Desmos Activities for Distance Learning

I’m still on “Spring Break”, and we do not start online learning at my school until March 26th. I am glad that my school community has this time to process, as I am not ready to think about online learning yet. I don’t know what online learning looks like for my school yet. And I think that some students may crave the structure, but that others will need compassion, and space.

I do not want to assess my students. I am sure that they are feeling the stress of uncertainty just as I am, and I do not want to add to their stress. I want kids to feel connected to each other, especially if they need that. I would also like to mix up my students online learning, so they they are not just watching online videos and doing practice problems. I would love for their online learning to be creative, and not too monotonous.

Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 3.32.41 PM.pngI plan on using Desmos Activity Builders that connect students to each other, like Point Collector, and especially activities that contain Gallery Slides. A Desmos Gallery is a screen at the end of an activity where students get to create their own challenge for their classmates. And then their classmates pick each others challenges to solve.  I feel that doing these galleries will not only allow students to be creative, but also feel connected to other students. I plan on encouraging them to reach out to the “creator” while working on a challenge, or providing feedback after.

I’ve created a Collection of Desmos Activity Builders that contain gallery slides here. I am sure there are more I am not aware of! Please let me know and I will add to this collection. I would love to know how it works out for your students, and the ways that you are incorporating galley slides, and all Desmos in general, in your online learning. Enjoy!

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How to Easily Make Instructional Videos on iPad or Mac

Last month, I started making short videos for my students after one of my precalculus students told me that she would LOVE it if I would make math help videos. I have made short videos for our test review, new topics we have gone over, and answered homework questions. I am still very new, and still learning. But my students have really appreciated it. They tell me that they like to hear me explain it again, instead of searching for and then watching other math videos when they need help (or missed a day of school).

Then, at our last faculty meeting, our head of school told us that if we were not comfortable getting in front of a screen for students, either recording ourselves or going online for instruction, then we needed to get comfortable, just in case. Immediately, my teacher bff texted me…IMG_735B135651F7-1.jpeg

So, I made a video to teach her how to make instructional videos. Again, I am still very new! I know there are much better videos and methods out there. But the good news is that I have been able to make many videos, very easily, and in short time. What I do is not difficult, or complicated. And that is important to me as I do not have much time to spare (#TeacherTired). So, I thought other tired, overworked teachers may appreciate knowing how I make videos quickly and easily.

Mac: I use QuickTime to screen record on a Mac. QuickTime is already on all Macs so this is very easy to do right away! I only use this method when I want to screen share and record my voice. There is no writing. This would be great if you wanted to give a lecture using your Mac and a PowerPoint.  (Example below).

iPad: I use my iPad and the app ExplainEdu for almost all videos that I make. I love this app because I can add pictures, videos, pdfs, included clipart, and even a browser  to screen share. I can write, hi-light, use a laser pointer, and draw shapes that the app will recognize! The app is $13.99, but was worth it as there are no other hidden charges. The Explain Everything website has video tutorials that are probably much better than mine! 🙂  

My school does not use Google Classroom, so I save the videos onto my iPad, because then I can upload them to Google Drive or YouTube. If you want to upload to YouTube you just need to create a free account.

My iPad Video Recording Method:

  • I do much of the work in advance of recording, to cut down on recording time.
  • I take screen shots of each example problem I want to explain to my students.
  • I put each problem on it’s own page.
  • I annotate by adding formulas we will need or things I want to hi-light.
  • When I am all finished, I record. This is where I work out the problems for my students.
  • I upload my videos to YouTube
  • I add the videos to playlists I have created.
  • Sometimes I will embed the videos into PowerSchool on the “Math Help” page.

How I Make Instructional Videos

Using QuickTime to Screen Record on a Mac

Example of a screen cast I made for my students, How Desmos Can Play the Sound of Your Graph!

Again, as I am new, I would LOVE tips from anyone who is much better at this than me!  If you have an app you love, please include it as well! 

Assigning Desmos Homework

I read about #MTBoS30 on Twitter yesterday.  After blogging only about once a month (or even every other month) for the past year or so, I actually blogged three times in a row last week!  I doubt I can blog something every day.  We have AP exams this week so we are missing class days, and then we only have two weeks left until finals.  But, I am going to try!  I love and miss blogging and am happy to get back into the habit again. Plus, I absolutely adore Anne so I’m in for anything she starts!

