Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Algebra Skills App Smashing

This is the second week of my Algebra Skills summer class. This class was designed by me last year to help incoming freshman get a boost on their math skills before entering high school. We targeted students who are willing to work, but still struggle with basic math skills. We found these students with the help of teacher/counselor recommendations, parent recommendations, MAP test results and their middle school math grades. These are some great kids who really struggle with basic concepts, and after a 4 week boot camp they go into their freshman year of high school with more confidence and last year we saw a lot of success with the students who took the summer course.

This year I have completely changed how this course looks. I now am 1:1 with iPads for the summer and have used all of the wonderful resources I have learned throughout my work with the iPad Academy and all of the help I have received from Ann Feldmann and a lot of other educators in my district and that I have met through Twitter. Each day we begin with 30 minutes of work on Khan Academy. This is a wonderful site that allows me to track my students progress and see what they are doing well in and what they are struggling with. Each day I look at what my students are struggling with and I recommend practice accordingly for the next day. It makes differentiation as easy as the click of a button and the students do not even know what the other students are working on so you don't have to worry about some students feeling behind and others being ahead. On Friday's we have Khan challenges to see who can get the most energy points. The best part about this is they know who they feel is the brightest in the class and expect them to win, but that doesn't happen. It is usually the lower student who works hard and completes a lot of little challenges which earns him/her more energy points and the look on some of those students faces when I called their name as the Khan Champions was priceless!

Last year I flipped my classroom so I have a lot of concept videos that explain concepts so throughout each day they watch one or two of those as we learn or review new concepts which leads them into some individual practice. Luckily last year I learned about gclass folders so now I am able to send out one copy of each assignment and the students are able to open those in notability and work on them and then turn them in through the Drive and I get to see their work immediately and send it back to them.
Once they have practiced the concept individually I have found apps that work with all different concepts and I have them spend time on them playing the math games, working on certain individual skills. There are a ton of apps out there that work on number sense, operations with integers, fractions, expressions and equations and those are the main focuses on this course so it works out great. I like to give them multiple apps for choices so they can find one they like and are comfortable with. 
Once they have practiced their skills using the individual apps and are confident in their abilities with the concept I then flip the script on them. I use ExplainEverything, Tellagami, and iMovie so they can create their own concept videos and explain their reasoning behind their answers. I feel that this helps them truly deepen their understanding of the concept and they are getting more and more used to talking through the math problems which will help them tremendously if they begin to struggle in their classes in the future. A lot of the students are not comfortable with recording their own voice, but I'm hoping by the end of the course they will all feel more comfortable with it. 
Overall the students are becoming more and more comfortable with using the iPad and all of the resources it allows and are truly improving their math abilities. I'm extremely excited as next year I will be teaching math lab which will be a year long extension of this course and all of the endless possibilities the iPad Academy has given me and taught me. 
I'm always looking for more app smashing opportunities, what is your favorite app smashing activity?