Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

Final Course Blog – Increasing traffic to your blog April 24, 2011

Filed under: blog,education,technology integration — msmathteachr1 @ 10:25 pm
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Methods I have used to increase traffic to my blog:

I have taken several steps to increase traffic to my blog. The items in red are those that I feel have been most successful, while those with an asterisk are those that are recent methods based on recommendations from others in the course.

  • Try to make the blog short enough that it doesn’t require too much of one’s time to read, while still informative and interesting
  • Use tags that best describe the post, and that will attract others from a Google Search. Check to see if it works!
  • Use Twitter to Tweet new posts in hopes that Twitter PLN will visit the site.*
    • I chose to rely more on twitter because I can see what others are tweeting, and I can see when/if my tweet about my blog is retweeted or mentioned.
  • Post links to Twitter on the blog
  • Send emails to friends, colleagues and others whom you feel my find the blog interesting and/or relevant*
    • I chose to notify friends and colleagues because many of them are not familiar with the extent that technology such as the iPod Touch can be used in the classroom. I want them to see some of my ideas, how much students enjoy using the iPods and hopefully get excited about using more technology in the classroom. Then, we can share ideas and all become better teachers by having more resources.
  • Use Ping-o-matic to send “ping” alerts to search engines that the blog has been updated. Be sure to return to the Ping-o-Matic site each time the blog is updated to send the “ping”. 
    • I had already signed up for Ping-o-matic, but I didn’t realize I had to return to the site each time I updated my blog.  I am interested in seeing how much site growth I have now that I am using the program correctly. *
  • Visit other blogs and leave comments referencing your own blog, example Classroom2.0
  • Use RSS feeds to allow others to get notification of your new posts, and to read your favorite posts without searching.*
    • I like having my own RSS feed reader that allows me to quickly keep up with my preferred blogs about education and technology integration. What I do not like is that some sites, such as my own, don’t allow you to use Bloglines. Some sites allow you to subscribe using Google Friends or save your RSS feed to a file on your internet server. I don’t like this as much, because I would like to have all my feeds in the same location. I am sure if I spend a lot of time looking for the process I may be able to convert the RSS to include Bloglines, so hopefully I will have time to do that in the near future.

Usefullness of blogging as an educator

        I believe this has been a very useful project for an educator. Initially I was very concerned about blogging, because I had fears of what others would think about my blog, and I was concerned that I may write something that would be frowned upon by my school system. Once I decided to only write about problem-solving with regards to apps, rather than school-system issues, I felt more comfortable. I also believe that the blogs I write can be helpful to someone new with using iPod touches in the classroom, specifically the middle school math classroom.

     What I have found most beneficial about the project are building my PLN and documenting what works and what doesn’t work for my own journal. This will help me improve as a teacher using technology, and help me problem-solve while using the technology. This is definitely a project that has allowed me to apply its use to my needs. I have built a website to organize thoughts, lesson plans, resources, and videos. It also allows me to tie that site into my blog offering me the possibility of more users as my website grows. (It is still in the building phase, although I do plan to continue this endeavor). I have come to feel more comfortable with Twitter, (I am following many- everchanging as I read the posts, and have over 100 following me). Through Twitter I have learned of technology PLNs that Tweet, sites they have, and conferences. For example, someone recently Tweeted me asking if I planned to attend the edcamp in Charlottesville this summer. I have never heard of it, or SlidetoLearn and others that I may now consider in the future. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn of all these new technology resources and know that I will continue to grow in my ability to integrate technology more effectively into my classroom. My goal for next year is to plan and carry-out an augmented reality lesson in my math classroom. I know this is something middle school students would enjoy.

Read this excellent blog post by Sue Walters of edublogger about s blog traffic!


