SeeSaw – Student Generated Help Videos

As an educator, there is nothing I love more than awesome professional development.  My school recently held “Mini-Conferences”, given by our teachers, for our teachers.  We were able to go to two mini-conferences.  I attended Standards Based Grading and SeeSaw.  Both conferences were great, and actually reminded me of Twitter Math Camp, professional development by teachers, for teachers.

img_9365I had not heard of SeeSaw before, but it sounded amazing.  SeeSaw is a digital portfolio that students can access from their phones, iPads, or a computer.  Students can take pictures or videos on their phone (iPad or computer) and then instantly upload it to the app.  They can also add links, files, notes, or annotate anything on the app.  Once something is uploaded, the whole class can see it in a “Facebook” like live feed.  Students can like and comment on uploads.  Students don’t even need to sign in, which is great for younger students.  Once they download the app, they can just scan the provided QR code and they are instantly in.

img_9364I was doing a Station review of Functions the day after the professional development and decided that I had t incorporate SeeSaw.  After a great suggestion by Julia Finnyfrock, I decided to have each student video themselves explaining just one problem on the review we were working on.  I told students that I wanted them to look over all of the problems in the review (or the previous review homework) and pick one they wanted to work on.  While working, they could ask me for help.
After completing their problem, they checked their answer with me.  Then, they created and uploaded video explaining how to do their problem.  I created a folder for each station, so that it would be easier for students to find problem they needed to see.

I loved using SeeSaw because if a student needs help during station work, they can watch a video until I have time to come over and help them.  Also, they can watch the videos when they are working or reviewing at home.  A great benefit is also for absent students.  I uploaded the worksheet with solutions from the review and even a one-sheet that we created in class.  All of the work for the review, including work we did in class, was all in one place.  They can watch their peers explaining problems they missed in class.

I encouraged, but did not require all students to make a video.  I wanted my students to do what they needed to do for their review.  Some students did not want to create a video, and some students created more than one!

Here is a glimpse of what students see in the SeeSaw feed.  When they click on the folder, they can see all of the videos that relate to that folder.

Math Survivor Game!

Math Survivor!  Which team will be eliminated first?  Which team can survive?

img_9343After reading about Grudgeball on Elissa’s site and then here, I couldn’t wait to try it.  I decided to call it Math Survivor since we were “voting teams out of the competition”, and I didn’t have them shoot a nerf ball.  I’m glad I eliminated the nerf ball, because the voting people off took forever by itself!

I love jumping right in and trying new things.  However, sometimes this means I fail.  And fail I did at first!  I must have misread the instructions.  I thought that ALL teams got to erase x’s each time.  That made sense to me, as why else would they work hard to get the question correct?  However, it became obvious during my first class, when ALL teams were quickly eliminated, that my game had a flaw.  I adjusted it for the next class, letting them add points back more easily, but then everyone was just tied.  Finally, for my third class, I decided to let only one team at a time take off x’s.  DUH.  To keep kids active, I told them that if the team voting x’s off missed the question, I would roll dice to see which team got to take their turn.  This keep everyone motivated for every question.

The game I made is for Piecewise Functions and Transformations, but I also made a blank template.  Here are my rules, templates are below.

Goal:  To be the last team standing (still have x’s)


  1. Every team starts with 10 x’s.
  2. Every team works on every question.  Only one team at a time gets to eliminate x’s for each question.  I just rotated around the room.
  3. One team at a time gets to erase 2 x’s, if they get the question correct.  They can erase 2 x’s from one team, or erase one x from two teams.  They cannot commit suicide  (erase their own x’s).
  4.  If the designated team misses the question, then another team gets to erase the two x’s.  I rolled dice to decide which team.  You could also pick popsicle sticks.
  5. Once a team is eliminated, they cannot add x’s back, but they can still vote other teams out!  (Some teachers let teams add points back or eliminate x’s).
  6. I let kids make alliances.  It almost never works out!  Just like in the real Survivor, alliances quickly crumble.  lol!
  7. TIP:  Only let one person per group erase and make them decide BEFORE coming up to the board who they are going to eliminate.  Otherwise, peers from the other teams can influence them once they are at the board.  I even do a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… count down.  You can also ask them (have them write it on a white board, and erase the x’s yourself if you have a very enthusiastic or overly competitive class).

Blank Template and Piecewise Functions and Transformations Template.

Update: Thanks to the Twittersphere, I had some great feedback from Bowen Kerins!



