Sunday, August 12, 2012

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.

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