Thursday, June 7, 2012


With 11 Tools at its completion, I invite you to continue reading about my adventures by checking out my website for over the top uses of technology, sidewalk chalk, and the amazing properties of notebooks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tool 11: Reflection

I find that the iPads will probably be my most frequently used tool. My main application will be for spreadsheets, documents, and high res graphing calculator. Typically I have data recorded in a notebook, but it will be a lot faster to share information if the class contributes to one spreadsheet that we can all look at together. there area  few Algebra II activities that would work well here.

My thinking about my classroom has not changed much. There is already a lot of technology in place and we make use of a lot of online resources already. The change this year will be giving the kids a chance to get at it themselves through the use of my devices. I am already set up for displaying work that is done on the devices through cloud sharing and an iPad VGA Adapter.

I didn't have any unexpected outcomes, I was familiar with a lot of the tools that were presented here. I am a little disappointed that there aren't a lot of quality resources listed for higher level math, most tools are more appropriate for a social studies or English classroom. A lot of times when working on math the best tool is a notebook, pencil, and someone to talk to.

Goodbye 11 Tools, I'll miss you.
Tool 10: Digital Citizenship

I would want to teach my students about overexposure, cyberbullying, and respecting creative work. The first two go together through texting and Facebook. Kids often think their comments are anonymous or will never been seen by other people. They don't understand that by default, both can easily be accessed by someone with physical access to their phone. Without a passcode, anyone would be able to read the entirety of their messages and probably log in to their Facebook account because they keep the password stored.

Many students are unaware that once a message leaves their phone, whoever received it can do whatever they want. So inappropriate pictures can wind up on any other phone even if the girl had no intention of that happening. Twitter streams are also completely public by default and can be viewed by anyone as long as they know the username, it is not necessary to have a Twitter account. Cyberbullying plays off the first two as access to unlimited messages and the internet through their phone gives kids an "anonymous" voice. Many do not understand that written words can be just as hurtful.

The last issue of respecting creative work requires education. Kids usually know how to get music from a friend very easily and without jobs, they don't have the means to pay for things anyway. So it is often seen as ok to take movies, music, etc. As teachers, we should set the example of paying for these items in front of the kids or giving proper attribution to free material.

The lessons from Common Sense Media appear to be very thorough and cover a range of topics for kids of all ages. I think some of the lessons there should be required reading before students are granted access to technology on campus.

Many parents would be shocked to learn some of the things done via text/online messaging. It wouldn't hurt to incorporate these lessons as an opener to parent night or as a part of PTA meetings. 
Tool 9: Incorporating Devices

Technology should not be used simply because it is there. Its use should match the objective so that students can see a different way of accomplishing a task. It should complement what we are doing and not get in the way. The technology should not be used for "free time" when the lesson is finished.

Students need to feel like the classroom is an extension of their home. We already hold them accountable for neatness and calculators to keep their home presentable. Part of accountability will be taking care of the devices given because otherwise they will lose the privilege. They should be held accountable for activities done on the devices so that they understand the technology aspects are important and not random distractions used to kill time. They should see them as learning tools and not toys.

ManipulaMath and PhET have examples of some ideas I want to incorporate. Although Java applets do not work on iPads, there are ways to accomplish the same thing. In Algebra II, I really want the kids to be able to play with parent functions and under the effects of parameter changes and realize that everything can be graphed.

I plan on incorporating GraphCalc HD, Numbers, Pages, and possibly Educreations for some activities next year. Pages and Numbers allow for collaboration on spreadsheets and documents that can be quickly updated to the teacher's iPad and displayed on the screen. GraphCalc HD allows a much better look at graphing functions beyond the capabilities of our calculators. Educreations allows students to created annotated whiteboard lessons that can be given to other groups to teach them something or as an assessment on what they've learned.
Tool 8: Getting to Know the Tools

I am pretty familiar with the tools we are going to be provided, so there is very little information here that I would consider to be new. Although since the students will have to log in using their own credentials, it could be tough to integrate the netbooks into my activities if this process takes a long time.

My initial plan is to have the netbooks set up as a designated station for days they will be in use. Depending on the group activity, there will be a point in the day where students rotate to that station to record what they have learned or answer any questions I have. I will probably set the computers up on the side of the room for space reasons.

The iPads will be used as a station but also at times one will be given one to a group for recording data or watching something that integrates with the lesson. All the iPads will be tied to a single iTunes account so that I can quickly distribute the same apps to all of them. I am considering using this account with another teacher's iPad set so that if necessary one of us can use eight iPads for an activity instead of the four we are given.
Tool 7: Collaboration

Objective: Students will use proportional reasoning to calculate the height of unreachable objects around the school commons by measuring their real height, perceived height, and the object's perceived height.

