Five Ways to Use the Promethean – Right Now!

Read about these five tools on the Promethean board that I cannot live without! Keep students engaged!

Hello Friends!

After a long wait, today I bring to you – Promethean Part 2: Five Apps to Download on it Right Now! After taking a couple of workshops about the Promethean board, I have decided that there are five specific apps to download through the Google Play Store that you need. These apps will keep the kids engaged while you’re teaching and your life so much easier. Isn’t that what this blog is about? Simplifying teaching through technology.

I’m going to be honest with you – I was not a huge fan of the Promethean board in my classroom when I first started working with it. My former school had SMART Boards and SMART Technologies were all I knew. After taking some workshops on the Promethean board, I learned that it is basically a giant tablet & I now love it and all the things you can do with it!

Google Chrome

Starting with the most used app on my board, Google Chrome. I like it because I can sign in to my school gmail account and have my bookmarks already there for me. I put a password on the administrator account on the board so that no one can access my personal google account. This makes for smooth teaching and not having to worry to pull up websites ahead of time.

Google Drive

Naturally, Google Drive is a staple on the Promethean board. I plan all of my lesson with Google Slides or Google Docs. Having them all in one place is great and I don’t have to worry about signing in every time. Because I created an administrator account with the board, there is a password on it so that only I can use my account on the Promethean. This way I’m not worried about my Google account being logged in on the board when I’m absent or if someone else has to teach in my room.

Google Slides

Google Slides is what I put my lessons on to present to the kids. I prefer this because it saves onto my account and once I am signed into Google Drive on the board, it’s so easy to pull up. I use the magic pen button (on the pink home button) to write on top of the Google Slides as I am teaching. If I want students to write, I take a quick screen shot and put it on the Infinite White Board (see my post on this amazing tool also!) to split the screen and have students write. This makes it easier to save their work to Google Drive or a flash drive.

Kahoot!

My students absolutely love Kahoot! Any reason for them to use a computer keeps them engaged. Having the app installed on the Promethean is the greatest time saver! No more logging in, searching for what you’re looking for, and waiting for it to load. It’s all there on the board for you already!

Quizizz

Quizizz is a similar concept as Kahoot – students join a live game, or you can assign a game on Google Classroom. I prefer Quizizz to Kahoot only because I’m more familiar with it, but students love both! Quizizz is self-paced, so students can answer questions in as much time as they need. The program does time the students and lets me know which questions took longer than others. I love that I also can export the data from the Quizizz. Like I said, any time students get a chance to use a computer, they love it!

PDF Viewer

The last app is a Google PDF viewer. This might sound obvious to you, but I didn’t realize it was something I would need until I didn’t have it. This makes life easier if you want to pull up a part of the textbook you’re using (we use Go Math at my school) or Engage NY pdf files if you choose to use those worksheets.

I hope these apps help you as much as they help me! Any way I can save time in the classroom with trivial things (like logging in) leaves more time for students to be actually working!

What apps do you like to use on your Promethean board? Let me know what I missed that you must use regularly!

PS – have you checked out Feedspot lately? Tech About Math made the list of fifth grade teacher bloggers to follow! 🙂

☆Alexandra☆

Tech-less Tuesday: Worksheets Can Be Fun

So I’m a day late with Tech-less Tuesday, we’ll call today, “Without Tech Wednesday :P”

I am writing today with education.com to show you guys how I used their worksheets in my classroom this year. I’m not going to lie, I strongly dislike giving my students worksheets to complete independently, and the collecting them and grading them are even worse! However, I recently have been using worksheets to my advantage by making them into a basketball game. I purchased a little nerf basketball hoop for my classroom and when my kids see it hanging up, they come in very excited and ready to play and learn!

What do you need to play?

