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!

 

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!

http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2011/04/monday-morning-pep-talk-for-teachers.html

           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!

http://myedet650.blogspot.com/

http://dlane650.blogspot.com/

http://edet650kknachel.blogspot.com/

http://ipoduseforsolremediation.blogspot.com/

http://powertolearn.typepad.com/teacher_tech_blog/ipod/

http://educationtechnologyblog.com/

http://edtechlife.com/

http://www.edutopia.org/blogs

http://mscomputerteacher.com/2011/03/17/technology-in-education-ipods-and-the-ischool-initiative/

http://www.msteacher2.org/profiles/blog/list?tag=math

 

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.