Quick PD Overview

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 4, 2014  in: apps, consumers, iPads, Math, producers, student engagement, technology

The last day before Spring Break is a Professional Development day in my district.  It’s one of those days where everyone watches the clock, counting down the minutes until Spring Break officially begins.  Suitcases are packed, cars are ready.  This is a day we have all been anticipating.  Spring break starts as soon as this day of “learning” for the teachers is over.

This is the day I was presenting to my own staff about ways to use technology to engage students in math learning.  I wanted to just expose these teachers to the ideas I’ve been using in my class this year.  I hoped they would be open to listening at least a little bit.  After all, when I finished, they were leaving for Spring Break!

The way I see it there are two categories for kids’ engagement in math: students as producers and students as consumers.  Producers are the kids to who create something with technology to show their learning or to teach a concept to someone else.  Consumers are the kids who use technology to practice a skill or complete an activity.  

First, I showed the teachers how my students can be producers.  Asking kids to produce or create has been one of my goals this year.  I showed them:

  • 4th graders using the Explain Everything app to show multiplying mixed numbers;   
  • 3rd graders using the video app on the iPads to create a screen cast to explain comparing big numbers;
  • 4th graders using the Tellagami app to teach the class about measuring distance;
  • 5th graders using Smart Recorder on the Smart Board software to create a screencast to explain the distributive property.

Next, I showed the teachers how students can engage in math learning as consumers of knowledge using websites and apps.  I showed:
  • www.IXL.com  My district has a subscription for each student so I showed the teachers how to search for IXL lessons based on the CCSS standards. By first identifying the standards students need to practice and finding those on the IXL site, teachers can direct the practice for their kids.  IXL can be used on the iPads or on laptops since it is web-based.  
  • www.gregtangmath.com is my favorite website.  I think I could probably teach most of my math content through this website.  It provides interesting ways for students to think about math in a context that is highly engaging.  If you haven’t already looked at this site, do it now.  It is well worth your time!
  • Math Doodles app for iPad is my favorite math app.  This app differentiates so well for all students.  It starts with ten frames and goes all the way to fractions.  There is definitely something for everyone here.  Look at this to see what your students can do to practice what they are learning.  It is fabulous!

The end of the PD session was a time for the teachers to try these ideas and ask questions.  All in all, I think it was well-received.  (I didn’t see them checking their watches too often!)

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