I am writing this blog as a Public Service Announcement.  Or rather should I say, Prevent Stupidity Announcement.  If you want to assign Desmos for homework but DON’T want your inbox to look like this (imagine about 150 more emails), then use Desmos Activity Builder.

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This should have been obvious to me, but I’m never my best at the end of a long week (especially this close to May).  Thankfully, the wonderful Dylan Kane is way ahead of me and made a “blank slate” template on Desmos Activity Builder!  This is such an ingenious way to utilize Desmos and cut down on a teachers workload.  Instead of searching through my Haiku inbox or 170 emails to see students work, I will now only have to look at ONE page on Desmos.

For those of you not familiar with Activity Builder, you can start with Dylan’s template, make an instruction page, and then have your students create all of their graphs in the same place.  As a bonus, you don’t have to wait until they are finished and emailing you before you see what they have done.  You can watch them working LIVE, and help them if needed.  Your screen will have ALL student names and graphs on one page (also, love the new “fake names” option)!  Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 6.11.30 PM

THIS is what my homework should have been.  Feel free to check it out and even play along if you like!  🙂

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My Favorite: Delta Math

Edited:  I finally updated my Delta Math post.  I love having a website that helps my students AND is so good that THEY ask me for it.  It’s the best!  Enjoy! 

We are now into Week 2 of the Blogging Initiative, “My Favorite”!  You should definitely check it out if you would like some blogging inspiration!  It is only four posts and it’s not to late to join in.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 6.50.12 PMMy favorite for the week is Delta Math, a free online math practice program with problems ranging from middle school to pre-calculus. The amazing Mattie Baker presented Delta Math as one of his favorites at TMC15 last summer.  You can watch his presentation at the bottom of this post.

I rarely use Delta Math for daily homework assignments.  Instead, I use it to review those basic Algebra 1 skills that many students have either forgotten or did not master during their Algebra 1 year.  I give these basic practice sets well in advance of the corresponding Algebra 2 topic that I will be covering in order to get them prepared.  I assign one “Problem Set” of about 5 – 10 problems a week.  I also give a variety of problem types in the problem sets.  Students are able to rework each problem until they get it correct, meaning that they are able to receive full credit on their problem set each week with just effort.

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The students can see fully worked out examples of each problem and even watch videos for some problem sets.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 6.46.14 PMI love the explanations on Delta Math, as they usually use methods that I teach in class, like the “box method” for multiplying polynomials.  They even color coded the diagonals!

Occasionally I will assign a Delta Math set for homework.  For instance, they have some fantastic practice sets for graphs, such as the one for finding domain and range visually.

Delta Math gives you amazing student data.  You can see which problems students missed and even their incorrect answers.  If I see many students struggling on a set, then I will usually reassign that set in the coming weeks.  You can even see how long students took on EACH problem!

 

 

How I Use Delta Math:

  1. I assign about 10 review problems per week, due every Tuesday at 8:00 AM.*
  2. I usually require 1-2 of each kind of problem, with a “1 off” designation.  This means that they can miss one problem without penalty, but if they miss more than one in a row, they go back to zero.
  3. I assign Algebra 1 problems well in advance of the corresponding Algebra 2 topic.
  4. I assign problems on a spiraling basis where problems increase in difficulty each week.  I am staring rational functions in about a month, so next week I will start assigning them basic fraction problems.  Next, I will assign them fraction problems with x in them,…
  5. I hold help sessions the day before their problem sets are due for my students that struggle recalling their Algebra 1 skills.

*This biggest drawback is that students forget to do their Delta Math since it is an online program and only assigned and checked once a week.  Moving the due date from Monday to Tuesday helped tremendously with this.  I also love the Tuesday due date as opposed to Friday as some students wait until the last day to complete it and they are usually pretty wiped out by Thursday night.  I use Remind to remind them and mention it in class.

Bonus!  Delta Math now has a Delta Math Plus, where students can watch videos for each topic. There is a fee for Delta Math Plus.

Optional Summer Assignment:

Another way I use Delta Math is that I give all rising Algebra 2 students at our school an optional summer assignment on Algebra 1 topics in order to help them refresh their basic skills.  I assign just one question per topic, but students can do as many questions as they like.

