My final project and reflection…I’ve come a long way! :)

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(This presentation is not narrated, but gives an overview of what I did for my final project.  The Screencasts shown here are just clips from a couple of my students’ Projects.  To view any or all of the full videos done by the students, click on the Google Site link below)

Ms. Roseleip’s Honors Algebra 2 Google Site

End of Project Reflection Survey

My Reflections:

I believe that completion of these COETAIL courses and specifically course 5 and this final project have brought me to the Modification level of technology use and to some extent Redefinition.  I believe the math problem solving reached the Modification stage because creating a screencast forced the students to have to significantly redesign their strategy from being the “student”, the receiver of the knowledge, to being the “teacher” the presenter of the knowledge.  Although they do this informally in class as they explore and discuss the mathematics, the screencast forced them to have to articulate and present the information in an understandable way, the first time around.  They don’t get a “second chance” to explain “how to” in their videos, so they really need to plan it out and break it down in a way that presents it thoroughly and understandably.  Modification

As for the integration of technology for this project, I believe that I reached the Redefinition stage, at least for myself.  At the start of this year, I was in a spot of doing “old things” in “new ways”, what with posting all of the class notes electronically instead of giving kids paper handout outs.  Yes, they were using their laptops, but just as a note-taking tool.  Then, as the laptop became an integral part of their recording, I found them utilizing it to help them explore the mathematics…to look up the meaning of a math term that I was using in class that day because they didn’t know what it meant, or to check their answers to a problem after solving it (using Mathematica solver).  I found that my students, the digital natives, were finding themselves more at home in my classroom.  So I took the ultimate leap, the one I have been sweating over and mulling over since the start of this certification class…to let go and let them figure it out.  So I did.  I gave them a single task…choose 2 problems to solve and create a video that shows how to solve it.  The leap was the I didn’t give them ANY GUIDANCE on “how to” use this multimedia program or that, namely because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE THEM myself.  But I finally trusted that I could let go of their hands, that they would flounder around a bit, but that they would eventually figure it out, because they had to.  And although they complained a bit at the beginning, because I wasn’t “doing it” for them, in the end, they found that they actually enjoyed doing it and learned something significant, both mathematically and technologically.  The knowledge acquired is something I don’t believe they could have acquired, as significantly, without the technology.

But the ultimate redefinition was within myself, when I was putting my final project presentation together.  As I spliced video clips together in Camtasia (after hours of cursing through frustration and program crashes) I KNOW that I was barely touching the tip of the iceberg when it came to utilizing some of the multimedia tools that the kids had used to put their presentations together.  But even through the frustration, I kept thinking, this presentation wouldn’t be the same without the technology.  To present and share what the students had done would be inconceivable without the use of technology.  So I kept trucking forward, trudging on, through the frustration until I figured it out.  And, at the end I had to pause and say, WOW, I was JUST LIKE MY STUDENTS!  I had been released to “figure it out” and after much struggle, cursing, frustration and near tears, I found myself intrigued and wanting to learn more and searching for the answers, and asking questions to people I knew who knew the answers.  And I finally GOT IT!  And as I presented my final product to my class on Saturday, I couldn’t help but laugh because through these 5 course, Jeff was me and I was my students; he presented us with “tasks” and let us loose to “figure it out”.  Maybe my continued hesitation to “let go” with my students this year centered around my own fear of letting go myself and taking the plunge and figuring it out.  Now that I have done it once, and seen what others are doing, it motivates me to take the next steps forward in my redefinition.

In summary, I’ve learned how to do stuff because I’ve been forced to, but had I not been forced to, I never would have taken the time (or the frustration that comes with it).  So I’m thankful for that :)   And I’m highly grateful for all of the resources that have been introduced to me throughout these 5 courses and the online community that I am now connected to.  Prior to this course, I wouldn’t have known how to go about getting connected and now I feel like there are so many connections out there, just a tweet away :)

I will say that looking back, the biggest thing I would do differently is to TAKE THE TIME throughout, to “play” and “search” and learn little by little, instead of having to CRAM it all in the few weeks before (that would relieve some of the frustration!).

Thank you Jeff Utecht for sharing your expertise with us all.  This COETAIL program has been life altering, in a good way, to my online self ;) .

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Can your online community be face to face?

