Where Math, Technology & the Common Core Collide

Students Create Videos

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 11.53.42 AMPercent Applications are part of the CCSS Math 7 standards. They are critical for real-life. So I asked my students to work in groups to create instructional videos. Their job was to create a video which explained the importance of the concept and directions on how to solve problems involving percents. I gave them the freedom to use any app, but I recommended Teach Me by Knowmia. Teach Me allows you to create a series of slides and each slide can be annotated as it is being recorded. Unlike some other video creation apps I’ve used, if a student messes up on a slide, just that one slide can be rerecorded. You do not need to start the entire recording from scratch. Students can draw on the slides, import images and copy and paste text. Students can also add images during the recording process using saves “props”. There are enough tools to make the videos interesting, but not too many to be distracting.

For the story boarding, I had students create a Google Presentations. Unfortunately, at this time this must be done on a computer, not a mobile device, but using Google allowed all students in the group to work on the storyboard at the same time. Next time I do this project, I will provide more instruction on the usefulness of the Google comments feature. This would be a great place to write out the script, instead of creating a separate document.

Over all, I was pleased with the results. In the future however, I’d like to have the students peer review the videos before I publish them. Some mistakes and “unclarities” were discovered after I published them. Groups using Teach Me could easily have corrected these problems if they had come to light earlier. One of the limitations of Teach Me is the inability to include live action. Therefore, some of my groups chose to use iMovie instead. Here is a link to the videos. As part of the unit, students: 1) Peer evaluated the videos of clarity and quality of instruction; and 2) Used the videos to take notes on the various topics.

Another limitation of Teach Me is that the videos are deleted after about a month. However, you can download them on a computer. Teach Me does provide embed code and a link for sharing, but I think it will be easier to download them to my computer and then share them via Vimeo. I know that the pro-version allows you to save directly to YouTube and your camera roll. Also, I created 1 class account and gave students the password. That way, All of the videos were in one place.

Here is a link to the Selling Percents – Video Project and the videos. Please let me know what you think and how this or a similar lesson has worked for you.

Posted by on May 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

DEN Virtual Conference 2014

What a great day to network and get ideas! I am always learning new things and now I really want to create a lesson on Discovery Board Builder. I’ll let you know what I “discover!”


Posted by on April 26, 2014 at 11:59 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The True Meaning of BYOD

Today we had our Renaissance “awards” assemblies. They are huge multi-media extravaganzas with a “march in” by our “card holders” (those who have earned all A’s & B’s), confetti (I’m still shaking it out of my hair) and performances. During one song, students whipped out their cell phones and turned on the light to show their appreciation. Some even had the lighter app and they were teaching each other how to use it. Speaking of authentic! I just had to smile.


Posted by on April 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm and tagged  | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

CUE – Day 1

It’s great to be back in Palm Springs at the annual CUE Conference. I just love the energy! When I first came to CUE, I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t get enough. I attended session after session, gathering tons of ideas, many of which revolved around software and hardware solutions. 20+ years later! I am still excited about gathering new ideas! but it’ sales about the solution now! and more about the people. Today I attended a wonderful session by Kristy Andre. She talked about some tools that she uses to promote the 4 Cs I her classroom. One of the tools she talked about were QR Code, a tool I have used quite a bit. But holly shared a creation site, QRstuff.com which I had never heard of. She ended her session with a raffle based on QR Codes randomly distributed to participants. I love this idea and I’m going to use instead of raffle tickets at my school’s next Coffee Chat.

I also listened to Dan Meyer talk about building perplexity in the classroom. I’ve always tried to do this, but never had it articulated quite this way before. In fact, I used one of his videos, Nana’s Chocolate Milk, a couple of weeks ago to get students thinking about ratios. The video situation stimulated a lot of great conversations and I never had to say, “today we are going to talk about ratios.” I know that I need to chew on this concept of “perplexity” further.

Finally, I got to try out Google Glass at dinner tonight. I must admit that I was skeptical based on what I’d heard on the news, but I must admit, they were very cool. I was able to take a short video, hands free. Google Glass also has navigation, GOOGLE search, and facial recognition. Maybe Google Glass could help me recognize those high school and college students who come back to visit!

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Posted by on March 20, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

QR Codes at the Parent Meeting

Question: How do you get parents to buy in to BYOD? How do you communicate what’s happening in the classroom? Answer: (one of them) Involve parents in a BYOD activity! So that’s what we did. On the first Friday morning of the month, our school hosts a Coffee Chat for parents. We provide coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, and an interactive activity. For the month of march, I planned a QR Code scavenger Hunt for parents. The questions were simple. For example: When was Our school dedicated? The code linked to a page on our school web site. Also: What do involved parents check weekly? – linked to our school’s online grades portal. To create the codes I used QR Encoder for the MAC.

In anticipation of parents not having their own devices, I borrowed class sets of iPods and iPad Minis from several teachers and had students “check them out” to the parents. Then check out process involved trading a driver’s license, keys or a shoe for a device. We also helped parents download QR Code readers on their own devices. Many of our parents had seen QR Codes before, but had no idea what they were used for. The meeting was a huge success! I was fun for the parents, informative and super easy to plan. The parents would like another BYOD activity of the next Coffee Chat. Any suggestions?

Posted by on March 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Tracking their Mushers


And just in time. The Iditarod kicked off with the ceremonial start on March 1st and so e of my students logged on to watch via Live Steam, which is only available to Iditarod Insiders. ThNks to the Mede PTSA, we have a class subscription. Some students posted on Edmodo as their favorite musher left the start line. On Sunday, the official start was supposed to be available via live stream, but my understanding is that the Iditarod site got compromised. It was fun chatting with students in real time over the weekend regarding the race. We used Edmodo and Cel.ly.

