Friday, October 29, 2010

Instant Feedback

Today I used an app called eClicker with my Algebra I students, and it worked like a dream.

Let me start off by saying that teachers are constantly trying to get and give instant feedback. The sooner a teacher knows that some of her students are not "getting it," the sooner she can adjust her teaching methods. Similarly, the sooner a student knows he does not "get it", the sooner he can reflect on his work and find his mistake. (sidenote: my use of pronouns is arbitrary.) The eClicker app allows for super-fast feedback, both for students and for teachers. I plan to use this app a lot more.

Before class I entered six practice problems into my eClicker Host app, and during class students could access my questions for using the eClicker student app. I would send all 30 of my students a question, and they would have two minutes (or more, I could decide the length of time) to choose an answer choice. Here is an example of one of my questions:

After the minute, each student would see if they chose correctly, and they could see a bar graph of the % of students that answered each question, with the correct answer highlighted:


This app is the zenith of  instant feedback, both for students and for the teacher. The "host", or teacher, also gets a list of students with their specific answers, so I can pinpoint the five percent that answered "A" instead of "B".

Here is the bar graph from another question I gave to students. Based on the large percent of students that got this problem incorrect (and based on which answer choice most of those students chose) I can clearly see that students are confusing an undefined slope with a slope of zero, and I can review the concept right then and there: 

This app has other possibilities too that I am only beginning to brainstorm. I could possibly use it for quizzes (no grading necessary)? Or have other students create questions using the Host app for each other? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Poster" Project - Derivative Review

Last year I did a review project where different groups of students were assigned different derivative rules to summarize and then present to the class. This year, I decided to try the same project except with students using the iPads instead of posterboard and markers. Students had the choice of using a few different apps (my opinion of the different apps to follow), and each group of three or four students got two iPads to create their summary on.

Students needed to include: (1) A description of the derivative rule, (2) An example (both graphical and algebraic), and (3) some key ideas and common mistakes associated with the rule.

Overall, the project went OK. Students were certainly excited about using the iPads to create something, although some of the applications were difficult to figure out and it took some time for students to learn how to use various apps.

Take a look at these examples:

These students did a great job of incorporating typing and the iPad's touch screen.

Some students used more than one "screen shot" for their project, like this group:

Being the first time that the students did something like this, they did a great job. The best part is that we can take their finished pictures and make them into a powerpoint presentation that students can access from our class website, so they can go back and refer to it while they study for our test on derivatives.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

iPad as a reader

While it is probably the simplest way to use the iPad in the classroom, today I used the iPad as a reader. We needed to review some trigonometry in my calculus classes, and our textbook does not have a good trig review. So, I found a great pdf file online that I linked from my website. Students were then able to access the 17 - page pdf (which had great pictures and examples) without my needed to print and copy all of those pages!

Students enjoyed being able to zoom in on different parts of the pdf. And the best part: students were focused on the lesson, not distracted by having the internet and iPad applications in front of them!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Day

Yesterday was my first day testing out the iPads with the students. I passed them out to my Calculus students in the last 10 minutes of class, just so they could get acquainted with some of the different apps that I had put on them.

I also posted a simple set of rules for iPad use:
1. Do not download any apps without permission (they wouldn't really be able to anyway - they would need the school's itunes password)
2. Do not go to any websites that are not related to what we are doing as a class.
3. Do not change any of the iPad's settings.

Students mostly seem excited about having them in the classroom, although they also seem to think that the iPads will not have much impact on their learning. (I got a lot of "we are going to use them to learn? To learn math??" type questions)

We will see when we use them tomorrow!


Welcome to my blog!

I hope to use this blog to reflect on the usefulness of a classroom set of iPads in my mathematics classroom. I am lucky to have my school provide me with this classroom set.

Being busy, I will most likely keep these posts short and they might also be lacking in cleverness and humor.

I also hope to provide a place for other teachers who are using iPads in the classroom to share their experiences and best practices.