Mathematical Mindsets

As a Math teacher sometimes I find it hard to integrate technology into my classes. As a Google for Education Certified Trainer and Innovator, teachers in my building and my PLN turn to me for ideas as to how they can integrate technology into their classrooms. Recently I have been trying to do this more and more, and I have discovered a number of things:

  1. Integrating technology doesn’t have to mean that we’re using technology every class.
  2. It doesn’t require every student to have access to a device.
  3. Even in a school with few devices, it is not that hard to achieve.

Substitution of Tasks

So I’m guilty of a few SAMR no no’s… The first is digitising a task, I suppose that first S, I’m just taking a worksheet and making it so that it is now digital, or instead of handing in the sheet, they are now completing it using a Google Form. Now in a lot of subjects this would be a ‘big’ deal, but actually in Math it can be really useful. Look at this scenario:

Students are given a homework assignment where they have to work out the lateral area and the surface area of different shapes. Each shape has a question asking for the area of a face, the lateral area and the surface area. Students then submit their answers to each question via a form.

Once our results are in, we can assess these using a tool such as Flubaroo, this not only saves a lot of time looking at whether students questions are right or wrong, it also allows us to analyse particular questions, identifying the low scoring ones, find trends and address those trends in the next class. This has a number of advantages over paper:

  1. The amount of time required to correct them is vastly reduced
  2. Each question is broken down, both by student and by class, allowing you to see an overview
  3. The low scoring questions can be grouped or tagged, and we can send an additional assignment to those students to see if they now have the correct skills.

I’ve also been using Gradecam (who gave me a free year @ ISTE2016) and I thought that it would be something that I’d never use. I love it, not only can you get it to mark MC questions (which I’m not a fan of) you can use it to get marks into a sheet by just colouring the numbers on the sheet and scanning the sheets at the end.

Redesigning the Lesson

At Innovator Academy I got given a copy of the Hyperdoc handbook. I was inspired by it’s content and the way in which I could get students to use rich content whilst completing a task in Google Docs. I’ve used them for a variety of topics including proportions, Linear Equations and more. As I continued to explore the idea of Hyperdocs, and the simplicity of them, I came across GoFormative, which allows you to combine questions, text, videos, drawing canvases and images. Students can also inlcude math and diagrams as they work through the content, and explore external content through links. Classes can be imported from Classroom and assignments pushed out to classroom automatically.

The idea of getting students to work through classwork at their own rate is something which clearly has its advantages. There are plenty of other tools which can allow you to do this, but this has to be one of my favourites.

Exploring Ideas

Another thing which I’m trying to do more of is explore ideas in Math, making them more tangible. I think that it’s a lot easier to learn about a concept in Math when you’re not a strong student, if you can see it, feel it or picture it in your mind. That’s why recently when I’ve been doing a unit on Solids I’ve done two different activities with my students. The first was looking at the nets of a cube. We explored how many ways there were of designing a cubes net. To do this we used paper squares which we taped together.

Once we’d done this activity I asked them to produce a video about their findings. Some used Explain Everything, some used iMovie and another group asked if they could use Book Creator instead! It was interesting to see how they interpreted the task and the results were somewhat mixed.

The second activity that we did was exploring the surface area of a sphere using Clementines. I asked the students to draw around their clementines circumference five times, then to peel their clementine and to see how many circles the peel would fill. Most found that it was around 3.5 circles, which led to a whole new discussion on why it wasn’t 4 circles. I loved the fact that this required zero technology and that it was so easy to achieve with a simple piece of fruit, which most of them consumed afterwards. The most important thing is that they will always remember how to establish the surface area of a sphere, and undestand why the equation is what it is.

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