Posts tagged technology

And the Survey Says…

One objective of our math curriculum deals with Probability, Graphs and Statistics…uff-da! (a little Minnesotan for ya 🙂 Probability concepts are super tricky for 4th graders! So what is a nerdy teacher to do? When it comes to difficult math topics, hands-on is usually a good approach. Instead of just showing my kids graphs and having them interpret and answer questions, we made our own!

First of all, the kids chose a survey question. Popular ones included: Favorite color, animal, soda, and TV show. They took their surveys to recess, home to their families and I scheduled to visit 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms to gather data. They were so cute and professional with their clipboards:

After we gathered our data, I taught the kiddos how to make a graph in Excel.  Since this was our first adventure with Excel, I decided to make a template that the kids would use to enter their data. (Download template here:  Survey Results) This was my survey about Ice Cream Flavors:

Survey Results

Ok, so we have learned about surveys, and my kiddos understand that data and graphs aren’t just “made up”, but  they actually mean something. Next up, we have to analyze our data! I know, analyzing sounds really boring…but there are ways of making it fun! Here is what we did:

I used my graph to model and explain the different types of questions that are asked when analyzing data:

Informational Questions–Which one got the most/least votes?

Comparing Questions–How many more people liked vanilla than cookies and cream?

Inference Questions–If we asked 100 more people, how many people would most likely choose vanilla?

Then my kids wrote three questions based on the information in their graphs. Having kids write their own math questions is always interesting and requires them to think really critically about the math concept. They also had to solve their own questions so they could make an answer key.

Now the fun begins continues! I put on some upbeat music and a timer for 10 minutes and all the kids used whiteboards to go around and solve the problems (kind of like Writer’s Roundtable). They used the answer key on the back to check their answers. Of course someone asked, “What if we get them wrong?” We added an element of accountability and each kid kept track of how many they got right on their board.

And the survey says: Probability, Statistics and graphs? EASY and FUN!

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Student Artwork

If your students are anything like mine, they LOVE giving you precious, original works of art. If your classroom is anything like mine, there is not enough wall space to display all this priceless artwork. My solution? I use my ELMO, or you could use a scanner or digital camera, and take a picture of the artwork. I save it in a folder aptly named, “Student Artwork”, then set my screen saver to scroll through the artwork when I’m idle. This usually only happens after lunch, and the kids love looking at their artwork up on the big screen!

Here is one of my favorites from this year so far:

Art 12

Please note that “Miss O” is the tank, not the person being shot.

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Look at my new iPhone!

I finally got it. My beloved iPhone. You must understand that as a Nerdy Teacher (and avid Apple enthusiast), getting an iPhone167888_539524428008_144700401_31692868_1618380_n has been one of my greatest desires for years. And then, on Christmas morning…I got it. Since that fateful Christmas day, I’ve been told by those around me that I may use the term “iPhone” a bit gratuitously. For example, “My sister texted me to day, on my iPhone…” or “Does anyone know what the word “Dunderhead”means? No? Well, let me look it up on my iPhone!”, or “Come look at the picture of the baby I took on my iPhone.”

I have found several apps that have been great as a teacher!

1. iGrade--This is an alternative to your traditional grade slider. Just put in the number of questions and it gives you the percentages. This one is free.

2. NumPad. When I do grades at home on my laptop, I’m always super annoyed because it doesn’t have a number pad so it takes forever to enter each one. Enter, NumPad! I don’t know exactly how this works, but it turns your iPhone into a wireless number pad and works great!

3. Dropbox. I have posted about Dropbox before, and the Dropbox app is no exception! You can have all your files at your fingertips. You can even quickly attach any file to an email to share with others. I was at a workshop a few weeks ago and told a teacher I met there about a writing rubric I created, I was able to email it to her directly from Dropbox!

4. Google Mobile–specifically, Google Tasks. I use this to make to do lists on my phone and then I can access them at school or at home. (Of course, you know my love of making lists and crossing things off!)

Does anyone else have any apps that the use in the classroom?

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Always prepared! My Dropbox love.

Today I have a tool I just must share with you. If you are a teacher, student or person who ever works on more than one computer, ie: work computer and home computer, then Dropbox might be your new best friend. I have tried many means of syncing my files across my home computer, school desk top and school laptop. I tried using a “Briefcase” on my flashdrive, which works OK, as long as you remember to sync it everyday and remember to put it back in your purse, backpack, pocket, keychain, etc… that’s a lot of remembering for this absent minded teacher! The last few years I used “Windows Live Sync” but my computer on the other end had to be online for me to access the files, and it was recently blocked at school. Eh. Enter….DROPBOX.

This handy little tool is simple to use and has not failed me yet. All you do is go to Dropbox.com and set up a FREE account. You get 2 gigs free, FREE! I have only used 18% of my 2 gigs, so it’s plenty for storing the files I need to access at home and school. Anyway, when you download dropbox you get a little folder in your “My Documents” or wherever you want to put it. All you do is start saving to that folder and it will automatically update the files online. You can also download the Dropbox folder on any computer and it will automatically update the files on that computer. I have created a file for my Master’s class and my “School Files 2010-11” folder where I’m saving all my school documents. So while I’ve been sitting here at Starbucks this morning, I’ve accessed files for my Master’s project and lesson plans. It makes me instantly prepared. Love it.

If you are working on a random computer that doesn’t have Dropbox downloaded, you can always access your files online at dropbox.com. Working in the computer lab or library? No problem.

Want to know more about Dropbox? check out this quick video explaining everything much better than I can!  I love that they describe Dropbox as the “Magic Pocket”…so true.

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