To set up, here is what you need:

  • Basketball hoop (or trash can with some paper basketballs)
  • Worksheet of your choice (visit education.com for a variety of great worksheets to choose from!)
  • Dry erase boards & markers
  • Duct tape (for the floor to mark 2- and 3-point shots)

Setting up the Game

To set up the game, you divide the students into teams. I usually do 5 groups of 4-5 students, grouped heterogeneously to make the game fair. Each team can come up with a team name for the score board. Students start by completing the worksheet independently for about 7-10 minutes, depending on the length of the worksheet. After they work on it independently, I give them time to work as a group. If the worksheet has several skills, I’ll assign questions I want each group to work on so that I know they are working on the specific skill I want them to practice. Of course as they are working, I am walking around and taking notes on my checklist to formatively assess the class.

The Game

Since I have a Promethean board, I use the spinner labeled with each students name on it. I have it set so that each child is only chosen one time. I use the spinner to determine the order that students answer. You can use popsicle sticks or roll a dice to determine the student order if you don’t have a digital spinner. The first student who lands on the spinner will answer the first question.

Since the students had a chance to discuss the answers and how to solve it with their group, random selection is a great way to make the game fair.

I give the class 1-2 minutes to write their answer/work on their whiteboards and say, “3-2-1- boards up!” If the person who’s name is chosen from the spinner got it correct, they get one point for their team and to take a basketball shot for their team. They can choose 2- or 3-point shot and they earn that many points for making it.

The team that has the most points when the worksheet is complete (or time runs out) wins! I usually give them a prize like a jolly rancher, homework pass, or extra computer time during centers. Rewards can be discussed before the game, however students are just excited to play basketball in math class!

Variations

There can be some variations to this game. You can make it individual, or have the class in 2 teams, or even let other teams steal from the students who got their question incorrect. I kept it simple in my class this year and it worked. I used this game for task cards during test prep and it made state exam review exciting. You can also use it for vocabulary practice.

Dive into multiplication practice with this under-the-sea themed math worksheet! Check out our full collection of math games and printables at Education.com.

How do you use worksheets in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

☆Alexandra☆

Promethean Board Part 1: Five Best Features of the Infinite Whiteboard

Hello Everyone! 

So I’ve been recently taking workshops to help better me as a teacher, as we all do, and I’ve been learning a lot about the Promethean Board I have in my classroom. For those of you that don’t know, a Promethean Board is an interactive white board that has more tools than you can imagine!

In short, the Promethean Board is a giant Android Tablet. There are so many tools of the board that I am going to break it down into a few parts. The first part has so much to offer, that I love, is the infinite whiteboard. Looking at the sidebar can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many tools and each one is so useful when teaching – here are five tools I can’t teach without!

ONE: Ellipsis Menu

The three dots at the top are similar to the “File” button on Word. The “Export PDF Screenshot” is one of my favorite features! As long as you have a flash drive plugged in or Google Drive, One Drive, or any email app installed, you can save what is written on the board. Any time I have the kids show work, I save it. I use the work as pieces in their portfolio, post it to our Class Dojo story, or print it to hang around the room. 

TWO: Split Board Button

Fun fact: there can be up to 10 students writing on the promethean board at once! Not that there’s room for them to stand around the board, but the option is there for us! Splitting the board is my favorite thing to do with the infinite whiteboard. The cool thing about splitting it is whatever you wrote on the board before the split stays there – and student can’t erase it! This makes for fast fluency, number strings, and team games to be way more engaging. Showing multiple strategies is a key factor in Common Core Math, so I’ll split the board to have two students or groups go up and show their different strategies. Having the side-by-side visual helps students to see the connections in the content. 

THREE: Paper Changer Button

Okay, so Paper Changer Button isn’t the formal name for this, however, that’s what I call it because that’s exactly what it does – changes the background. There are so many options for paper background, and you can even change the color of the background! The paper background I use the most is the graph paper. You can adjust the size of the squares to meet your needs. Helpful hint: use the ruler tool make your axes perfectly straight! 

FOUR: Insert Charts & Templates

This third icon down is to insert a picture or graphic organizer. The board comes loaded with a few charts and templates already, but you can look some up on the internet, upload them yourself with a flash drive, or save them to your google drive and take from there. This is great for when you need a T-Chart, hundreds grid, place value chart, tens frame, or any other math tool you may use to solve a problem. At my school we use GO Math primarily, with some Engage NY lessons thrown in there. It’s so easy for me to go on the Chrome App and save it to the gallery to use on the infinite whiteboard. This is great because you won’t have to draw the tool in every time – it’s already there for you! 

