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Math Class Needs a Makeover: videos, inquiry, math stories and more

  What it is:  I’ve had the great fortune of time to go through my Google Reader favorites this week as I prepare for the shutdown (still bitter about that!).  The unexpected benefit I’ve had from Google Reader’s demise? The forced opportunity to go back through and be reminded of some of the truly amazing people and resources in education.  Dan Meyer is one of my all time favorite math geniuses.  He reminds us that math is more than computation, it is a frame of mind and an outlook on the world.  If your math program isn’t that…it is time to change!  As I went back through the resources of Dan’s that I had tagged, I re-watched his TEDx Talk: Math Class Needs a Makeover.  If you haven’t seen this TED Talk, or haven’t watched it in a while…now is the time.  I’ve embedded the talk above for your viewing pleasure…you don’t even have to go anywhere!  If you have watched it recently, be a friend and share it with someone else. Dan also has some other really useful mathspiration.  His blog, dy/dan, is a source of math prompts and discussions that will have you thinking beyond computation. 101Questions is a project that encourages students to think about math through photo prompts and inquiry.  Graphing Stories is STINKING fantastic, Dan offers a printout for your students, they can then watch any video and graph the story.  AWESOME describes this resource. Three Act Math is a curricula that Dan developed, click on the links within the doc to get to the resources.  Again…AWESOME. Geometry curricula offers you Dan’s handouts, pdfs, powerpoint and keynote presentations.  Algebra curricula offers the same. THANK YOU Dan for sharing your passion for mathematics, your inspiration for those of us who aren’t as naturally inclined to geek out about math, and for your openness of resources. How to integrate Dan Meyer’s awesomeness into the classroom:  Dan makes it really easy for you to integrate his methods into your classroom.  Everything you need from inspiration, to mathematical story sets, to curricula materials is available.  If you teach math, the obvious place to start is with the type of math that you teach.  Dan’s resources are mostly intended for high school students use.  However, as I looked through his resources again, I think they could be appropriate for students in elementary school as well. 101Questions is a great way to have your kids enter an inquiry mindset as they approach math.  These are photos that ask your students what the first thing that comes to mind is.  Students can type in their answer and get a new prompt.  These would be a great way to start your class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Have your class inquire and come up with questions together.  Students can also do this as an independent activity and then share their questions with other students. Graphing Stories speaks for itself.  Again, it is geared toward secondary students, but I think that given enough support, primary students would really enjoy engaging math this way too.  (Sometimes we don’t give students enough credit for where an interest can take their thinking.  Case in point: Anastasis 2nd and 3rd graders who know Fibonacci inside and out. Normally you wouldn’t see the concept until high school or later.) The Three Act Math is also a favorite of mine.  Use Dan’s three acts, or use his as inspiration for creating your own! Dan’s resources hit on every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy…that alone is good reason to stop reading this and go on your own exploration! Tips: Dan is great to follow on Twitter...a constant stream of 140 character mathspiration! How are you using Dan Meyer’s Awesome in your classroom?  Leave a comment below!

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The Answer Pad: BYOD Student Response System

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Classroom Management, collaboration, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-04-2013

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What it is: The Answer Pad is a student response system…only better!  What makes it better?  The ability for use with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classrooms and the ability to collect student responses outside of your typical, limited multiple choice answers that most student response systems are limited to.  The Answer Pad is really made up of two parts.  1. The student response piece that lets students go interactive with outstanding drawing features.  2. The answer sheets that score and capture data from existing paper exams including full online reporting, the ability for students to show their work, and a variety of question types. The Answer Pad is available for the iPad, Android or from any web browser.  Download the TAPit Free app for the iPad!

The free version of The Answer Pad is pretty robust for teachers and students.  Premium features are available at a reasonable price that take it to the next level.

How to integrate The Answer Pad into the classroom: The Answer Pad is a really useful addition to the formative assessment puzzle.  I LOVE that it doesn’t limit teachers to gathering low-level data in the format of multiple choice answer (although this feature is available for those times when you want to check for entry level understanding).  The Answer Pad lets students draw and type out answers, making the feedback they give to you during a lesson that much more valuable.  The fact that it isn’t limited to the basics is GREAT!  Imagine a math lesson where students are able to actually show and demonstrate their understanding (not just their amazing guessing skills).  The instantaneous feedback is wonderful for adjusting lessons and providing more individualized instruction based on what you are seeing.

In addition to collecting more valuable math feedback, The Answer Pad also gives you valuable feedback for any subject, a blank template lets students free write/draw their understanding.  This might even be a great way for students to take notes during learning, you can give your students feedback on their note taking during a lesson.  I am always amazed when I look at student notes, some of our students really don’t know what is important enough to write down and how to organize themselves best for later reference.  Using the free draw in The Answer Pad would give you good insight into a student’s thinking process and help you to guide and direct them appropriately.

The reporting feature is also really helpful, being able to look not only at student answers, but also at the written work that led to the answer is SO valuable.  This embedded feature makes Answer Pad more than just a self-grading platform, this is feedback and data that you can really use to drive instruction.

Tips:  Premium features include: custom frameworks for scoring tests, ability to bundle assessments together for side-by-side comparison and reporting, advance functions for test scenarios, an additional drawing palette for the Go Interactive portion, support by phone, and access to black-line template library.

Thank you to @dkapuler for introducing me to The Answer Pad!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  The Answer Pad in your classroom.

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