Tag Archives: technology

XtraMath

I have been thinking of ways to enhance my math group– especially since my strength is literacy. I’ve been searching around for something productive for my group to do on Fridays when I’m not in school. I want it to challenge them, but I’m also aware that I’m not there to guide them. Always looking for free resources, I happened upon this one called XtraMath. In the week we come back from break, I’m going to spend some time teaching the group to navigate the site and independently sign on with their information.

A special thanks to Alex T. Valencic of Adventures in Teaching Fourth for his post about XtraMath that helped me form this idea. I will write a follow-up with details on how it goes.

Keeping Organized

I’m the kind of organized person that has labeled boxes in my apartment for everything from dog supplies to checkbooks to stamps to matches. Everything has a place… and usually a color, too. My classroom was always well organized as well.

I’ve been exploring with the best ways to keep my digital life organized for myself and for the people I provide resources for. So far, I love Dropmark. It’s visual, easy to organize, quick to load, and there are different levels of privacy for each category. I’ve found it so helpful for the lessons I teach. All I need to do is send the link or link it to a QR code in order to share it with my groups.

I’ve also been collecting resources for teachers to begin to use in their classrooms and to start the flipped classroom model. The idea of the flipped classroom is to provide learning opportunities at home, too. Providing families with meaningful and safe resources for their children to explore at home will help children to see that screens can be used for more than games. It also means that the instruction in the classroom will be more rich with more knowledge about topics than a teacher could provide in a 30 minute lesson.

Here’s the beginning of my Dropmark. Check it out!

Math Project

In addition to my responsibilities as Technology Coordinator, I teach a reading and math group. Teaching reading has always been one of my strengths, but I haven’t felt the same way about math. What I love about math does not come in textbooks; it never did. What I really enjoy is making meaning of math and solving puzzles.

This year, I’ve made a shift in my teaching, but it’s been really challenging. I have a fourth grade math group. For the most part, the group needs support in problem-solving and application of the algorithms they’ve learned so well. To teach the group elapsed time, money, multiplication, addition, subtraction, decimals, and general planning skills, I’ve created a project to plan a vacation for a fictional family. I’ve created an outline for them, which takes the stress off of knowing where to start and what information to gather. We’ve used a calendar to decide when the family should travel and made decisions about where to travel and what mode of transportation to take based on the amount of time it takes to travel to the destination, which we researched online using flight calculators and Google Maps. Next steps will be researching the destination, selecting activities, and creating a presentation with bar graphs and schedules for the family.

The challenge here is that I know I am facilitating the learning of more meaningful math, yet I can’t as easily check the skills off a list of organized goals– it seems disorganized and random; some of the goals are literacy goals, executive functioning goals, and technology goals. There are times we spend the bulk of an instructional block problem-solving how to navigate the iPad or computer for research. These goals are life skills that are being taught in my math group, but it can feel like a waste of time when I consider my list of math goals– even though I know it’s not.

Is this perception a result of the standards being used to drive accountability? Have I been taking them too literally all these years? Is it the fault of the assessment structure?

Seeing the level of excitement, engagement, motivation, and understanding surrounding the higher-level thinking and language of the project is what reminds me that this is the way we should be teaching math. Working with children with speech and language impairments has really challenged the idea of teaching a skill and then teaching its application through a made up situation (at least for me). People don’t learn through rote memorization and meaningless context, but our math standards and available programs suggest that it’s the way we should teach.

Reblog: To Block or Not To Block

This is a great post– The third option makes so much sense, but it does require teachers to let go of control and help children to problem-solve on their own. This is hard for so many teachers!

eChalk Talk

LAUSD made headlines last month when hundreds of their students figured out how to unlock their new iPads so they could get to YouTube and Facebook.  That got us thinking—should schools try to block these and other popular sites on school devices and networks? And is it even possible?

First, let’s tackle possible. Google “YouTube in school,” and you’ll find dozens of sites like this one with step-by-step instructions for bypassing all of your school security protocols. Chances are, your students have found this, too.

But even if your IT team can stay ahead of your young hackers, should you even try? A quick search of YouTube finds high-quality animations of the electron-transport chain, a clip of Mark Antony’s speech from Julius Caesar, and hundreds of math tutorials—all for free. When schools put an indiscriminant block on sites like YouTube, they are banishing all of this…

View original post 354 more words

A Tech Field Trip

My new position has its limitations, mainly time! I’m finding myself playing tech integrator, tech support and troubleshooting, and mentor to new teachers– just to name a few. The value of bouncing ideas off another person is something that is tough to replicate without the face-to-face contact and hands on experience– being in my own world of managing and implementing tech has been hard, even with the support of the online community. This week, I went to visit a school to observe the work they do with tech integration. Being there was better than all the posts I could ever read.

I got to see their work in action– not just the integration itself– the backbone to the integration: systems management, policy implementation, and a structure to model after. Being able to pick and choose what I wanted to take away for the program being developed at my school was so valuable.

First, I learned not to use Apple Configurator to manage the devices, as it’s not a well developed program for the purpose of education. I found out about Meraki– a free, web-based mobile device management system. It keeps everything so organized and makes it really easy to track devices and purchases. I began playing around with it, and it does everything I need it to do– even things I didn’t realize I’d need! Click here for a little video explanation.

After the visit, I feel ready to dive deep into the roll-out of the iPads. As excited as I am to see these devices in my school, I wonder about how they could be better, more educationally focused, and more easily shared. I’ll save that tangent for another post.

Some questions for the community…

The beginning of the year is filled with ideas, aspirations, excitement, and dreams, yet slipping in the vortex of roadblocks, late-nights, and paperwork has already begun.

It’s been a tumultuous fall, both personally and professionally. This year, my position as Technology Coordinator has changed my responsibilities at work, but it hasn’t changed my understanding of the operation. The experience so far has been overwhelming, frustrating, and rewarding. I wear so many hats- teacher, mentor, editor, techie, problem-solver, and the list goes on. I love all the hats, but I’m still working through how to manage all of them without being stretched too far. Having Fridays to decompress has certainly been helpful. I’ve resolved to write more, which I also look forward to.

My incredible co-teacher from last year is a colleague and helps me out in so many ways– both emotionally and professionally. She’s my springboard for ideas and our understanding of each other and the children we work with makes it so easy to try new and adventurous lessons.

I’m in the process of reviewing a lot of Digital Citizenship materials and finding the best way to go about introducing this new curriculum to our population. For those of you who have started this curriculum, have you done all grades at once (K-5)? Or has the process been a few classes a year and build on from there?