Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Never Been Easier to Make Math Relevant for Students

How often do you hear “I’m bored!”?  For many math teachers it’s way too often!  Fortunately for teachers and students, math doesn’t have to be boring anymore!

One of the best ways to boost engagement and motivation is to make content interesting and relevant to students.  Multimedia makes it extremely easy to accomplish these goals!   We now have unlimited access to images and videos that can enhance math instruction and give some relevance to the math concepts we teach.  We also have the ability to easily create our own images and videos for learning.  Best of all it doesn’t have to take much time and effort on the part of the teacher to make this happen!

Recently infographics have become very popular.  This is great news for math teachers because infographics are just one more form of multimedia that we can use to make math interesting and relevant.   Infographics are filled with statistics that can be used to start mathematical discussions.  Infographics can also be used to replace worksheets.   Rather than giving students a worksheet with proportions to solve, give them and infographic and have them solve proportions based on the true statistics.  In addition to presenting “real” statistics and information, infographics are often based on topics that many students would find interesting.

Some infographics that I’ve recently come across:

·      The First 48 Hours of Mozilla (Firefox browser)                                           

·      Statistics About Japan (Statistics from the Japan Disaster)                             

 ·     The History of Apple’s iPod                                                                          
·      The Business of Facebook                                                                               

This infographic was created by Fast Company.  Their blog post about the infographic points out some of the highlights of the data represented in the infographic.  

o   Facebook has 610,736,920 MEMBER PROFILES. That's once for every ELEVEN people on the planet.
o   Analysts estimate that Facebook pulled in $1.86 BILLION in advertising in 2010. That’s expected to grow 118% this year, to $4 billion.
o   EVERY 60 SECONDS ON FACEBOOK, USERS send 230,000 messages, update 95,000 statuses, write 80,000 wall posts, tag 65,000 photos, share 50,000 links—and affirm or disparage them all with half a million comments.

With this data students can solve proportions, make graphs, calculate percentages, and make predictions.  You could also take surveys of the class and compare the class data with the data from the infographic.  

When using infographics with students, it’s important to discuss the fact that the data may change.  In the case of the Japan Disaster Infographic some of the data may change, but some will not.  In the case of the Mozilla and Facebook infographics the data may have changed before you even have a chance to use it with your students.  These discussions may provide additional problems to solve.  Just ask some “What if” questions and have students make predictions about how the data is likely to change.  You can even follow-up a week or two later by having students look up some of the same statistics to see if their predictions about the rate of change were close.

Google Blooms Taxonomy by Kathy Schrock


This is a great visual with live links created by Kathy Schrock. I discovered it from Steve Dembo's Edu 2.0 on You can visit Kathy's site to leave comments about using these apps with students. If you do, please copy and paste your comment here too. 

For more Web 2.0 tools, you can visit my Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning on

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Podcasting to Increase Student Achievement in Math

Think about something you’ve learned recently.  Did you talk to anyone about what you were learning?  If you had would it have helped you learn the material better or faster?  Most of us would answer yes to these questions.  Now, think about your students.  Do you think they would learn more if they had additional opportunities to talk about what they were learning?

When we talk about what we’re learning, we deepen our understanding. Our brains need time for processing new information.   Talking about new ideas/concepts helps us bring to light and flesh out misconceptions we have about the topic.  We have so many standards to cover in math, that we are always pressed for time.  As a result we often neglect to give our students sufficient processing time.  The catch is that our student’s would gain more understanding and retain more information if we allowed time for processing new information. 

We also make stronger memories when we use multiple modalities for learning.  So, talking about what we’re learning can have significant impact on what we understand and what we retain.

Podcasting is easier than you think!

There are many technology tools available for making podcasts.  I'll highlight several of these in future posts.  Today, I'd like to share one podcasting tool that you can start using immediately. 

What is Ipadio?

Ipadio is the easiest podcasting on the planet!  Well, it's at least one of the easiest podcasting tools on the planet!  Ipadio allows you to create podcasts from your phone.  After you sign up for Ipadio, you register the phones that you’ll use to make your phone casts.  You can use landlines and/or mobile phones for podcasting.  Ipadio gives you an ID number that you’ll use every time you call in.  You also get your own channel for hosting your phone casts.  If your students use this, they’ll get their own channel.  If you have your students use Ipadio, you may want to use LiveBinders, or Net Vibes to help you keep all of their channels in one location.  This will give you easy access when you review their podcasts. 
The great thing about Ipadio is that it provides an easy platform for allowing students to process and consolidate their learning.  You can use Ipadio in and out of class, so you can assign Podcasts for homework.  This way, you don’t always have to use class time for making student podcasts.
Here are a few benefits that podcasting can have:
  •   deepen understanding of concepts by talking about them
  •  strengthen memories by using more than one modality for learning
  •  engage students with content
  • motivate students by using a tool they enjoy learn about student’s misconceptions
  • differentiate by appealing to auditory learners and those who may be interested in entertainment