QR Code Stations – Function Notation

We have been working on “building” equations to solve for x , literal equations and an introduction to functions.  After flooding my students with function notation, I decided we needed a day to practice.  One of my favorite ways to let students practice is stations.  I love station work because they allow students to move around the room AND work with different people all period.  I let them pick their partners to start, and I put 2 sets of partners at each station.  They can work with all of the people at their table.  However, I strongly encourage them to work at their own pace.  If they finish and want to move on, or want to stay longer it’s all ok.  Students that work at about the same pace usually end up with each other. No students are bored waiting on others to finish, and I can spend time working with students who have question.  I rove from station to station answer questions so I feel like I get to connect with individuals as I help them.  It is a great day all around!

I still use the clear picture frames to display the problems, but now I put the answers online, so all students can easily see them and have them for later.  This also allows students who may not finish (or who are absent) to access all of the questions and solutions later.  Students can access the answers by scanning a QR code at each station.  Many of my kids have a scan app, but I found out yesterday (from the students of course) that Snapchat has a QR reader.  Here are my function stations.  The QR codes will be active until the end of the 16-17 school year.




Function Transformation Discoveries using Desmos

Calling all teachers to help me make these better!

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 11.40.52 AMThis summer at Twitter Math Camp, Glenn (@gwaddellnvhs) and Jonathan (@rawrdimus) showed us how they lead students through all of the functions in Algebra 2.  Basically, they put all of the equations into (h,k) form.  Fortunately, the book I am using this year, “Discovering Advanced Algebra” does basically the same thing.  Since it is a “discovery” book, they have some good ideas that I have been able to modify and made into INB (Interactive Notebook) form.  Never fear, this just means it’s a worksheet that you fold in half.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 11.58.29 AMThe first discovery was also my students first introduction to graphing with Desmos on their own.  Of course they have seen me use Desmos multiple times by now since Desmos has all of those great example graphs in their side bar!

Here is how I progressed through discovery for linears, quadratics, square root, and absolute value.  The Box files with the word docs are at the end.

  • Horizontal and Vertical Shifts
    • Linear Equations (first time with Desmos)
    • Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 12.15.08 PM
    • Quadratic Equations
    • Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 12.14.30 PM
  • Reflections with the square root function
  • Dilations with the absolute value function – these last two are combined into one.  I would love any suggestions on this – before Monday.  I know, I’m asking for too much here! 🙂
  • Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 12.11.32 PM

Also included is a “Transformations Parent Graph” foldable that I made to sum it up.  I kind of hate this one, and would love suggestions here for sure!  Should I add dilations?  Why is it so ugly?  What else do I need to add?  I need help here for sure.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 12.10.56 PM

Algebra 2 Function Transformation Discoveries

Please note:  I did not make all of these discoveries from “scratch”.  I created some of them.  But some were inspired by the textbook I am using this year, “Discovering Advanced Algebra” and some were created by my amazing co-teacher.  I then adapted all of them for INB (Interactive Notebook) form.

Foldable for Functions and Graphing (Graphic Organizer)

Our Functions chapter is full of great information that I would love my students to remember – even more than usual!  I created this Graphic Organizer in the form of a foldable.  It is stuffed full of information including…

  1. NAGS – the four ways to represent a linear equation.  Numerical/analytical, Algebraic equation, Graph, Sentence.  (Thanks @pamjwilson for this idea!)
  2. Functions – Function notation, Domain, Range, Vertical line test.
  3. GRAPHING – Three ways to graph, Table, y=mx+b, using intercepts
  4. Slope – words, formulas, parallel, and perpendicular slopes
  5. Inequalities – Graphing inequalities in two variable.  Dotted line vs. shaded line, test point.

On the back I put a place for their name and extra notes.  The notes section was a new addition to this type of foldable for me and one of my favorite parts!

I go over the graphic organizer in class, giving them examples to work for most of the sections.  After we were finished, I had them turn the graphic organizer over and write notes on the back.  I suggested that they could take notes of things they wanted to remember, or about the topics they felt they needed to focus on when studying.  It was good to do this after the review because what they were unclear about was fresh in their heads.  I then had a few students share what they wrote.  This was helpful to other students.  Some of them wrote extra items as other students read their notes out in class.

I had much higher than usual scores on this test (and more students scoring higher as well).  Considering that this is one of our more difficult topics of the year, I feel that this foldable really helped the students!

Note:  I did not include how to write linear equations because my students are solid in this area.  We added examples when we went over this in class.

To use:  This is a double sided foldable.  You will need to print both side, being sure to line the correct word up with the inside when you print it out.  Students will need to only fold the outside two flaps and then cut on the dotted lines.

File to print out:  7th Chapter 8 Review Foldable – Graphing PDF  or one you can edit from Box.