Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

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.


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.



Flipping the Classroom March 8, 2011

After reading a blog by a middle school science teacher, Eric Biederbeck, I viewed the video he referenced on YouTube. The video is about how he and other teachers have made a positive change in the classroom by “flipping” it. The teacher decided instead of teaching, drilling and giving students meaningless homework he would flip the roles a bit. He decided to record his classroom teachings of units and load them onto Google Docs (apps) so students can view them at home to learn the skill on their own. The students are to watch the video at home each night. That way, when students arrive the following day they simply review and have much more time for hands-on, higher level learning activities. Check out the video here and see what you think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H4RkudFzlc.

I really like the thought of this, but unfortunately it isn’t feasible in my county where many students do not have the technology at home to support this type of instruction. I do believe in maximizing classroom instruction and see how this can be beneficial. Biederbeck states, similar to what Darlene states in her video (http://gameslab.radford.edu/iLearn/search-results.html?category=4thGrade), that students are much more relaxed and comfortable in their learning because a student can watch the video numerous times on their own without the embarrassment of having to ask a question in front of his or her peers. I will certainly reflect upon the video, and see how I can best use the iPod Touch to have students view videos of content instruction. Since I cannot use this for homework I will have to find another way to make homework meaningful. But, this seems like a wonderful strategy that can provide differentiation, individual instruction, an auditory/visual medium in which to learn, and student-led learning. Maybe I can try this as we begin to review for our county-wide summative assessment. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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!