So here I sit, 2 weeks away from the final class, Course 5 of my COETAIL Educational Technology course, with my head spinning (seems to be a common theme in this course!).

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One of the objectives was to stay involved in the online community by posting my own blogs, commenting on others’ and having group discussions with my COETAIL colleagues.  So I self evaluate and the teacher in me says, “Rosey, have you been doing your homework?” and I reply, “Well, that depends on how you ‘define’ staying involved..and online!”

You see, I will say that I have been involved in my online community, but I’ve done so, face to face, not online.  Now you ask, how is that ‘online’?

My response:  Throughout this course, I have had multiple discussions around using technology and picking people’s brains on how I can improve my technology integration in my own classroom.  For example, Nyoli (one of my COETAIL classmates, and thus an online community member :) ) and I talked frequently about this exact topic and she was kind enough share her project creation with me.  She gave me the idea to create a Google site for posting my students’ projects and even helped me get it all started.  I have had countless conversations over dinner with Erik Johnsen and Chris Fox, also classmates, about GoogleDocs and Google Sites and Screencast for teaching.  But my largest “community” involvement has been with my students (they are online digital natives so they could be considered part of my online community, right?)  I collaborated with my students as they created their Screencast videos (which was the basis of my Final Project) and I picked their brains on how to help answer tech questions posed by other students…how to use Corel and Camtasia.  I handed the teaching over to few saavy students and had them teach the others how to upload a YouTube video and post it on the site because I had no idea how to (and I still probably couldn’t tell you how, even after watching them).

My point being is that I HAVE STAYED INVOLVED in the online community…aka, with my colleagues at TAS and my students, I just haven’t had time to blog about it, or send my thoughts out to others online, or reflect on my learning out in the digital world for all to see!  Why??  Because I HAVE BEEN SO BUSY LEARNING and collaborating face to face ;)

So, alas, again I ask, how do people find the time and the balance to “do it” and then “talk about it” or “share it” online?  I AM LEARNING, I just haven’t had time to tell everyone in the actual online community about it!

As I’ve said from the beginning, I need another 10 hours in my day!!!

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Blogging is all about putting it out there: My initial thoughts on a Project idea for COETAIL course 5 final Project

This is my first official “informal” blog.  Jeff said to just put my brainstorming ideas out there and see if anyone has anything to add or suggestion.  So, if so, please comment below:

The unit I’m looking to Flip is:  Exponential & Logarithmic Functions

The hope:

That the whole unit will be centered around 1-2 essential question that takes 2-3 weeks for the kids to discover.  Not sure what those questions are, but hope to maybe have students produce project that answers the question).

The plan:

Throughout the unit, I’ll provide them with several scenarios that involve these types of functions:  ie. Interest rates, earthquakes, decibel level, radioactive decay, population growth.  Then, the Final project/Assessment—open-ended problem where they create a real world scenario (like the credit hole) problem and have to include all of the Big ideas/concepts from the unit.

Final Project Presentations will be done using some sort of media like Camtasia or CamStudio.  They need to include some sort of video media (whether it be interviews or video taping their scenario in action and then analyze it.

They will have a set of outcomes to be met by the end of the Unit (like a checklist–filling the bucket)

Set of Outcomes (Objectives–what you need to know by the end of this Unit):

  1. Exponential growth and decay functions
    1. Graphing,
    1.  main characteristics–transformations–create a scenario where your current function is transformed and explain how the transformation relates to the scenario),
    1. Solving equations these types of equations
  1. Logarithmic functions (relating ideas of inverse functions)
    1. Graphing, main characteristics, and solving these types of equations
  1. Natural Base e and it’s uses
  1. Curve fitting with Exponential and Logarithmic functions
    1. (they’ll have to do this to find the function to fit their scenario)

 I’m thinking of Objective-Based grading

I am envisioning a series of mini-assessments or check points along the way to assess  understanding of the outcomes–I envision this being like a “grading bucket” where students start with an empty “bucket”–aka objective checklist and they are working to “fill” their bucket by the end of the unit–aka meet each objective by showing me “what they know” according to a 1-4 scale rubric with feedback, with opportunities to improve their grade as they go along.  So, in the end, how full their bucket gets is up to them.