Now it’s Monday morning and the minute my students hit the room, they turned on their devices to check on the progress of their favorite musher. There is so much data available, that it is hard to see on their phones. Once they have updated their tracer sheet and moved their musher along the “race track” circling our room, they are watching videos, reading blog posts and discussing what they are seeing. I only have 1 iPad per group of 5, however this limitation is forcing them to collaborate and communicate.


Posted by on March 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm and tagged  | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Getting Ready for the Race

The Iditarod is now only two days away and were busily preparing for it in class. Students have made blankets to send for the drop dogs, and calculated the cost of material and how much material I needed to buy. Each group has a selected a masher to follow during the race and using a shared Google doc created a poster to promote their musher. A group of students is now creating a race track which will wind all the way around the room indicating the miles between each checkpoint. Students of looked at data from the 2014 brace and calculated rates, ratios and percents. Here isa link to the Google presentation I have created to use as Daily Bell work. Many of the problems came from the teacher on the trail blog, others are my own creation. The content of the Iditarod ties in perfectly with our current unit: Ratios and Proportional Reasoning. The Iditarod race is a perfect catalyst. My students are fully engaged. Once the race begins, students will track their favorite musher using a tracking sheet and their mini sled will be moved around the room on our mini race path.

I have only begun to scratch the surface in regards to a unit on the Iditarod. Next year, I’d like to involve my entire seventh grade team in this engaging unit of study. During Language arts classes, students could read books about the Iditarod race. Life science includes the topic of genetics. Students could investigate the genetic involved in dogsled racing. Heat transfer is also another great topic for science as the mushers and dogs need to keep warm along the trail. The race is run in commemoration of a diphtheria outbreak in Nome Alaska. It took a team of dog sled team to get the medicine to Nome in order to save many lives. Social studies classes could look at the effects disease has on civilizations. Physical education could Focus on aspects of training, perseverance and more. The Iditarod is such a broad topic with so many facets. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what I can do in my classroom.

Posted by on February 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

BYOD Presentation

This past weekend, I presented at the Orange County Computer Using Educators Conference in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca. It’s great presenting in my own back yard! We talked about which devices students are bringing, bandwidth, and what to do if students don’t have a device. I also shared some lessons I have used with students. One of the easiest activities to both set up and run is a QR Code Scavenger Hunt. Here is an example of one I put together for Math 7 – Writing Equations. Students work with a partner to scan the code, write the equation and solve the problem. All I did was create codes for an old worksheet I had. This was a lot more fun, both for me and the students. With a class size of 40, it is hard to get around to everyone, but this activity allowed be to touch base with every student. Here are some other student samples:

  photo 2  photo 3  photo 1

Posted by on February 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finding the Hook

iditarod-logo   As teachers, we are always looking for the hook. That one idea that will grab students imaginations and  motivate them to dive in. Thanks to an article I read about how Sandy Overholt, a teacher in Mansfield Ohio, I found my hook. Sandy uses the Iditarod, also known as The Last Great Race , as a focal point for building lessons and engaging her students. After looking at the Iditarod website and seeing all of the great lesson ideas and resources, I am inspired! As a math teacher, I naturally have to teach math concepts, but usign the Iditarod will be fun to incorporate history, geography, science and language arts into the math classroom. Common Core is all about making connections, making learning meaningful, and helping students develop life long skills. I’ve always been fascinated by this race and I think my students will be too.

Activity #1: To introduce the topic, my students will complete a timed a web search on the word Iditarod. Working in teams with mobile devices, students will research the word Iditarod and enter their findings into a Google form. This form will be linked to a Google spreadsheet which will be projected as students are working. In this way, student can see other groups’ findings and be motivated to look for new information. Students will have 15 minutes to find out as much about the Iditarod as possible.

Activity #2: From this basic information students will then develop questions based on the four levels of knowledge about the Iditarod. These questions will then be the springboard for the entire unit.

Other Activities:

  • Mapping the course including calculating distances between checkpoints along both routes
  • Using scale factors draw the course for a bulletin board
  • Making blankets for the sled dogs (Philanthropy project)
  • Having groups of students work together to champion a musher and his/ her sled dog team
  • Research a particular musher and write a short biography. Students could include QR codes to link to the information they have compiled and to the musher’s website
  • Follow the blogs of one or more mushers
  • Use Iditarod themed math problems from the Iditarod teacher resource pages
  • ?????

I still have two weeks of vacation left, so let’s see if I can turn this idea into reality for my students. Now I just need a little money for the Ultimate Insider subscription, fleece material for dog blankets and a location for an Iditarod watching party on March 1st. Check back and I’ll post my (and my students’) progress along with links to my lesssons.

Suggestions and comments are always welcome!

Posted by on December 31, 2013 at 12:41 pm and tagged , ,  | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

QR Codes in Math

Today my students went on a QR Code Hunt. Instead of completing a set of practice problems on a worksheet, they worked with a partner to scan the codes and solve the equations as quickly as possible. I checked the answer after they completed each problem and teams could not go on to scan the next problem until they had the correct solution and supporting justification. Attached is the lesson: QR Hunt Equations2 I used QREnCoderPro (Mac) to type in the text and generate the codes. I saved the codes as .png files then dropped them into a Word Document.

photo 2  scanning the codephoto 3 photo  photo 1


Posted by on December 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink