Sunday, June 11, 2017

10 Ways to Enhance Math Lessons with FlipGrid

“How can this be used for math?” This is a question I often hear and even ask myself when it comes to using technology in the classroom.
In today’s math classrooms, we need students to develop a deeper understanding of the math they are learning. It's no longer about completing computational steps correctly. Math today should involve more reasoning, explaining, and students communicating their understanding of the concepts being learned.

FlipGrid is perfect for this! As described on the website, “Flipgrid is a video discussion community for your classroom that supercharges your students’ voices. You add the topics, your students respond with short videos, and everyone engages!”

Checkout and signup for FlipGrid at www.flipgrid.com!
I learned about FlipGrid in early spring as part of a #DitchBook Twitter Chat that happens on Thursday nights. After I tried it out that night as part of the chat I was hooked. I caught the FlipGrid Fever! The next morning I signed up for a free FlipGrid One account, created my first grid and topic, and used it with my 4th grade class the next day! They loved it!
My students begged for me to include more FlipGrid in the activities that we were doing in class. It was even more exciting when I signed up for a free trial of FlipGrid Classroom which allows for even more functions, the best being able to reply to responses.
Next school year I am moving from teaching 4th grade (all subjects) to teach 6th grade math. I immediately asked the question, “How I could use FlipGrid in my math classroom?”

Well, the possibilities are probably endless, but here are ten ideas I brainstormed to use FlipGrid with math that can help us get started.  
One quick note before you continue. All these ideas include the same basic steps. So I will go ahead and put them here instead of repeating them over and over.
  • Using your FlipGrid account the teacher will create a grid and/or topic with FlipGrid and share this with the students.
  • The students get time to complete the task and add their response, sharing their thought process, work, and final solution.
  • Students can then view and respond to other videos if needed.
Okay, on with the show.
  1. Number Talks. Using FlipGrid helps slow down the pace of the discussion and allows more time for students to think about and respond to the math. Everyone gets to share their voice and add to the conversation.
  2. Weekly Math Problem. This could be done as a review or about the current topic. Mix it up by doing this with another class at your school, district, or across the country! For me, I’ll be teaching five sections of 6th grade math, so this could be a great way for students from other classes to interact with each other.
  3. Student Math Challenge. Put students in control and allow them to provide a math problem for classmates to complete. I like this idea for simple computational practice. My students in the past always loved to challenge each other with different problems. Some healthy organic competition can do wonders in a classroom!
  4. Find the mistake. Post a video or picture of a math problem that was worked out incorrectly and has the wrong answer. Students must then find the error and explain in their response how to solve it correctly.
  5. Would you rather…? Have seen www.wouldyourathermath.com? It’s a website put together by Classroom Chef co-author John Stevens. On the site are tons of scenarios posted that challenge the students to think, solve some math, choose a path and justify their reasoning. The best part is that new ones are continuously added and you can search them by categories!
  6. Student created math tutorials. I can see this happening two ways. The first option is to have students add math tutorial responses on a predetermine math skill. Then share the filled FlipGrid Topic as a resource for others to use. The second option is like a “math help hotline”. Provide a topic where students can post questions or calls for help. Other students can respond with a short how-to tutorial. For either one these options, a screencasting app could be used to create the video and then just upload those videos to FlipGrid.
  7. Math Notes. FlipGrid could be a great way to chronicle all of the different math topics and skills that have been taught in your class. Place either student or teacher created responses that students could go back to if they get stuck and need help. Make sure to have student save or bookmark the link to the grid and they can have access 24/7.
  8. Stump the Teacher. Students pose a math question they already know the answer to and teachers respond with the solution and how it was solved.
  9. Use the video transcript. With each FlipGrid response, a transcript is generated. While they are not always perfect, students could go back and read over their explanation to a math problem to see if it makes sense.  If it doesn’t students could copy the text, modify it, and either record a new response using the edited transcript or submit the text via a shared Google Doc or Form. My thinking is this might be helpful for students to see text responses and know what to write for those questions on our standardized tests that want students to explain why or describe how.
  10. Math Curse by Jon Scheszka & Lane Smith
    Photo credit: screenshot, amazon.com
     
    Share real world math experiences. Math is all around us! The more and more students can relate the things they are learning in math to their lives the better. Use FlipGrid and have students share their math experiences that happened outside of the classroom. They can share how they figured out if the had enough money to spend. Have them talk about what measurements they used when cooking a recipe. What angles did they notice at the playground? Possibilities are endless! One of my favorite ways to begin the school year is reading the book Math Curse to my students and have them create their own Math Curse stories. If you do this, students could add their Math Curse questions to FlipGrid for their classmates to answer.



