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!

Advertisements
 

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!

 

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!!