Tag Archives: teaching math

Top Four Passionate Math Teacher Blogs

Top Four Passionate Math Teacher Blogs

What an amazing set of blogs! Which activities are your favorite?

There are so many ideas here that can be replicated throughout the algebra curriculum. Just because your students are essentially teenagers, they still want to get up out of their seat and learn in a fun interactive way. Don’t deprive them! Let’s get creative!!!!

Parent Communication

Year after year, after year, there always seems to be more to do at the beginning of the school year than any human can possibly accomplish. I would like to emphasize one, and only one thing, for the first  3 -4 weeks to accomplish. This would be parent communication. Please make at least one contact home, verbally speaking with a parent or guardian, within the first 3-4 weeks of school. This is a valuable opportunity to make a connection to home; to put your best foot forward; to stress the passion you have for educating their child or student. If at all possible, I would recommend moving those students that are already pushing your buttons to the front of that call line; however, I would only say nice things.

I know…I know….there are some students that are really showing their true colors in the first week of school. Keep in mind…these students are instituting their best defenses during this period. This may just be a front to protect their integrity, their ego, and their pride. These students may be trying to make a place for themselves in the only society they know…school. Let them. However, make a connection home to let their parent(s) or guardians know that you have their best interests in mind. Let them know that you will work with them to insure that “Johnny” or “Susie” have the best year ever. Let them know that the communication lines are always open, in both directions. It’s amazing what positive gains will occur with a simple, casual conversation.

With that said, I would suggest a cheat-sheet of sorts to use when you call parents/guardians the first time. Try to be consistent with the information you give to all parents. As we all know, parents do talk with one another. You’re laughing, but mark my words…. say X, Y and Z to parent A, and G, H, I to parent B, parent A and B talk, …you know what will come your way.

Don’t be afraid to encourage parents/guardians to come into your class for a class period. Some will take you up on it and others will not. When they do, don’t put on a show. Be yourself. Keep your normal routines. Maintain the same expectations. This will paint a real picture for them. For the ones that take you up on this offer, be sure to continue communications home throughout the year, good and bad. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. With that said, I would also keep a record sheet for each student to record the parental contact you have made and the reasons for doing so, including returning phone calls from parents. Come April or May, this will prove to be a value resource for those students that have been “high-flyers” all year.

The key is communication home. I certainly do not want to disillusion you into thinking that every parent or guardian will be responsive to you making calls home. Some will and some won’t. The key is to do what you should on your end….and that’s making sure that the line is open. Sometimes, it’s just one-sided.

Best of luck!

Amazing Math Software – FluidMath

I’m not sure how FluidMath found me on Twitter, but I’m so happy they did. Finally, someone has created a math software that WORKS for math teachers and the way they teach. I’ve used a Tablet PC since 2004, for both instruction and for personal use. My students absolutely loved the features a tablet provided me for instruction, but wow! If I had only had this software, I would have knocked their socks off!

FluidMath

These are only a few of the things I love so far:

  1. It reads math hand writing, including math symbols and formatting.
  2. It has graphing tools that are effortless, precise, readable and adjustable.
  3. It has just enough bells and whistles, such as color changing tools and styles, to capture students interest and allow for emphasis throughout instruction.
  4. The graphs act like Java applets that are completely responsive to changes made my hand.
  5. It can easily be used with Microsoft Word in creating assignments, assessments, and notes.
And, so many more.
What I would like to investigate with this software is how well it works with the functionality of Microsoft Office OneNote, particularly the recording feature. I would love to see a lessons recorded with the teacher/class speak using this software so that it can be uploaded and archived on the teacher’s blog or website. This way, if a student misses a lesson, they can simply cue it up later and not miss a beat!
I am very impressed with this software. I can’t wait to purchase a copy of my own! I’ll keep you posted!

Virtual Whiteboards

In my one moment of creative thought this evening, I thought,

“Shannon, how great would it be to collaborate with teachers and students via an online shared whiteboard.”

I know I cannot be the first one to think of this; however, I’m thinking free! Yes, free online desktop sharing, or simply a shared whiteboard for two or more people to think collaboratively, posing questions and seeking methods of solutions. I’m not too far removed from teaching that I have forgotten how much teachers already spend on their classrooms. Teachers do not need to spend a cent more of their own dime if they are willing to give up out-0f-the-classroom time to answer questions from their students. I started a search for a FREE online whiteboard application/resource and found two so far.

http://www.dabbleboard.com/draw

and

http://www.showdocument.com/plans.jsf

 

I played with the first website the most and found it easy to use, but would require practice to become proficient with utilizing the functions live with students.

This is what I captured.

 

 

 

I have yet to give the second link the same attention.

When I taught mathematics, I use a tablet pc, which allowed me to use a stylist to write just like using a pen, but with using software like Microsoft Office OneNote. I have used OneNote since 2005 and it is amazing! Math is so difficult to “type”, so time is wasted formatting instead of explaining. When explaining mathematical concepts to students in the classroom, I have found students appreciated and respond best to the real-time writing I did during instruction. I was able to use different colors, write on a notebook paper template or graph paper, use a highlighter, and draw shapes to instruct. I was also able to lay out notes for students to record into their binders, a format which was best suited for reviewing, researching and studying. Most importantly, and unlike using the chalkboards of old, I was able to face my students while I wrote, monitoring student behavior and attention. As one administrator observed, “Students have no choice but to listen and learn!”

I’m on the hunt. If you know of a resource that would fit this bill, please post a comment. Whether it would be for math instruction or not, there is a need for online collaboration and instruction for all teachers. What is your favorite resource?

Ideas for Keeping Students, and Yourself, Organized

I will share some strategies for keeping students organized in the classroom, note taking strategies and study skills. I will also share some tips to keeping your sanity when it comes to the daily classroom occurrences.

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