Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Sky is Purple and Eveybody Likes Me

This title of this blog is my mantra. I know that the sky is not purple and I know that there are some people who don't like me...but I am not going to worry about it.

This blog is really going to be about my teaching transformation. I am trying to reinvent myself as a teacher. Last year I put my students in groups and refused to move them back in rows. (Big risk taker!) It took a few weeks but I really liked it. I did several inquiry or discovery learning activities and really began to be convinced I needed to move my teaching more in this direction. My other "transformation" is coming this year where I am trying to do a better job of putting technology in my students' hands. I love technology and have used it as a teaching tool for years. However, my students do not often have the opportunity to use technology themselves.

My first real tech activity with my algebra students was this week and I really liked it! I put the students in groups and gave each group an iPad (we have an iPad cart that we can check out). I had the students go outside and film their own graphing stories. The day before the activity we went over several real-world graphs where they are given a verbal description and have to choose the correct graph. Thank you to my AMSTI trainer, Lori White, for sharing the activity. The students were told to film 10-20 second videos. I only gave them 15 minutes to video their "stories." Then we went back to the classroom to allow them to graph their stories on chart paper. I gave them a few hints but did not tell them whether or not their graphs were correct. On the next day I displayed each graph and pointed out the following items first:
1. Is there a title on the graph so we know what the graph is about?
2. Are the axes labeled? (distance on the y axis and time on the x axis, etc...)
3. Are the units give for each axis? (is the distance in inches, feet?  Is the time in seconds, minutes, etc...?)
4. Are the scales on the axes uniform and reasonable?

After analyzing the above parts of the graphs I played each video and let the students discuss whether or not the graph matched the video. After this discussion I assessed the students by having them write down 3 SPECIFIC things they had learned about graphing.

Some of my favorite answers were that the graphs don't have to look like the activity taking place and that if the line is horizontal (and you are graphing speed) that that means they are staying in the same spot! I think this was a very fun and effective way to teach real-world graphing and integrate technology.