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Replacing the Friday folder with a podcast: Voxie Pro Recorder

When you change the way that teaching/learning happens in a classroom or a school, you quickly discover that additional changes are needed to support it.  We have been in the process of learning ALL of those things that are affected by changing the classroom model.  At Anastasis Academy, we are largely paperless.  Our students still write with paper pencil, create posters and projects, but much of their work is done in Evernote, iMovie, Stop Motion HD, Pages, Keynote, and Notes on their iPads.  When you take away worksheets, traditional quizzes and tests from the classroom, there isn’t a whole lot to send home as a “Friday folder.” As teachers, we were pretty comfortable with not having a Friday folder.  We were seeing all of the incredible evidences of learning that the students were creating.  The problem: parents aren’t always seeing those same evidences.  Either the parents aren’t sure where to look, kids are feeling tight lipped or blogs aren’t subscribed to properly or read regularly.  We were hearing often from parents, ‘I know that they are progressing, I know that amazing things are happening, but I’m not quite sure how to prove it to myself.  I’m not sure where to look.’  Because we also don’t give homework, parents can’t use that as a gauge of what kids are doing in the classroom.  So, we needed a solution.  One day while @Matthewquigley and I were rehashing and wracking our brains for the best way to do this without taxing our teachers to the point of burnout, @Matthewquigley had a stroke of pure genius.  “What if we did something like a podcast Friday folder?” Brilliant! The more we thought about it, the more we liked audio as a solution.  @Matthewquigley and I can walk into a classroom at any given moment and ask students and teachers what they are observing/inferring/learning/noticing and they can give you a great answer.  It is easy to talk about students and to tell those great stories about a student that often get forgotten before parent-teacher conferences.  It is equally easy to talk about the work you are doing in class, when you are still in class where one project isn’t lost among the plethora of activities and learning that happened in the day/week. We went full steam ahead with this idea.  First, I looked at audio recording apps for the teacher iPads.  I wanted something that would be easy to use, give us the ability to categorize, easily sync over wifi, and email the audio recording to parents and admin.  The clear winner was Voxie Pro.  It was simple enough to do everything we needed, without too many extra bells and whistles to distract. Here is what we did: Length- 30 seconds to 1:30 per student Frequency- every other week Purpose: to help communicate the progress that students are making, to collect an audio body of evidence that helps tell the story of student growth, to aid in the building of the digital portfolio. Teacher should include: what has been observed, noticed, inferred Topics: Social/emotional, spiritual, academic Student should include:  Something they are proud of, want to share and where parent can find it in pictures, Evernote, iMovie, the interwebs, etc. Student could read a few sentences to show progress in skills, explain Bible verse they discussed that week, re-tell a story, explain a new concept, etc. Teacher Template Student:___________________ Week: _____________________ What I noticed/observed/inferred: Spiritually:_____________________ Academically:____________________ Socially/Emotionally:___________________ Student Template A project/blog post/discussion that I want to share/am proud of: _________________________ My parents can learn more about it here:________________________________________ The first wave of these audio emails went out today.  They turned out great! Parents know exactly what is happening in the classroom as it pertains to their child and kids are sharing work that they are proud of and reminding themselves (and mom and dad) where they can find it.  Not only do parents have a great bi-weekly update specific to their child, they have a timeline of learning and progress at the end of the year.  Imagine the implication of starting a program like this in kindergarten, and following the student all the way through middle school.  You would have a week-by-week of what was learned, what strengths and weaknesses were exhibited, but also have that precious student voice throughout the years. What I like about the audio Friday folder, is the ability to say more about a child than a worksheet with a star at the top can.  With the audio, you can communicate things about the development of a child.  Their progress in math when they struggled and struggled, but stuck with it to the end.  Their empathy for other students when they notice another student who is lonely in the lunch room and get up and invite their friends to sit with that student.  Their maturation as they handle a conflict with another student appropriately.  I especially love that students can highlight a project(s) that they are particularly proud of and help mom and dad find it.  That is a dinner conversation starter!  With any luck, we will forever banish the “what did you do at school today?” question.  In it’s place, “I’m really proud of you for sticking with that math when it was so difficult, what was it that you were working on?  How did you finally solve it?” Awesome.

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Media 4 Math: Math in the News

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 10-12-2012

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What it is: Media 4 Math: Math in the News helps students view current events through the “prism of mathematics.”  Every week features a new story that makes headlines and the underlying mathematical story gets extracted.  The Math in the News site is a little bit confusing to navigate at first (it isn’t really clear where to find each issue of Math in the News).  Scroll down to see an archive of stories.  Each entry has a Slideshare version of the presentation, a YouTube version or the Math in the News app version.  These presentations are full lessons with embedded background knowledge articles and videos, data  sets, current event explanations and a walk through of how to solve.

In addition to Math in the News, Media 4 Math also has Math Tutorials, Promethean Flipcharts, Powerpoint slideshows, Math Labs, Print Resources, a Video Gallery, Math Solvers and more.  I really like the Math Solvers, students can choose a problem type, input their own data and see a breakdown of how to solve the problem.  The Math Labs include PDF worksheets and YouTube Videos that lead them through real-math problem sets.

How to integrate Media 4 Math: Math in the News into the classroom: Media 4 Math: Math in the News is a fantastic way to help your students make the connection between the upper-level math they are learning and life. I’m fairly certain that every math teacher in history has heard “what are we ever going to use this for?”  This site helps students not only see that math is everywhere, but also walks them through how to think mathematically.  There are plenty of resources that walk students through common mathematical functions.  This site is a great supplement to any math curriculum!

With new content weekly, your curriculum will be fresh and relevant!  Share Math in the News using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, as a math center on classroom computers, individually with laptops or iPads, etc.   Flip your math class and have students explore a Math Tutorial to prepare them for the next day of learning.  Then they can test a few scenarios in Math Solvers and come up with their own explanation of the concept.  In class, students can work with you to solidify and practice the learning.

Tips: Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to have Math in the News delivered right to your inbox.  Do you have a classroom iPad?  Math in the News now has an app!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Math in the News in your classroom.

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