//Checking inI feel like I need to start the first paragraph of every post with a quick paragraph for those who will judge my whole classroom based on one blog post (not that anyone has every voiced judgement but I don't want to give the wrong impression either). As part of any good math classroom I believe there needs to be a balance of conceptual development, investigation and then, in turn, developing mathematical fluency and efficiency. This post will focus on how I am using computers to develop efficient math students, and will not focus on the conceptual development that has taken place prior to students doing this practice work (think textbook problems).
//Learning Cycle, Conversations and Self-ReflectionI have chromebooks in my classroom, two students to each device, which I actually love in promoting math conversations and collaboration. If offered one device for every student I'm not even sure that I'd want it as an option...seriously. I've spent many (seriously, MANY) more hours than I care to admit developing an electronic form of practice for my classroom that works for my situation and I feel like I'm at a new place personally, thus this blog post.
A few years back I was doing the traditional assign homework, quiz the students and look at the data myself. Big Data in education, we all know the drill. I had all kinds of charts and electronic analyzing going on but I was doing all the analysis, not the kids, and it was after the learning cycle was to have been completed. There are actually quite a few blog posts and processes I've written on electronic student data that I'm actually not even doing now in my own classroom now.
I dabbled in writing rubrics for each learning target for my students which I really actually liked but, for the sake of time and curriculum development, that has been pushed to the back-burner and saved for a year when my course content has fewer changes. In class we don't have "homework" but "practice" and as it is electronic there is an unlimited amount available to students at any time, along with help videos that are an option for kids wanting to review where we've been.
We have dedicated class time for practice (example here) and it keeps individual learners at the focus rather than the pace of the whole class. I actually think it's tragic to hear that many 12, 13 and 14 year old kids are having to do 3-5 hours of homework every night before bed rather than spending time with their family and I don't want to be a contributor to that any longer.
I've done the whole clicker thing and what I didn't like with that was there was a lot of down-time and waiting and a lot more focus on the right answer than the process and conversations. Maybe that's because we were gathering data and in education we want it to be "valid" and "formative". No thanks, I'd rather have my kids talking about the math they are wrestling with than getting pure data from them.
|Properties of Exponents Review|
//ScreenKind of a sneaky teacher thing but I have it programmed to go through a subtle gradient of background color (starting at white). If a student continues to get consecutive questions correct their screen will move through shades of green toward blue. As they get consecutive questions wrong it will move through through yellow shades toward red. For a student looking directly at the screen they may not even notice it but as I'm walking around the room it is easier to see and it helps as a visual cue even from across the room for me to go check in with a pair of students if they aren't already calling for help.
//StarsFar from gamification but after a set number of correct questions, based on quantity and percent correct they can get 1, 2 or 3 stars to show up. It doesn't save to their profile, record it anywhere or even go in as a grade book but it's laughable at how that actually motivates some kids to try harder and not rush through their thinking. Occasionally I'll hack my own code and pictures of my face will show up as they get more questions right. I thought it was funny--some thought it was creepy but deep down I think that means it's awesome so I keep doing it.
//Auto Math FormattingThis has been the latest project with many times where I almost gave up and it turned out I had literally one character in the wrong "else if" loop. I didn't want students to get hung up on understanding what 2x^3 represented mathematically so after the code is printed it will go through and format text (like in in the image above) as 2x³ while also formatting fractions and subscript labels, all based on order of operations so 1/2x will be
shown differently than 1/(2x) for example. As students type their responses in a text box they will also see a math
formatted preview of what they are entering.