FIVE: Math Tools

All the way a t the bottom of the tool bar, before the undo/redo arrows, are the Math tools. The tools are a ruler, a set square, a semicircle protractor, and a full circle protractor. Teaching fifth grade, I use the ruler and the semi-circle protractor the most, however for other grades the set square and full circle protractor are a great digital resource! The kids are always so amazed when I click the ruler tool and I can expand it or make it smaller with the pinch of my fingers. 

Basically – these five tools make my life a lot easier when I am teaching. The kids are always so amazed and what I do with the promethean and when they have a chance to come up and explore the board they’re so excited. 

What tools do you love on the Promethean? What tools do you wish they would add?

☆Alexandra☆

Tech-less Tuesday: Study Guides 101

Hello Everyone!

 So I know this blog is mainly about technology and math, but let’s be honest, sometimes good ol’ pen and paper gets the job done! Today I am going to share with you the study guides I give to my kids to help them prepare for chapter tests. At my school, we use the GoMath curriculum, so my study guides are loosely based off each chapter. At the end of this post there is a study guide freebie waiting for you! Let’s start with the basics…

What is a study guide?

 A study guide is a tool that I typically give to my students towards the end of each chapter to help them review for the post-test. There are so many ways you can use the study guides though – in centers, before the chapter to assess for prior knowledge, and as a mid-chapter check.

Why give a study guide?

 I know some of you are probably thinking – why give the students a study guide? I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s for the parents. Think about it, most parents know how to do the math, but breaking it down step by step can be difficult. I create these study guides to help parents be more involved in their child’s learning. They also give parents a heads-up as to when a test will be to help get their child ready.

 How do you create a study guide?

 When I am creating a study guide, I think about each lesson in the chapter and how I can explain it in a different way if needed. I use PowerPoint to create most of my worksheets, and then save them as a PDF to upload. I like to work with PowerPoint instead of Word because the text boxes snap nicely into place and you have more leeway with object placement. I set up my study guides in four quadrants. This helps me to put more information on the one-page front to back. The front of the study guide usually has the conceptual understanding of the content. The back has the algorithms and an example or two for students to try on their own.

When do you give a study guide?

I used to give the study guides at the end of the chapter, with a few days to look it over and ask me questions before the test, however I am going to start giving them in the beginning of the unit. I’m hoping it will motivate students and keep them engaged by gaining a sneak preview of the chapter. This will also help parents be more involved in their child’s school work because they will have guidance as to how to help them.

 What are your thoughts about study guides? What other ways do you use them in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

As promised, heres a free study guide aligned to Grade 5 Go Math Chapter 5.

You can find more in my TpT store!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

Google + Jigsaw = Engaging

Happy Sunday Everyone! 

Oh my goodness it’s been a while since I posted. I got so caught up with my online courses, grading, planning, and life that I put this on the back-burner, but I am back & ready to write all summer long! This is my favorite time of the year, not only because it’s Summer, but because I get to start planning and thinking about next year! It is a time of reflection and adjusting based on what worked and what didn’t work throughout this past school year and I can be creative and take my time planning for the upcoming school year! Since I have been absent for the last couple of months, there is a freebie waiting for you at the end of this post!

One of the online courses I took was about creating a more student-centered classroom. As a teacher I want to show them all of the amazing things that I love about math, but honestly, it’s much better when they discover the concepts and get excited about it all on their own, am I right? One thing I read up on was the Jigsaw method. I know this is usually used in the other content areas, and you’re probably wondering how the Jigsaw method works in Math – fear not my friends, I will share this with you!

