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Custom Guide

  What it is:  Custom Guide is a website that offers free quick reference cheat sheets for using technology (operating systems and applications).  The guides are two sided and remind me of Cliff Notes.  Custom Guide allows you unlimited distribution rights and they make great support handouts. References include: Microsoft Access, Excel, FrontPage, Internet Explorer, InfoPath, Office, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, SharePoint, Visio, Windows, Appleworks, Mac OS, Entourage, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Photoshop, Elements, and Firefox.   My one problem with Custom Guide is that it is REALLY outdated for Mac guides.  I suppose that for some schools this would be okay since it can take a while to adopt newer technology and some of us are working with dinosaur computers and software, but for me it is no good.  Custom Guide also offers free online learning with interactive tutorials and you can even create your own custom courses.   How to integrate Custom Guide into the classroom:  Custom Guide would be very useful for the computer lab setting.  Print out and laminate the most used applications and operating system sheets.  Bind with a single ring and keep next to each computer.  As students have questions or issues, they can consult their cheat sheets for the answers first.  This is also nice for non-computer teachers who are using the computer labs or classroom computers with students.  The cheat sheets give them an added level knowledge quickly and easily.  If you are a computer teacher or a teacher who is known for using technology in your classroom, you undoubtedly get frequent questions about how to use applications from your colleagues.  I don’t always have time to sit down and give mini lessons, having these cheat sheets on hand could be a big help for those times.     Tips: Even though the Mac Custom Guides are a bit outdated, the guides they do have are very handy.  When you sign up for a free account, you can ask for updates to be sent to you when they add a new guide.  In the mean time, Apple has some great support guides for their products.   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Custom Guide in your classroom.

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

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Create, Download, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2013

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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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