Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tool #11

TOOL #11!  I made it.

I took the Atomic Learning 21st Century Assessment and scored..., let's call it good, but no where near perfect.  I found parts of it challenging, other parts easy.

I don't have an overriding favorite tool that 11 Tools has taught me.  I like many of them, and I expect to get right to work using them.  First off, I can utilize Google Docs right away with some of my current activities.  Instead of "doing a worksheet" at their seats, they can be collaborating as a group to complete the same activity using technology.  I also will get my teacher website together and work a blog into the mix somehow.

One activity I can do right away is to pre-assess students using the Algebra Quiz game I mentioned in Tool #9.  I can use the Netbooks and the iPads (hopefully) and even my ActivBoard.  They can solve 1-variable equations of the various types and levels (say 4 each) using technology.  I can assess where they need extra practice using their per cent correct (say less than 75%).  I can use the results to see where more practice is needed, if any.  If I find they are already fluent at one level, why spend a lot of time on it?

My thinking has been transformed in that I know I have to adjust my teaching to meet the needs of learners who are often more technologically advanced than me.  I have to make many changes over the coming school years to the content of my lessons, how I assess students, and the physical design of my room.  I have to have places for the technology, and I have to have procedures in place to make them work.

I am surprised that I enjoy blogging as much as I do.  I may start blogging about what I am doing in the classroom, and I am going to start following blogs of other teachers.  I also plan to spend this year integrating the technology into my lessons, basically, making it a habit.  As that happens, I will work on the collaboration end by working with other teachers and classes online.

Tool #10

There are many aspects of being a good internet citizen.  Students should know that:
  1. Their posts, text messages, emails and the like likely exist somewhere and can be subpoenaed even after they delete them.
  2. Many employers will ask to see their social network and blog sites as a requisite for employment so they should keep those places clean and positive.
  3. Websites constantly monitor and collect information about them.  They need to constantly consider what they "click" and what blanks they fill.
I looked at a few of the sites on the EdTech page and found two that I would use in class.  The first one discusses my second thought above:

And this one discusses my third point above:

In an Algebra 2 class, it is hard to fit digital citizenry into my routine.  So, I will incorporate it as I incorporate the technology.  If we post to a blog as part of a task, I can use that time to discuss posting etiquette, cyber bullying and remind them of their digital footprint.  If they make a video as part of a task, discuss what effect inappropriate videos, pictures and what they post might have on them in the future.  I will use those "teachable moments" as they arise.

With respect to parents, I would broach the subject individually as I interact with them by phone, in conferences or via email.

Tool #9

It's important to tie the technology to the objective because students today are technology minded.  To keep their interest, I need to plan lessons and activities using the technologies to which they are accustomed.

In addition to aligning the technology to the objective, I need to make sure I hold them accountable.  In a specific sense, holding students accountable at stations or centers is part of assessing them.  If I hold the students accountable, I will more likely be able to judge whether or not they learned what they are supposed to learn.  In a pedagogical sense, holding them accountable will lead to an easier to manage classroom because when they enter my class, they will know they are expected to complete the tasks at hand.

I visited and attempted to register with Tenmarks, but they are closed for the summer.  I am excited that they offer Algebra 2 resources.  I will go back when they reopen.

I also looked at the Interactivate website and tried a couple of games.  One that I may use is and equation solving game that you can customize to different levels of difficulty and involves linear or quadratic equations. It's called Algebra Quiz.  Note: I had to update my Java to run it.  It would be easy to incorporate as a station by making each group complete a set number of equations at each level.  The website keeps track of their score for accountability.

There were other applets available that looked worthwhile, including a conic manipulator called Conic Flyer where you can choose the type of conic section, then mess with the parameters. I could have each station graph a different conic, and have groups summarize the effect of each parameter change for accountability.

Finally, I went to Thinkfinity, and found 71 interactives for high school math, and over 200 interactives, activities and lesson plans combined.  I looked at their linear regression interactive, I liked that it was fairly user friendly, and it contained instructions and an exploration.  Each station could create a model for a given set of data and then report their findings (graph and analysis) on a blog or on a Google Doc.

Now, on to the iPad apps.  I chose to look at graphing calculator apps and downloaded 3 of them to try them.  The first was Meta Calculator (Meta Graph).  I liked it. It was easy to figure out the scientific and graphing calculators on the first use.  Equation, Table, Graph, Intersection and Plot Points buttons lining the top of the calculator make data entry and finding results easy.  It also has a matrix and statistical calculator that, I believe, require purchase of the the full version.

I also tried Quick Graph by Kz Labs.  Though it is as easy to use as the others, I found it less friendly to use than the others I looked at.  Also, it seemed to me that many features I would want were not on the free version.  

Finally, I tried Free Graphing Calculator by William Jockusch.  This was my favorite of the three and the one I expect to use on my group of iPads.  It was also very easy to figure out on the first use.  It has its different modes: Calculator, Equations, Graph, Reference, Table, Triangle Solver, and Polynomial Solver (degrees 1, 2, 3) along the bottom of the screen, which is required to be vertical/portrait.  Each mode is easy to use and straight-forward.  The reference section which contains an extensive glossary, a great way to have students look at many areas of math.

I see a iPad/netbook station looking like a small group of students working together to complete a task.  For example, using the conic flyer applet above, I could have each group graph a particular conic, mess with the parameters, then I hold them accountable by having them complete a Google Doc summary of their conic sections.  Then, I change the grouping and have the students jigsaw and share information about their conics on a paper note sheet for their notebooks.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tool #8

There are way more than three things that I learned from working on Tool #8.

First, I watched the video on the Dell Netbook.  I saw an overview of the device and where the important physical components are.  I also learned that as an opening activity, I should have all the students log into all of the netbooks because the first time you login, it takes extra time to load all of the credentials.

Next, I looked at Kathy Schrock's website, iPads in the Classroom.  I became quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available.  I found links to tutorials and to lists of apps.  I will spend time on her site!

I then reviewed how to login to iTunes, but I had already created an Apple ID when I used my iPad earlier this summer.

I finally looked at the information about classroom management.

I will need to create routines and procedures including:

  • Using the technology to complete only assigned tasks
  • Consequences for misuse
  • How to retrieve and return the technology during class using assigned small group roles
  • Parameters for use as enrichment or remediation

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tool #7

Tool #7 is tough for me.  Integrating the different tools in one collaborative project takes a great deal of forethought and planning.

After poking around a few of the project sites, I came across one that I thought would be feasible as a starter for me and my AP Statistics class, a project where we would collect temperature data from on-line published sources in our communities and then analyze our data using linear regression.

As an objective, I suggest the following: Given temperature data collected from online sources, small groups of students in each class will

  • collect actual high and low temperatures for the past 30 days using some online source such as a newspaper or the weather service
  • organize the data using Google Docs spreadsheet, including graphs
  • Analyze the data using linear regression
  • Analyze the data by calculating confidence intervals to estimate the actual differences in temperatures between cities
  • Create a presentation of each groups analysis
  • Post the findings of each group on a blog or youtube video
Most of this project could be completed in any high school math course, simply leave out the confidence interval portion.  This project could be run at any time of the year.  I might do it during second semester after we discuss confidence intervals.  It could also be done as a review for the AP exam as well.

There are many tools that one could use for this project.  Google Docs could facilitate the spreadsheet, word processing and presentation.  Skype could be used to communicate between classes in various cities.  Wallwisher and Today's Meet could be used for communication as well.  Finally, use a site like Blogger or Youtube to post the findings.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tool #6

This was another good tool for the classroom. I can see uses for many of the links provided by the author.  I chose to write about and, though I expect to use others as well.

I created a wall at  It was very easy, and I plan to use this tool in a number of ways: to gauge student understanding, to summarize a lesson or group activity, to post student generated problems for practice, and to brainstorm.  I embedded my simple wall below:

I also visited and created a presidential poll.  In AP Statistics, we often need to collect data for analysis.  This site will allow me to collect data quickly and efficiently.  I embedded the poll as evidence of completion, but the website will delete the poll in two weeks.

In addition to these site, I plan to join to collaborate with other teachers, but as I write this, it is Sunday, and I need to get a code first.  I see a use for Today's Meet as a way for kids to ask questions and to participate.  I also plan to use Google Docs and Blogger as assessment sources and in group activities.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tool #5

I had fun completing this tool.  I signed up on and created a short slideshow about parabolas that I have included below.  I also created a quick comic on Make Beliefs Comix of a joke I tell yearly in my class.  Let me know if you like the joke.

Here's the parabola piece:

Try our slideshow creator at

Here's a link to the comic.

Both of these sites are useful for both educators to use as teaching tools and for students to use to create a product. I could use Animoto to create content like I did above, and students can use it to create any number of products like summarizing a topic as a review for a test or as a product for a project.

The comic strip was fun to create, and has many uses as lesson resources.  Students could create a comic strips to demonstrate that they understand vocabulary, ideas or concepts.

Tool #4

I was easily able to access and create a document with Google Docs.  I took an old student information sheet that one might use on the first day of school and I shared it with a few people in my department as an email attachment.  I also created a form to gauge where some people in my department may want to have lunch on our fist day back.

These tools are incredibly useful in the classroom.  It's easy to see where paper-based activities can quickly be replaced by cloud-based documents using simple cutting and pasting. I like not having to recreate the wheel when it comes to using some of my old tried and true activities.

Students can do their classwork and/or homework on their electronic devices using Google Docs or Forms.  Now I see how I am going to be using all of this technology.

Tool #3

I enjoyed working through Tool #3. These are skill I have always wanted to hone, and Tool #3 made me practice.

One of my favorite recent math videos I show in my class on non-routine days or  at a time where I can use a random idea to fill 10 minutes.  Students seem to like it, and it gets them talking about where they might see patterns in unexpected places.


Another video I tried this year was the following.  I had it linked in my flip chart presentation.

And while looking for the conic video, I found this one.  I will probably include as a simple example of one of the many places one might find conic sections in the real world.

I watched the fair use videos, and though they were clever and clearly took lots of time to create, I found them hard to follow at times because they are so choppy. I guess I am old enough to have an attention span that does not require a constant change of scenery.

Since YouTube has the most content available, I find it the most useful. TeacherTube and the others will probably grow to be more useful in time, but for now, YouTube will be of the most use to me.

 I created my Dropbox account, that was easy. I expect I'll find it useful to be able to get at files from any computer.