EduCreations is worth the effort

Yesterday was a trying day. The skills assessed was expressing fractions in a set. The assessment included students demonstrating a task using EduCreations, answering questions using ActivExpressions, and then they worked an extended response problem. The entire class seemed off. We started the assessment after lunch. Students had been off for three days due to the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. They were having trouble getting back into learning mode. The students struggled with the extended response question. This was a completely independent activity. Again, it is difficult for them to attempt challenging task. This is going to be a work in progress. They also seemed to struggle with the responder questions. The classroom teacher and I decided that we needed use the responders the next class period to clarify misunderstandings with the entire class. So I created a new flipchart with similar questions. (I will talk about the students’ performance later in this blog.) So needless to say, I left the classroom somewhat disappointed.

After I ate dinner with my family, I decided to login to EduCreations and watch the students’ lessons. My disappointment faded and was replaced with hope and optimism. The majority of the students provided a correct explanation of the task.

Two students in particular provided extraordinary explanations and drawings, given their pre-assessment data. The students scored a 50% and a 33% on the pre-assessment. The student who scored a 50% provided an explanation but most importantly discovered a mistake. While the student was explaining the drawing and the fraction, she discovered her mistake. She did not stop the lesson and fix the mistake. EduCreations or  similar whiteboard apps can provide students a platform to visually and orally explain their thinking. Students are more likely to discover their own misconceptions why explaining their thinking out loud, like the student in my project.

student 1- finding mistake

student 1 - fixing mistake

The picture on the left is the student explaining the picture and finding the mistake. The picture below is fixing the picture by adding two more houses without garages.

 

 

 

 

The second student that provided a stellar description is a student who typically performs poorly. This student scored a 33% on the pre-test. When comparing descriptions between student 1 and 2, one may consider student 2’s description poor. As a teacher, I must consider the progress this student has made in just two weeks. The academic growth is significant but the student’s confidence is his ability is the most astounding part. This student has experienced poor academic results in the past but now is feeling success. This is evident through his lesson on EduCreations. Why is the student feeling success? In my professional opinion, he is engaged in learning math for 60 minutes a day through small group lesson, video tutorials, and interactive games enforcing the topics. Both students are learning but also having fun in a safe environment. While this type of fun is not the same as going to party, playing kickball, or playing video games; it is still enjoyable.

student 2

If you have never tried EduCreations, I urge you to give it a try. You might find some surprises and create positive learning experiences for your students.

To end today’s blog, I leave you with the students’ performance on the responder quiz. Yesterday, the students were off but today they truly had their game on. They were focused, participating, and answering the majority of the questions correctly. The classroom teacher led the class discussion while I observed. She asked higher order thinking questions and had the students explain why an answer was correct. It was awesome.

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Day 3, 4, & 5

A lot has happened in the world of 3rd grade fractions in the past 3 days. There have been some changes to the unit and exciting discoveries.

Day 3: Today students were able to demonstrate their own learning. In stations, students answered seven questions using ActivExpressions, demonstrated their fractional knowledge using EduCreations,  and practiced an extended response fraction question. Students worked independently on the iPads and answering the extended response question. I operated the Promethean board while students answered the questions. Students struggled the most with the extended response question at their desks.

The students were completely engaged with the EduCreations. There were two problems with EduCreations. The first  problem was that the students either didn’t log in correctly or didn’t save their lesson. Next time the students use EduCreations, I will go to each student while on the iPad to make sure they  have logged in and saved correctly. Once the students have correctly saved the lesson once, I feel that they will be able to continue to do so. The other problem is that the students did not read their task that they were supposed to complete using EduCreations. There were a few students who did not read the task even though we discussed it prior to starting the stations. We were able to catch that mistake and those students were able to create another lesson. We will continue discussing the importance of reading all instructions. EduCreations is a great creation app and web-based program for students to communicate their learning to the teacher.  Click here to go to Educreations.com