Zach Korzyk (@MrDeltaMath), the creator of Delta Math, is a great person to follow on Twitter because he loves to help teachers!  Follow him and say “Hi!”.

Mattie (@stoodle) – Thank you for introducing me to Delta Math!  (Delta Math portion begins at about 3:00)

Click here for video.

My students really love Delta Math!  Here is some of what they said in my last course survey. 

  • Having Delta Math for homework helped me a lot because it showed me how to do the problems so that when I did a problem similar to the previous, I would know how to do it with a lot more confidence.
  • Start doing more Delta Math.
  • Do More Delta Maths.
  • Do Delta Math – It helps a lot!
  • Do the Delta Math (this will definitely help)!!
  • Delta Math was very helpful.
  • Please give more Delta Math assignments.
  • I think continuing to assign Delta Math would be wise.
  • Delta Math really helped when it gave examples.
  • Please start doing Delta Math more. 
  • Delta Math assignments, they helped me a lot!
  • DO THE DELTA MATH ASSIGNMENT BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS

TinyScan – PDF Scanner App for Smartphones and iPad

IMG_6195I have been using an amazing app that I really don’t know how I lived without called TinyScan.  Holy mac, this app is a teachers dream!  There is a free version which I tried first.  But, I quickly upgraded to the premium version for $4.99.

With TinyScan you take a picture of something with your phone (for me, it is usually the worked out solutions to homework), take a picture of the page, then TinyScan beautifully turns it into a crisp and clear pdf file.  You can edit, crop, and rotate the file.  You can make it black and white or color and darken or lighten the ink.  You can take pictures of several pages in one file (you may have to have the premium version for batch scanning documents into one file).  Once you have edited your pdf, you can email, AirPrint or fax the pdf’s with one click.  The very best part is that you can instantly upload the pdf to your Google Drive from within the app!  You can also set the app to instantly upload to Google Drive (or other services).  To do this, go to settings and choose Auto Upload, and you can choose from Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box or OneDrive.  It’s so easy!

The best way that I use it is by uploading the files to my Google Drive.  I created a shared student folder on Google Drive, so as soon as I finish the key I can take a picture of it and upload it to the student file so that my students have immediate access.  I also take a quick picture of all of my test keys and keep them in the same folder as the original in case I lose the key.  I love this app.

Glenn showed me a couple of different scanning apps at TMC15.  His apps were able to rotate a picture automatically if you took it crooked.  However, he could not automatically upload to Google Drive.  So if you look at a different scan app, make sure you can seamlessly upload to Google Drive if that is important to you.

Fill Out This Form to Connect With Other Math Teachers On Kahoot!

There are thousands of public Kahoots! made by teachers to chose from.  Kahoot! has a search feature that allows you to search by title, subject, tag, or username.  You can also share a Kahoot! that you have made with another teacher if you know their username.

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Since my Kahoot! post, I have found that many math teachers that I know also use Kahoot! and are using it in ways that I have not even thought of.  For instance, Laura Wheeler uses Kahoot! a few times a week as a warm up for a fun way to do spiraling reviews.  I would love to easily find and see her reviews, since we both teach high school math.

Then, as is often the case, an amazing idea was born on Twitter.  Wouldn’t it be GREAT if we knew our math teacher friends Kahoot! user names?  Then, we could search and share with teachers that we know.  Additionally, if teachers would tag the Kahoots! they use with MTBoS, we could also search that way.

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Sharing your Kahoot!

So, please fill out this form if you are interested in easily sharing the Kahoots! that you create and use with other math teachers.  I asked for the subjects you teach so that other teachers can more easily find teachers that have similar needs.  And don’t worry if you don’t make your own Kahoots!  I rarely make Kahoots! from scratch.  But, I do go through each Kahoot! I use carefully, and often edit them, so other teachers would probably benefit from the Kahoots! that I use.  If you are not already using Kahoot!, you need to sign up for a free Kahoot! account here to get your username.

Here are the results: Google Form of MTBoS Kahoot! user names.

Once you finish the form, you will be directed to a Google Form of MTBoS Kahoot! user names.

How to Search and Add Tags in Kahoot!

