Friday, January 27, 2012

Tool #11 - Time for Reflection (a.k.a. What am I going to do with all this stuff?)

I want to move to a Blog for next year as my way of keeping my students and parents up to date with the goings on in my classes.  I can also use my Blog as a place to put link to helpful documents and sites.  I will still have my school website but all I will keep on there will be basic contact information and a link to my Blog.  I have found it is much, much easier to post and link to information on the Blog than on the website provided to us by the District.  I also really like the features is Goggle Docs.  I like the ability for kids (and teachers) to share information and presentations they have created.  I plan to begin linking tutorials and examples to my Blog for students to watch as assignments and then asking kids to respond to a Form I created in Google Docs. I also plan to use Wordle at the beginning of the year to create a "map" of what students really think of when they hear the word Math.

I definitely plan to integrate more of the technologies in the classroom.  Asking the kids to do things outside the classroom with the technology is where I still have some roadblocks.  One roadblock is the fact that not all kids have access to internet at home.  OR, they could have access, but for whatever reason, the parents are not allowing them access.

I already notice a shift in my lesson planning.  I am more conscious of how much I do in the classroom with regards to technology and I do try to add more each week either through activities in the classroom or simply adding to my bank of site to go to for instructional examples.  With the addition of the netbooks and iTouches in my classroom, I realize I have some serious thinking to do about how to re-organize my teaching.  I still have the same curriculum to teach my kids.  i just have to figure out how and when the technology is best brought into play.

For the most part, I appreciated if not enjoyed the most of the Tools.  I was happy to have found what I believe is real value in some of the sites and online tools we were given the option to visit.  I am constantly expanding my PLN.  This project has made me more conscious of what is out there; I just need to seek it out and use it.  Overall, I fell this experience has been a positive one.  I hope the students like, appreciate and understand most, if not all we will bring into the classroom.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tool #10 - Knowledge is Power

I want to make sure my kids understand that EVERYTHING they put out there on the internet can be found again even if it is deleted.  Etiquette on the computer is just as important as in face-to-face conversations, if not more so.  When conversing online, most of the time, you cannot see the other people and body language can play such an important part in understanding what someone is meaning to say.  When that person cannot be seen, they need to make sure their intentions and what they mean to say must be very clear.  I also want my kids to understand that the internet, blogs and chat rooms can be places where a wealth of information is found.  At the same time, less than honest people are still out there.  They may no longer be lurking at the neighborhood park, but now lurk in those chat rooms or on blogs.  We cannot always believe everything we read from one source, just like we can’t always believe everything we hear from one source.  Information must be verified.

I like the way the videos on Brainpop present the information.  I know they run into the problem of possibly being too childish for high school but what they say is quality so I’ll probably use them the most.   I will also make sure I post and review the district’s technology policy and the district’s blog policy.  Vicki Davis’s questions she posed in this article also gave me more to think about.

Convincing many of the parents I teach that sending their kid out into the digital world, even if on a small scale, may be the biggest hurdle I face.  Due to the maturity level and innocence of many of the kids I teach many parents are (understandably) wary to let their kids have any sort of computer access.  I still have students who's parents have denied them the right to have an email address through the district.  For these few parents, a direct one-on-one explanation of why the access will help their child will be necessary.  This will also help me to understand their fears and then we can work together to create a plan that will make the parent feel more at ease and still allow the child to fully participate in class.

Another article to check out:

Tool # 9 - Integrating the Toys into the Classroom

I don't think technology will always be appropriate for every single bit of content we deal with in the classroom. Some concepts will lend themselves to online and technology based exploration more than others such as ones where real world application of a math concept can be seen or manipulated.

Students should be held accountable for what they learn no matter how they show their understanding and level of mastery. Whether it is a paper/pencil activity, something they build or results from questions on a computer program -- the how should not always matter but they are still accountable for the what.

I already use Thinkfinity, Mangahigh and Interactive in my classroom.  These resources have proved very useful when needing to show how changes in values affect lines and shapes.  I am sure some of the quizzes and practice problems we work as a whole group could be moved to small group/individual practice.  Students would need to write down some of the problems worked or the site would need to have a feature in which I could monitor each student’s responses.

I have heard from other teachers that there are some awesome apps available and after scanning the list for Math, SPED, 6-8, 9-12; I am thinking I will need to directly contact certain teachers in the district to learn more about the apps they have found useful.  I did not see many apps that matched my content nor didn’t seem too childish.  Many high school kids are very sensitive to how juvenile something might look to a peer.  In my opinion, “if it helps you learn a concept, who cares?”, but convincing a teenager to see the world that way is not an easy task.  This station would most likely be used the day after initial instruction or as a quiz/test review center.  The way I would have students be held accountable would be similar to what I wrote above. 