I have found that the students often want complete guidance when it comes to completing work.  Like any good teacher, the classroom teacher does practice tasks with the class or small groups when necessary. Students are required to work independently on tasks so she can gauge their understanding of the skills and/or content. She has indicated to me that a few of them don’t read instructions and they will just sit there staring either at the paper or outer space. It takes prompting to get them started by usually reading the instructions to them or reminding them to start reading. I too saw this same issue. In general, our education system is creating students who are dependent on the teacher for their learning and knowledge. The blended classroom model helps to create more independent learners. When students are given the power to access resources to guide their own learning, the teacher will become a facilitator of learning rather than the holder of learning.

Day 4 & 5: Students continued to work in the stations using the Edmodo on the iPads, fraction games on the Promethean board, and instruction/reinforcement at the teacher station. The most exciting part was that the classroom teacher was on her own on day 5. I was in meetings all day and could not be in the classroom. The teacher felt that she could do it without me. I talked to her later in the day and she said it went fairly well. The students were a little off during the first rotation because there was only one teacher. But she then said the students got back into the rhythm. I find this very exciting that the teacher was comfortable to try this without my assistance. As an instructional technology coach, my ultimate goal is for the classroom teacher to feel confident enough to take over the unit. We are now to that point. Starting on Tuesday, she will be the lead teacher.  I will sit in the back of the classroom and just observe. When I am needed, I will provide support.

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Day 2: Fractions and Regions

I love teaching math to 3rd graders! Today, I was able to take the place at the teacher center. I used EduCreations on my iPad to discuss with the students fractions as part of a whole. The most I had in my group at a time was 6 students. I started with a picture of a circle from my photos and unequally divided it. We discussed why it was not a fraction. Then I used the same circle and divided into 2 equal parts.  We talked about the circle being in halves. Next, I shaded one part of the circle and asked how much of the circle was shaded.  The students told me 1/2. We then went on to discuss what 1/2 represents.  I gave students control of my iPad. I would draw another shape and ask a student to divide it into 5 equal parts. Then the student would pass it to the next student and I would tell him or her to shade in 2 of the parts. I would also have that student write the fraction the represents the number of shaded regions. Next, the student would pass the iPad on to the next person. I would ask that student which number is the dominator and which was the numerator.

By describing this scenario, I wanted to explain how students can use an iPad or mobile device to communicate learning. I feel that is is extremely important that the “chalk holders” are not the teachers but rather the students. Not only does this engage the students but it allows the teacher to observe the student’s thinking and allows other students to contribute.

As I observed the class today (while at the teacher station), I watched the groups at the Promethean board center interact with the content and with each other to help understand their fraction knowledge. I also watched the groups at the iPad center. Students were interacting with content by watching the short tutorial and then taking the quiz via Edmodo. I have looked at the quiz results. One student answered all 5 questions correctly. This is a student who struggles academically. I am very excited for this student because of the success this project has brought to his or her learning.

The best part is that students were actively engaged in math for 60 minutes and enjoyed every minute of it. Tomorrow will be slightly different. Students are going to being answering questions via ActivExpressions, using EduCreations to demonstrate a fraction problem, and practicing an extended response question. I will have some formative data to guide the next couple days of teaching.

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Day 1: Dividing shapes into equal parts

Day one was much more successful with the changes I made to the iPad and Promethean centers. Here are the changes I made.

1. Promethean Center – I placed masking tape Xs on the carpet for the spectators and players. This helped the spectators see the board. The game they played today was matching and container game. Students were extremely engaged both playing the game and writing down the answers from the game.

2. iPad Center – I created a one page document that gave step by step instructions on how to find the videos and quiz in Edmodo. The students told me that the directions helped tremendously. They were able to quickly access the video.

Edmodo directions

The content of the lesson was fairly easy today so many students understood the concept. Tomorrow they will be introduced to numerators, denominators, and fractions as part of whole. On Wednesday, I will formatively assess the students using ActivExpressions and EduCreations. I am anxious to see the results.

More tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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Practicing technology imbedded centers first was the right choice

Today, students practiced all three stations. The lesson started with a brief review of each center’s expectations. Students were attentive and remembered most of the expectations. On the Promethean board, I displayed the assigned student groups and group rotations. Students wrote their group number and the rotation next to their Edmodo usernames and passwords. Next, we discussed how the Promethean board center would work. Since groups consisted of 5 to 6 students, not all students could play the math game at the same time. Half the group would be players and the other half would be spectators. We discussed the roles of the players and spectators.  I used both a combination of pictures and sentences to explain the roles. As a class, we decided that the spectators could just sit on the carpet.

Players and spectators

 

Roles of players and spectators

 

Then, I showed the students the six ActivInspire tools they would be using at the Promethean board. I created drag and drop action buttons for the select tool, notes page, pen, eraser, reset page, and turn to the next page. By creating these action buttons, it helps to remind the students to erase, write, and reset the flipchart for the next group. Students were shown how the notes action would take them to the notes browser. In the notes browser, students will find the directions to the game. Then showed the students how to play the multiplication match-up game. Students would just click on the black box to reveal a multiplication fact and then drag the correct product to the fact. Only the correct product would stay in the box. An incorrect product would bounce out the box. If the student chose the correct product, then the student would put his or her initials. If the product chosen bounced out, the student clicked on the multiplication fact for the black box to hide the fact. I choose a math skill that they have been working on throughout the year rather than introducing a new skill. This seemed helpful so students could practice working independently on the board before learning new content.

Notes browser

The only issue we had with the Promethean board center was that the first half of the group spent longer as players than spectators. To remedy this problem, I will set my timer on my iPad for 10 minutes and then players and spectators switch roles. Then I will set the timer again for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off the second time, groups will rotate to a different center.

The classroom teacher was at the teacher center so I could work with the students on the iPads. She reviewed rounding with each group. The students have struggled with this concept.

I worked with all three groups at the iPad center. It was very obvious some of the students have had some experience using the iPads or Edmodo either at Summer Connections and/or at home. However, majority of the students have no prior experience using the iPad and Edmodo. While the students understood the basic iPad functions, such has the home button and iPad screen rotation,they struggled with navigating Edmodo. I uploaded a four minute video for the students to watch and create a 10 question quiz on Edmodo.  My mistake was making sure the video link would work at school. I watched and added the video to the Edmodo library at home without any Internet filters. The wireless filtering system blocked the video. So this threw my plan completely off. I was able to regroup and guide the students but it did throw me off.

Once all three groups rotated through the stations, I had them go back to their desks and complete the following sentences.

  • One thing that was worked for me was…..
  • One thing that was difficult for me was…

Eight of the 14 students wrote that the iPad or Edmodo was difficult for them. This did not surprise me. My plan was that I would take over the teacher center for the beginning of the unit and the groups would be completely independent at the iPad and Promethean centers. However, I feel that I need to work some more with the students at the iPad center. The classroom teacher agreed and she is going to continue at the teacher center for the first two lessons. My hope is that the extra support will help the students feel more comfortable with the iPads. I do know the Learn Zillion videos are not blocked by the wireless filter because I have viewed those videos on the iPads at school. So the videos should not be a problem.

Five of the 14 students wrote that the Promethean center was difficult. I do think some of them were frustrated with the lack of time at the Promethean board. Also the spectators were suppose to be writing down the answers to the problems in their notebooks. Some of the players stood directly in front of the board, blocking the spectators’ view. By setting the timer for 10 minutes and having the players and spectators switch will ensure equal playing time. I will also have a conversation with the entire class before we begin about how players should stand so spectators can see.

If you have any other suggestions that may help with unit, feel free to leave me a message. Thanks for your input.