 The Objective-based “checkpoint” Assessments

I’m thinking these will be a mixture of procedural problems and/or 1-2 multi-step word problem that hits the recent 2-3 concepts–(These will be the quizzes for this unit)—My thinking is that this will look similar to what Brian Bennett does: Objective-Based grading–student-directed and involving varied practice & assessments and are skills based.  Students check in with me each week and look to test 2-3 of the concepts, or maybe just 1-2 concepts per week.

 The FLIP part:

Ideally, I would like to do 10 minute podcasts/screencasts that cover the teaching of the procedural concepts and then we’ll work in class on the application piece.  This is where I would like to bring in Dan Meyer’s ideas of “undoing the 4 layers” that traditional math problems structure their application problems around: visual, math structure (diagrams on top of images), steps and hooks.

Dan Meyer says once you undo the layers you:

  1. Using multimedia to encourage student intuition (get the “hook” out in the problem)
    1. Capture the perplexity
  1. Ask the shortest question possible
  1. Let students DO (they share & resolve)
  1. The teacher purposefully is less helpful (have them formulate the problem)–make the formulation the 90% and the solution 10%

 How to structure the activities:

I’m thinking of using TIM (The Technology Integration Matrix) to help structure the learning environment and level of technology:

“The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. ”

There are a few issues:

1. I am NOT anywhere close to having knowledge around: graphic design, filmmaking, motion graphics, and infographics.  This is where the student knowledge may become crucial :) .

2. How am I going to quantify it is the big question?   We have to have common assessments, so what does that look like for this unit?

I think the first place to start is to formulate the Rubric.

I’m putting this informal outline out these to see if anyone has any ideas/suggestions on resources etc. that you could send my way to help me start to structure this.  Anything would be greatly appreciated.

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21st Century Learners–This isn’t Leave it to Beaver–Out with the old, in with the new

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RSAnimate:  Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Daniel Pink says the way to get people motivated to perform is to give them autonomy,
mastery and purpose.  If I can create and own my work, identify with it, control it and then share it with others, I will spend hours of my OWN time creating AND ENJOY doing it.  This applies to the workplace, the classroom, and pretty much any aspect of life.  When
people are motivated and feel they are making a contribution and creating something of meaning, they will invest, whole-heartedly in that venture.  As, my previous blog discussed, my desirefits right along side Pink’s ideas, to flip the classroom and bring the exploration and critical thinking inside my classroom doors, giving the students the ownership and empowerment in their own learning.

Okay, I have the motivation to perform.  For example, I just spent four hours surfing through videos on 21st century learning and pedagogy.  I loved it and enjoyed it.  But there was one issue: Ihad to wait until I was home sick from work in order to DO IT!  Why?  Because as I mentioned before, in my everyday planning schedule, finding the time to make this new innovative style of learning fit within the constraints of the common assessments and standardized tests, is very difficult.  Because at the end of the
day, I have to meet the demands of prepping students for semester exams and external assessments.  In the end, my students are going to have to sit for exams and I have to provide quantitative results as to where my students measure up.  That traditional institutionalized mentality still creeps in and I have to contribute a number to their GPA.

Some schools have ventured out and made the full shift, but so many are still holding on to bits and pieces of old ways.  I am all about holding onto old traditions that are meaningful and continue to enrich my students experiences.  There is something to be said about why those methods have been around for so long.  But, maybe it is time to realize the goals are the same, but the methods and philosophies we use to get there are different.  For example, let’s think about our parents’ educational journey.  How much of their current knowledge really can be traced back to those days they sat in the classroom, plugging and chugging numbers by hand?  PROBABLY NONE!!  The truth of the matter is is that our parents are where they are in their professional lives because they had to adapt to an ever changing word, to teach themselves the new technologies as they came along, to learn how to synthesize, to problem solve, to think critically.  I can venture to say that nine times out of ten, their “teachers” didn’t teach them that, they had to go figure it out by themselves.
Well good for them.  And of course it was all for the purpose of providing their children with a better environment, a more innovative and knowledgeable world than they had, right?  So, if this is the case and adults inside and outside of education have seen the value in adapting to their surroundings, then why are so many still resisting helping their children adapt now, instead of later, so they don’t have to trudge through the same trenches and hardships as they did?

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 I teach, therefore you learn…or do you?

