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Buzz Math: Middle school math practice for proficiency

What it is:  Buzz Math is not a completely free to use tool, but they do have a free option that makes it worth checking out! Right now, you can subscribe one class for free for the school edition of Buzz Math.  Buzz Math is intended for students in Middle School math.  All of the activities are directly tied to Common Core Standards.  You can assign activities based on a specific standard for the whole class, or just assign the activity to individual students.  You get feedback immediately as students complete an activity so that you can plan instruction accordingly.  These are not your typical math site activities (online multiple choice).  Instead, each activity is a little different, highly engaging, and provides students with great feedback. Students can choose to do an activity of interest or complete the specific activities assigned by their teacher.  When students complete a set number of activities within a topic, a special mission is unlocked that is related to math history.  Students are challenged to help mathematicians to recover “lost” knowledge.  Students also have access to Buzzlab which connects the theme of the missions to the storyline. Each activity is made up of 10 pages of practice question that cover a specific concept to help students practice and improve their skills.  Activities include both direct practice and interactive components.  Students must complete an activity with 100% accuracy (mastery) before they can unlock a mission.  The mission that follows is a more challenging problem solving activity.  Students can get example problems with each activity to help them solve problems. I am really impressed with Buzz Math.  The entire program is really well thought out, great for students and teachers.  This is one I would pay for additional students/classes. How to integrate Buzz Math into the classroom: Buzz Math is ideal in a one to one or computer lab setting.  I love that you can tailor Buzz Math for an individual student.  Instead of just giving a whole class an activity/assignment (which you can also do), Buzz Math lets you choose which students to assign a standards based activity to.  Duh! I can’t believe more programs aren’t set up this way.  It makes sense to use technology to customize learning to the student this way.  There is no reason not to! Buzz Math would be great for in-class practice or for additional home practice.  Students can login to their individual account anywhere for anytime learning. Buzz Math could be used in the one or two computer classroom as a learning center.  Students can filter through the computer one at a time throughout the week so that each week each student gets the opportunity to login to their account. Tips: The teacher portal has a great breakdown of student progress including student session lengths, you can see exactly how long students practiced.  Detailed reports can be printed out for parents. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Buzz Math in  your classroom!

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Piktochart: Create your own infographics

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Technology, web tools, Websites | Posted on 09-10-2012

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What it is:  Piktochart is a great web app that makes it easy to create your own infographics.  Piktochart has free and premium options.  With the free version, there are a handful of themes to choose from.  Premium themes are also available, if you are so inclined.  After you choose a theme, the next job is to change the mood and edit the information on the chart.  Students can add shapes, graphics (uploaded), theme graphics, and text to the infographic.  Students can add a chart where they manually input data or upload a cvc file.  This is especially helpful if they have been data collecting in another program.   There are some features that are only available to pro users.  Not to worry, there are enough available for free that you can make a pretty rockin’ infographic that gets the point (or data) across.

How to integrate Piktochart into the classroom: Piktochart is a superb way for students to work on those statistics/probability standards.  Being a visual learner myself, I love the way that infographics seem to make data easier to digest.  Piktochart can be used to display any type of statistical or mathematical data in new ways.  Students can show what they are learning in history, about the world population (miniature earth), science, in the book they are reading, geography statistics, etc.

The way that infographics allow students to blend learning across the subject areas is fantastic.  It isn’t just math; it is math, and art, and science/social studies/history/geography/technology.  Any time we can help students recognize the overlaps that exist in learning and subject area, it is a win!

A few weeks ago, students at Anastasis discovered that America’s biggest export is trash. They started digging and found statistics about the amount of trash Americans throw away each day (7lbs/person) and how much was recycled vs. what ended up in a landfill.  They also looked at statistics of what receiving countries like China and India did with the waste being imported.  It was fascinating!  Students created infographics showing what they had discovered in their research.  It was eye-opening when they translated that trash per person into a year’s worth of trash and figured out how many football stadiums that it would fill.  When they could see it graphically, it had an impact on their thinking.  The result was: “it is up to us to change this…”

Pretty amazing when the conclusion to learning is transformation…change.

Tips: In the free version:  Basic themes, 5 image uploads, Piktochart’s watermark. Pro version ($29.00/mo): 80 themes (and growing), additional customization, more image uploads, no watermark.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Piktochart in your classroom.

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