Sunday, August 31, 2014

iPads and Self-paced Lessons in Math (Week 1)

This year I teach three periods of 8th Grade Common Core Math and three periods of 8th Grade Common Core Math Support.

I am fortunate to have 1:1 iPads in my Math classes.  In my Math Support classes most of the students are my students from 8th Grade Common Core Math. In their regular Math 8 classes the students work together in collaborative teams. I want to supplement what they are learning in Math 8 in a different way and that is why in Math Support I have designed self-paced lessons that are done completely on the iPads.

This post is a very comprehensive look at how I start the year with 1:1 ipads.  It is full of detailed information on great apps and resources to use with 1:1 iPads.

Starting Up a Self-paced 1:1 iPad Classroom
This year the first couple of weeks were very exhausting, because I had to instill my expectations over and over again.  I am very OCD about procedures and expectations in my classroom, but it will soon pay off. :o)
Getting 75 students signed up on the various apps and programs that we use in Math Support was a huge task, but I am glad that all of my students have finally signed up and things are finally running smoothly.

The first day of Math Support I gave my students a Math Reflection Questionnaire to fill out.  This was to help me understand their feelings about math and their math background.

Here is a copy of my first day questionnaire if you would like to use it.
Math 8 Beginning of the Year Reflection

I also created a Math Support Guidelines page for the students to put in their Interactive Math Support Notebooks.  On the back side of the guidelines is a graphic organizer chart I made for the students to write all of their usernames and passwords, because throughout the year we will be using various apps and programs that require usernames and passwords.

Here is a copy of my guidelines and username graphic organizer if you would like to use it. iPad Guidelines and Username Graphic Organizer

Using Apps to Create a Self-paced 1:1 Math Classroom
My two favorite student friendly apps to use in my math classrooms are Edmodo and Showbie.  As you can see by my Math Support Expections above, these two apps are the center of my self-paced classroom.

Using Edmodo
When the students come into class, they get their assigned iPad and log into Edmodo.  On Edmodo there will be a Daily Math Reflection Post.  All responses in Edmodo are written in complete sentences. The Math Reflection is like a digital bell ringer. Students are to spend no more than 7 minutes on the Math Reflection.

It is my goal this year to get my Math students to justify their reasoning and become better writers. (We write a lot in my Math 8 and Math Support classes)

Here are some examples of the Math Reflections that I used this week on Edmodo: 

A scaffolded, cloze vocabulary writing prompt.  This is where the students will type the cloze paragraph as a reply filling in the missing academic vocabulary words.

A Math Problem that the students will solve and leave a reply with their answer and justification.

A "Blast From the Past" Review Quiz made in Edmodo.  I  can make these in Edmodo and they will automatically be scored and entered as a grade. (I haven't used this yet this year)

Edmodo also has a new "Snapshot" feature that has Common Core type questions. 

At the end of the period, students go back to Edmodo and complete A "Ticket Out the Door". This is a writing prompt in which the students leave a reply answering in complete sentences.

Here are some pictures of my students in action doing the "Math Reflections" and the "Ticket Out the Door" on Edmodo.


After the students finish the Math Reflection at the beginning of class in Edmodo they log into MY FAVORITE APP IN THE CLASSROOM Showbie.

Showbie is the center of my self-paced classroom and helps keep my classes organized and running smoothly. It allows me to communicate with the students and keep track of the student's progress on the Assignments.  I have previously blogged about Showbie's great features and my weekly assignments here. :o)

Unit 1a: Linear Equations in One Variable
This week the students were reviewing and practicing solving linear equations in one variable. Through Showbie I was able to create a set of Assignments for the week that included notetaking, self-paced practice problems and performance tasks.

With my Assignments created in Showbie I can see which Assignment the students are on and which Assignments they have finished.  This year I am having my students leave a comment after they finish each Assignment.  I am having them practice writing and using complete sentences in every way that I can.

This is an example of the Assignment explanation and the student comment.  You can what Assignments were finished by the paper clip next to the student names. The Assignment directions are very explicit.  In Math Support I want to focus on helping the students with their math concepts and not having to guide them on what to do.  You can see an example of a student reply after the completed Assignment.

Here are some pictures of my students using Showbie.

Through Showbie I am able to create Assignments using Educreations.  I use Educreations to create videos for the students to watch.  I live the link for the video in the Assignment in Showbie.

Here is what the Assignment for Educreations looks like in Showbie.

When the students click the link, the video opens in the Educreations app.  They take color-coded notes from my video in Educreations to use as a reference when they do practice problems and tasks in Math Support class.  The student love this.

Here are examples of the videos the students used in this unit on linear equations.

Here is an example of my students using Educreations.

Through Showbie I can also create Assignments using a cool app called Socrative.  I use Socrative in a unique way to create self-paced practice problems.

The self-paced practice problems are scaffold and guide the students through the question. The students love this type of guided practice.  It helps reinforce their skills and knowledge of the concept.

Here is an example of the scaffolded self-paced questions I use in Socrative.

Socrative provides tracking of the students progress throughout the Socrative activity.  I can project this on the board and see at a glance how my students are doing.

Here are pictures of my students practicing Math using Socrative.

Paperless Performance Tasks
My favorite part about Showbie is the fact that I can create paperless tasks that the students can complete on the iPad using Showbie's annotation and comment features.  Not only can the students annotate and answer questions with a typed reply, I can read and correct each student's task on my iPad.  I can leave annotation corrections and leave comments for the students.

OMG. This is so Awesome! I can't say it enough.  This is what takes my Math Support to the next level... Getting my students to think, explain and write,  preparing them for Common Core Testing.... Thank You Showbie. :o)

I create my paperless tasks in Word and save as a pdf. On the performance tasks there is room for the students to annotate and do work using a stylus and when I want a typed response I leave a text cloud picture on the task.  They leave their typed response icon on the picture of the text cloud.

Here is an example of the Assignment in Showbie with my OCD directions.

Here is an example of these awesome features in a student task. You can see the student's annotations and typed response. You can also see an example of the text cloud picture that lets them know to leave a typed response.

Here is an example of my comments to the student.  My annotations are in red and I can leave a text note with my icon for the student to read.

The students can save their work and continue on the Assignment the next day.  The students can also go back and make changes after it is corrected by me.

I can't tell you enough how AWESOME this is.  I will use this feature with a weekly performance task. :o)

Restricting the Internet on the iPads: A Win Win Situation
I use all of the restrictions on the student's iPads and especially restrict access to the Internet by eliminating the browser app.

This alleviates having to check on the students and worrying if they are making bad decisions. :o) Win #1 But because of Showbie's Awesomeness I can still utilize my favorite websites without going through the iPad's browser. I can add a link in my Assignment in Showbie, and the link will open up in Showbie. Win #2

I use School21 for the students to do practice problems.  These are basic procedural practice problems. Here is an example of the Assignment for School 21 in Showbie.  You can see the School21 link I included which will open up in Showbie.

School21 is great because the students can do the practice problems on a whiteboard and enter their answer into the page.  School21 gives immediate feedback letting the students know if they got the problem right or wrong.

If the students miss a problem the can click (Show Why) and they can see the solution steps needed to answer the question.

School21 has two levels: Mastery and Excellence.  As the students get a problem correct they get 1 level up. If they they get a problem incorrect they drop levels. The students need 10 levels up in a row to reach Mastery.  After they reach Mastery, they need 10 levels up in a row to reach Excellence.  The students progress is saved and the students can resume where they left off at another time.  It does not start over.

The teacher report section shows the Class Mastery Status and progress of the students. At a glance I can see which students have started and reached Mastery or Excellence.

I am using the Grade 8 Math Course. There are a lot of concepts and subconcepts to practice.  Here is a view of the student Dashboard.  You can see the list of concepts available for the students.

I came across Tenmarks last year. And I absolutely love it. I use Tenmarks to have the students practice Common Core type questions.

Here is an example of the Assignment in Showbie.  You can see the Tenmarks link I included which will open up in Showbie.

Tenmarks is totally Common Core aligned.  Assignments can be created in Tenmarks based on one or more Common Core standards. The questions in Tenmarks are rigorous and really require the students to think.  When the students are using Tenmarks they do the practice problems on a whiteboard and enter their answer.

Here are some example questions that the students would get in Tenmarks.

When the students finish the Assignment Tenmarks gives me details of the class data and performance.

The students struggle with the questions on Tenmarks, but if they are not struggling, they are not learning.   Struggle is good.  :o)

Thanks for reading all the way through my comprehensive blog post about 1:1 iPads in a Math classroom.  I wanted to share what I have learned over the last couple of years.  This year I will be using the 1:1 iPads regularly in all of my Math classes and I will be blogging regularly sharing my lessons and ideas.

I hope you stop by again.... Our next unit is on Linear Equations and the Rate of Change... :o)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 3: Sharing Classroom Photos

Linking up with the #MTBoSchallenge to share pictures of my classroom. I spent about two weeks getting my classroom ready before school started... I love it... My students love it.... :o)

A view of my classroom from the door.

My desk and teacher area.

The student supply center.

The front of the room.

Student shelves and the students Interactive Math Notebooks.

My "In This Classroom" poster by the classroom door.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my classroom pictures...:o)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What a Week... A Glimpse of My First Week of School

This has been a crazy and exhausting first week of school with the students. We started back with the staff on Monday, August 11, and we started back on Monday, August 18 with the students.

Our district has used the option of using only 175 days of school for the students and using the rest of the contracted school days for professional development throughout the year. This affects our pacing tremendously and therefore our students started actual lessons on day two.

8th Grade Math (Day 1)
My first three periods are 8th Grade Common Core Math.  On the first day I did a simple following directions activity. It is important for me to know which students are capable of reading and following directions.  On the first day as the students came to class they were greeted at the door and given a sticky note.  The directions were on Promethean Screen.

My 3rd period was the only class that was not only able to complete the writing prompt correctly, but they were the only class that actually got up and put the sticky notes on the poster. :o)  I had to point to the last part of the directions to give them a hint in 1st and 2nd period.

I spent only about 20 minutes going over my main expectations and procedures.  I knew that I couldn't talk for too long.  I am very OCD about structure, and I do a lot of procedures.  There is pretty much a procedure for everything.  LOL... I knew that there is way too much to tell them and I could not do it all at once, and throughout the rest of the week I would continue to show new procedures.

I previously posted about A Letter To My Students. After my going over my expectations. I talked to the students about the "Struggle" they will endure and passed out my letter.  I had the students read it to themselves.  Then I had the students use my letter as motivation and had them write a letter to themselves about this year in 8th Grade Math. I collected their letters and had them put the Letter From Me in their Interactive Math Notebooks.  I wanted it to be the first page they see all year.  I am hoping it will continue to motivate them.

Day 2 (Classroom Procedures)
We started our 1st lesson on day two.  On day two I also started procedures for when they enter class. I previously posted about My Classroom Structure and Team Roles.  When the students come into class they look at the board to see if they are the Team Resource Monitor for the day.  If they are the Resource Monitor then they will get the materials listed on the board for the team.  The rest of the students will turn in their homework and then go to their seat and get ready for class.

I am so excited because by day three all of my classes had this procedure down.  By the time the bell rang each day all of the students were in their desks and ready to learn. They had their homework turned in and all of the teams had the supplies they needed for the day's lesson.  I love that I can start class right away and no time is wasted getting materials.  This is one of my most important procedures. :o)

Homework Conundrum
When I taught Honors Algebra and Geometry homework wasn't really a problem.  Majority of the students turned in their homework regularly.  But I have always struggled getting my Math 8 students to do their homework. You know it is bad when you get excited when someone actually turns in their homework. Almost like they gave you a present.  LOL.  This was also a problem because the 0/25 for homework averaged in with their grade and really affected it.

This year I am trying something new.  And OMG so far it is working.  (Knock on Wood)  The first week I averaged an 80% turn in rate.  Most of the students have bought in to my new homework policy. My New Policy: Each week that they turn in their homework on time for the entire week, they will get 2 bonus points.  These bonus points will be applied to their Concept Quizzes.

(Getting the Students through the Struggle)
This year the students have come into Math with the "I hate Math" or "I can't do Math" mentality.  It has been a rough week trying to motivate these students and keep them on task.  The majority of my students do not feel that they are good at math and are struggling with even the basic concepts of integers and solving equations. :o(

 I see a glimmer of hope after the first week.  Hopefully next week the "Struggle" will get easier.  :o)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Getting My Classroom Ready (Day 3)

Today was the last day that I spent working in my classroom.  I am pretty much done and will finish the rest on our Teacher Work Days next week.  My classroom is small and is in a portable, but I think I did a pretty good job making my classroom comfortable and inviting.

Here is a final view of my front boards... I love the way they turned out and all of the posters I made look really cute.... :o)

This is the Student Supply Center.  This where the students will find their mini whiteboards, calculators, team supply boxes, color pencils for guided notes, rulers, protractors, hole punch and stapler, etc...

In the student supply center is one of my classroom organization ideas, my "While You Were Out" tray.  There is a tray for each period.  And if a student is absent, the resource manager in the team will write their name on the notes and homework for the day, and put them in the "While You Were Out" tray.  When the absent student comes back they look in the "While You Were Out" tray for the assignments they missed.  It is such a time saver for me.  They don't have to ask me for what they missed. I don't have to keep track of anything.  It is all done by students.

This is a picture of my "While You Were Out" tray.

This is the shelves where my students keep their Interactive Math Notebooks.  Each period has a shelf and they are color-coded.  Color-coding my periods really helps my classroom organization and structure. The shelves look empty, but there will be more on the shelves when school starts.

On the shelf is another of my classroom organization ideas, my Team Folder Holder.  There is a file tray for each period, with a folder for each team.  I do a lot of team tasks and if I plan on continuing the task the next day, then the team's resource manager will put all of the team member's tasks into their team folder and put it back in the folder holder.  This is such a time saver.  I don't have to keep track of the tasks, and pass them back out. The next day the team's resource manager will get the team folder and the team will continue on the task.  I love it, because again this is all done by the students.  :o)

This is a picture of the Team Folder Holder file tray.


There is a lot of room on my back wall so I am able to put up a lot of bulletin boards and student work.  It really becomes a "Living Wall".  This year I have 5 bulletin boards on my back wall.  And there is still a lot of empty space around the boards to hang student work and team projects.

There is a small board for "Student Information".  This is where I put the schedule and any flyers the office sends to hang up for the students.  And a "Superstar Work" board.  This is where I hang examples of exemplary tasks and projects.

There is a "Data" board.  This is where I will hang the data graphs from assessments.

There is a "Math 8" board. This is where I will hang the student's assessments that were 70% or better.  The students love to come in the day after an assessment and see if they made the wall.

And the last board is the "Wall of Fame" Math Rockstars.  This is the students will hang the Rockstars they earn.

This is "My Teacher Area".  This is my desk and I love it.  It is totally me. I am known at school for being the teacher who likes pink. I love that I have a cabinet behind my desk.  I always have the window open.  I love the sunlight.

I am happy with all of the work I have accomplished. And I think I will be ready when school starts.  :o)