Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I <3 Computers and Math

One of my favorite things to see in my room is a student pick up a piece of chalk and leave a message like the image to the right behind.

My students and I worked very hard on many projects. Some were oldies but goodies that I do from year to year. Others were new and never tried before at my school. I'm getting ready to do a meme on professional development planned for the summer. Before I do, I wanted to reflect on this past year.

Math Class
I managed to get further in the chapters than last year. That's always a good thing. I had more students grasp the concept of multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers, too.

This year, I pushed to do a few new bits on the technology integration side. I used David Warlick's fine Classblogmeister product to create a place of reflection for the students. We managed to use the site to contain research for decimal division and rounding.
  • On the upside: Most of the students managed to make the posts from home or during recess in the computer lab.
  • On the downside: We became involved in creating a movie about population density and I didn't assign any more questions for homework. As a result, there haven't been any posts to the blog in 2008.
We used Voicethread to capture images of items the students weighed on a digital scale. I created questions and had the students answer them as comments.
  • On the upside: The project became a joint project with Shaun in New Brunswick, Canada. We ended up commenting on his student's Mental Math Voicethread and they commented on ours. We had a Skype call between the two classes, too. It was a first for my students and I.
  • On the downside: A couple of students didn't get to weighing and photographing items. We had school canceled today due to heat when we were supposed to have a second Skype call. We end classes on Thursday and the other school is on a field day tomorrow, so it may not work out.
We created a movie using the iSight cameras built into our iMacs. The students needed more clarification on what population density was, why some numbers were so low, and why some numbers were so high. They made music in Garageband and voted via SurveyMonkey for the intro song and the closing credits song.
  • On the upside: It became a nice computer class project. I'd estimate that it took about six 42-minute periods to create. It will be something they can look back on.
  • On the downside: I'm not sure that all the students "get" population density, yet. Not all students returned permission slips, so I had to edit in some images and text to the presentation to replace the missing students. I made sure to save the movies as .mov files and my SMS Computer Podcasts page on Podomatic insists on changing them to .mp4. Right now I'm uploading to Teachertube to see what happens. I might end up uploading to Youtube as well.
For the second year in a row, I had the students create metric music songs to demonstrate what they knew about length, mass, and capacity in metric measures.
  • On the upside: It is a great project around Christmas to keep the students focused on math. The quality was better than last year because I gave better directions. We had the blog to store all the songs.
  • On the downside: It was better than last year, but there are still some knowledge gaps in metric measurement concepts.

I created some study casts with audio and a matching video set with slides at the beginning of the year to help students review for tests and quizzes.
  • On the upside: I did it and a student or two looked at them.
  • On the downside: I was not able to get all the students to see them. One father told his daughter it was because the files were .mp4 and not .mov or .mp3. I never took the time to fully figure it out. I would try again, though.

Computer Class
There is a world of reflection that I will do later in the week about computer class. With grades Kindergarten to eight to reflect on, I'll save it for a different post. I do love computers and math, myself!


  1. This is great article, Thank you.

    gooooogle music

  2. Great reflection. I like how your broke down each project with the positives and the downsides.

  3. Ann,
    Thanks for sharing your projects. I forward the link to your blog to a grad student I am working with. She is taking over in a 5-8 lab next year and is looking for ideas.


  4. I love how creative you are and how engaged your students must be as you move math into different areas. This is an inspiring post.

  5. Barb:
    I really enjoy posts when people reflect on the ups and downs of projects. Thanks for letting me know that you appreciate it too.

    It's always great to have ideas when you're new to a job. Please let her know that there are a world of teachers out there willing to share ideas. I wish I knew that when I started six years ago.

    I'm lucky in that I could take projects from math class and allow them to spill over into computer class. I'd like to see more of that take place in my building next year. Thanks for the note.