I have been using a blog and a wiki in my classrooms for a little over 2 months. I have them do scribe posts on our wiki. I have been having them find links that enhance the lessons we do in class. Our district recently had Will Richardson come and speak to us about social networking and using web tools in the classroom. Hearing him talk about his students using their blog to connect with the author of the book they were studying was amazing. I want that type of experience for my kids but how? I can't quite get my students excited about producing their own content on the web. I talk about global audiences and them taking ownership of their learning but it seems to them like just another task, like doing homework. How can we make mathematics come alive for these students? I love exploring the new tools like skype and jing. I can't wait for the day when that great idea comes to me and I have students collaborting with other students across the country or the world on something. If there are any ideas about projects or activities I could have my senior algebra/trig students or my integrated math 1 students try I would love to hear from you.

Tags: collaboration, math, maths, projects, richardson, will

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Hi Darin,
It's great you are enthused and want to try things. It's not your fault that students are treating this as just another assignment, we've trained them for years that that's all that counts.

I think that it might be a slow process to gain their trust. It might take some time to find something that they are really excited about. If it's not a global audience, then maybe it's something else. Ask them.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. It is hard to be the only one excited about something new.
Hi Darin,

I'm curious how you use the wiki in the class. What are the posting expectations in math? I would like to bring something like this to my math teachers in my district but they don't see the real application to using Wiki's for math.
Hi Tina,

I am new to the process as well but am always looking for ways to enhance my classroom. My kids love using computers so the wiki was a natural way to get them involved using computers. I have been using the wiki as a place for them to show what they have learned. I have been doing scribe posts which are basically a summary of what happened in class. Here is a really good explaination of scribe posts from Darren Kuropatwa, the teacher I got the idea from. Here is the project I had my seniors do when they completed chapter 1. Just click to open the document. I will put a few of their pages just underneath so you can see what they did. Next week I am having them create their own wiki page again. This time it will not be a review of material we covered but they will have to located and find material over a new topic. Rather that me give them the notes and homework I am going to have them create a page that must contain information on our next chapter. They will have to find links, exercises for practice, create tutorials and so on in order to gain the same knowledge as with direct instruction. They will be give a quiz at the end of the week and will be allowed to use their wiki page only for guidance on the quiz. I am a little worried about how it will go but I am going to give it a shot. Let me know how things go for you.
I get the idea of scribe posts now. I guess my first question is how did you put the angle drawings and math equations into your Wiki? Are those graphic images you scan in? The math teachers in my district will not buy into this unless writing equations is made simple. Also, my I share your wiki with my math teachers as an example?
By all means share. We are working on a new project this week so I am anxious to hear any feedback. I am pretty sure the students found the image on a web site, saved the image on their desktop and then inserted the image using the editing tools on the wiki page. Why not e-mail the student who posted the image on their scribe post. Just tell them who you are and that you saw their work and wanted to know how they did what they did. The other idea would be to add a comment to their scribe post asking how they got their images. The girl's name is Lauren and this is her e-mail address Storkee13@yahoo.com
A few years ago, a colleague and I developed a flexible model to help teachers integrate educational technologies more easily. Certainly we want to spark interest. We also found that we have to give students a reason to study/learn all of the "little stuff".

It helps when teachers ask students to step into the shoes of a professional. In other words, start out with a real-world activity/project that challenges students to design something. From there, simply consider the objectives and goals you need to cover.

Thinking just off the top of my head, math is really important in engineering and architecture..So how how about the kids becoming architects for a couple of weeks by having them design a series of floor plans...it would be the exact floor plan except, they'd have to have three different sizes...one floor plan for a small lot, another for a medium-sized lot, and a third for a large lot? The original floor plan could be any size...but the second would have to be precisely 50% larger...and the third would need to be precisesly 85% larger...or use whatever percentages you want.

Here's a link to our activity guide.....http://www.campbellhall.org/academics/techguide_activityguide.asp.
Have you thought about using any of the interactive 3D multi-player math games from Tabula Digita?

Although the games are appropriate for students who are at the pre-algebra to algebra level, they might be good for supporting students who are struggling with concepts.

The introductory modules as well as the games can be used to review key concepts. The content is pretty engaging when it is diplayed on interactive whiteboard, or even a projector hooked up to your computer. Students can use a wiki or blog to keep a journal of their experiences, and also find examples in their math textbooks that relate to what they've learned in the game.

To facilitate motivation, groups of students from different schools participate in multi-player tournaments. There even is a national multiplayer tournament.