Using Ipadio to Support Learning in Math

A few ideas for using Ipadio to support learning:

Teacher Podcasts:
  •  Make podcasts of your lessons.
  • Make podcasts to reinforce your lessons.  For example, if you are teaching a lesson on Pythagorean Theorem, you can make a podcast describing specific uses for the Pythagorean Theorem.   If you're teaching fraction operations, you can make podcasts that describe the steps for solving each type of fraction problem.
  • Make podcasts of key vocabulary words for a lesson or unit.  You can also incorporate these podcasts into other applications so you can include visuals and the words. Any application that supports links would work for this. --- Wallwisher would be a good application for creating these multimedia Word Walls. 
Student Podcasts:
  •  Have students make a short podcast about what they learned each day or each week.  This has many benefits.  Students are keeping a record of their learning and their growth.  They can create a Live Binder and organize it by Units, Topics, or Math Standards.  Teachers can use Live Binders or Net Vibes to keep student podcasts organized.
  •  Have students pretend to be a math topic, concept, symbol, or vocabulary word.  Their podcasts would reflect the perspective of whatever word, symbol, or concept their pretending to be.  For example, if a student is pretending to be an improper fraction, they could describe themselves as being top heavy or a heavy weight.
  •  Have students conduct math interviews.  They can interview each other about math concepts.  Or, they can interview other teachers, students, administrators, parents, etc.  These interviews can be very quick with just one or two questions about a topic, or they can be more involved.  If you decide have students conduct interviews regularly, you may want to have them create 'Glogs' that contain their interviews.  Glogster is an interactive poster maker.  It's very easy to use and does require much time to make posters. 
How would you use podcasts with students?  Leave a comment and share your ideas.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Infographic - Statistics About Japan

Wednesday, Richard Byrne posted this infographic with Statistics about the Japan disaster in his Free Technology for Teachers blog. Since the infographic was so large, he put it into to make it fit on the page.

While we all hate that these tragedies happen, we can also use them as learning opportunities. This infographic is filled with information that can be used in the math classroom to spur rich discussions. For example, Who would have ever expected the wave to move that fast and be that high? How can we use this information in the future in order to be more prepared?

How would you use this infographic with your students? Please leave a comment and share your ideas.

Infographic: The First 48 Hours of Mozilla Firefox 4

The Mozilla Blog posted this infographic with statistics from the first 48 hours following the launch of Firefox 4. The numbers are amazing!

Infographics like this one are amazing teaching tools. They offer multiple opportunities to have rich mathematical discussions about content that would be interesting and relevant to students.

What can you do with this infographic?

*discuss ratios and proportions
*discuss averages
*make predictions
*discuss linear and nonlinear functions --- Would you predict that this data will grow in a linear fashion, or would it be nonlinear?

The possibilities are wide open. How would you use this infographic with your math students? Please leave a comment and share your ideas.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Must-Have Guide To Implementing Social Media In Schools | Edudemic

Great post from Edudemic!  If you've been thinking of using social media in your classroom or school, this is a must read! Check out the section on schools who are effectively using social media.
The Must-Have Guide To Implementing Social Media In Schools | Edudemic

Create Your Own Newpaper in Minutes is also one of my latest discoveries and I love it!  You can create a newspaper in minutes by collecting Twitter feeds or Facebook postings.  I created the Kristi Grande Daily by using my Twitter feed and The #mathchat Daily by using the math chat hashtag.

It's easy and I love having the posts in one easy to read format.  Every 24 hours the paper picks up the day's feeds and you get an email with the link to the paper. You can share and embed the papers you create.  You can send to friends so they can subscribe to your daily newspapers.

If you have a PLN, this would be a fantastic way to share excellent resources.  If you don't have a PLN, this would be a good way to start one.

If you have any ideas for using with students, please leave a comment with your suggestions.

Powerful Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning

I just discovered a thanks to Steve Dembo, @teach42It's a new application that allows you to gather and share resources about a particular topic.  You create a page, sort of like a blog, and start collecting sites related to the topic you've chosen.  Then you can share on Twitter and Facebook. People can subscribe to your page and get notified when you make additions to the page.
"Create your topic-centric media by collecting gems among relevant social media streams. Publish it to people sharing the same interest."
I love this application for many reasons.  This is a great way to visually bookmark and share related links. I also think there are some awesome possibilities for the classroom.  

Check out the I created, Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning.  If you like it, please subscribe.  If you have suggestions, please use the Suggest tab on the Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning page.  You can also leave suggestions in the comment box here.

