Friday, August 15, 2014

New School Year

As I start this new school year I am embarking on a new journey. I have the wonderful opportunity to teach 5 sections of math lab this year, if you do not know what that means it is a class that students take that coincides with their math classes and gives them extra support to ensure their understanding of the concepts in the class. On top of that I work on skills that will help them be more successful in their math classes along with other classes. I am extremely excited to help build these students confidence in math and school in general! The great part about math lab is that I have students on all different levels and with the help of my tech trainers and the use of a shared model with my iPads I am able to differentiate every lesson and build a curriculum for each individual student. This summer I taught an Algebra Skills course to incoming freshman and I used Khan Academy every day to help differentiate the math that the students were learning and to be able to see where each individual student was on their journey through the summer. Khan Academy allows me to assign different concepts to different students to help them improve on areas where they struggle. The information I was able to get from using Khan Academy with my students was more information than I had ever known about my students before. As a teacher you know the skills in your class that they struggle on and you assume why that is, but with Khan Academy you are able to identify the underlying issues and help bridge the gaps between grade levels. Just like last summer I will use Khan Academy often. At least once a week my students will be on Khan Academy working on building their basic math skills. Another huge part of the math lab is that without having a set curriculum and tests and grades I am able to focus specifically on my students learning and their progress. My main goal for this year is to teach my students how to self-assess their abilities and to talk about that through a weekly blog entry. The majority of the students who struggle with math and school in general also struggle with their writing and putting thoughts down on paper so I am hoping with some structure they are able to discuss weekly what they are learning and how it applies to their own life. My students will blog with the use of KidBlog which is a great app that allows me to control the comments and safely put their writing out into the world. With the use of the ever so wonderful gclass folders I am able to create folders shared between my students and I to go completely paperless. I am able to keep a running daily agenda that they open as they come in the room to know what the agenda for the day is. I am also able to give them the assignments and activities through the drive and they are able to open them in Notability to complete them and send them back to the drive with ease. This worked extremely well last year and this last summer. This year since I am doing the shared model I have been having to learn to teach my students to sign in and sign out of everything daily. Right now this seems like a chore, but I have faith that after the students get into the habit of it this will run smoothly. A great aspect of Notability is that they allow users to create locked folders so each student on the iPad has their own locked folder where they keep their work. Another app I will be using frequently this year is ExplainEverything. Unlike Notability this does not allow for locked folders, but I will have each student create their own folder with ExplainEverything and I am stressing to my students what digital citizenship means so they know to respect others work and also to respect others in the world. I am extremely excited to get started this year as I know it is going to be a great year!

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