Also, to search by tag, you can’t just enter mtbos.  You have to type in doc.tags:mtbos.

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Don’t forget to tag your Kahoot! with MTBoS after you finish making it.

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Fill out this form to connect with other math teachers on Kahoot!

Fill out this form to connect with other math teachers on Kahoot!

You Have To Try Kahoot! For Engagement

Moving from middle school to high school this year was an enthusiasm culture shock. For example, in middle school, I had to use Popsicle sticks to limit student participation in class. Many middle school students wanted to answer every question, and I wanted everyone to have a chance to participate.  In high school, I had to use Popsicle sticks in order to encourage student participation. Silence can be deafening, especially at the beginning of the year and always on Mondays.

I do not prefer a silent classroom on a daily basis. I  also prefer that my students talk more than me. So, since my move to high school, I have been endlessly searching for activities that engaged everyone WHILE they were doing math. I tried games, stations, trasketball, speed dating, group work on big white boards, gallery walks, tinker toys, conic cards, Nearpod, Plickers, CANDY and just about anything else you can think of this year to get high school kids ENGAGED and EXCITED (about math work).  While they have liked many of my crazy activities this year, they did not love anything until Kahoot!

Playing Kahoot is the most fun I have had in my classroom in AGES.  Kahoot! is an online multiple choice game where students play against their classmates. I project the questions from my computer, and they select from four choices on their device. Students can use iPhones, iPads, or a computer. Students can also work together and share devices if they do not have enough individual devices. They do not see the question on their device, only the answer choice. As students answer a visual timer counts down and the number of students that have answered pop up on the overhead screen.  To increase the excitement, you can also chose to play KaHoots jeopardy sounding music.

Students get points for getting the correct answer, and even more points if they answer the question more quickly than their classmates. The top 5 students are listed on a “Leaderboard” after each question to keep the competition HOT.

The kids love playing Kahoot! They love playing it so much that I often have my students that aren’t even in the current period join my class during their study hall periods!  Students in class have tweeted and texted out the game code. I even noticed a kid playing through the glass window of my door one day.  Of course I took a picture.


Other than all of the fun for the kids, the best part for ME is that I NEVER HAVE TO MAKE MY OWN KAHOOT.  There are thousands of Kahoots! already made by excellent math teachers everywhere. This is KEY when you have a new planning or are simply overwhelmed. You just type in your topic and then can chose from dozens of premade Kahoots! on just about any topic, including Calculus!

The biggest downside to Kahoot is that the kids want to play it all of the time and beg me daily to play it.

Suggestions for fun and productive Kahooting:

  1. Don’t make your own Kahoot at first. In fact, I may never make my own. There are so many to borrow from!  Once you duplicate a Kahoot, it is easy to edit.
  2. When playing Kahoot, 6 – 10 questions is best. Some kids get discouraged and give up if they fall too behind in the scores. So, instead if playing one KaHoot game with 20 questions, play two 10 question Kahoots! You will have two winners and thus more opportunities to get everyone engaged.
  3. I use Kahoot! as a pretest, for a quick check of their understanding of terms. and as practice problems for more rote  or basic topics. The max time students have to answer a question is 120 seconds so KaHoot is not for problems that take a longer time to solve.
  4. Let them make up silly names. I play Kahoot! so they can have fun while doing math. And making up silly names is really a big part of this fun.


You can also embed YouTube videos into KaHoot. I videoed the kids one day and posted it to YouTube, then added it to their next KaHoot game. The next time we played, their video was what played while they were signing in. They loved it. 

Watch the action here. 

I have just learned about a Ghost Mode in KaHoot but haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Cathy Yeneka blogged about Ghost Mode. I can’t wait to try it in the fall!

Plickers aka “Can We Do This All Period?”

If you want 100% of your students engaged and asking you to do an activity, you need to try Plickers.

photoThe amazing Pam Wilson introduced us to them at Twitter Math Camp.  We were ALL amazed and impressed!

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A Plicker is a “paper clicker” with a bar code that the students hold up and then you scan with any smartphone or iPad.  Only one device needed, no batteries required!  The students can pick A, B, C, D or True/False.  The data immediately shows up on your phone AND on their website as a bar graph.  I assigned my students a number, so I can even see who missed the question as I am scanning the room.

