Middle School Math iPod Touch Blog

Integrating Technology into the Middle School Classroom

Can I get back that new teacher excitement? It’s almost time to start anew! April 29, 2011

   Here it is – the final stretch. As I come to this time of the year, I keep students after school often and try to motivate and encourage them to gain every last bit of review possible before the year-end test. I develop study booklets on each strand of mathematics for review at home and at school. We practice during class and after school trying to push everyone’s understanding of the skills higher. (It sounds a bit like teaching to the test, doesn’t it? I really don’t teach this way the rest of the year, but right now it is review, review, review).  I am doing my best to focus my time and energy on my helping my students, but also realize I have needs too.

    When I work with new teachers, I show them the phases of teacher evolution during the year. Many teachers are familiar with this diagram, “Evolution of a Teacher”, that accompanies the article, The Evolution of a Teacher by Dr. Mark Littleton and Dr. Pam Littleton.

    There are so many teachers who spend a great deal of the time in the disillusioned phase, and not nearly enough in the Rejuvenation or Anticipation Phases.  I am not a new teacher, but I feel myself follow this downward slope of emotions yearly. I don’t believe I am disillusioned nearly as long as this diagram depicts, but certainly January through March are challenging months. Well, I am nearing the end of the year, I am reflecting, and feeling rejuvenated, and I WANT THAT NEW TEACHER FEEL AGAIN! Think of how many “new” things are fabulous. I love that new car smell, the crackling of a new book, and the excitement and joy felt by a new christian just bubbling with enthusiasm. I want that new teacher feeling back!   When I was a new teacher, I didn’t mind as much when students said really “cooky” things just to get some giggles from their friends, because I knew they needed that attention.  New teachers don’t hear as much of the complaining that goes on between other teachers, they don’t notice the “extras” being asked of them because it is all new, and they wake up in middle of the night with fabulous ideas of how to bring the content to their students.

    Teachers are fortunate in that we can start fresh every year. This year I have faced some struggles that have made me feel similar to new teacher, because all of the technology I was using was so new to me. It was wonderful at times, but challenging and disappointing at times. I had to work hard and spend extra hours finding apps, programs and developing lessons that would incorporate technology more effectively in my classroom. Overall I have been successful, but I am in the reflection/rejuvenation phase where I am looking forward to my “new start”. We are fortunate that we can start over each year, and can always aim for this year to better than those in the past. I am hopeful, optimistic and excited about a new start in just a few months and look forward to all the challenges, successes and craziness the new year may hold. It makes me think of that Meg Ryan favorite in “You’ve Got Mail”, “bouquets of sharpened pencils”. I am looking forward to that new teacher experience all over again!


Final Course Blog – Increasing traffic to your blog April 24, 2011

Filed under: blog,education,technology integration — msmathteachr1 @ 10:25 pm
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Methods I have used to increase traffic to my blog:

I have taken several steps to increase traffic to my blog. The items in red are those that I feel have been most successful, while those with an asterisk are those that are recent methods based on recommendations from others in the course.

  • Try to make the blog short enough that it doesn’t require too much of one’s time to read, while still informative and interesting
  • Use tags that best describe the post, and that will attract others from a Google Search. Check to see if it works!
  • Use Twitter to Tweet new posts in hopes that Twitter PLN will visit the site.*
    • I chose to rely more on twitter because I can see what others are tweeting, and I can see when/if my tweet about my blog is retweeted or mentioned.
  • Post links to Twitter on the blog
  • Send emails to friends, colleagues and others whom you feel my find the blog interesting and/or relevant*
    • I chose to notify friends and colleagues because many of them are not familiar with the extent that technology such as the iPod Touch can be used in the classroom. I want them to see some of my ideas, how much students enjoy using the iPods and hopefully get excited about using more technology in the classroom. Then, we can share ideas and all become better teachers by having more resources.
  • Use Ping-o-matic to send “ping” alerts to search engines that the blog has been updated. Be sure to return to the Ping-o-Matic site each time the blog is updated to send the “ping”. 
    • I had already signed up for Ping-o-matic, but I didn’t realize I had to return to the site each time I updated my blog.  I am interested in seeing how much site growth I have now that I am using the program correctly. *
  • Visit other blogs and leave comments referencing your own blog, example Classroom2.0
  • Use RSS feeds to allow others to get notification of your new posts, and to read your favorite posts without searching.*
    • I like having my own RSS feed reader that allows me to quickly keep up with my preferred blogs about education and technology integration. What I do not like is that some sites, such as my own, don’t allow you to use Bloglines. Some sites allow you to subscribe using Google Friends or save your RSS feed to a file on your internet server. I don’t like this as much, because I would like to have all my feeds in the same location. I am sure if I spend a lot of time looking for the process I may be able to convert the RSS to include Bloglines, so hopefully I will have time to do that in the near future.

Usefullness of blogging as an educator

        I believe this has been a very useful project for an educator. Initially I was very concerned about blogging, because I had fears of what others would think about my blog, and I was concerned that I may write something that would be frowned upon by my school system. Once I decided to only write about problem-solving with regards to apps, rather than school-system issues, I felt more comfortable. I also believe that the blogs I write can be helpful to someone new with using iPod touches in the classroom, specifically the middle school math classroom.

     What I have found most beneficial about the project are building my PLN and documenting what works and what doesn’t work for my own journal. This will help me improve as a teacher using technology, and help me problem-solve while using the technology. This is definitely a project that has allowed me to apply its use to my needs. I have built a website to organize thoughts, lesson plans, resources, and videos. It also allows me to tie that site into my blog offering me the possibility of more users as my website grows. (It is still in the building phase, although I do plan to continue this endeavor). I have come to feel more comfortable with Twitter, (I am following many- everchanging as I read the posts, and have over 100 following me). Through Twitter I have learned of technology PLNs that Tweet, sites they have, and conferences. For example, someone recently Tweeted me asking if I planned to attend the edcamp in Charlottesville this summer. I have never heard of it, or SlidetoLearn and others that I may now consider in the future. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn of all these new technology resources and know that I will continue to grow in my ability to integrate technology more effectively into my classroom. My goal for next year is to plan and carry-out an augmented reality lesson in my math classroom. I know this is something middle school students would enjoy.

Read this excellent blog post by Sue Walters of edublogger about s blog traffic!


A new venture… Response Systems April 3, 2011

Filed under: iPod Touch — msmathteachr1 @ 10:18 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

   Our school system is looking into various response systems for us to use with out iPod Touches. I am interested in this, and of course would like something that does not require a great deal of time spent on preparing questions for the students. I am familiar with Google Forms and think they are very beneficial, although not friendly to math questions that involve fractions. I may have to play with this a bit more and just become more comfortable with it. My students have said they feel it is too hard to see the questions on the small screen of the iPod, even though they have the ability to increase the magnification of the image.  What I do like is the immediate feedback and the ability to view data immediately.

  Tony Vincent has some other suggestions for response systems that I am interested in trying out. Check out his blog and see his suggestions. He has a wealth of information and is kind enough to share it with those of us still learning about the technology.  http://learninginhand.com/blog/four-student-response-systems.html

  So this is my goal for this week; I will try one of the response systems to see how my students and I feel it works out as a formative assessment. I will be sure to let you 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!