Using Mouse Mischief as a way of engaging students in reviews for year-end tests. April 23, 2011

     I just learned about a new  classroom application that can be used to engage learners, and to act as a formative assessment to guide instruction. Mouse Mischief is a program that can be used with PowerPoint 2010. Essentially, a teacher would show a presentation to the students, and at certain points during the presentation ask the students to participate.  The teacher should include multiple choice questions, or just some type of question where students can reply by “pointing” with their own individualized (characters, shapes, bugs, etc) cursor by using a wireless mouse.  The program is very affordable, with the main expense being a wireless mouse for each participant. I am looking forward to trying this, but feel that with 25 students in a class it could get quite “busy” with all the cursors swarming around the screen. I may have to find a way to do this in smaller group instruction, but I am willing to try it once to see what happens with the full class.

     Another neat feature is that students can draw with the wireless mouse.  So, I could ask all of my students to draw their own heptagon on the screen and then students can compare and contrast each to determine which are correct. And, the students can feel comfortable because only the teacher knows which cursor belongs to which student. See it in action for yourself in the video below then visit the Mouse Mischief site for more information. Let me know if you have tried it, how you have used it, and if you feel it was helpful. Thanks!


GAMeSlab at RU offers good videos to help teachers new to using iPods in the classroom. April 22, 2011

What I like about the teaching profession is the collaboration among teachers, because we each have our own, creative ideas. As new teachers, the lack of immediate resources is one of the greatest struggles. When teachers work together, sharing ideas and pedagogy, we all become our best and the students benefit the most.

The GAMes lab at Radford University offers some good videos showing how some teachers are using iPods and iPad in the classroom. Twitter is another resource from some excellent ideas, if you have time to sort through the ideas. Another way of sharing and obtaining resources is through blogs by other educators and technology users. The most important thing is to be creative, reflect on your students’ behaviors and engagement, and build (and keep in contact with) your own PLN and PLC. All teachers need support, but especially new teachers need to know how to survive those first, most difficult years. I hope these suggestions help, especially when you are trying to incorporate technology into your classroom!


iPods, Games, SmartBoard, YouTube…but what about student accountability? April 20, 2011

Filed under: blog,education,math,middle school,technology integration — msmathteachr1 @ 3:17 am
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        This has been one of those weeks.

       Maybe it is because my students have spring fever with break right around the corner, and it is beautiful outside (some days…when the tornadoes take a break). But just maybe it is because I am focused on the year-end test that tells the teacher “gods” what kind of teacher I am. I consider myself a caring, empathetic, motivating teacher that truly wants to see my students each do their personal best on a daily basis. I realize the year-end test means more to me than it does to many of my students, but I also want them to view it as an accomplishment. If they pass the test, they can have pride in knowing their effort paid off. If they improve over last year, they can build self-confidence and realize they can be successful. But what about those students who really don’t care how they do on a test?  What about those students who say, “I like to go to summer school. That way I get lunch during the summer”. I cannot compete with meeting a student’s basic needs like food.

         It is good to motivate students!

       Teachers spend countless hours planning meaningful lessons incorporating music, videos, technology, cooperative learning and many other creative means of educating and entertaining. The majority of my students respond well, with excitement some days.  It is evident some of my students have made great strides in math progress this year and I try to hold on to those “happy spots” and help them also to recognize how their attitude and effort have helped them to make such improvements.  I love how many of my students stay after school for an extra 90-minutes of math tutoring twice a week to help get extra practice on past math concepts. They inspire me.

            But then I feel the tug of futility.

       It happens to many of us at some point. I have about 6 students in my classes who don’t care about learning, and I struggle with keeping positive while watching a student refuse to try. Is it because they don’t have food to eat? Is it because mom just went back to jail for the third time? Is it because they are living with family until their house is repaired after the tornado? Is it because they hate me? Is it because they hate math? They may not always like me, but I believe they know I care. They tell me I explain it and make things easier for them to understand and my class is fun sometimes. So, what? Is it because the student’s parents are in the process of getting divorced? Is it because the child lives with grandma and never gets to see mom or dad? Is it because the child has no friends? How can I compete with all of these surrounding, important, issues in a student’s life? How can I make them see this is an opportunity for them to have some control in one small part of their world?  

          What is the solution?