Actually, with or without us, the kids ARE adapting.  For this Digital Native generation, from the moment they came into the  world, have experienced technological change like never seen before and all along they are digitally adapting with the times.  And, like our parents, most of them are doing it ALL BY THEMSELVES.  But, they aren’t adults, with a long line of life experiences and a foundational education.  They are children surfing around in a vast digital world and trying to teach themselves.  And they are having to do it all alone (or with the help of their friends) because the adults in their lives–their parents, their school administration, and most of their teachers, are scared.  Scared to take that leap of faith and jump into the next era of learning.

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Learning to Change, Changing to learn

Like was said, there are a new 21st century set of Literacies:  Find, Validate,
Synthesize, leverage, Communicate, Collaborate and Problem Solve.  Why not trust that the classroom can become this place, where today’s students are helping create their own education, becoming active participants in it, instead of passive sponges, absorbing meaningless information, just for the sake of  passing a test?  Why not trust us 21st century educators and let us bring the global community that today’s student lives in 24/7 INTO the classroom and turn it into a place that is artistic, that involves synthesis and understanding of context, where they can work in teams to collaborate and communicate and problem solve together?  Where the social networks and peer online communities that distract them from the homework will NOW become a part of their classwork, AND they are so excited about what they are creating and learning that they can’t and don’t want to stop when they get home!  And all of those tehnological realms that they were traversing alone, without adult supervision and guidance, are now related to and integrated into their education.

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*21st Century learners

This is the type of world we are supposed to prepare our students for, one that involves the ability to create, to synthesize, to problem solve, to think critically.  We need to stop spoon-feeding our students and start empowering them to be self-directed and help them manage their own learning.  Like Daniel Pink demonstrates, this is what motivates people.   I am ready to do it, I just have to find a way to correlate it back to those darn quantitative measures.

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How will you teach me in the 21st Century?

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Teacher vs Educator: the duel is ON!

Are you going to be my teacher?

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YouTube video Uploaded by on Oct 25, 2009

Good question kid?  However, I think it would be better if you asked:

ARE YOU GOING TO BE MY TEACHER OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE MY EDUCATOR??

Well, as for me, kid, I don’t want to be yours or anyone else’s teacher! I want to be your EDUCATOR!  No, they ARE NOT the same thing!  They say that you should be passionate about what it is that you do, otherwise, what’s the point?  Well, I AM passionate about my profession.  I am an educator.  Or so I like to think.  Although, these days I really don’t like my job so much because I find I am a teacher, much more often than I am an educator.

Do you teach or do you Educate?

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“Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame.” – Socrates

The shift in education today centers around reverse instruction and this idea of a “flipped” classroom.  Many educators (note I do NOT say teachers) are moving toward this 21st century style of learning and the results coming out of the classroom are amazing.  Why?  Because this is what students of today, the Digital Natives (aka digital learners), want AND need to truly learn and be prepared for the real world.

Engage me!

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Alan November says, we need to involve students in a community outside the classroom and relate it to class concepts.  We need to teach critical thinking and problems solving, not just rote memorization and calculation skills.  We need to turn the ownership of the learning over to the students and let them make a contribution.  Let them find the problem to solve and then we guide them in using the technology and concepts to solve it.  They need to find dignity and integrity in their work, to create content that adds value.  We as “educators” should be helping our students leave a legacy.  When students are creating a legacy, “There is a change in the culture, the ecology of learning, a fundamental shift in relationships and roles and a feeling of empowerment students have.”

So, in order for this to happen the bottom line is:

We need to change that plain one-dimensional teacher into an educatora mentor, a guide who illuminates, enlightens, inspires and empowers, not just explains.

Well, I have definitely jumped onto this “21st century learning” train of of educators working to incorporate reverse instruction and the flipped classroom, and am working to regularly implement this pedagogy into my classroom.  I want to become an “educator” every day and get rid of the “teacher“.  I want to bring the mathematical exploration and critical thinking inside my classroom door on a daily basis instead of leaving it to the students to trudge through alone at home most of the time.

To help me in this transformation, I am reaching out to get connected to those who have done it (Dan Meyers, Brian Bennett), and, thanks to Jeff Utecht and my COETAIL program, am working to build the connections and educational networking communities with other educators already riding the train.  As I said from the very beginning, it all starts with baby steps.  Well, this girl’s train is picking up, baby.

However, unfortunately, I see a folk in the road up ahead and I’m now sure how to handle it.  But THAT is for another blog.

