just another Sunday night (last minute) brainstorm

Last night I was sitting in my living room putting some last minute lesson plans (as it usually goes) together when I came up with the greatest idea for a lesson, utilizing the power of the iPads and online discussions while still allowing the students to review lessons from last week.

I usually find ways to ease back into the week, refraining with blasting the kids with a massive in class assignment, or running them over with new concepts on a Monday. In other words, I try to keep them from running out of my classroom, screaming in fear of the math I am expecting them to learn. My efforts work…most of the time.

Today was one of those good times. I decided I wanted the students to discuss the way to approach real-life problems dealing with the geometry concepts we learned last week (complimentary/supplementary angles, parallel lines and transversals, etc. You know, the “flashcard” stuff). But I knew that simply giving them a problem to discuss wouldn’t be enough. I wanted them to think about how they approach a problem. So here is what I came up with:

1. The students each received (as a team…usually 3-4 individuals per team) a problem set. They were pretty simple, but each set (I used two in total) had illustrations and descriptions. They had to complete the set of problems together, thinking about how to complete each problem (and how there may be multiple ways of doing so).

2. After completing the problems, the students then took their iPads and recorded a video of themselves completing the problems. Most of them went to a whiteboard and reworked the problems. Some of them even decorated their boards with a team name. Some rewrote the problems, some read off the paper. In any case, each student utilized their knowledge, critical analysis of the situation, and the technology available to create a document for all to see…

3. I use Schoology, an only classroom management tool, and so the students posted their videos to an online discussion board, allowing all classes (not just their own) to see their videos.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, I thought so…keep reading (it gets better):

4. As an assignment due next week, the students received a set of 3 standardized questions to which they can adapt and adjust for use on the blog. Each student is to go on the blog and watch one video of someone else’s work and ask one of the 3 questions. Should a team already have 3 questions on their post, then their video is “closed” and students must move on to the next video.

5. On Monday, each team will review the questions and answer them on the discussion board. My hope is that students will retain their thought process, be interested in new ones, and reopen discussions about the problems.

So that is what happened today in class. I already surveyed a couple of students early on to see how interested they were in the process. They gave the class a wonderful review! They really enjoyed making the video, and then the idea of sharing it was a HUGE success. They asked me to make the problem sets harder next time, so that is one thing to think about. Perhaps a good challenge will enhance the learning process? Stay tuned…

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