Friday, September 30, 2011

Measures of Central Tendency in an Infographic

I just came across this awesome infographic on the site.  The Things to Consider When Buying a Home infographic  is a great resource to use when teaching Measures of Central Tendency.  I especially like the various types of graphics (including graphs), as well as, the use of Average and Median home prices.   

Not only is this infographic an excellent tool for demonstrating math in the "Real World", it's also timely, relevant and a nice way to incorporate the importance of financial responsibility into a math lesson.  

via original source of info graphic

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looking Beyond the Obvious to Deepen Understanding

Earlier today, I posted about kids teaching kids with the Mathtrain.TV site.  The obvious use for this site is to have students use the video tutorials as models for solving similar problems.  Unfortunately if this is the only way these videos are used, it's likely that only surface, rote learning is taking place.  The same is true about most of the math resources that are readily available.  It's up to us as math educators to look beyond the obvious, intended uses for these resources in order to ensure that deep, long lasting learning is taking place.  So that go me thinking about how the Mathtrain.TV videos could be used more effectively with students. 

Below are some ideas for using these videos in less obvious ways that can actually deepen student understanding of the math concepts/skills:
  • have students describe what they like most about the video and what they learned from watching the video...Did  watching the video change how they will work similar problems in the future?  If so, how?
  • have students describe how the video explanation could be improved...Would visuals be helpful?  Should number sense be involved in solving the problem?
  • have students explain how to estimate the answer to the problem...Would it have made more sense to estimate rather than solve for an exact answer?  Why or why not?  How would estimating the answer be helpful?
  • have students explain how the problem could be solved using a different method
  • have students draw visuals that illustrate the problem being solved in the video
  •  have students debate whether or not this is the most efficient way (fastest and easiest) to solve the problem..then have them write a letter to the student who made the video explaining why this is or is not the most efficient method for solving the problem
  • have students view two videos that use different methods for solving the same type of problem, then have them compare and contrast the videos including which method they would choose (if either) and which method is most efficient for solving similar problem
Leave a comment and share your "beyond the obvious" ideas for using the Mathtrain.TV videos or other similar math resources.

Kids Teaching Kids with Mathtrain.TV

I've recently discovered Mathtrain.TV. It's a website full of videos that kids have created to teach math skills/concepts to other kids.  Several years ago middle school teacher, Eric Marcos, started this site after some of his students asked if they could make videos to help their peers.  The video below tells the story of how this site developed naturally following the request for help from one of his students.

After reviewing several videos on the site, I've been impressed by the level confidence and understanding that some of the kids demonstrate.  I feel very strongly that students need to understand the math they're learning rather than just being able to perform steps that lead to a "correct answer".  One of the things I like most about this site is that some of the students really do demonstrate number sense and understanding in their videos. The problems I've viewed have all been rote and skill-based, but the way some of the students explain their thinking makes them worthwhile for helping students learn skills.

Check out this video by papatom on finding percents.  In this video, Papatom (the students use fake names) does a nice job of solving the problem using number sense.  His explanation is also very easy to follow.

In addition to having hundreds of videos ready for viewing on the site, you and your students can also create and upload your own videos.  You can view any of the videos without signing up, but uploading videos requires that you register for the site.  

I hope that you and your students will check out Mathtrain.TV and get some inspiration!

Leave a comment telling us what you think about Mathtrain.TV.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The New Delicious

Today Richard Byrne posted about the new Delicious launch on his Free Technology for Teachers Blog. Delicious is a popular social bookmarking site. They've just relaunched with a new feature called Delicious Stacks. With the new stacks feature, you can group your content based on tags.  The video below gives an overview of the new Delicious Stacks feature.  

This new feature has many possible classroom uses.  You and your students can create groups of websites based on specific math topics.  For example, you could create a stack of websites that pertain to adding fractions.  Or, you could have your students search the web for sites, videos, and images that relate to adding fractions.  Then have students create a Stack of the multimedia they collected and share it with classmates.   If your students create their own videos, images or other online projects, they can tag their work and save on Delicious.  This could serve as a digital portfolio.  This would allow students to easily share their work with classmates, parents, etc.

