Working on Students’ Written Skills in Mathematics using @SocraticOrg in AP Calculus #mathchat

One of my goals this year is to have my students use Socratic to answer questions that other students have asked. If you missed my original post regarding my goals around this activity, check it out here.

We have done 4 rounds of postings so far this year – 3 of these have been written responses (detailing work in written explanations with equations) and 1 of these was a video screencast (I will detail this in a future post). I think there have been major advantages to having students verbalize their thought process in such detail, particularly for application units involving the dreaded “word problem.”

Socratic Example

Sample Student Work

Some advantages to using Socratic:

Typing a response to a question is very user friendly. Students can easily add math symbols without needing to know LaTeX, and there is a friendly guide to walk them through directions with examples. Students can also add an image (from computer or web) or add a link. Another super nice touch is that right beside the response you are typing is a preview screen of how what you are typing will look when posted. This is very useful when typing equations! On most editors, you have to press a separate button to view a preview, so this side-by-side snapshot is super.

Additionally, anyone can update answers that have been posted. This gives students the ability to update their own answer, improve upon answers they see, or for me to edit their answers. Any edits that are made are documented (much like you can view a revision history in Google Docs). This is very useful for grading purposes, but can also be used as a way to give students feedback. For example, as the teacher, I can edit my student’s work and then ask for them to write a reflection on my feedback (see the end of this post for ways I plan to use this in the future). When the student goes back to their post, they can choose to see what was updated, giving them a side-by-side view of their original post next to the updated version, with all edits highlighted.

Documented Updates to Posts

Documented Updates to Posts

Some reflections:

One thing I added after our initial postings was to require students to conference with me, one-on-one, after submitting an answer to Socratic. This allows me to have a conversation with the student that I wouldn’t otherwise always have the chance to do. Obviously, it also gives me a chance to improve the student answer with the student, so that it is a collaborative effort. This process has really helped students know how to improve future posts and how to write and verbalize their math explanations. This is not a skill that we ask of students everyday. I believe that having students explain their process, with this level of detail, is helping students build their analytical and verbal math skills. Additionally, we are building a set of resources for my students to study from. Sometimes students learn best from their peers. As we move forward, it will be nice for students to have this work documented, so that we might look back at their progress over the course of the year. This would be a nice addition to a student ePortfolio.

In the future:

The one-on-one conferencing with students takes a fair amount of time. I think this is a fantastic addition to the assignment, but honestly it might not always be practical. In this instance, I plan to edit a student’s work directly in Socratic and then ask them to submit a reflection on my feedback. To do this, students will use the view where they are able to see my revisions side-by-side with their original post. As well, as students gain more mastery of material, I plan to ask students to “update” their classmates answers. By looking back through the update history, I will easily be able to grade students on meaningful contributions and enhancements to their classmates original answer.

5 thoughts on “Working on Students’ Written Skills in Mathematics using @SocraticOrg in AP Calculus #mathchat

  1. Super interesting Stacy! I have two questions for you: what could be improved on Socratic to make it easier to use for the use case you describe above? If students could somehow “pass on” answers they’ve written to you in product, would you have them do that? Best,

    • 1. I really like the idea of them feeling like they are contributing to an online community, so I am happy with the workflow. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they were submitting their post to me. Having them email me the link is simple. Perhaps a “share” button after submitting a post would be nice, though. That might include a share by email.
      2. I wish I could search by username. If I find a post by one of my students, for instance, I can click on their name and see their dashboard, including all answers & edits they have made. This is really useful, but I can’t seem to search by it. (By the way, I love the dashboard view. This is a great ‘eportfolio’ of a student’s contribution over the year(s).)
      3. Finally, an interesting idea might be the abilit to “subscribe” to specific people’s updates (in my case, I would subscribe to my students) or add friends. If I could get a view of my “subscribed feed”, that would eliminate the need for students to have to email me a link to their contribution and would make grading for me quite easy.
      Thank you!

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