Bringing Technology Into Your Classroom

Archive for October, 2011

On-line Math Practice With TenMarks


My class just started using a website for math practice called Ten Marks.  You can find it at http://tenmarks.com.  It was mentioned by several people in the 4thchat on Twitter last Monday.  I had looked at the website before, but I hadn’t really ventured past the home page.  That was a mistake, because the website has a lot to offer.

A big plus for me, is that students can use the iPads for this website.  Another advantage, is that it is free to teachers.   It was easy to set it up for my entire class, and you can easily tailor assignments to meet the needs of students.  It’s a great way for my students to get additional practice, and it is aligned with state core standards.  It has curriculum for grades 2 through 8, including algebra and geometry.  You can meet the specific needs of students by including skills from other grade levels.

One of the things I like about it is that each question contains hints for students to use, as well as videos that give step by step instruction.  So even though students are working independently, they have many tools at their finger tips.

Each student has their own ID and password, so they can continue to work on exercises from home.  There is the potential to include parent e-mail addresses and to include them in messages to students about assignments.

As students progress through the problems, they can have immediate feedback by clicking on the solution.  When they end their session, they are notified immediately about their score and progress.

This is a very teacher friendly website.  There are several videos to assist you in setting things up for your class.  Management and assessment are made easy for the teacher because the website includes in-depth graphs and charts that enable you to see how many problems each student attempted and answered successfully.

So check it out!  This might be just the right website for you and your class.

This is a duplicate post of one I made on my Day In the Classroom blog.  

Getting Started With Twitter and Twitter Chats

This post is a repeat of a previous post  on my blog, Day In the Classroom.

Most of what I know about using technology in the classroom, I learned from people on Twitter.  It has changed my teaching.  I have developed new friendships because of Twitter, and it has recharged my enthusiasm for teaching.  I even have a new dog, because of someone I met via Twitter.

When you are a Twitter regular, you forget how intimidating it can be at first.  When I first joined Twitter, I thought the whole idea of “following” people sounded like stalking.  I couldn’t figure out how things worked and I thought the whole thing was ridiculous.  And of course if you don’t have anyone to follow, there is nothing to see.  It wasn’t until about four months later, when I was taking a professional development class called “Using the Internet in the Classroom,” that I got back on Twitter.

With just a few exceptions, I follow only educators.  I found the first people to follow by going to Twitter4Teachers.  Once you have a few people to follow, you can observe who they follow, and begin following those people yourself.  Many people post names of people they follow.  On Fridays you will see a hashtag #FF and Twitter names.  FF stands for Follow Friday.  This is a good way to find new people with important things to share.

I have found a lot of people that I have things in common with, and that I can learn from by following the chats.  A chat is when people schedule a time to hold a discussion on a topic via Twitter.  My favorite chats are the grade level chats.  For me the grade level chats are great because people talk about ideas and resources that can be used immediately in my classroom.  During the week leading up to the chat, interested people vote on a topic to be discussed.

Kyle Pace (@KylePace) wrote a great blog post on getting started on Twitter and following the chats.  You can read it here.

The chat for fourth grade is held every Monday from 7 to 8 PM.  This is an opportunity to talk with 4th grade teachers from across the country and around the world about the things they are doing in their classrooms.  You can learn more about #4thchat by visiting the 4thchat wiki.  Weekly chats are also archived here, so if you miss one, you can find out what went on,

There are also chats for other grades and specialties.  Jerry Blumengarten (@Cybraryman) is a great person to follow on Twitter.  Here is his page of Educational Chats on Twitter.

The best way to follow a chat is to install Tweetdeck or Hootsuite on your computer.  Here is a great video by Shell Terrell (@ShellTerrell) explaining how to use Tweetdeck to follow chats and other hash tags.  I learned several things from this video that I did not know before, even though I’ve been using Tweetdeck for a couple of years now.

So give it a try.  Get on Twitter and meet other educators from around the world.  You will be amazed by the possibilities.

Dive In and Begin Blogging!

After reading professional and classroom blogs, it’s time to dive in and begin blogging.  Blogs are easy to set up.  There are many places that you can set up a blog, but I think one of the easiest is Blogger.  Take a minute to watch this Youtube video which will guide you step-by-step through the process.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once.  You can change the look of your blog and customize it further to meet your needs at any time in the future.  If you prefer to set up your blog somewhere else, you can find other tutorials for WordPress or Edublogger as well.  If you’re interested in setting up a WordPress blog, you can find tutorials here at http://wordpress.tv/flavor/wordpresscom/.

Writing Your First Post:  My classroom blog has changed a lot over the three years that I have had it.  So far this year, I have been using it to communicate with parents.  Other times I have used it to post student writing.  Your blog will be a living thing, so it’s okay if you still aren’t sure how you will use it.  You can begin by posting a short announcement for parents, or you can have the kids help you with that first post.  Take a look at the changes that my classroom blog has undergone over the years: http://msdayatphillips.blogspot.com/

Widgets and Other Fun Things:  Many people add calendars, tag clouds, videos, and lots of other features to the sidebars of their blogs.  These are called widgets and gadgets.  When you feel ready, you can add and make changes to the sidebar of your blog.  The following video will be helpful in learning how.

So dive into the world of blogging.  You’ll have lots of fun with it, and your students will too.