Month: March 2013

Twitter….anyone? anyone?

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I had a GREAT idea….my students are addicted to Twitter. In fact, they told me, “Davis, no one texts any more…you gotta get on that Twitter.” It would be legendary. I could have a Twitter account just for school related business. My students could follow it. Their parents/guardians could follow it. Heck, even other teachers that have my students in AIS (Academic Intervention Services) could follow it. I could tweet homework assignments, upcoming quizzes/tests, links to things on the web, et cetera. It would be FANTASTIC!!!

So, I set up a twitter account (mr_davis_math). I announced it in class. I put a link to it on my webpage. I did a mass emailing to all of the parents that the school has email addresses for. I was SO excited!! I posted at least something everyday. I waited a week and checked my followers. I had one. Uno. That was it. So…I announced it in class again. Still…nothing. It wasn’t until one of my dedicated twitter using students was using my iPad and saw that I had the twitter app did it get any interest. My followers SOARED to four and then went stagnant. Last Friday, I tweeted a “5 for 5 obn Friday” tweet where the first 5 people to retweet the messsage would get 5 free quiz points. I had one retweet….

I am at a loss. I KNOW this could be a powerful tool to use in this technological world, but how do I get the students to buy in? I even tried to reach out to a few students directly. The biggest opposition was that they did not want me to be able to read all of their tweets. I expressed to them that I have no interest in following them, nor do I care about reading their tweets. I want to simply use twitter as a communication tool.

Has anybody used twitter successfully in their classrooms? Anybody have any ideas to help me find the success that I envision?

Trig Scavenger Hunt

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I had been playing around with this idea in my head since last fall, but I didn’t have the time or ambition to get it all put together. Well, the planets aligned and I was able to get everything together last week, and my students LOVED it!

The Set-Up
First, I created 5 different basic web pages and put a different problem from our first trigonometry unit on each one.

Next, I used this QR Code Generator to create a different QR code for each one of these web sites. I printed out these QR codes and posted them in different classrooms around the school. (Note: I consulted teachers, office staff, and the nurse first to make sure that they were okay with students coming into their work areas during the day.)

Following this, I used each of the answers for the problems on the websites as an input, I created an equation that would give one of the classroom numbers with a QR code posted in it. (To be clear, a different “equation” for each problem.)

Finally, I made sure that the library’s iPod’s had a QR reader app installed. We used QR Reader for iPhone which is available for free in Apple’s App Store. It worked very well.

The Implementation
I broke my class up into five groups and gave each of them a sheet of paper with a different 1 of the 5 questions on it. I folded these sheets of paper in half and stapled them so that the groups would all start at the same time. I also gave each group an iPod from the library. I explained that when they solved the problem and then applied the algorithm, the answer would be a room number that would have their next code in it. I told them that they were searching for a QR code in the room and that they needed to use the iPod to scan it. When it was scanned it would open a web page with a new problem on it. The first group that answered all 5 questions and came back to me would be the winner and receive five bonus points. They were eager to get started. We had a count down and they got started. After they solved the first problem they ran out of the room in a cloud of organized chaos. It was awesome.

Student Reactions
The feedback from this activity was fantastic. I heard a student say, “That was SO cool!” Another looked at me on the way out the door and said, “Good work, Davis. That was fun.” Other students exclaimed, “We should review like this all of the time!!”

While I am glad that the students enjoyed it, what really got me excited is the fact that every student was involved. One of my students, Bethany, who has been cashing out lately, perked up and said, “Wow, Davis, you must have put a lot of time into this!” Also, a student who has contributed very minimally during the last 25 weeks, came back frustrated that he couldn’t solve a problem. The ensuing dialogue went something like this:

Dennis: One of the problems didn’t work.
Me: Oh yea, which one?
Dennis: The one where you had to find period.
Me: How did you go about doing it?
Dennis: I used BP=2pi
Me: Show me on the board.

He worked it out correctly on the board. His group was reading algorithm wrong and therefore not finding a room number. I was able to sort this out and reinforce that he was, in fact, doing the correct work. This gave him confidence going on in review and gave me a renewed desire to continue working hard to build his skills.

Things to think about…
Make sure that the locations where the QR Codes are places have a strong wifi signal.

Now that I know the activity was a success (socially, academically, and technologically) next time I will make more than five review problems and therefore more than five groups. Having fewer students per group will put the onus on more students’ shoulders and get even more students involved.

Conclusion
This activity was well worth the effort. I am definitely going to do it again. I may not do it as often as my students want to, but it will definitely reappear. The students were actively engaged in doing mathematics and (dare I even say it) they were having fun! To me, that is what teaching mathematics should be all about!