Some Possible Classroom Applications for 

  • Teachers and/or students can create pages on particular topics.  The class can subscribe to the page and make contributions when they come across a site that fits the topic.  This may get some students interested in searching for math videos or games.
  • Teachers can create a page of sites for a particular lesson and send the link to students.  All of the resources would be on one page for easy student access.
  • Create a page on Mathematicians.  Refer to the page when you teach a topic that was influenced by a famous mathematician.
  • If your students create blogs or other online student work products, they can create a page with all of their work.  They can share it with family, classmates, and other teachers to get feedback on their work.  Their family and friends can subscribe to their page and get updates every time they post something new.  (When students know their work is going to be published and reviewed by others, they tend to put forth better work products.) 
These are just a few ideas for using in the math classroom.  I'm sure you have many more ideas of how this can be used with students. 

Please leave a comment and share your ideas.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Technology Tip: Live Binders

Live Binders is an easy to use online bookmarking site.  You can organize websites by tabs and subtabs.  When you select a tab or subtab, the website or document you have loaded into the binder opens.

Live Binders Features:
  • navigate websites from within the binder

  • share binders or keep them private

  • allow collaboration on binders

  • add notes to binders

  • upload images, documents, or videos into binder

Ideas for Using Live Binders with Math Students:

  • Create binders based on a particular topic and share with students.  Ex.  Create a binder with websites, documents, images, and videos about topics like Pythagorean Theorem, Adding Fractions, Proportions, Angles, etc.
  • Have students create online portfolios with their work.  When students create products online, they can save them into a Live Binder as an online portfolio.  They can also upload written documents into the binder.  This would be a great way for students to be able to share their work with their parents.
  • Create shared portfolios of student's work on a particular topic. Ex.  You could have students create a Glog about angles.  Then you could have the entire class share their Glogs in a Live Binder.  This is a great way to share work and to have it available for students to view any time.
These are just a few of the ways Live Binders can be used with math students.  Creating online Portfolios is also a great way to keep parents involved.  If your school has Student Led Conferences, this would be a new way for students to share their work with parents.

Have you used Live Binders with your students?  Leave a comment and tell us how you've used them.

Differentiation Tip: Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests

Current and emerging technology gives us many ways to differentiate according to student interests.  Most students these days are interested in technology, and they use technology to navigate their world. They use it to play games, watch TV and movies, communicate with friends, etc.  Just by using technology in school, we're probably tapping into an interest of most students.  At the very least, we are connecting students with their world.

 Ideas for Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests:
  • Keep student interests in mind when searching for videos to use with students.  If you know that many of your students like sports, try to find sports videos that go along with math concepts you're teaching.  If many of your students enjoy watching movies, try to find movie clips where math is being used.  
  • Create a classroom blog, website, and/or Social Network (ex. Ning, Social Go).  These days Social Media is everywhere.  Today's students are used to being part of a social community.  Creating classroom blogs or websites is another way to help build and extend the community you create with students in the classroom.  Blogs and websites also allow you to involve parents in your classroom activities.  If you're worried about what students will post, most blogging and Social Network platforms give you the ability to monitor content.
  • When having students create a product to demonstrate learning, allow them to choose a format for creating the product.  For example, students could create a GlogPrezi (zooming presentation editor), make a video about the concept, write a song about the topic, create a Voice Thread about the topic.  This list could go on for a while.  There are so many new Web Applications that allow students to create amazing products.  The idea here is to allow students to choose which type of the product they'd like to create based on their particular interest.  (interactive poster), create a
  • Create a Live Binder based on the math topic you're teaching.  Fill the binder with websites, videos, images, and documents that students can use to learn about and practice the math concept.  You could require that some resources be used by all students, but then allow students to choose other resources which are helpful to them.  For example, some students may want to watch a video of someone demonstrating how to work out a problem, some students may want to play a game to practice their skill at solving problems, or some students may want to use virtual manipulatives to help them understand the math concept.  The added benefit to creating a Live Binder like this, is that students can access it from home! 
These are just a few ideas for Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests.  We'll explore more ways to do this in upcoming Differentiation Tips.

Do you have any suggestions for using technology as a way to differentiate instruction?  If so, please leave a comment and tell us your ideas.

Did You Say Movement in the Math Classroom?!

When is the last time you had your students moving around during your math class?  With all of the pressures we face to teach the standards and improve student achievement in math, we often overlook and under utilize teaching strategies that would actually help to improve achievement. Incorporating movement into lessons is one teaching strategy that is usually absent in many math classes.

Movement is an essential element for optimal learning. When you incorporate movement into lessons students are less bored, more engaged in the learning experience, and they have a better chance of remembering what they're learning.