Timeframe: September

Tools: Google Spreadsheet, Today's Meet

Students are presented with three tall objects from the commons: a column, roll down door, and a stair case. These are all items that are too tall to measure by hand. In the classroom the students record their heights using a measuring tape. In the commons, a student holds a ruler several feet away from the object and records a perceived height for this object. All the students in the group take turns standing next to the object and their perceived heights are measured as well. The numbers are used to calculate a real height for that object.

Students record data in a Google spreadsheet so they can see the results from other groups and other Algebra II classes. The calculations are compared with the original guesses. Today's Meet can be used before and after the experiment for students to compare their thoughts going to in to what actually happened. They can also discuss what problems they encountered and see if any other groups ran into the same issues and how everyone dealt with them.
Tool 6: Using Web Tools

I made use of Twitter and Today's Meet for this item. I already have a twitter account and using the service twitter feed you can link the article feed from your blog to your twitter account so that students or other colleagues that follow you can know when you've written something new. Here is an example of that:

So you could set up a class website have the students follow a twitter account that would tell them when new information (assignment, etc) was available.

I also made use of today's meet. It's a quick way to set up a discussion board if for example you are having students watch a video that you want them to comment on. Or if you were doing a group data collection activity, they could ask questions of one another about what might be going wrong or verify that everyone is on the right track. Here is a transcript from a sample today's meet.

Tool 5: Web 5.0?

I played around with xtranormal and adimoto. Since xtranormal requires that you pay to publish the project I cannot embed the results right here. Though I am using blogger to talk about my experience with these tools, so that counts as another one right?

I did find it interesting at how quickly xtranormal was able to take anything I typed and synthesize it into voice. I could see some students using this to produce instructional items if they didn't want to talk on camera. Though having to pay for results is a bit of a downer.

I did produce an animoto using some pictures of a sidewalk chalk activity I did this year. I suppose I could have the students produce one of these to show off their work but you have to pay for anything longer than 30 seconds.

Try our video maker at Animoto.
Tool 4: Google Apps

Sharing documents and creating forms with Google Apps is very trivial. I have used it in the past to collaborate on a Teacher U class that I am running this summer and it could be applied for making notes for team meetings or other curriculum projects during the summer when it's hard to get everyone together. Unfortunately, Google Apps is very clunky on iPads so with the students I will probably restrict its use to the netbooks. The forms seems like an interesting way to ask short response questions to an activity or gather information from different groups about errors they saw in an activity, things that went wrong, or interesting things they noted while we were working. I can also use it for feedback surveys to get a feel for how the students feel like their progressing at the end of a grading period for example.

It is definitely something I am going to look into for the fall. Math is always a challenge for this sort of thing as we don't have as many items that require long form writing, though spreadsheets could be handy.
Tool 3: Online Videos and Images

I enjoy making use of videos and images in the classroom as much as possible. I use YouTube and Vimeo the most. Vimeo has the advantage of being used by the kids without any special workarounds.

This video I've used before to introduce our discussion of exponential growth functions. They have financial, biological, and industrial applications that the kids relate to quite well. And this video always makes them gross out a little bit.

I shared this video with my Pre-Calculus students during our study of vectors. It's a great example of the resultant direction of a plane that wants to go forward up against wind that wants to push it sideways.

It is important to cite sources that you use in your lessons. It provides an opportunity to explore more from that author if the kids are interested in other things and it also sets an example for them that created work is not always free for the taking.

I have had a Dropbox account for years. I have it on my home and work computers and it makes creation easy because I never have to worry about where something is stored. It makes collaboration with other people very simple too through the use of shared folders. There is an iPad version that can allow for quick distribution of images/files to the student iPads.
Tool 2: Other Blogs and Comments
I paid a visit to a few of my fellow teacher's blogs and there are several blogs I visit on a regular basis for interesting ideas.

1 - Thoughts from A303
2 - 11 Tools Erin Johnston
3 - Kristina's 11 Tools
4 - Dan Meyer's Authors Choice
5 - Continuous Everywhere Differentiable Nowhere
6 - Action/Reaction

Often times teachers within a school will get stuck on the same ideas for years and years without considering alternatives or ways to iterate on what they have. By seeing what people in other parts of the country are doing you can stumble on all sorts of interesting things.

Dan Meyer inspired a standards based grading strategy that has been incredibly successful in my classroom that I am working on rolling out to more content areas at Northbrook. Sam Shah is a Calculus teacher from New York with a vast amount of resources. He recently made a post about Algebra boot camp in Calculus that mirror an idea I had for my Pre-Calculus students. Frank Noschese has a very interesting 180 Day Photo Project that I might implement next year, if I can remember to take a picture every day.

Sharing your thoughts is a great way to get feedback from other teachers who might show you some items you may not have thought of before.

A lot of the tools I use in my classroom have been inspired by these people, something I would not have gotten on my own.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tool 1: Get Started

This chronicles my journey through the 11 Tools training. Setting up this blog was very easy and took only a few minutes. I did not face any challenges with the process. I have a more established blog of the same name at that catalogs some of the things I have done in my classroom during the 2011-12 school year.

More to come after June 4th.