         I am still searching for the solution. I hope for some form of student and/or parent accountability for those cases where students can learn, but choose not to try. I focus on those students who do care. I network with an amazing PLN that offers suggestions, support, empathy, and just “listens”. I try to be a blessing in some way to each student, even if it isn’t in regards to learning math. This is why I became a middle school math teacher initially, and this is what I love about teaching. I can show students I care and help be a positive influence on them.  I will try to focus on this goal of “reaching each student”, realizing it may not mean they will succeed by reaching a mandated score on a year-end test. I hope that happens too, but really it is the student that is most important.

        A resource I enjoyed, and I think you will too:

                CoolCatTeacher had a wonderful blog this Monday that was very helpful in offering a renewal that I needed. Visit the blog and see if you, too, gain a lot from her great words. Thanks Vickie!


           Please comment and let me know how you deal with the year-end stress of tests, and how you motivate those hard-to-reach students! Thanks!


Making Math Movies- Pros and Cons April 18, 2011

My students worked so hard on their movies this week using the MacBooks, keynotes and lots of their own creativity and excitement. This was a wonderful thing to see! I have had some wonderful suggestions on how to reach students without internet access at home. Some of the ideas include making dvds for them to use with computer, dvd player or x-box. Wow! Great ideas…I didn’t realize you could play dvds in gaming systems. I tried making a sample dvd and it worked great, so my student developers and I were even more motivated once they saw a sample.

So, those are clearly “pros”. Now, I have a few “cons”. Unfortunately, students were not able to use the recorder option in keynotes to record their voices to their presentations. I am not sure if this is a bandwidth issue, since our school struggles with this issue. Now, because I have spent 3 class days making wonderful videos, I am planning to load them onto iPods for students without the voice recording. This can always be added later. I am going to hold off on the dvds in light of the glitch, which is upsetting because I really wanted those dvds out to families to use for SOL reviews. I will have to keep trying, and find a way to help my students find success with such a worthwhile project that they really enjoyed.


Keeping students and parents connected with technology April 7, 2011

I feel so inspired! I see my students in class watching videos re-teaching math concepts from earlier in the year to brush up on past skills, and they are engaged and learning. What a wonderful feeling! I am so proud of how hard my students work when they are in my classroom, and for middle school sometimes that is a lot to say. My concern…they are only in my classroom 50-minutes of the day. What happens when they leave and do not open their notes or complete homework until the next day, or worse over a long weekend? I have called parents, kept students after school, and tried to assign only 15-minutes of meaningful math homework. I am still looking for solutions to motivating these students, and would love suggestions. If you have tried a method to increase outside effort of students, please let me know.

Earlier this morning, I read a reply from Eric Biederbeck regarding “Flipping the Classroom” (http://msportal-2.ning.com/forum/topics/flipping-the-math-classroom?commentId=2593214%3AComment%3A50167&xg_source=msg_com_forum) where he recommends putting videos on dvd or cd-rom for students who do not have the ability to use iPods at home. I love this idea! I could even make sets of videos for year-end standardized test review (SOLs in Virginia). I also think this would be an excellent resource to help some parents feel more connected to what the students are learning about in math class. Thanks, Eric, for the great suggestion!

My students and I will be so busy making and viewing videos and I know this will be a great help in motivating some of them. I also love that this allows me to more easily differentiate by having students watch different videos depending on where a student may have a weakness. I do need to come up with something different for those students who do not have computer access at home. I do plan to call parents to see if the students could get to the public library, but I’m going to keep thinking…


Blogs about using iPod Touch in Middle School April 6, 2011

The internet and the world of blogging has made networking between educators much easier! We are so fortunate to live in a time where we can have advice of other teachers at the tip of our fingers, and a wealth of resources are available for those attempting to incorporate technology into the classroom. Here are just a few of the sites I prefer to follow for blogs related to educational technology, middle school math, iPod Touch, and teaching in a web 2.0 world.

Please feel free to contact me by comment if you would like to see your blog included in my list. Thanks to all fellow bloggers for your continued support and information you share with others every day!