The first thing I want to clarify is – what is the Jigsaw strategy? Well, it is a collaborative learning technique that gives students the chance to become masters of one specific concept or skill to teach to their home group. Here’s a visual I created to help you see what I mean:

As a math teacher, this may be difficult to picture doing. One way I plan to use this strategy in my classroom is to do a Resource Roundup in the beginning of the school year. Students are assigned a “Home Group” and then within the group, each student is assigned some classroom tools and resources to become the masters of. They look at the manipulatives and resources we are going to use in the fifth-grade and evaluate and compare them. This includes the digital resources involving the iPads and computers that we are fortunate enough to have (see my post on virtual manipulatives for an overview of what I use). Once they have mastered their resources, they return to their home group to share what they found. I plan to teach this activity over the course of two days – the first day giving students a chance to work with their master group and the second they share with their home group. Home groups will create a poster to advertise at least five classroom resources they look forward to using in the fifth grade. Once the posters are complete, I will hang them throughout the room as a reminder of the great tools we have to help us.

So now that you see how we can use Jigsaw in a math classroom, how does this relate to technology? Well, the G Suite is one of the greatest educational tools, and I have written about it in this postBesides having one of the master groups looking at technology resources, when students are with their home groups creating the poster, they can make it digital! Google Drawings is a great app from the G Suite that students pick up on in a snap! Nowadays, students are so tech savvy that most don’t even need direct instruction on how to use certain apps. Once students create their digital posters as a group, you can print them and hang them around the room to refer throughout the year.

One thing I noticed this past year is as students get older, they are more reluctant to use manipulatives and resources. Students see a word problem and immediately start scribbling down an equation to help them solve – the equation usually dealing with the current unit. Students don’t take the time to break out the resources we have in the classroom such as fraction bars, base ten blocks, graphic organizers, and even a problem-solving folder they have right at their tables! Reflecting on my own teaching, I realize I seldom used the resources and I hope that this activity will help students to recognize what we have in the room and when it can be useful to them. I also hope that the posters will be a reminder for myself to refer to the tools and resources as I am teaching my lessons.

What other ways are you thinking about using the Jigsaw method in your math classroom?

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

PS – Here is a Freebie for you to do a Resource Roundup! in your classroom!

Find the full lesson plan at my TpT store here!

@TechAboutMath

G Suite Part 1: Google Docs & Slides

Hi Everyone!

So I started this blog to talk about must-have-tech in my classroom and let me tell you – G Suite is the go-to for my students and myself in my classroom. I love how the G Suite has so many tools and apps all together, and the extensions are endless! With each program in the G Suite, students and teachers can collaborate with each other in real time. Today I am going to share with you just two of the many apps with G Suite: Google Docs and Google Slides.

Google Docs

Google Docs is an online collaborating software to create and edit documents. The greatest feature is the collaborative part. Students and teachers can share documents with each other and edit them together. Most people understand that Google Docs is a great tool for students in ELA where they have to write, edit, and publish essays, but many people don’t realize how it can be used in a Math classroom. Here are some ways I use Google Docs in my classroom:

Have students create a “How To” for a specific topic. For instance – if we are doing a unit on fractions, I would have students create a poster or a “How To” with a specific operation of fractions. Teach students how to use the Math Type Add-On. It allows students to create their own mathematical equations. It’s easy and you can have students create their own questions for each other to answer.

Teachers can use Google Docs to create and edit lesson plans together as well.

Google Slides

Google Slides is a collaborative presentation program that has endless possibilities! The obvious task is to have students create presentations to demonstrate mastery of a skill. Something you can also do with Google Slides is create task cards for students to complete digitally or with paper and pencil. This will save you so much paper and time because you can assign the Google Slide right through Google Classroom, so students will get a read only copy. I also have students create their own vocabulary flash cards with Google Slides.

How else do you use Google Docs and Google Slides in your classroom? Drop a comment below to share!

☆Alexandra☆

Virtual Manipulatives: Fraction Edition

Taking regular fraction manipulatives and making them fun & engaging for students.

Happy Friday!
I know it’s been a while since my last post (February just flew right by!). I’ll just get right to the elephant in the room: fractions with manipulatives!

