Saturday, September 19, 2015

Never ending technology ideas...

So this school year started out really different for me... I wanted my classroom and teaching to stand out in a way it never has before. I wanted my students to say "wow I didn't know you could do this in a math class" or "Ms. Bradshaw you make math fun". I wanted them to learn, to really understand and make connections beyond just a process. So if that meant I had to change my mindset and go after things I never had before then that's what I'd do. 

Technology... That's where I'd start my transformations. But boy did I not realize how many ideas and resources there were out there. Ideas from using technology to enhance learning like graphing (with @desmos) to using technology for simplifying teachers daily tasks like grading (with It's like a buffet of never ending choices. You can take what you want, then go back for seconds or even third and fourths. The trick is to break between ideas much like you should do while eating from a buffet. Never eat so fast or get too much that you fill up quickly and get sick. That's where I messed up in the beginning. I started out in a sprint. I was so consumed by the technology that my life was passing me by and I didn't even realize it. I became so overwhelmed and stressed that I started to pull away completely. But luckily the #MTBoS kept me motivated and focused on my goal. The goal to impact students' lives. To intrigue them and bring about curiosity. Here are a few ways I have started to introduce technology into my classroom. 

1) Teacher Aide - Attendance and grading resource. This first one is for me and making my life simpler. I used to do this on paper and hated how every time a new student joined my class it threw off the balance of my attendance records or grading sheets. The names were no longer in order. Ahhhh annoying!! Now when new students enroll I can simply add there name and it gets alphabetized for me with no extra work. When I go to enter grades into PowerSchool I just scroll down and enter my grades from top to bottom with no skipping or getting out of order by mistake. Grades can be categorized and weighted. You can run reports on the class or an individual student. Attendance is enter just by clicking on there name. You have the option to choose present, absent, or late. You can also add a category like not enrolled. I use this category so that students who enroll later in the semester are not counted absent for the days prior to being enrolled in my class. This keeps the count correct for absences. Another great feature is you can upload student photos so taking attendance is such a breeze. No need to look for names just scan the faces and mark absent those missing in class. Lastly all reports can be exported by email and with the option for viewing as a spreadsheet.

2) Educreations - Interactive whiteboard. I love this app but I've only just started using it. I upgraded so I can import word documents, pictures, and google maps. I used the program to show a quick video slideshow of pictures of me and how I spent my summer for a first day "get to know your teacher" activity. The next time I used this in class was for showing shapes of graphs with real world example pictures. This is not just a whiteboard, you can also record your own voice to give a more detailed description of the images or work you are explaining. I just recently created a mini lesson on combining like terms. I'm pretty excited to see how students will take to the "flipped" classroom idea. I don't want all my lessons to be done using technology but I think this will be a great resource for review or for students that struggle with focusing during class. This gives them the opportunity to learn at their own pace. I'm also thinking that this is a great way to get parents involved in the learning process. I know many times parents want to help their children with homework or studying but just don't understand the material. So maybe using these videos they can learn and understand the concepts, then they can explain it to their children. 

3) Quizlet - Online flash cards and study tool for students. I learned about quizlet from a teacher that teaches medical classes next door to me. She has been using quizlet for a few years now and I've seen how motivated her students get with studying using this app. So of course I had to try it. I started with the basic term and definition cards but I wanted more. I upgraded to be able to import pictures so that my students could visual see the concepts along side the definitions. I've been using word to create the images to match the term. My students seem to really enjoy this tool because it helps them study and they can play games like scatter "matching" or race. They are also timed and score points which helps create a little good competition among students. With the upgraded teacher version you can also view your students progress which is very help to see who is studying and which terms might need more attention for review than others. 

These are just a few ideas that I'm currently using. Check back for part two of this post on some other ideas like desmos, thinglink, and YouTube that I'm learning more about. Hope this post motivates some of you to take the time and learn more about all the new technology and resources available for your classroom. 

God Bless!! 

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