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TIM (the Technology Integration Matrix) saves the day!

The essential question:  What is technology integration?

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I think part of my issue has been NOT feeling like I was able to define “integration” of technology.  Wikipedia defines technology integration as “the use of technology tools in general content areas in education in order to allow students to apply computer and technology skills to learning and problem-solving.  Generally speaking, the curriculum drives the use of technology, not visa versa.”

Okay, let’s see where I’m at.  My students are using their laptops everyday, pulling in electronic version of the daily lesson and utilizing OneNote to organize their notes.  Daily laptop use allows them easy access to the internet to search for information unknown or for resources to help support the concepts they are learning.  Many a time I have found, in the middle of lesson, students are on Wikipedia or utilizing some search engine, surfing for sites that can provide additional details or information about the mathematical concept we are covering that day.  Yeah, self-guided learning.  Instead of their hands going up, they reach for the answers themselves and, THEN, maybe raise their hand for clarification on their findings.  Independent learning utilizing technology?…check.  We have also utilize the online resources provided by the textbook publishers and other interactive math sites where students are partaking in interactive activities to explore and assess their understanding.  So, implementation of Web 2.0 tools?…check.  Additionally, they have utilized programs such as Google Docs to collaborate and create shared documents and presentations to summarize understanding and use for later reference and study.  I have had them create presentations of mathematical concepts using media software such as PhotoStory, Camtasia, and Sam Animation.  So, implementation of technology presentation tools?…check.

So am I meeting the technology integration definition, according to Wikipedia?  Yes, I believe I am.   But, again, part of the issue has been finding a way to organize the type and level of this integration and begin to stretch those boundaries and move to the next level, both in the integration and the learning environment.

Enter TIM: The Technology Integration Matrix!  My hero, here to save the day!

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells as illustrated below.”

This could be the structure I have been looking for.  It seems TIM will give me the ability to begin defining what type and level of integration I have utilized.  It will provide a way to organize my integration into the proper level and associate it with the proper learning environment.  It also provides many helpful examples of lessons that fit into each level, so I can get new ideas for future lessons.  Lastly, it can help me to assess where I am at in terms of my integration journey and give me guidance to the direction of my next steps.

Now, lets start organizing!! :)   MATRICES SAVE THE DAY!

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We’re gettin’ it in the NETS…mostly :)

If only I could designate specific planning time to educational web surfing.

Ed-Web Surfing: 9-10pm???

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I think then I would not dread having to blog.  Here I sit, two hours into formulating my first blog for Course 4 of my COETAILS program and I’m still on paragraph one!!  Why?  Because in the mist of researching the NETS for Students and the best ways of implementing these digital-age learning standards and benchmarks into our classrooms, I get sidetracked with exploring all of the possible ideas and what others are doing.  The problem is, I really enjoy blogging and surfing around to read about what other educators have to say, and ideally, what they are doing in their classrooms to implement technology, but all of that takes time.    Throughout my technological  journey, I continue to come up against that age old question, that haunts educators across the world, “Where is that extra 10 hours in my day to dedicate to this feat!”

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Here I am, a year later, and I would like to think a year wiser in my technology knowledge.  But yet, I still feel this process of implementation has not gotten much easier.  Maybe it’s because, as much as I want to, I have yet to find a way to make it an integral part of my curriculum.  Or maybe it’s because just when I get a chance to surf around and find innovative things to try out, the reality of curriculum deadlines, grading “must do” common assessments, attending IB conferences, writing student college recommendation letters, and coaching varsity soccer creeps in and sends me back to square one!  Yikes!  So, how do we implement the NETS for students in our classrooms, alongside all of these other realities, you ask?  Good question!!!

Okay, so I can’t totally complain because maybe my school is one of the “privileged ones.”  This became quite apparent the other week when I was collaborating with teachers from other international schools at a IB conference who could only dream of having access to so many digital resources.  Yes, I will say that our school is well on its way to aligning itself with the NETS for Students essential conditions needed to effectively power technology for learning.  We have a shared  vision, we are working to empower leaders (ie. yours truly), we have adequate  funding, equitable access and skilled IT personnel.  So, we are definitely much further along, especially when it come to resources available at our fingertips, than many others out there.  Yes, I utilize Google Docs and am registered with Google Plus, Edomodo, Glogster, Dropbox, to name just a few, but should I implement them all?

