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.
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:
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.
- 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!
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.
Tonight, as I sit here stuffed with turkey, sweet potatoes, and latkes, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that my oldest son, a college freshman, made it home for the holiday. I am thankful that both of my children are thriving in both their school and personal lives. I am thankful for my husband, who is a fabulous cook and made tonight’s celebration so special.
I am also thankful to work in a school where technology use is not treated as an add-on, but as an integral part of the learning environment. I recently presented at the California Math Conference in Palm Springs. I spoke with many educators who told me that their schools either didn’t have money for technology, technology implementation was not a priority, or that their administrators were not supportive. This saddens me for a couple of reasons. One, technology is a daily part of our students’ lives whether we like it or not. My opinion is that we teach them how to use what they already have access to in productive and safe way. Two, technology is an integral part of the Common Core Standards. Math Practice 5 states that students need to “use appropriate tools strategically.” There are also many mentions of using technology tools in the ELA standards to “use technology and digital media strategically and capably. In another post, I will talk more about the Habits of Mind, but for today, I am thankful.
I am thankful that my administrators not only tolerate my experimentation with different technologies, but fully supports it but activity seeking funding and support from the district and outside sources. In this vein, I will be using this blog to share with you some of the lessons and activities I use in my classroom. If you like what you hear, have suggestions or comments, please join the conversation. If no one reads this but me, I will have a chronicle of my journey.
OK. I’m done rambling. On Friday, I gave my students a performance task from
YummyMath.com the task was to create a shopping list for Leslie’ Pumpkin Pie. Sounds simple yes? But maybe not. first, students had to decide how many pies to make to feed 24 people. That included deciding how much pie each person would get. On group decided to make 12 pies, so that each guest could have 1/2 a pie and take home the left overs. Another group decided to cut each pie into 8 pieces and each person got one piece and that was it. Still another group decided on 6 pies, cut into 6 slices each (they wanted to be generous) which would give them some leftover pieces in case anyone wanted seconds. To create the shopping list, they had to figure out how much of each ingredient was needed and then what quantities each ingredient was sold in. Many students used the calculator on their phones to calculate the amounts, but others looked up the ingredients to see what sizes they came in. Others looked up information about pumpkin pies in general. What I loved about this assignment is that there is no “right” answer. As long as students could justify their information, they got credit. Every student was engaged, talking asking questions (and I was able to throw a few search strategies into the lesson.) and the best part is that I didn’t have to say “take out you devices”. They just did it and got to work.
I am so excited to be presenting at the California Mathematics Council South Fall Conference in Palm Springs, CA this weekend. I am passionate about the use of technology as a tool in the classroom and am looking forward to sharing some of the ways I use technology to engage students and connect with the Common Core. Here are links to my handouts. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. All of the materials below are full of links and resources.
BYOD: What’s in Their Pockets – handout
BYOD: What’s In Their Pockets – Presentation
iPad: Connecting to the Common Core – handout
Toady I am in my neighborhood, in Rancho Santa Margarita California, presenting at the the Orange County Computer Using Educators Conference. I am doing 2 presentations and here are the links:
I Have an iPad & I’m not Afraid to Use it….in class
- Classroom Management
- Activities & Apps
BYOD: What’s in their Pockets?
Edmodo is a closed social network designed specifically for teachers and students. I had tried a Google groups for whole class sharing and e-mailing, but it just wasn’t working the way I wanted. So this year I decided to try Edmodo. I first set up groups for each of my classes and then gave students the “group code” to join. I could have also posted or e-mailed a link for students, but I decided for ease of management, I would have them each join during class time. This process went very smoothly. I had student use their school email addresses and their user name had to be their real name. I believe that Edmodo is a safe environment for student to share ideas and ask questions because posts are only viewable to the students within the group. There is also a parent “group code” which gives parents access to the group, but I have not tried it yet. I have found that my students like using Edmodo. Student pots range from questions about homework to opinions and summaries of classwork and more often than not, another student will answer the question before I do. I also like the ability to post assignments and reminders to the whole class. It’s much easier than a group email or blog, like this one where I feel compelled to monitor comments. On Edmodo, student have to be logged in to comment, so I always know who has said what. Students also choose their own avatar, so it makes the posts more personal. Best of all, Edmodo can be accessed via computers, at home, and on iPods in the classroom.
So my first attempt at having the students create videos was fairly successful. I gave each pair of students an order of operations problem. They had 20 minutes to solve the problem then record themselves solving it. That part went ok, but I realized that some of the problems were significantly easier/ harder than others. I didn’t provide a rubic because it was a first attempt and I just wanted to see how it went. The recording went well, but going forward, I need to tell students to just keep going regardless of the interruptions, including ringing bells and students walking by. The videos were then uploaded to an assignment in Edmodo. The students with iPods and iPhones had no trouble except for slow upload speeds. When I staggered the uploads and let the devices sit for a while, everyone was able to get their videos uploaded. The students that used there regular phones had more trouble. The fires were too big to email. Some were able to download the video to a computer and upload from there, but there were still problems.
My one negative to Edmodo Assignments is that no one can see the videos but me. Also, if I tried to view them on a computer, I had To download each one. If I viewed within the Edmodo app on the iPad, I could watch them all easily. Here are some examples: