When we first started our work with the Tarrant Institute I was hesitant. I am a math teacher; unless using innovative technology in the classroom means a graphing calculator I had no idea where to start. Everything was new to me, and I have to admit, I was overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of how I could embrace technology in my room.
With the support of Tarrant and our technology specialist I took baby steps.
To begin with I had moved to a flipped classroom model and was having my students watch carefully selected YouTube videos on an assigned topic each evening. My little experiment with videos got even better when I met Edpuzzle at the Middle Grades Institute.
Edpuzzle is a free platform that allows a user to edit videos and track student viewing of the videos. It allowed me to add voice over, shorten videos, and enter comments or formative assessment questions into the videos, videos that I was having the students watch at home.
Edpuzzle has given me the power to modify the videos to meet the needs of my particular students this year. As an assignment, I can ask the students to watch a video on solving a system of equations using graphing that I have tailored specifically for this class.
From there I had been having the students hand-write notes and turn them in to me for correction.
Well, the new innovative math teacher in me said, if they could hand write notes then they could also type notes in Google Docs and share the information with me.
This simple change has allowed me to make corrections, suggestions, and comment on the quality of their notes in real time. The students no longer had to wait a day to get corrections back.
I felt good about the videos to deliver added instruction, I felt great about the shared notes, but I knew I was missing something: I needed to know how well the students understood what they were watching, a quality control of sorts.
So I created an “entrance ticket” assessment with Google Forms for each assignment that they are asked to complete prior to class the following day.
The assessment is only 4-5 questions and I run it through the Flubaroo add-on to Google Sheets to see what topics I will need to revisit the following day, and which students will need additional support on the lesson.
Getting all these pieces delivered to the students was easy since Christ the King School had already decided to post homework assignments on Google calendar.
Not only can no one say they did not know what homework was for the evening, they also have the ability to go back to a day where they might have been absent and watch the video for that day as well!
Initially this was all a lot of work for me and it felt like I was climbing a mountain, but like everything else the more you do it the better you get at it. The system is not perfect, but it has cut down on paper, it has allowed me to offer a wider range of differentiation and it has provided me the opportunity to allot my classroom time to those students who need the most support.
I’m glad the intimidated, overwhelmed, tech-timid math teacher I was in September looked beyond her fears and embraced a new technology to replace old familiar pathways, the students are benefiting, and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities that lie ahead.