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Students’ initial reaction

Today, I introduced the project to the 3rd grade class. Their reaction is everything I hoped for. They were so excited and wanting to learn. I gave them a sneak preview of stations by standing in the three areas of the stations. First, I went to the teacher station area and told them about it. I didn’t get much of a reaction. Then, I went to the Promethean board and said this would also be center. The students perked up, gave lots of smiles and head nods. Last, I walked over to the last area and told them this would be the iPad station. This got the biggest reaction. There were a lot of “YES”, “Alright”, and “WOW”.  Everyone was smiling. I then asked everyone to line up so we could go to the computer lab to take the pre-assessment on Discovery Education. The class so quiet walking down the hallway. It could feel their excitement. The pre-assessment took approximately 15 minutes. The results were like I thought they would be. A third of the class already has a good knowledge base of fractions, one- third understands about 50% of the concepts, and one-third missed close to 75% of the assessment. So I feel the differentiated approach for the unit was right.

Once we were back in the classroom, the students sat on the carpet and we talked about how the unit was going to be ran. Giving them this opportunity to discuss and absorb the plan created a sense of community with the group and myself. Students then went back to their desks and I walked through the expectations for each station. While I did go over the expectations today, I will briefly go over them again with the students on Friday while practicing the stations.

The last task was to pass out the math notebooks. The students were instructed to write two goals they have for this math unit. I then collected the notebooks to bring home to read. Inside their math notebooks, I taped in their Edmodo usernames and passwords. Almost half the class has used Edmodo before during Summer Connections. This is a district summer program for elementary students. As I am typing this right now, there are 4 girls in small group “chat” in our Edmodo class just talking. (I created the small group “chat” in case I had students that wanted to get on at home and talk to their classmates. By creating the small group, I am eliminating the clutter on the main page which we are using for instructional purpose.) I have quickly posted a poll asking the students how excited they are to start this project. One student has responded with “very excited”.  The part that I am amazed with is the students didn’t keep their notebooks with the Edmodo information. They have just remembered the usernames and passwords. This is a true testament that our students even as young as 3rd grade are willing and ready to learn using technology.

I will post again on Friday after the practice stations.

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Blended learning + centers + PBIS = success

Good Sunday afternoon. Many students, teachers, and administrators will return to school tomorrow for the new year. Returning to school after an extended break can be difficult for students and even adults. It is a good time to revisit routines and rituals that make classrooms run smoothly. It is also a good time for creating or tweaking routines and rituals.  If your school is a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (P.B.I.S.) school then you have probably established routines and rituals for the entire school day. P.B.I.S. is a an evidence based practice approach in assisting schools in adopting and organizing behavioral interventions that enhance academic and social outcomes for all students (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). My school district has adopted P.B.I.S. and the blended learning fraction unit incorporates the P.B.I.S. approach.

This is a new experience for this group of 3rd grade students. They have never used iPads in the classroom or used the Promethean Board as a center. In order for this unit to be successful, students must understand and practice the expectations at each center prior to learning new content. Hattie (2009) states that effect on achievement from well managed classrooms was d = 0.52. Effects over d = 0.40 are worth exploring and trying out in the classroom setting because of their positive results from the meta-anaylsis (Hattie, 2009). One of most effective classroom management strategies is the teacher to verbally or nonverbally indicate to students that behavior is appropriate or inappropriate (Hattie, 2009). Using Hattie’s research and P.B.I.S. approach, I have designed a set of expectations for teacher, Promethean Board, and iPad centers.

Teacher Center Expectations

Promethean Board Expectations

iPads expectations stations

I will be introducing the unit to the students by discussing how the unit is going to be run and establishing the expectations. Students are going to be placed into their groups and will experience each station prior to actually starting the unit. While students will still be doing math related activities at each station, the focus will be on practicing the station. We will practice the stations twice next week and then start the unit the following week.

If you are following my blog, I will provide an update after the first practice session on Wednesday.

Feedback and comments are welcomed.

Molly

Hattie, J.A.(2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Routledge, NY.

U.S. Department of Education. Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports. Retrieved from www.http://www.pbis.org.

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