hour window using very specific language and formatting to follow the program’s rules. This can be exciting and daunting at the same time. Many of my students new to FPS struggle with including all of the required elements in the Underlying Problem section. Since the UP is the root problem of the Future Scene, it plays a vital role in the process. This section must include: a condition phrase, a stem, a key verb phrase, a purpose, and the future scene parameters. The language must be precise and accurate for the UP or teams will lose points in this section and potentially in other areas as well. 
 

 

In order to help students struggling with the formula of writing out the specific underlying problem for the competition, I sought out the assistance of our school’s Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology to see if there might be some way to help guide the students more efficiently. After brainstorming several ideas, Dan suggested a Google Form to help scaffold the process. Even better, when a student did not use the proper format or was missing an element, it redirected them. The FPSers responded really well to this new tool and were able to apply their understanding of how a UP should be written to the Google Form. I love how it gave them the opportunity to try several times in order to master the process, but was automated so the students could work at their own pace. It’s definitely something I recommend for all teachers to consider when students are struggling with a task and need additional scaffolding.”
Going the route of a Google Form, I thought, would be a great way to prompt students to write out the problem following the FPS formula. Each question could be set as ‘required’ forcing the students to have to properly submit each aspect of the formula. I then automated, using the add-on (formMule) for the Form’s Google Sheet, a formatted email to be sent back after submission. Embedded below is the Google Form and a screenshot example of the email received.

 

How have you integrated technology into a problem of practice? I would love to read about it in the comments below.