Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Differentiated Review Day

Our test over unit 4 is tomorrow (parallel lines, skew lines, transversals, angle relationships, triangle sum and exterior angle theorems, etc).  So today we gave students some options on how they could review and study for the test.

Here is how the day unfolded...
Prerequisite: All students had to complete all homework assignments before moving on to the review activities.  For most, the homework assignments were already complete.  For those not done, this gave them an opportunity to finish and wrap up loose ends before the test.

Review option #1:
We created a unit review packet and sent it through Edmodo.  Students could work individually, in small groups, or with partners to do as many problems as they felt necessary.  The review packet was organized by section; if a student felt as if they struggled on a particular section, they could review that part of the packet.

Review option #2:
Students have access to a number of resources on the Pearson SuccessNet site.  Interactive lessons, homework video tutors, and MathXL review problems are all on the buffet.  Again, students could work in individually or in small groups if they'd like.  This is again a great option for those who prefer to work alone.

Review option #3:
Mr. Ott created a Kahoot review for students to play.  Students that wanted to play went with him to room 101 and battled for class champion status.

If a student wanted to choose more than one option, all three of these could completed outside of class with access to the internet.

Thanks to having two rooms, three teachers, and laptops available, this format was easy to implement.

One of our three Kahoot champions!

Three individuals that chose to work together to review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Above the "Substitution" Step

Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. has developed a model of tech integration that I first read about last year while our school flirted with the idea of moving to a 1:1 laptop setup. The model is called SAMR and is pretty simple to understand.  As teacher integrate new technology into their classrooms, the use of the technology falls into one of four categories: substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.  (For more depth on the SAMR model, follow this link.)

So far this year, my co-teacher Jarrod Huntimer and I have been living in the "substitution" step of the SAMR model.  UNTIL TODAY.

We found this problem in our Pearson (c) 2015 textbook.

Instead of assigning this problem from the textbook, we assigned this instead:

Using Google maps, find an image (map) of two lines being interested by a transversal.  Snip the image and paste it into Sketchpad.  Using the line tool (in sketchpad), draw lines and label on top of the image.   Label the angles created with numbers.  Finally, identify each of the following:

·         One set of corresponding angles
·         One set of alternate interior angles
·         One set of alternate exterior angles
·         One set of same-side interior angles

Students were then to snip their sketch and paste it into their word document and submit it.

Students were able to go anywhere in the world they wanted to find their diagrams.  Some found a map near their grandmother's house; others explored overseas and to their native countries.  All were engaged and using the technology as more than a substitute to paper and pencil.  

We had many diagrams that you'd expect to see, such as the one here:

And then we had some where students got interestingly creative, such as here:
We hope to augment and modify more of our lessons and activities.  The good news is we have finally ironed out enough of the wrinkles to be able to start relying on the technology.

Some more pics that were promised in earlier posts...

30 of our 60 Lenovo Yogas are ready to go.

Students are able to use the Yogas as laptops or as tablets w/ a stylus.

The Yogas also include a touchscreen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Unforeseen Benefits of Team Teaching

My colleague Jarrod Huntimer and I (along with our student teacher Mr. Ott) have been team teaching for just over a month now.  (Here is a summary of our setup.)  Since we just got our computers up and running this past week, we honestly have done very little innovating or non-traditional.  This past week, we were finally able to assign, complete, collect, and assess homework paperlessly.  Edmodo is working very well as a vehicle for that process.

I want to briefly talk about some of the unforeseen benefits of our team teaching experiment.  First of all, we do all lesson planning collaboratively.  There is a song from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure called Two Heads are Better than One.  We bounce ideas off each other.  We discuss what has worked for us individually in the past and how we can improve things together.  Much more thought is being put into each activity and lesson thrown at our students.  Lesson planning is a fun time that usually includes many laughs and inside jokes.

Second, because of our collaboration and joint presenting of the lessons, I am continually learning new things and improving as a teacher.  I see different ways to represent mathematical concepts and get a firsthand look at the craft of another.  Jarrod and I are both very confident in ourselves and understand we're in this experiment together.  Mr. Ott has shown great promise and is well on his way to being a great teacher.  We all offer constructive ideas to improve our methods and take those ideas to heart.

For example, one day I was working on a typical geometry problem with students involving angle addition postulate with some algebra tied into it.  I was asking students for their ideas on what we could next to solve for a variable.  As we worked down the page algebraically, I began to run out of room on my SMART board page.  So I started to work upward in the open space left on my page.  (See diagram below.)  We finished the problem and went on with our business.

After the class period, Jarrod says to me, "Nice uphill algebra."  He wasn't meaning to make me feel bad or look silly, but just offering some constructive criticism.  I looked at the screen and thought about what I just modeled to students.  It was not acceptable.  We ask the students to organize their work in a neat manner.  How hard would it have been to just add more "digital page" to my document?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I used to do this all the time at my previous school.  My Smart board there was placed a lot lower on the wall than ours at Brookings.  I'm a pretty tall guy and writing that low was challenging for me.  Moreover, students sitting in the front would block the views of students in the back of the room if I wrote below a certain point.  So there were a numerous times I would work back uphill with my problems.

This one time of Jarrod watching me and offering his critique has made me think a lot more about how I'm writing on the Smart board.  And it has made me a better teacher.

Third, our team teaching model makes classroom management 100 times easier.  With two (or three) of us in the room (even when we have our biggest classes of 45 students), it is easy to float around the room and manage behavior problems.  If one of us is presenting at the board or leading discussion, the other two are roaming and making sure all students are engaged and following along.  When students are working in small groups, the three of are floating around and guiding when necessary.

Lastly, students have three instructors that they can go to for help.  When Jarrod takes off early for football on Friday, Mr. Ott and I (and the substitute) cover the class.  Jarrod's students are still able to come in after school for help, even though Jarrod has to leave for practice.  His students and my students really are simply OUR students.