I’m lucky this year to have access to a cart of 30 chromebooks which I can book and bring to my classroom. A lot of our students have phones or iPads but not all of them, and this often makes planning an activity in class which relies on students being 1:1 tricky. I’ve been looking for ways to make Math not only more relevant for my students, but also integrate technology into my teaching. I ran into a few obstacles, but I set up the class to be easy to access for the students.
My first obstacle has been (to my surprise) my students resistance to using tech to complete assignments and work. I’ve been asking them to use Google Forms to submit homework assignments and then using Flubaroo to check their answers. Surprisingly they really want to hand in the tangible sheet of paper, even when they are just simple single value answers, or multiple choice options. I even made their life easier by shortening the link to the form and sending it to students using Remind. They have also been using a Math site developed by one of our teachers called Math Help Services and they seem programmed to go to their one stop shop which is great in one aspect, but not when you want them to use a variety of sites and resources.
My second obstacle was that my school acquired Chromebooks quite a while ago and they haven’t been used due to a whole range of issues. Therefore students hadn’t been using their accounts, so they had forgotten their usernames, passwords and in some cases had no idea what they were doing! This was quickly fixed, but it shows how quickly Chrome progresses.
Setting up for Success
I wanted to ensure that students were able to take part in the class, so I made sure that they were able to access the pages that I wanted them to access. The first task after having logged in, was to access Google Classroom. Once they accessed Classroom, they discovered that they had been invited to my Class, and all they had to do was click Join.
I’d had the Share to Classroom extension pushed to all the students in the school by our Google Apps Administrator which then meant that using my class roster I could push sites out to my students. This meant that I didn’t have any issues with students mistyping addresses nor did they have to worry about finding a resource or typing in long URLs.
Our first stop was in Google Classroom where I had posted a question using the new question feature. Attached to the question was a link, which I then opened for them, taking them to a graph on Geogebra tube (a site which allows you to explore graphs and functions). They then answered the questions about the graph, (e.g. what is the slope, what is the y-intercept) using Classroom.
Once we’d done this we then moved over to Desmos, who have developed a range of activities for classes which the teacher can administer and monitor from a dashboard. The one that we tried out was polygraph which gives the students a guess who style set of questions about a graph. The key thing here however is that the questions are coming from another student in the class. Here’s an example from the desmos site:
The activity went well and the students whilst being a little silly with their questions at times, really built on their language, and in the main, managed to choose the correct graph.
Using these online activities really allows you to make math more meaningful for students, and allows them to explore the things that they are learning, quickly but in depth. Completing the same type of exercises on paper would have taken a long time, but the Chromebooks allowed us to do this within an hour.