If you haven't already began to use Social Bookmarking sites like Delicious, you should really consider using one.  They make it so easy to save and share content. 

A couple of other excellent bookmarking options are:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Easily Create Instructional Videos with ShowMe

ShowMe is a Free iPad App that allows teachers and students to create instructional videos.  It's extremely easy to use and has many possible applications in the classroom.  Videos can be made public or kept private.  The privacy feature is helpful when using with students.  

The ShowMe website has a search feature that allows you to search for videos on particular topics.  Unfortunately, many of the videos for math only show rote steps for solving a skill problem. Hopefully, more teachers will begin to include videos that demonstrate conceptual development of topics and give motivation for needing to solve the problem.  If you'd like to see an example of a video that shows conceptual development of a topic, check out this video by Laurie Baker.  Laurie uses boxes to demonstrate conceptual development of adding fractions.

ShowMe would be excellent for days that you need a substitute.  You could record video examples. All the substitute has to do is show the videos to the class. 

While ShowMe is great for creating examples for students to view and use, it would be even better to get your students creating their own videos!

Here are some ideas for using ShowMe with math students:
  • Brainstorming:  Give students a "real world" problem and have small groups video tape a brainstorming session for solving the problem.  (They can draw and write their ideas as they record their voices.)  Use the videos to spark discussions on the best way to approach the problem.  ---  The videos could be posted on a blog or other type forum.  You could have students watch and comment on the videos for homework.  Start the next class period with a discussion of which methods would be best for solving the problem.  At this point students should be ready to tackle the problem using the method(s) they think are best.
  • Exit Slips:  Have students create a short video explaining how to solve a problem and use this as their Exit Slip at the end of the period.
  • Estimation and Multiple Solution Strategies:  Give students a problem and have them describe how to estimate the answer or how the problem can be solved in multiple ways.
  • Peer Review for Reflection and Improvement:  Have students create videos on a given topic and post on a blog or other forum for their classmates to review.  Students can critique each others work by leaving comments about the video.  After reading the comments (positive and constructive), have students remake their videos incorporating the feedback they received. ----  Warning:  Before doing this, make sure to set guidelines for comments.  Give students specific examples of appropriate and inappropriate comments and give specifics on what a constructive comment looks like. 
  • Portfolios:  Have students create videos during or at the end of each unit you teach.  Then have them add their videos to an electronic portfolio (ex.  blog, LiveBinders, NetVibes, etc.).  Periodically, have students go back and reflect on the videos in their portfolio.  Here are some possible reflection questions:   "Did you solve the problem correctly?"  "Would you still solve the problem the same way?  Why or why not?"  "Is there a better or more efficient way you could have solved this problem?"  "What have you learned about this topic since this video was made?"
  •  Student Led Conferences/Parent Conferences:  Have students create videos demonstrating things they've learned so they can show their parents during a parent conference.  This can also be a great way for teachers to demonstrate the student's strengths and weaknesses to parents.
What are your ideas for using ShowMe with math students?  Leave a comment and tell us what you'd do.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Extensive Math Blog List

If you're looking for some math blogs to follow, has an extensive list.  The blogs are listed in alphabetical order by category.  

The categories are:

Pure Mathematics
Aplied Mathematics
Teachers and Educators
Comics, Recreational Mathematics and Other Fun
General Scientific Interest
Journalistic Writers
Journals, Publishers and Similar Feeds
Comerical Blogs

In addition to listing the name of each blog, you can see a blog roll of the most recents posts from each blog.

Leave a comment and tell us which blogs are your favorites and why you like them.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Favorite Tweets of the Day 9/7/11

Today's favorite tweets include some great lesson resources and some food for thought.  And, I couldn't resist including one of my own finds that I felt worthy of a tweet.  

Leave a comment and let us know your opinions about these posts.