Well, just like an eager kid in a candy store, we need to start to make some choices and really create some “next steps” to continue to progress forward and not keep falling  back to square one, or stand idly by, outside the store, looking in.

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So, I think our next steps are to really work to refine our implementation and planning, focusing individually within subject departments, and start to formulate a systematic plan, one that specifies where, when, and which digital resource to utilize.  In other words, choose a few that work to get to the heart of the learning, and become experts on them.  I believe that only by getting every teacher within a particular course involved, working together to practice and share ideas, can we truly work to weave these digital curriculum resources into our content standards.   Then, once those frameworks are put into place we can really start to look at making this digital age learning an integral par t of everyday planning, teaching and assessments.

They do say that change does start with just a select few, but now it’s  time for us select few to start to branch out and truly collaborate with our colleagues, on a Unit level, and one by one, begin to transform our traditional curriculum into an interactive, student centered digital learning environment.

 

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I’ve been stepping for awhile: My students’ initial attempts at Visual Literacy Application with matrices

 As I wrap up my thoughts and reflections on this course, which obviously have been centered around questioning, some frustrations, and what my next steps should be, I had to look back at one of my successful steps that I took, even before my new found technological knowledge to remind myself that I have been stepping for awhile :) .

Last spring in my Precalculus class, we were approaching the end of Semester exam and beginning to start our cummulative review from the semester.  One of the topics that would be covered was Matrices.  The students had completed a Matrices unit the year before in Algebra 2 so already had the basic understanding of the concepts.  Seeing as I too, as a teacher, feel the spring fever that inevitably arises as we get into April and May, I was feeling an urge to mix it up and bring some excitement to our review.  Actually, I feel this way all of the time, as I’ve stated in earlier posts: that I want to find fun and engaging ways to present the math material in the classroom.  And, I’m the type of person that say, sometimes you just have to go out on a limb and try something, just to see how it works.  So, as I often did when I was feeling this way, I consulted my best friend and brilliant English teacher, Andrea , and we began to brainstorm about how we could make reviewing matrices FUN!  To make a long story short, the final idea that emerged was to create a 3 part project that would incorporate reviewing matrix operations, finding the determinant of a matrix and explaining how to solve a matrix equation using inverse matrices.  Boring you may say?  Maybe, BUT now when you’re 1).  using visual graphics to explain matrix operations, 2).  Writing a Limerick (yes, a poem) that creatively explains how to find the determinant of a matrix, and 3). creating a short story (a drama, romance, comedy, horror, action adventure, etc) that tells through the plot of the story, how to solve a matrix equation using inverse matrices.   Alas, I created this project for my Precalculus class to use as a Review of Matrices.

[Powerpoint including parts 1 & 2 embedded below (some parts are distorted as I had to upload into google Presentation from Microsoft pptx) and an example of part 3, the short story is also included.  I have also embedded the project guidelines under my reflections--Google doc includes parts 1 & 2 and part 3 is attached as a word doc].

My reflections:  The great thing about this project was that it forced the students to really understand the concepts in order to create each piece of the project.  It brought about some great discussions as students worked to find visual ways to represent the operations of matrices and creative ways to express finding the determinant using a limerick.  And lastly, that ideas that arose as they worked to create a short story that expressed how to solve a matrix equation were amazing (and hilarious).  Although many of them were a little reluctant at first as it challenged their “traditional” way of reviewing (and forced them to actually think), once they got rolling, almost all of the student bought in and got engaged and excited about the activity.  Additionally, the great thing for me was that I could immediately tell as they began to creat their project, which groups really had solid understanding of the concepts and which ones needed some assistance.  I could then interject and give some quick teaching points and redirection, and since they had to relate the concepts to the project topics by connecting a visual or a context (story or limerick) to the mathematical concept, the understanding really seemed to stick better in the students’ mind.  Obviously from the variety of creations seen in the powerpoint, a few groups still needed to guidance, but the overall success and understanding of matices that resulted from the project was pretty impressive.

Matrix Review Project Guidelines

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Are we as educators creating swiss cheese knowledge? Khan Academy is onto something!

