Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

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!


On the horizon… The Horizon Report – 2011 February 17, 2011

  Horizon Reports tell of emerging technologies and when they are likely to impact teaching and learning. Much of the report focuses on the impact of emerging technologies on higher education, but it is easy to see the advantages of these practices in any educational setting. For example, electronic books could eventually be used in any educational setting, allowing students to highlight and take notes in their e-book making it a much more personalized learning tool. I am really intrigued by the thought of augmented books, whereby using goggles a reader is joined by 3D characters from the book. Sounds a bit like Where the Wild Things Are, which could be really cool or really scary.  Mobiles offer teachers another tool for assessing students, and do so in a more interesting manner offering immediate results the teacher can share with the class using social networks or polling sites.  The top trends included in this report are: mobiles, electronic books, augmented reality, game-based learning, gesture-based computing, and learning analytics.

  I am especially interested in game-based learning because for years research has shown the importance of kinesthetic learning in our youth, and teachers are well aware we need to make learning engaging for our students. Games of all types have proven to be a very effective learning medium for schoolers. I appreciate the authors of the report including all types of games and not simply electronic devices. “The greatest potential of games for learning lies in their ability to foster collaboration, problem-solving and procedural thinking”, but games offer two other great benefits in my classroom. They are a formative assessment tool to assist me in guiding my students through learning a concept or skill, and games offer an excellent means of differentiation.

  Educational games have come a long way since James Gee depicted the correlation between game-based learning and cognitive development. I see a spark in my students when they play games in class because they give their full attention to the game, they show a desire to compete and make improvements in their scores, and often they can collaborate with their peers. As noted in the report, games are appealing to both genders, they offer “the feeling of working toward a goal; the possibility of attaining spectacular successes; the ability to problem-solve, collaborate with others, and socialize”.  The report also foretells of the massively multiplayer online games (MMO) designed for learning. I don’t see the direct application of this type of game in the math classroom. Although, one year ago I didn’t see the usefulness of iPod apps in the classroom either and they have proven to be very effective. Games are innovative, innately motivating, encourage students to reflect on their own learning in order to make improvements and find greater success. I am very interested to see the way gaming changes in the near future.  One trend I enjoy that has already begun with games is gesture-based computing. Some of the best apps are those that require students to tilt the iPod, shake it, or write on it. Wii and Microsoft Kinect allow users to improve coordination, increase overall movement, and have fun playing a game that uses the player’s own body as a gaming device. I can’t wait to see what’s next!



Making Integers Fun! February 9, 2011

  It was really great using the i-Pod Touch in class today to give students an opportunity for instant feedback when working with integers. One of the apps (Signed…Lite) gives various levels of quizzes offering excellent differentiation and immediate feedback for the students and the teacher. Other games like Pearl Diver and Zeroes offer learning in a fun game so students hardly realize they are learning. But, they really want to make the high score board so they do their best. This is great. I hope one day I can have the opportunity to see how apps are made.