Here are a few reasons we need to incorporate movement into our math classes:
  • Movement increases blood flow in the brain.
  •  Movement increases glucose in the brain. (The process of learning drains glucose, which fuels the brain.)
  •  "Human beings are designed to recall better what we do actively than what we do passively." (Jensen, 2005)
  • Movement has positive effects on attention.
There are many ways that you can incorporate movement into your classes. One of my favorite ways to get students up and moving is to use stations. My students always liked stations too! They enjoyed moving around the classroom and working together. Stations can be activities that students do, problems they work, or a combination. Many times, I'd just create 10 - 15 problems on whatever topic we were learning. We'd put the desks in groups and I'd give each group one or two problems. I'd give them about 3 - 5 minutes per problem. Once the time was up, they would get up and move to the next station. When doing stations with students, you always want to leave time for debriefing. Debriefing is actually when a lot of the learning takes place. During the debrief you want students to reflect on what they did at each station, what they were learning at each station, what they had trouble with, which strategies for solving problems are most efficient, etc.

Rather than just having students work problems on a worksheet, you can get them moving. Another one of my student's favorite activities is a Measures of Central Tendency Activity.

Measures of Central Tendency Activity
I've used this activity with my students as a way to practice finding the mean, median, mode, and range of a set of data.  My students have always loved this one!  They liked getting to interact and learn things about their classmates while practicing their math skills.

I always introduced this activity with a personal story about sending/receiving text messages.  This always grabbed student's attention before introducing the activity.  I've used this activity with my students as a way to practice finding the mean, median, mode, and range of a set of data.  My students have always loved this one!  They liked getting to interact and learn things about their classmates while practicing their math skills.

Procedures for the Activity:
  • Pass out Measures of Central Tendency Activity Sheets
  • Students will go around the room having various classmates answer the questions on the top of the Activity Sheet.
  • Each student can only answer 3 questions (fill in 3 squares) on a classmate's Activity Sheet.  (This is so they will get responses from more students in the class.  Depending on your class size, you may want to increase or decrease the number of times each person can sign one Activity Sheet.)
  • Limit the time students have to get their Activity Cards filled out.  Give about 10 minutes for this part of the activity.  That is enough time for most students to get it done. 
  • Have students calculate the mean, median, mode, and range for each column on their Activity Sheet.
  • Have students answer follow-up questions.
Central Tendency Activity Recording Sheets
    You can download the activity recording sheets from Scribd.
    Central Tendency BINGO Card Activity

    You could add choice to this activity by putting a list of questions on the board and having students choose their own 5 questions.

    If you have some ideas or favorite activities for getting students up and moving during math, please leave a comment and share with us.

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    What Does THAT Have to Do with Teaching Math?

    José Picardo:
    Web applications are fun for both teachers and students, but often both teachers and students can become too preoccupied with the tool itself and forget what its purpose ought to be: to support teaching and learning. Here’s a little guide to using three fantastic web applications successfully and effectively.

    José Picardo's blog post, Three Essential Tools for the Teacher of Languages, is geared towards teaching languages. However, these tips and tools can also be applied to the math classroom. If you have ELL students, these tools can lessen the pressure of speaking publicly. The truth is these tools are great platforms for anyone who is reluctant to speak in class.

    Often times, students who do not speak English very well don't want to participate in class discussions. Forums such as the one's mentioned here by José allow students to take time and process what they want to say. Without being put on the spot, they may be more comfortable speaking. These platforms can also give student's anonymity. If they are speaking through a Voki, they don't have to worry about how they sound. Or, they can create a Glog without everyone knowing who created it. Voice Thread is another excellent web tool that can give students a Voice Thread with less pressure.

    I definitely agree with José about teachers and students getting caught w/the tool as apposed to the learning. So when using these tools with students, make sure that they keep focused on communicating mathematical ideas.

    If you haven't tried these teaching tools yet, give them a shot. If nothing else, you just might ignite student engagement in your math class!

    Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Have you used these? If so, how? If you try them for the first time, let us know how it went.

    From: A Teacher's Thought: Make Math Fun

    Check out this blog post by Ian at A Teacher's Thoughts. He give s description and links to 3 math sites. These sites are geared more for elementary students, but they're worth checking out even if you teach Middle School.

    I believe that math should be much more about learning concepts and problem solving skills than on Drill and Kill.  However, students do need to master some basic skills.  These sites could provide some good options for students who need extra practice with basic skills.

    A Teacher's Thoughts: Make Math Fun: 3 Sites You Should Try: "Teaching math can often lean towards drill and kill. I know this because our current program, Saxon Math, spirals the teaching of math facts..."

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    KenKen--Will Shortz Introduces New Puzzle Sensation + How to Play

    This requires more decision making than Sudoku. Great brain game!