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WOW!  Look how far we have come.  Can you imagine where we would have been HAD Isaac Newton been able to post his “lectures” on YouTube?  Why not help our students become 100% bike riders.  Why are we handing them that unicycle before they’re ready?  This seems to be the puzzle piece that will allow us as educators to leap out of the trenches of teaching procedure after prodecure (especially in math) and onto the ground of application and higher level thinking, all while running with the technology.

And, OBVIOUSLY this drastically changes the teacher’s role.  Some may argue that in a sense, the teacher becomes obsolete.  If a kid can learn the concepts on their own by watching a video, then what do they need the teacher for?

It definitely redefines our role as educators, but I think the idea actually brings more value to our profession as now the teacher becomes the discussion builder, the faciliator of conversations in the classroom.  As Salman Khan said, our classroom truly becomes humanized!  The teacher is no longer just regurgitating information from a book, information that the student could get for themselves, be it from the text or online.  Now it requires the teacher to take things to the next level, to the critical thinking level, to know the material to a level deep enough to start to make the connnections to the application, where  it really matters.  It frees the teacher to explore FOR THEMSELVES the deeper meaning of the math and opens up oppportunity to have conversations in the classroom and share ideas, collaborate on concepts, student to student and teacher to student, while everyone discovers deeper meaning for themselves.

I definitely think Khan Academy is onto something.  I think the thought of making such a radical shift is truly frightening because it is not just doing the same thing in a slightly different way, but it is revamping the entire method of education.  But, with the rapid technological shift that is taking place in today’s society, it may be time to wipe the drawing board clean and try something new and different.  It may be time to take the risk and try something radical!

A little side note thought on this topic (Just me pondering a bit more)  :)

What about assessments?  What do assessments look like in this sort of classroom environment?  Does the tracking system that Khan discusses take care of that as it tracks students’ understanding, or lack there of?  Does this take the assessment to a project-based product that is used to display understanding?  And how do we grade these projects?

Somehow assessing understanding always comes back to that one-size-fits-all.  At least in high school, where we have letter grades.  If we make this shift, it would mean developing a detailed rubric that fits the standards in terms of levels of understanding and that becomes the grading system, seemingly more similar to how elementary teachers assess student understanding.  So then does everyone eventually get an A because everything is self paced and they move forward as they gain the understanding?  But, what do you do when you get to the end of the year and there are still those few kids who haven’t met all of the standards? If we let them move on then aren’t we still creating that swiss cheese effect? 

It is almost as if this totally wipes out the traditional idea of a teacher teaching one course, say Algebra 2, and moves us as educators toward teaching along a wider spectrum, where you’re addressing some above and some below the course level all within the same classroom.  I guess that truly is humanizing, isn’t it :)    Interesting :)

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Finding time…If only I had 10 more hours in the day!

The power of a visual is priceless!  I truly believe that pictures do speak a 1000 words and as advertisements show time and time again, an image sells.  So, over this last month, I have really worked to make visuals a conscience part of my lessons and work to incorporate visual literacy into my classroom.  For instance, last week I spent a good 2 hours planning an 85 minute lesson on Permutations and Fundamental counting Theorem.   It included some great visual images, a quick video clip, and other tidbits to capture the attention of the audience in my classroom.  I felt it was a great lesson and the kids were quite engaged and seemed to take away a good understanding of the material.  I definitely think the visuals helped and the video was a nice wrap up of the lesson.  So, yeah for me.

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But the continually pressing question remains:   How do we fit the time in our planning schedule to put together these high quality lessons for every class?  And, what about that next step:  to formulate those ideal lessons that will allow the students to search, discover the answers and create their own product that depicts their understanding of the concepts?  If only I had ten more hours in my day to dedicate to this sort of awesome lesson planning!  HELP!  Is it me and my lack of search knowledge and digital brilliance, or is everyone having this issue?!  I know it’s all part of the process of making that technological shift in the classroom to integrate multimedia and visual literacy, but right now I feel like I’m floating alone in my mathematical boat in this digital sea with a blurred sense of direction.  Even though there has been a shift to more online resources and materials, our math curriculum doesn’t easily lend itself to the sort of technology based environment that  is heading up this shift.  So, how do I stay afloat in this tidal wave of technology and start to fully ride the wave on my mathematical surfboard?  I know the answers.  I need to Communicate, Colloborate, & begin to Create with my fellow surfers.  But how do we find each other amist this vast ocean?

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