Best Practices In Teaching, Learning, and Technology Integration

Welcome to my Blog! I hope to share innovative information that I learn about technology integration and best practices in teaching and learning. Combined with good instructional strategies,technology integration is the key for creating an engaging and rigorous environment for students. Feel free to join the site and follow my blog posts. I look forward to interacting with you and adding you to my Professional Learning Network. Thank you!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teaching Problem Solving to Young Mathematicians

Problem solving in mathematics is an important skill as outlined by the first CCSS Mathematical Practice: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Students who master this skill early are better prepared for more complex math and problem-solving tasks. So, why do our young learners have a difficult time mastering this skill? As a math coach, I have been stressing integrated problem solving with my teachers. However, last week I was able to observe a teacher as she worked through a problem with her students, and realized that students would have benefited from being familiar with strategies to assist in thinking and problem solving. She also recognized that most of the students were fearful when viewing so many words written closely together, providing information about the problem. It is math class for goodness sake! 😅 Middle school students are still at the stage where they need visuals and mnemonics to help with recall and understanding. So, I found the visual below, shared it with my teachers, and they thought it would be useful. So, how do we as teachers of mathematics help our students reach a proficient level in problem solving? A practice guide entitled, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8, published by IES outlines 5 recommendations to improve mathematical problem solving by our students. These research-based recommendations have specific examples of how each should be carried out. View the practice guide below. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Formative Assessment with Mastery Connect: Best Find So Far!

Most educators agree that formative assessment is a powerful practice when it comes to improving student achievement.  After-all, how do we know how to tailor instruction if we don't make "spot checks" along the way?  I attribute my successful track record of growing students in the mathematics classroom to frequent formative assessments. In 2010, my favorite tool of choice was the SMART Response interactive response system, generically know as "clickers."  I was able to assess students quickly and often, while tagging questions with standards. This allowed me to differentiate for each student and learn what standards students had mastered and when they were ready to move on.

Now, in the age of mobile devices to aid teaching and learning, the "clicker" has taken a back seat to several on-line tools and Apps.  I recently discovered Mastery Connect, which has a free version that allows teachers to track the Common Core or state standards for every student.  What a powerful tool!  With the free version, up to ten questions can be administered to students, where they answer on their iPad or fill in a bubble sheet that is scanned by the teacher's mobile device (iPhone/iPad) or Web Cam.  Students get immediate feedback and results are tagged with mastery, near mastery, or remediation.  Several math teachers that I have shared this with are excited to have this data at their finger tips. Another plus is the collaboration with a huge network of teachers who have uploaded assessments to share. Watch the video below to see how some of the features work.