Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

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.


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.



Probability March 5, 2011

I am so excited about beginning our upcoming unit on Probability. I will definitely need to invest some time looking for apps related to probability and/or the fundamental counting principle. I plan on asking for help with this in a tweet. I am curious to see if anyone (outside of our master’s cohort) responds. I always wonder if anyone reads my tweets.

I did find some great flashcards of probability terms that I can load onto the iPods.  Many are available at quizlet.com! I am also excited about having my students play some online games and use various interactive websites for this unit. I always plan for my students to explore probability using manipulatives such as dice, cards, coins, and spinners. I also usually spend one day letting students see what new facts they can find to share with the class after they do internet searches.  The internet makes it possible to use self discovery when helping students learn about the Law of Large Numbers. This really makes them understand it so much better than if I simply tell them a definition and move on. So often I am forced by the clock to tell students about concepts rather than having them learn through doing. The pre-test demonstrated all students already have some basic understanding of probability so we have many more opportunities with this unit. I’ll let you know what I come up with, and have a couple of students share their thoughts!


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.