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.

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