I enjoy pulling activities from the site Quia.  It is a site with shared quizzes, practices, websearches . . . all sorts of things other teachers have created and posted.  Also, many universities now have some of their curriculum available for FREE through iTunes.  I know that will not necessarily apply to my Math Basic kiddos but other teachers might find wonderful resources.

FREE college curriculum available on iTunes

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tool #8 - Playing with Toys

The Netbooks: Through the District SpEd department, I already have access to 10 Netbooks. The netbooks have Windows 7 and several USB ports (this is one feature I like quite a bit). I don't remember how many I am getting for my personal classroom and honestly not sure how I would implement the use of Netbooks in my math classroom. I have already been able to use the Netbooks in my English co-teach classes. We have allowed students to use them to work on their projects in Google Docs. I also see the Netbooks being used for students who receive oral administration. The test or quiz could be placed in a student's Google Docs account or through Dropbox and then the student could take their quiz or test with Read, Write, Gold.

iPads/iTouches:  Again, I don't know which device I will receive.  For students with sight issues, I do hope I will receive iPads.  I learned that I will have to create a seperate account for iTunes to manage my Spring Branch stuff.  I also learned where I can go to download different content specific Apps.  I plan to visit with other Resource Math teachers in the district to learn what they find useful on their devices and I also have a wonderful resource within my department who has already been using his own, personal iPad to help his students understand concepts better through streaming videos.

Management:  I will be composing a set of rules and procedures for use of the iPads/iPods and Netbooks in my classroom.  These will cover caring for and using the devices in class.  Each student will sign a contract accepting my terms of use policy for my class.  The struggle that I foresee is exactly how fold in the use of the devices into consistent classroom use. This will require some intense time management skill.

A couple articles to check out:
Studies show . . .
coming soon to an iPad near you

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tool #7

I think collaboration between classes is a wonderful idea... I am able to use the idea of collaboration between classes within my co-teach classes.  The following is a plan my Co-teacher, Mrs. Tatum and I came up with for the 10th grade English teachers to do:
Students will collaborate with Mrs. Boyd’s and Mr. Dennis' 10th grade classrooms via Skype regarding ideas they have to improve TAKS essays.  This project will be carried out in mid-February in order to allow enough time to reflect on the the student's writing and writing from students in the classroom prior to TAKS testing in March.  We will be using Skype and Google Docs.

The Plan:
Before Skyping another classroom, we will brainstorm what has been successful in our TAKS essays and what we believe needs more work.  We will then type that information into a Google Doc, which will have our class ideas and the ideas of the other classes added to it.  We will then call Mrs. Tatum’s 10th grade classroom and will discuss what obstacles we encounter with writing for the TAKS and will discuss ideas on how to improve our writing.    Finally, we will type one practice essay per student into Google Docs, which will be edited (using different colored ink) and commented on by a member of the class with which we Skype.  

However, with my Math Basic classes, I find that it is very hard to implement with Special Ed kiddos and classes. I think there are wonderful opportunities that could be found on Skype.  Other math classes could explain problems to my kids in "kid' language and the cooperating teacher could use their explanations an assessment.  However, we, in SpEd, are under such a cloud of confidentiality with names of our SPED students that I worry about trying to use this. I am going to talk to other SpEd teachers in the district to see how they deal with this issue.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tool # 6 - Sometimes the quiet ones have the most to say . . .

For Tool #6, I explored the Forms portion of Google Docs a bit more and created the following questionnaire I would use with a video about Slope-Intercept form I assign my students to watch.

I found the "Theme" button which allows me to change the format and background of the questionnaire.  I like that feature.  I really want to start some "Backwards Teaching" and I think this Forms tool could be a great addition to the pre-learning/pre-teaching kids experience at home through video links.  I even figured out how to adjust the size of the poll found in the HTML embedding code to shrink it a bit!

I also like this idea of creating a classroom Blog through Blogger.  I am just still trying to wrap my head around how I would use it.  I honestly don't want to manage a website and a blog.  I am curious if other teachers have found a way to combine the two and how they do it.

I was introduced to Poll Everywhere last school year and again at the beginning of the year; both by Alan November.  I think the site is very cool but has the distinct drawback of every kid needing to have a phone which has texting capabilities.

In reality, I think Poll Everywhere is similar to what ActivExpressions can do and we know all kids can access those tools.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tool #5 - Presentations

Here is my Word Cloud made by Wordle.  I really like this tool, especially to use at the beginning of the school year to generate a "map" of students' perceptions and associations towards math.

Wordle: Practice

This is a video I made on Stupeflix.  It took me a little while to remember how to get it posted but I figured it out -- by myself!

I absolutely love how easy it was to make but I really don't see an application it would have in the math classroom.  Maybe a "how to presentation" but I think there are some other presentation tools out there that would be better for that sort of thing.  I do think that Stupeflix could be used in some general ed classrooms.  We are already using Animoto in English II for group short story presentations and the kids seem to enjoy the project.