So there you have it. Again these are just merely possible ways I’ve brainstormed to use FlipGrid to enhance the mathematical discussion and learning in my classroom next year. As of right now, I'm not sure which ones I’ll want to try first, but I do know that…

FlipGrid + Math = Amazing Potential
Do you want to see more ideas on how to use FlipGrid in your classroom? Check out this amazing blog post by my friend Karly Moura on 15 ways to use FlipGrid in your Class. Also be sure to look up the #FlipGridFever hashtag on Twitter. Teachers from all over are sharing the incredible ways they are using FlipGrid in their classrooms.

What are your thoughts on this? Which idea would you want to try first? How have you used FlipGrid in a math lesson before? Leave me a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @SEANJFAHEY.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lovin' Summer in Indiana

I would say by now most teachers around the country are officially on summer break and those that are not, it's quickly approaching. 

Here in Indiana, I am working on my third week of summer break! We were fortunate this year not to have any makeup days added to our calendar. (However, the downside of that is we go back August 1st.)

Image result for indiana summer of elearning conference
As a teacher myself, summer break is probably like many others. It's a time to rest, refresh, and recharge. There is a little more sleeping in, reading books, being outside, going on vacations, and spending time with family and friends.  

While all that is great, the one thing that I have also enjoyed about being an educator and living in Indiana is the Summer of eLearning Conferences sponsored by the Indiana DOE. 

These conferences are held all over the state at local schools. It is an initiative that is in its sixth year. The schools that host them have received grants to help cover many costs of putting on the conference which allows them to bring in some of the best and top notch keynote speakers & presenters from all around the country. 

On top of that, the grants also help reduce registration costs. The highest I've seen is $30-$40 for a two-day conference. And whatever cost it may be, in my experiences, it has always included a small breakfast during registration time (donuts, fruit, coffee, etc) and lunch. If you are not sold yet, local teachers sign up to present sessions on topics they are passionate about and experts on. Definitely, a huge bang for your bucks in my opinion.

Don't believe me? Just check out this year's conference list. I am sure you will probably find one nearby that is intriguing to you. All this happens to better equip educators on the uses of technology in the classroom and other areas to make our teaching better for students.

This year's conferences have already begun. I was able to attend PowerED Up at Perry Central for two days where I heard keynotes and from Matt Miller and Eric Sheninger and attended a session to experience my first BreakoutEDU. I went to the second day of Making a Splash in Digital Learning at Batesville High School where I presented sessions on Creating and Teaching with HyperDocs and enjoyed a keynote and a session by John Spencer. Check out some of my highlights in the embedded Slides below!

And I'm not done yet! On June 22nd, I'm attending the SuiteLife Conference at Washington High School where Kasey Bell will be keynoting. While there, I will be presenting HyperDocs again along with FlipGrid too. 

I'd like to encourage any educator in Indiana or surrounding states (Yep, you don't have to be a from Indiana!) to take the time and attend one of these conferences. I guarantee it will be worth your time and investment. 

Have you attended one Summer of eLearning conferences? Would love to hear what your experience has been like. Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @SEANJFAHEY.

Finally, thanks to the all that work on putting these conferences together all over our state! 

Enjoy your summer everyone!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Revamp Traditional Agenda Books using Google Keep and Docs

I was inspired by the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast episode on Google Keep to share a way that I have used Google Keep in my classroom this past year as a way to do away with and revamp the traditional student agenda books.

Long story short, prior to this school year I was hand writing my daily agenda on the oversized poster copy of the student issued agenda book every day. Requiring students to copy it down in their agenda books to help communicate with home what the assignments and activities for that day was.

Why? Because that is how it has always been done? Students despised having to write down the agenda. After the first few weeks of school students struggled completing this task. Agendas started getting lost or left at home. Many agendas weren't getting signed by parents or guardians at home to acknowledge they have reviewed it as I required, OR the complete opposite would happen. I noticed some parents signed for the whole week the first day!

ARGHHH! Again, why was I still doing this? It was a battle that was not worth fighting! I needed a better way to help keep students organized & communicate class work with home.

