Friday, May 27, 2016

GUEST POST: Using Technology to Develop a Student-Centered Math Classroom (Erin Mead)

This is in a series of posts by teachers in the TUSD Connect Fellowship for the 2015-2016 school year. I hope you enjoy reading their reflections on the impact of technology in their classroom, specific tools and strategies that have made a positive impact on teaching and learning, and their goals moving forward.

As I look back on my teaching from last school year to this school year, it has been a whirlwind!  I didn’t realize how much I have changed in how I teach, how I want students to learn, and the amount of technology I have in my toolbelt.  There has been a dramatic change in the way I “teach” and the goal I have for my students, which is to be more active learners.  I have tried to create a learning environment of more self-directed, collaborative learning and less directed instruction.  

GoFormative is an online tool that gives me instant feedback on whether my students are learning and understanding the content.  I can upload a worksheet, or create my own formative assessment.  I can also set whether or not students can see if answers are correct or not.  For CP students, I set GoFormative for students to see immediate results, and they can try to figure out where their mistakes are.  For lower level classes, I do not let them see if answers are correct, and instead watch the results myself and go to students directly that are not getting it, and I also let students know on an individual basis which ones they miss.  The biggest benefit I have seen when using GoFormative is that students will tell me that they understand a concept they didn’t before because they are completing the problems during class where they can work with peers, and I can give individual help when needed, increasing their understanding.

Another tool I have expanded upon in my daily teaching is Haiku. I started using Haiku loosely last year as an additional support of resources for students but I didn’t go a good job of keeping up on it.  I now use Haiku to upload homework and homework answers,so now the daily routine for students is for them to check their answers, which also allows them to check with their peers, then ask questions about problems they miss, saving valuable class time for other learning activities.  I also upload resources that can help students with their learning, such as video tutorials and PowerPoints.  A new way I have used Haiku is for administering assessments (concept checks, quizzes, unit tests).  I can mix up the questions and multiple choice answers so students that seat near each other are not working on the same questions in the same order, and the instant scoring feature saves time in grading.  

For next year, I want to continue to incorporate technology to enhance student centered learning, and continue to add to my toolbelt to support my goals and the environment I have tried to create.  I want to try new tools, like Pear Deck and Desmos, for how I present and engage students in lessons other than PowerPoints, encouraging students to explore and investigate rather than note taking, which will increase their understanding.  I have tried a couple of Desmos activities and I would like to incorporate those more as an alternative to direct instruction.  I feel these tools provide more opportunities for students to discuss the content and work together.

You can see the Desmos Activities I have tried this year here:

The Tech Fellowship positively impacted me indirectly by supporting what I have been striving for in my teaching practices.  It also provided me the opportunity to learn and incorporate technology practices that I would not have taken the time to figure out on my own.  The coaching aspect gave me direction and focus toward my goals of not only learning technology, but also shifting my teaching practices.

Erin Mead teaches Geometry and Algebra at Arnold O. Beckman High School in Irvine, CA.  Her main math love is Geometry and she is constantly searching for meaningful and fun ways for students to learn.  Erin serves as a mentor teacher to beginning teachers in her department, and she is a member of the district’s unit writing team for Geometry.  This year, to improve her teaching practices and use of technology in the classroom, Erin became a tech fellow and has finally caught up to, and maybe even surpassed her students and colleagues with her tech knowledge.  

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