Every spring when I teach Math 371, I learn something new. Here are the things that I learned this semester:
- Our math pre-service teachers are not fans of the TI-Nspire. If they had to use a TI calculator in their classroom, they would prefer an 84 or 84-plus. We discussed at length that both Desmos and Geogebra are easier to use—and the only reason to use a calculator in our math classroom is to help students prepare for the ACT or SAT. Here is a link to the ACT calculator policy and here is the SAT calculator policy.
- We tried a new math and science app that interacts with Google docs, Equatio. This app allows you to type equations into Google docs using handwriting, speech, LaTex, and a regular equation editor. We loved that part of it. I also tried the Equatio Mathspace and created an assignment for the students. It turned out well, but we couldn’t figure out how to scroll down in the space so students couldn’t do the last problem. I will have to investigate that issue. Equatio is free to all K-12 teachers!
- The students had no desire to learn or work with a programming language in this course. I decided to incentivize it by purchasing a Sphero BB-8 robot. It was cute, but we found it hard to control movements—there is an iPad app that allows you to draw where it will go and there is another app that allows block programming. With both of them, it seemed hard to control. We might need to experiment more with the block programming.
- At the state science and math teachers conference, Gail Jacobsma from Arlington, presented on her paperless classroom using OneNote. So we decided that we needed to look at that as an option for them to use in their classroom. This was easy for us to look at since we all have Office365 accounts. I created a Class Notebook for the class, and then made an assignment for them. They said that they liked it, except they wanted a computer with a stylus (none of them have that). I have a feeling that they might use this in their classrooms.
- I was able to create a class in Google Classroom this year so we used that a bit. I didn’t use it all the time, but I did use it to create an assignment in Google forms and Equatio and post these as announcements. I feel like it is super easy to use and they will seriously consider it if their school uses gmail.
- The students explored three learning management systems: Canvas, Moodle, and Schoology. They overwhelming felt like Canvas as the best from both the teacher and student perspective. I am not sure if many districts are using it, but it gives them another option.
- One software that we didn’t get to, but I want to bring up is Planboard. It is a free lesson planning software (you must use Chrome) that Katie Murtha introduced to us last year. Katie is using it during her student teaching and loves it. You can upload your own lesson plan template and use it for all of your lesson plans. It also allows you to check off standards as you teach so you know which ones you have covered.
It was another great semester of Math 371—I only had 6 students so next year will be an adjustment as I am anticipating about 15 students. I think this may make some of my assignments more challenging, but we will figure it out.