My school is 1:1 with Chromebooks, so why not leverage the technology students had? I immediately thought of Google Keep, Google’s note keeping app that is like digital sticky notes. (As of February 2017, it is now one of the G Suite for Education Core Services! If you are not familiar with Google Keep check it out at www.google.com/keep.) Along with using a shared Google Doc to replace the oversized poster copy of the agenda so students know the assignments and activities for class, I felt like I had a good plan in place.

So now that the year is coming to an end and reflecting back, here are nine benefits I encountered while using Google Keep and Docs to revamp traditional agendas.

  1. It saves time. No more wasting class having students write down notes for their own agenda. It’s already done and everyone can view it.
  2. It saves money. I know my school spends the money every year to purchase an agenda book every year. Use Google Keep and Google Docs to eliminate that cost!
  3. Everything in one place and accessible anytime, anywhere. By having students add the Agenda Doc to their Drive it will automatically sync for offline viewing. Also, Google Keep does the same thing! So this way whether or not students have internet access outside of school, they will be able to view the agenda and check off or add items to the To-Do list.
  4. Student Accountability. You can have students share their To-Do list with you. You can help keep student accountable in real time and this also means you can add to the list or mark things off. This could be really helpful for when students are absent!
  5. Share with parents. Change the share setting of your Agenda Doc to “anyone w/ link can view” and give it to your parents in a shortened URL or a QR code. Also, not only can the note on Google Keep be shared between you and your students, but it can also be shared with a parent that has a Google account so they can see what student need to complete for class.
  6. Add links and highlight. To help students and parents, I bold and highlight important assignments like an upcoming test or science project that is due.  When adding items I will also hyperlink the text to any digital resources we used and assignments I posted in Google Classroom. After the week is over I also download the Doc as a PDF, save it to my drive, and add the link to the doc just for reference after the weekend or a long break.
  7. Helps students know what they missed. Having this setup has allowed students who were absent know immediately where to go and get any assignments they missed. This also allows students who have access at home to view assignments online and go ahead and work on things while being out.  
  8. It teaches 21st century skills. How many of you still use some sort of physical planner book? If you are like me, my school uses a shared online calendar and my personal schedule is on my smart phone. This way of scheduling and organization is not going away. So what better way to prepare students for their future than to have them start using these type of tools now?
  9. Get organized. Some of the features of Google Keep that can be more beneficial to both teachers and students are: being able to color code your notes, add a label (which I liken to a hashtag) to help with sorting, set reminders, or with the checkbox option selected in the note, reorder the To-Do list to reflect order of importance by just a quick click and drag.

Just a warning, it wasn’t very easy at first. I had to teach students the technology. Sometimes I would forget to add the items to the agenda doc. Students would have a large amount of items on their To-Do list they weren’t marking out or deleting. Some students didn’t want to use Google Keep and preferred to continue using the agenda, while others were responsible enough to just use the Google Doc. So I adjusted my expectations, allowed for student choice and it turned out okay. All in all, I think all involved are very happy with the outcomes and I look forward to using this again next year.

If you would like to try this revamped method of student agendas, below are the steps I took setting it up.

  • Create a Google Doc that will serve as your daily agenda to be shared with students. Click Here to view mine & make a copy if you like!
  • Post the Google Doc agenda in the “About” section of Google Classroom to be viewed by students.
  • When students open the Doc, have them click the Drive icon and Save it to their own Drive. I did this so the file can be viewed offline too.
  • Have students download the Google Keep App for their device. I recommend doing this cause Keep automatically syncs and is available offline.
  • Create a new note and give it an appropriate title. For me, I just had my students do something simple like “Johnny’s To-Do List”.
  • Click the three vertical dots and select show checkboxes. Doing this allows for you to reorder and check off items added to the note.
  • Click the DONE button to save the note.  

Once you and your students complete the steps above you are ready to go. I was doing this before the most recent Keep update and the Keep notepad integration in Google Docs. So now as students are viewing your agenda Google Doc if there is something they need to do for class all they have to do is click tools and select Keep notepad which will open a small sidebar.

From the sidebar, students can locate their To-Do list, add an item, check off or delete completed tasks, take a new note, and even click to open up the full Google Keep to reorder items and manage their notes.

UPDATE: 5/1/17


Erin Fisher (@MrsErinFisher), a Technology Integration Facilitator in Massachusetts saw this post and created a great video tutorial to show her teachers on how easy it was to use Google Docs and Keep to create a revamped student agenda. Check it out below. I even learned something new! Thanks again Erin!



There you have it. What are you thoughts on this? If you use it, please let me know how it works! Leave me a comment or connect with me on twitter @SEANJFAHEY.