Friday, October 28, 2011

Screencasting for Differentiation

In a previous post we looked at students using a screen capture app on their ipads to demonstrate their thinking when they solve math problems. Ms. Weaver uses screencasting to differentiate her instruction and to provide online tutorials that students can access from Haiku. By using a screen movement, multi-colored pens, shapes and audio descriptions, students experience a full sensory experience when interacting with the screencasts. This activates many areas of the brain while giving them the opportunity to watch the video on their own time and as many times as they need to. Here is a link to a math tutorial screencast by Ms. Weaver. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Learning Math Facts

How can you help your child improve his/her addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills? We have a section of the Web Resources site that lists websites with flashcards and other math skill activities. Go to your child's grade level page and look for the "math flashcards" section to find the links.

If you have an iPad, one app that our 5th graders are trying out is MathBoard.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

E-Textbook in the 8th Grade

Chris Ros has two pilot efforts taking place with his 8th grade science class. He is using the Fujitsu tablets we have been using for several years in a 1 to 1 environment. Chris also took Sherry Ward up on her idea to have teachers supplement their course materials by constructing an online e-textbook. The e-textbook is web-based so it can be accessed via a browser at school and home. The software provider is The Learning Mag which is headed up by Will DeLamater who is a former ACDS administrator. 

Chris has published the first sections of his online textbook. What makes this endeavor so powerful is that the instructor is in control of the content that goes into the textbook as opposed to a textbook publisher. The teacher individualizes the content drawing from his/her personal knowledge, books, media and web resources. The end result is a textbook designed to meet the specific learning needs of the students while aligning with the learning outcomes set by the teachers.  

E-textbooks also provide further engagement for the students when they collaborate in researching information and publishing with the support of their teacher. One of our goals for graduates of ACDS is to help our students be active and independent in their learning. Chris' effort is one very concrete activity that engages and empowers our students in their learning. 

Take a look at The Dynamic Earth e-textbook that Chris and his students are developing.  


Chris shared the following insights about his class:
  • We are using online textbook and source of information for the kids -
    • I am currently putting in the information as a combination of culling from resources, gathering information off the web and writing my own material.
    • Eventually the students will be involved in uploading and creating some sections for the online book.

  • Students are using Evernote as their note-taking program.
    • They can download the software, which is free, onto any device they have - PC, MAC, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
    • We can share pages as well.
      • I can share my notes with the students.
      • They can share their notes with me to show me the work that they have done.
      • We really are building a learning community based up easy access to information through our e-textbook and note sharing via Evernote.

  • The class discussions are lively. We follow a general curricular foundation that allows for the freedom to discuss other ideas. As an inquiry-driven course, we make time for questions as they come up. This allows me as the teacher to develop the lessons and units in a unique way that follows more closely my organizational preferences, and more importantly, follows the way the kids are thinking. This individualized approach is working much better than working from a prescribed textbook.

  • Challenges
    • The kids are adjusting to not having a tangible textbook - we are going to be discussing this today.
    • The kids are also adjusting to taking notes digitally.
    • I am finding that I will likely need to create new and interesting ways of assessing student knowledge and understanding.

Mathcasts and Learning

The 5th graders used the ScreenChomp app yesterday to record videos to visually demonstrate how they problem solve while including their audio step by step problem solving. The students prepared for the learning activity by thinking about how they mentally and physically go about problem solving in math. They then wrote out the steps on paper. With the ScreenChomp app open on their iPads, the students recorded the problems on their screens while reading from their scripts. See example video below.

Ms. Weaver shared that the activity helped the students use metacognition to go deeper in their thinking. The physical movement on the screen while explaining the activity also engaged the students' kinesthetic and spatial learning styles.

The activity provided formative assessment giving Ms. Weaver insight on how well the students understand the concepts behind the problem solving as well as the skills need to do similar math problems in the future. Ms. Weaver also noted that the physical and verbal nature of recording the problem solving steps and the opportunity to see and listen to one's thinking should provide a valuable study tool throughout the year.

Image and Videos provided by Ms. Weaver

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lesson on the Sun

The fifth graders continued their study of astronomy by using special glasses and an iPad to learn more about the sun. Take a look at the post over on the City of 5th Grade blog to learn more. 

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