Tuesday, 19 August 2014

When Technology failing is a good thing.

I had a student stop me in the playground today. He asked me if we had class today, which we didn't. He said he needed to show me something on his phone, and said "I don't need you anymore, I've got Siri!" 
"Listen" he said, "2y + 28 = 51" to which Siri's reply was, I don't understand. To my excitement, and his dismay (because he said it worked before), I was able to assure him that Siri would never be able to replace me. With the rate of advancement in technology, you never know what the future holds, but I was grateful for the failing of technology in this particular case. And, I was also surprisingly happy to hear that this 15 year old boy was trying to get Siri to help him solve linear equations. 
Technology can't replace a great teacher, but technology in the hands of a great teacher can create an amazing learning experience for our students. Lets hope our students value us more than just being a vessel of information to be shared with them, and more as a learner on a journey with them.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Self assessment using QR codes

I was fortunate to come across a post from Joanne Crooks on the way she has used QR codes for student self assessment.  
My school has gone 1-1 iPad with year 7 this year, so I was extremely grateful to Joanne for sharing this resource.
I was able to provide my students an opportunity to assess their own understanding of equations and it also provided me a good insight into areas of concern for my students.
The cards are visually appealing and simple in nature, which worked well with the students.
I will definitely come up with some more of my own and I will share them and also look at using augmented reality as a tool to increase student engagement and learning.

To differentiate or not to differentiate - that is the question!

As educators we constantly hear about differentiating the curriculum or differentiating your lessons to cater for all learners. This post is completely driven by the actions of my students. I had my year 11 extension mathematics class period 5, these you would describe as an academic group. Then period 6 I had my life skills class, so these are strugglers when it comes to Mathematics. 
So I had my magnetic fraction sectors on my desk ready to use them to demonstrate equivalent fractions with my life skills group. But, while I was helping a student, some of my year 11s discovered them and then proceeded to create.
It's funny and I guess that's why I reflect on it now, we happened to be doing differentiation using the product rule.
For me, and I am sure for all good educators, differentiation isn't a conscious thing, it is something that you always do without even thinking about it. It is about making your students comfortable in their learning environment.
I had never really thought about it until today, at how much we adapt our lessons depending on our students, it has become so second nature that we don't even realise that we are doing it.
Differentiation - the rate of change of one variable compared to another or determining differences, whatever the definition, remember you are an expert without even knowing.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

What if?

This post is really a call for opinions, your thoughts on different scenarios. I am interested in what others think about these situations, I have my opinion, I want you to think what if?
What if...
• your students have just completed an external maths competition and they want to work through some of the questions together in class. Do you, seize the moment, and take the opportunity to work in collaboration with your students or do you say the competition is over now and we have syllabus outcomes that we need to get through?
• you have a student who is of concern behaviourally. Do you continue to incorporate technology as a learning tool or do you use technology as a reward for appropriate behaviour by students?
• you are using apps to assist with the learning process. Do you find work arounds for keeping track of app progress, or do you not utilise apps because they are too difficult to keep track of?
• you want to increase engagement for your students but you  are battling external factors. Do you continue to experiment with new strategies for your class or do you conform to what is your environment?
I know that the wording of my questions has demonstrated my opinions in the matters. I am truly interested in your honest opinions on the reality of these philosophies. What I perceive is the best for my students, may not be when stacked up against other students. I know I am trying to create self driven learners, students who just want to know why. Educational systems don't always support that endeavour, so what do you do? Jump through the hoops or encourage your students to become life long learners. What if we had a class full of the ideal student, would we be the teacher that they deserve?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The games have begun!

My Solver challenge has been active for three weeks now. I have been happy with its progress, although I have to admit it has been a lot of work on my behalf. My students have access to number puzzles, literacy and problem solving activities, they have opportunities to complete online challenges and develop skills by the use of iPad apps. I have checked and marked student work and participation every night, my belief is, if I don't have enthusiasm for the challenge then my students wont. Momentum is led by me. This is a link to the instructions that were given to the students. 
I have been using a google form to keep track of the points for each student, this has made the whole collation side of things much easier. This is a link to the leader board which the students can check to see their progress, it is updated automatically as I update the points.
Throughout the challenge, there are secret bonus challenges, one of these was to create an instructional video on how to complete one of the number puzzles. This is what one of my students created. I don't know what you think of it, but I think it is amazing, this is the work of a 12 year old armed with an iPad.
I have seen students complete thousands of questions on sumdog in attempt to gain SP, it has totally astounded me. This strategy wont engage all students, but it will engage most, I am not about to paint this as a perfect picture, but I know without this challenge there is no way I would have students completing number puzzles on the weekend and on pupil free days by choice. These are not set homework tasks, they are optional. I will keep you updated as we progress.