I am all about building conceptual understanding and using manipulatives to do so, but sometimes students get distracted using them more as toys than mathematical tools. I’ve rounded up a few of the best manipulative websites that students can use on iPads or you can use on the board (assuming you have a SMART or Promethean Board) or with a tablet or laptop. There are so many virtual manipulatives out there it can be overwhelming. My students love using the virtual manipulatives because it’s like they have an unlimited amount of them and they love any excuse to use the iPads. I love them because then they’re not tapping the fraction bars like drumsticks and dumping out unit cubes all over the room! Don’t get me wrong – when students are exploring a concept, we use hands on manipulatives, but when they are solving problems with the manipulatives I allow them to use the virtual manipulatives. I taught my students how to take a screenshot on the iPad and then mark it up with their name and class so I can upload it to their ClassDojo portfolio. (See my ClassDojo post to learn more about that!)

Toy Theater

The first website I use for fraction manipulatives is toy theater. I love this website because it has basically every math manipulative you can think of to use virtually. Some of the other manipulatives I use regularly are counters, dice, decimal bars, and pattern blocks. I plan to use the percentage strips, area and perimeter explorer, and the graph square in the future.

How do I use the fraction strips?

I first used them so show adding and subtracting fractions. Seeing as I teach fifth grade math, students generally have an idea of what a fraction is and what a unit fraction is. I pose a problem involving adding fractions with unlike denominators and give students the opportunity to explore with the manipulatives to see what they come up with. I use the virtual fraction strips the same way I use hands on fraction strips.

The one challenge with the fraction strips is that you’re limited to the denominators that are provided. The fraction strips are more for concept development of adding and subtracting unlike denominators and once students see the concept, they can then move to the procedure.

Math Learning Center

The second website I use for virtual fractions is Math Learning Center. I use this when I’m reviewing the concept of comparing fractions, showing equivalent fractions, and creating equivalent fractions with a least common denominator. There is more room for different approaches with this website. For example, you can choose the number of pieces for each fraction strips up to 100! This website also has applications for an Apple and Android tablets.

Math Learning Center also has a ton of amazing resources to check out for teaching (both tech & tech-less!) I’ve been doing some more exploring and will update in the near future!

How else can you use virtual manipulatives in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

Don’t forget to leave your email address to never miss a post!

Alexandra

ClassDojo: Classroom Management at it’s Finest!

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had an exceptional week!

How many teachers struggle with classroom management? Personally, it was one of the bigger challenges my first year in the classroom and can even still pose as a challenge. One way I combated the struggle was with ClassDojo. This website (and app!) is a great resource to help students keep themselves in check and give you a great reward system with minimal extra work for you!

The way it works is you import your class, then you can set up skills you want students to earn points for doing. One skill I wanted my students to improve on was persevering through a problem, so I made that worth 1 point. Other skills i wanted improvement on were being an outstanding citizen, completing all their classwork, demonstrating excellent teamwork, and using math talk. Again, you can choose the skills you want your students to work on and give each skill a point value. The teachers on my grade are rewarding students with the most Dojo points with a pizza party, so it’s an incentive for students to earn.

This is what the skills looks like: (My school is departmentalized, so my skills are labeled “Math – skill” so the other teachers can create their own skills)

The second half of the management is taking away points for negative behavior. I don’t like taking away points they already earned for positive behavior, but some behaviors warrant the negative points. Students in my classroom can lost points for calling out, not handing in HW, being off task, and using unkind words. Again, taking away points they’ve already earned isn’t my favorite thing to do, but there are times where students can be very distracting to the students around them and there has to be consequences. To take points away, you click, “Needs Work,” on the top and the skills will look like this:

Another feature I’ve been using more often is the Portfolio feature of ClassDojo. While students are working I go around with my iPad and take pictures of the students work. There are two ways to upload the work to ClassDojo – to the Portfolio of the child or the Class Story. I use this as a motivator for students to keep their work neat and organized because my kids love when I share their work to the ClassStory or their Portfolio for their parents to see.

Finally, the best part about ClassDojo is the parent engagement piece. You can either print out a slip of paper for parents to register and get the app, or you can send them a text invite through the app! Personally, phone calls can take quite a bit of time, but with ClassDojo you can message parents and even send out mass messages to keep them aware of whats going on in the classroom. Most parents prefer this as well and are able to message the teacher with concerns or questions. Don’t worry – as a teacher you can choose “Do Not Disturb” times when you aren’t teaching or the weekends to still have a life outside of school!

How else could ClassDojo be used in the classroom? Drop a comment below with suggestions!

Enjoy

☆Alexandra☆

Prodigy Game – Engagement & Data Goldmine!

Hi Everyone!

My first official post was about the five tech tools I use in my classroom regularly. One of the programs I use daily is Prodigy Game. This game is a great way to assess how students are doing in skills and standards and it shows the data in a clear and concise way. It’s not your typical math online assessment – it’s disguised as a Role Playing Game where students have a character, collect gems, and battle each other. My students are always so excited when it’s their turn to use Prodigy on the computers during center time.

First, when students login or create an account, they take a placement test. The test is the game, so they are still battling each other as they are answering questions, but it’s the placement test in disguise. When this is done you’ll get a report emailed to you. This is a great way to get a baseline to help you group your students based on the skills they are strong in and skills they need to work on. The placement test is given a few times throughout year – The skills are broken down by standard strand and the baseline report will look like this:

This is a good way to get a general overview of the class. When you scroll over the bubbles you will see the list of students who were that grade level in the domain row, or overall placement. From this page, you can go into the individual student reports to determine the skills they need to work on.

From this, if you click on the “Reports” tab on the left side, you will see the various reports from the data and it will look like this:

The reports that I use most often are the progress and student usage reports. I have a “Prodigy Player of the Week” in each of my classes and choose a student who uses it the most at home and answers the most questions. This gives students an incentive to play at home and make proper use of the time they have to play in class.

The best part about this game is that it’s completely free! Parents can buy a membership for their child for added bonuses such as a membership box, but there is no extra cost for the teacher! Several of my students have memberships, but it doesn’t effect the questions they answer and how many battles they see. Members receive a membership box monthly in the game that gives students gems and various items for the game.

What games do you play in your classroom to boost student engagement?

Alexandra

Five Favorite Tech Tools

Hello Everyone!

I’m going to start the first post by saying this: I’m no tech expert by any means, and I don’t claim to know more than what I know about technology. I am forever learning and thinking of new ways to incorporate technology into my classroom and come across many obstacles when implementing new technologies and ideas. I’m creating this blog to help alleviate the challenges I have when using new technology in the classroom and to help educators enable students to become innovators with the technology that is evolving. The following is a short list of some of the technologies I use in my Math classroom everyday.

Google

The first piece of tech that I use on a regular basis is Google. I created a G Suite domain for my school and use Google Classroom daily with my students. I love it because I can create digital assignments that are self-correcting and keep the kids engaged when working independently.

Prodigy Game

The second piece of tech is a game called prodigy. Students choose a character and complete battles, answering math questions to win the battle. I can select assign types of questions by standard or by skill. There is also a baseline assessment (that still looks like a game) to help me determine students starting level.

Class Dojo

The third piece of tech that I use daily is classdojo. Students can earn or lose points based on behaviors I create. I try to use it in a more positive way and give more points than I take away. Parents are linked to the students dojo account and can view portfolios and work that you post of the child.

Google Forms

The fourth tech that I use is Google Forms (part of the G Suite). I use this app for everything! I created conferencing checklists, behavior checklists, small group checklists, as well as student centered activities (like a digital escape room I’ll share in a later post!) and self-correcting quizzes. There are plenty of extensions to add that will even grade the assignments for you! This falls under the Google Classroom umbrella, but definitely deserves its own list because it’s such a versatile tool to use in the classroom.

Code.org

Last but not least, I am starting to use code.org in my classroom. This is the PD that I attended that indirectly inspired me to follow through with this blog that I’ve been thinking about since the beginning of my teaching career (a whole five years ago!). The workshop was very informative, and I brainstormed ways I can incorporate coding in my Math classroom. More information on code.org to follow!

What tech tools do you use in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