From your computer, you can project their responses onto your overhead.  It only shows the correct responses in the “Live View”.

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It also stores the data on their website so you have a record of correct and incorrect answers.  I know you think that I must be lying, but I am not.  These things are AMAZING.

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I decided to affix my students Plickers to the back of their INB with clear contact paper.  That way, they should always have them handy during class, and hopefully they won’t get destroyed!  I oriented them all differently (either A, B, C, or D facing up) on their notebooks so they couldn’t see how other students were holding up their notebooks to get a hint.  It’s so much fun for the students and for me!

I have been using it as a warm-up, to asses prior knowledge or expose them to a new topic that we will begin that day.  I think it would also be a great “Pre-Assessment” or “Exit Ticket” tool.

You can see below how other teachers are using them in class as well.  If you have an idea about how Plickers could be used, please put it in the comments.  Also, if you have blogged about Plickers, please post your link in the comments so that we can all get great new ideas!

Paper Airplanes for Measures of Central Tendencies

IMG_6886I got this amazing idea from Bruno Reddy, @MrReddyMaths.  Go and read his post here. I love his discussion about mean and deciding who should win!  When I saw his post I knew it would be fun.  I planned on using the data to calculate mean, median, and mode.  However, I did not realize how much mileage I would get out of this one activity!  I pretty much teach the entire data chapter using just the data from this one activity.

I have my students watch the “How to Make a Paper Airplane” video and give them the template.  I do not give them any instructions and do not allow them to help each other.  Following directions is always a skill I am trying to teach 6th graders.

After we make the airplanes, we get to fly them!  Of course, I make it a competition. And of course, I video it!

Everyone gets a partner, to help with measuring, and three attempts at the best flight!  Student’s whose planes fly backward get to record NEGATIVE flights.  All three flights are recorded and then entered into a Google Form.  For homework that night, they had to find the mean of their three flights.

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Line Plots and Scale:

I have students make a line plot out of all three entries.  This year, I only had 21 students, so this is 63 entries.  This is a great time to talk about scale.   I have them record their distances in inches, but then they quickly realize that it is a much better idea to make the line plot using feet.  We find the mean, median, and mode of our data using our line plot.

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Range:

Range is one of my favorites here, especially with the inclusion of the negative flights.  This year, our flights ranged from about -300″ to 600″.  Predictably, almost all students told me that the range was 300″.  Students love plugging values into formulas incorrectly.  To help correct this misunderstanding, I had my -300″ flight student and my 600″ flight student come to the front of the room.  I stood at the starting point (the edge of the blacktop for us, also known as 0) and had them stand where their respective planes had landed.  Students immediately not only saw that 300″ was way off, but they saw why.  This was a wonderful opportunity to show them that 600 – (-300) was indeed 900″, not 300″.  My analogy to help deepen understanding was, “You leave from Charlotte to fly to New York, but you have a layover in Atlanta first”!  Nothing is ever better than visual learning and real life examples.

Box Plots:

The next day we learned about box plots.  I project the line plot of our flight data and as a class we make it into a box plot.  They loved seeing that a box plot can helpfully catagorize  their data.  Outliers are visual here, as well as where 50% of their flights landed.  Next year I am going to take a picture of their airplanes laying on the blacktop to back this statistic up visually.

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I also had the students create a box plot of their mean flight data.  They wrote their mean flight length (in feet) on a sheet of 8×11.5 paper.  Then, they organized themselves into a human box and whiskers plot.  The students who were the lower and upper extremes, Q1, Q3, and median all held index cards with the name on them.  We also decided who was in our interquartile range.

Histograms:

The line plot looks very much like a bar graph.  After a very brief explanation about histograms, we turn our line graph into a histogram.  The students love seeing their data grouped and of course ask why we didn’t do this in the FIRST place instead of making the tedious line plot.  It’s all for the sake of learning.  (Insert evil teacher smile.)

Google Doc Data:

I shared the data with the students and we then all made bar graphs and histograms on Google Spreadsheets.  The students like the histograms better as it condensed the data into groups.  They also learned how to sort the data and find the mean using a formula.  Again, they love finding the mean using spreadsheet formulas, find it less “mean” than calculating it by hand, and call me a “mean” teacher for not showing them this in the first place!  Practice makes perfect.

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