The on-line Wayang Outpost might be interesting to some of your students. It is basically a "SAT-Prep" game-like application for math, but from what I've learned, it is effective, especially with disengaged students. Again, students could use a blog or wiki to write about their experiences learning math using the application.

Here is some of the info from the website:

"Wayang Outpost is a web-based tutoring system for high school mathematics, with a specific emphasis on preparation for high-stakes achievement tests such as the SAT-Math exam. Students complete brief assessments of their learning style, including spatial cognition, math fact proficiency, math achievement, and mathematics motivation. They then receive multimedia tutoring on practice test items, and can select from either algorithmic explanations or more visually-oriented solutions. Integrated SkillBuilder units provide practice in specific math topics. Students receive motivational and progress feedback based on a model of learner engagement."

"Evaluation studies indicate that, after working with the system, students improve 20-25% on average on the integrated pre- and post-tests of math proficiency, and the improvement is greatest for students with the weakest math skills. We also find that students who describe themselves as disengaged from math are most likely to access the multimedia help in an effort to learn, suggesting that technology-based instruction can offer discouraged students a path to success in math."

"The Wayang Outpost tutoring system includes "virtual adventures" that embed math problem solving in narratives about environmental science, specifically, an imaginary research station in Indonesia. Students interact with virtual role model characters based on real scientists and researchers who use math in their field work."
Find out if your school subscribes to Explore Learning's Gizmos. They work well on a large interactive whiteboard.

From the website:

"ExploreLearning offers a catalog of modular, interactive simulations in math and science for teachers and students in grades 6-12. We call these simulations Gizmos.

Gizmos are fun, easy to use, and flexible enough to support many different teaching styles and contexts.

Our Gizmos are designed as supplemental curriculum materials that support state and national curriculum standards; in addition, Gizmos help teachers bring research-proven instructional strategies to their classrooms."

Here is a link to a video about "Exploring Quadratics".
Lynn offers two good websites that help students explore mathematical concepts as well as practice procedures/operations. I don't mean to put discount Lynn's contributions...I just want to point out that her suggestions are both examples of Type II technologies.

If you're not familair with the various types of technologies...

Type I ...technologies (new and old) that help the teacher share information his/
her message from one to many: chalkboard, overhead projector, microphone, computer
projector, a Powerpoint (presented by the teacher), any website containing on a topic, etc.

Type II...electronic software that allow student to play with ideas in a particular
discipline. There are typically prepackaged as websites or software applications; many
are good, many are designed very poorly. Either way, the site or software addresses
a specific concept. Also notice a shift away from the teacher to the student in terms who
is engaging with the technology.

Type III ...opened-ended programs typically referred to as a "tool" = Excel, Podcasts
Inspiration, iMovie, Photoshop, Blogs, etc. Being open-ended, technologies in this genre
typically take more time developing activities/projects. Typically Type III technologies require
more work for the teacher because s/he needs to determine how a project will be structured.

This discussion began with Darin asking,
"I can't quite get my students excited about producing their own content on the web... I can't
wait for the day when that great idea comes to me and I have students collaborting with
other students across the country or the world on something.

I honestly have no reservation with using any of the three types of technologies. If you're interested in
creating content...and sharing/collaboratively, particularly online... Type III is the way to go.

Some schools are beginning to teach beginning game development. Some might focus making Flash-based games for the wb, and others are working with environments such as Gamemaker, Alice, and even XNA Express. Even the most basic game progamming involves a bit of math.

Students could work in teams to create math games related to the curriculum. This probably would work well for an after-school
club or summer program. Carnegie-Mellon offers a summer game-making program for high school students.. The public library in my region will be offering game-making classes for teens soon.

Gaming...and almost any programming involves math in many ways, particularly with regard to using and modifying variables.

Check out Bits, Bytes & Bots or The Children's Technology Workshop because they both cater to younger ages (8-14). Both offer opportunities throughout the year...as in-school activities as well as after-school activites in several different cities. They also offer summer camps.

As far as opportunities for high school students, the summer workshop offered by Carnegie-Mellon is very affordable..although the six week commitment or distance might be a problem for some families. Check out the ID-TechCamps which are one-week long and offered at fifty different colleges and universities each summer.

If you're interested in learning/teaching a fairly simple programming language, M.I.T. is hosting a workshop in Boston this summer on Scratch (July 24-26). Scratch is a simple, and free visual programming software easy enough for kindergartners yet robust enough for high school students...hard to believe, huh? I have colleagues at the elementary, middle school, and high school level (who actually teach Java and C++) who use Scratch with their students.




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