One of the things I value most, in being a teacher, is building relationships with my students. They don’t all like math walking into my classroom. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a math teacher was because I wanted to change that mentality. When students walk into my room, a thing or two is different for them — first, it’s flipped and second, it’s a rigorous, fast-paced course. To make for a successful start, to me, it is imperative to quickly gain students’ trust and give them the confidence that the classroom is going to be built around them and customized to their needs. Students need to know that I am there to listen – not only to their math questions but also to their concerns, frustrations, and worries.
And this is where technology helps me out a great bit. When looking at tech tools, the first question that I typically ask myself is:
- how is this going to help me get to know my students better?
- is this going to help me individualize instruction?
- is it going to help me customize feedback?
If my answer is yes to any of the above, I’ve probably experimented with the tool. Among the things I’m most interested in right now are ways to analyze process and tools that allow me to get quick results and give instantaneous feedback to students.
So let’s get to some of the tools that I’ve been successfully using this year
Quizzing in Camtasia – I use this feature in my video lessons. Before class even starts, I have a sense of how students watched the video, what parts were difficult, and sections that need more attention – either on a class level or individual.
PearDeck – this is a new tool this year. Create a Google presentation and then push that out to students, including interactive elements such as multiple choice, free response, numeric response, and draggable response.
TheAnswerPad – I just got a class set of Wacom tablets, so I’m really enjoying using TheAnswerPad’s “Go Interactive!” feature. Through this, students have a free draw option, and I get their answers in a wonderful dashboard display. There’s also a new portfolio option, which allows me to save all of the students submitted answers so that I can look back at it after class or at a later date.
Educreations (web based) – most people know educreations as an iPad app. But when you login through the browser, you will discover that you can also create lessons that way. Since we are 1-to-1 with laptops (not iPads), and since I have the class set of Wacom tablets, this makes sense for us in making screencasts. I think student-created screencasts are a wonderful way to gain insight into students’ thought process. These can be informal, ungraded activities mid-unit, used to get a better sense of if a student is gaining deep insight into the material being taught. Additionally, in the process of creating a screencast and needing to talk through process, students often connect some critical pieces or discover areas of confusion that they may not have otherwise.
(still exploring) Aww (A Web Whiteboard) – browser based, Chrome extension available. Aww is a collaborative whiteboard. Simply share the link and draw together. This can be a nice option to provide support for students outside of class. We all know that solving a math question over email is not always the most effective method. I’ve only used this a couple of times and am interested in using more often next year.