Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

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!

 

A lonely student with hearing loss needed a friend. My student’s best friend today was an iPod :) April 22, 2011

Our school does an excellent job of trying to provide positive reinforcement opportunities for each child. In middle school, this is not always an easy task. One thing that we do is give coupons to students who have made good behavior choices during a certain timeframe. This time our coupons provided students with the opportunity to wear a hat, or sit with a friend at lunch.

One of my sweet students, whom I will call Brian, is totally deaf and has Asperger’s. He can be a neat kid, who adds a lot to our classroom. He is the only student with hearing loss in seventh grade, although there are several other students with hearing loss at our school. During lunch, he typically sits by himself and eats his same lunch in the same order each day. He likes it this way. Routine makes him comfortable, although many of our hearing students don’t understand this. They, enjoying time with him and wanting to help Brian feel included, ask to sit with him and write on a dry-erase board or paper to talk with him during lunch. We usually agree to let them try, but it doesn’t take long before the other student learns Brian would rather sit quietly.

Upon being praised for excellent behavior this quarter, Brian was offered a coupon and he chose a sit with a friend pass. In my less than stellar signing ability I asked if he had a friend he wanted to sit with during lunch to use his pass. He said no, he just wanted to sit and eat. Knowing how big he smiles when we use the iPod Touch in math class, I asked him if he would like to take it to lunch the next day.  It was a no-brainer! He smiled and said yes.

Today, he quickly ate his bag lunch as usual, but then with excitement reached for the iPod. I am now thinking of utilizing the iPod as a lunch buddy for Brian on special occassions. I am excited about looking for an app that teachers sign language (I know I have seen one before) and loading it on to the iPod. Then, some students can learn some signs in order to be able to have small conversations with Brian. Then, when he gets an “eat lunch with a friend” pass, he can use the iPod and another student can play apps with him and sign as well, after having learned some sign language.

I just wanted to share this story because we all know how iPods can help keep students engaged, it can differentiate instruction, and make learning fun. Now, it can help students build relationships by learning to communicate and can be a “friend” to a student in need.

 

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…

 

Using Keynotes to Make Movies April 5, 2011

My students really enjoy watching video tutorials of past concepts as a way of reminding themselves of a skill. They would much rather watch a video on their own, then read a review page or ask the teacher a question. What is even better is when some of their classmates created the video that they are going to watch. The students are not in the video, but their voices narrate the keynote presentation for their classmates to view and listen to either on the iPod Touch or on the MacBook.

Try this out for your class and see how much the students enjoy learning from each other. Have two students work together to make a keynote presentation as they would normally make a Powerpoint. Then, follow these easy steps:

1. Select Play – Record Slideshow    Students record their narration and simply hit the down arrow when they are ready to move to the next slide. At the end, they hit ESC to end the narration. Be sure they save after re-checking their work.

2. Export the Keynote either as a QuickTime video or to the iPod as a movie.

3. It’s as easy as that. You students will love getting out their earbuds and listening to a review and learning from their classmates. They will then want to get a good grade on the next quiz so they can record a lesson for someone else.

It’s really exciting to watch students making and viewing these videos!

Try it out, and let me know how it goes!!

 

Favorite Uses for iPods in Education March 31, 2011

  I feel like this past week everything fell in place with the iPods. My students are very comfortable with ScribbleLite (which I believe is fabulous), and are getting much better with using the iPod as a response tool. They would much rather draw a function table in ScribbleLite and save it as a photo for their friends to solve, than do a worksheet or even Powerpoint. They enjoy the device, but they really appreciate how it can be used as an interactive tool.

  Some other students appreciated being able to listen to a video to remind themselves of a past concept in math class. One student replayed a portion of it several times, which I really enjoyed seeing.  I don’t believe that student would have asked me to repeat myself if I taught the concept in front of class, but because I was on video he could pause and rewind at his leisure. Flashcards are great for individual studying or review of concepts, and of course many apps provide needed practice of skills.

  So, the students enjoy them, I enjoy them, and they are being kept very busy these days. I’m always open to new ideas, so if you have any suggestions for uses in a middle school math classroom let me and others know! Thanks!

 

Trial and Error with Flashcard Apps March 25, 2011

After finding several great flashcards for my students to use on Quizlet.com, I loaded Flashcardlet App to the student iPods. They already have gFlash+ for as a flashcard app, but it wouldn’t allow access to Quizlet. I really like Flashcardlet because it allows me to have students go directly to Quizlet and save the flashcards to their personal iPod library. It worked great when I did it during planning and before school.

Of course, things are not as easy as they seem. My students had the iPods in hand and when they selected the Flashcardlet app it started to open, and then immediately shut down. It never opened. I struggle with keeping momentum when I spend so much time planning, finding flashcards, finding apps, loading apps, and then this happens. I will have to find another app that may work better.

We ended up still using some other apps to practice integers, function tables and proportions, so it still ended up that students enjoyed learning with the iPods. I enjoy seeing them use them and will just need to try things a few days in advance just in case something should go wrong.

 

Flashcards on Touches March 24, 2011

This sounds easier than it is (for me at least). I was so excited to see Quizlet where there are many sets of ready-made flashcards, or the ability to make your own flashcards. They are not what I would call “user-friendly” when it comes to exporting the flashcards. I searched on the web to find how to get these great cards onto my students’ iPods and found several apps. Unfortunately, the best one was free earlier in the month but is now $4.99. We are not allowed to purchase apps so I am trying to find another route. We do have gflashcards on the iPods, but as far as I can tell students need to download the cards themselves, which means a lot of downtime in my classroom.

If anyone knows how to get these great study tools on the touches, without having to do it individually, please let me know. I know I saw someone’s tweet earlier about it. I will go back and look, but please let me know if you have a suggestion. I feel like the flashcards are just telling me “catch me if you can” because they are just out of reach of being extremely helpful in my classroom.

Flashcards