Tag Archives: iPad

Math Journals Enter 21st Century with Mobile Apps

connected mcgraw hill_Much of what I do is on my iPad. My husband (and our school custodian) call me obsessed. Call it whatever you like. My iPad is a tool that just makes sense to me and the opportunities it provides for me to organize, share, and evaluate student work are endless throughout the day. When I learned that our new math program (McGraw-Hill’s My Math) has a mobile app, you could say I was intrigued. I jumped in, and with my students’ help, we were able to figure it out and integrate it into our math workshop. Students have the choice to complete their daily assignments using the traditional paper math journals, or they can do everything digitally right on the iPad. Once you learn the apps ins and outs, it works out pretty well.
The “My Math” program has many digital tools to support teaching and learning (found at http://connected.mcgraw-hill.com). The iPad app is a mirror of what you (or your students) see when logged in. The coolest thing is how you can check each child’s work. They no longer have to come up to you, stand in line, and wait for you to look over their answers. You have the capability to check each and every child’s work without ever having them come to you. The “student review” function allows you to select each child’s account and evaluate their work while they are working. You can catch inaccuracies before they are practiced and ingrained. Pretty cool, huh?
You see the “student review” button on the mobile app as well. I have used it and have been able to see what my students are doing. However, you don’t have the capability of writing on student pages and giving corrective feedback. You do have the ability, however, when you log in to connected.mcgraw-hill.com and click on the student journal. Students will be able to see whatever you write.
I have attached the handout that I prepared to share with staff members at my school. You might find the handout handy if you also use McGraw-Hill’s ConnectEd “My Math” program. Enjoy!

ConnectEd mobile app user guide

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Electronic Portfolios Demystified

I read about electronic portfolios for the first time last spring on Zite.  The word “portfolio” in the title immediately interested me since I already had my first graders create reading comprehension portfolios in my classroom.  Unfortunately, however, after reading the article I could honestly say I didn’t know exactly what an electronic portfolio was.  What did one contain?  What would a digital portfolio even look like?  What would this look like in my own classroom?  Each of these questions swirled through my mind.  Since then, I have explored the topic in great detail.  As a K-8 Literacy Coach in my school district, I surveyed other teachers and found out they were interested as well.  The result is this PowerPoint presentation that I will share with teachers on October 8th after school.

I can honestly say that I have tried the concepts and am impressed with the success my students are experiencing.  My students are currently creating two types of portfolios.  The first is a digital portfolio on the iPad using the app “PDF Notes.”  I am a fan of this medium since it allows me great flexibility.  I can create a document in Microsoft Word and then upload it into “PDF Notes” with the aid of a “Dropbox.”  I have been able to create different colorful, open-ended graphic organizers that go hand in hand with our district’s curriculum.  Students are able to simply print right on the iPad screen using a Stylus pen (or their finger) and document their thinking.  This portfolio is designed to help students reflect on their learning, set reading comprehension goals, and monitor their progress towards completion of their goals.

My students are also creating their own blogs to showcase different activities we are doing in class.  With my help, pictures and videos are uploaded and the students annotate them during our Daily 5 Work on Writing time.  This allows students an audience for their writing and allows parents to share in what we are learning in school.

Both portfolio types are meaningful and student centered.  They each have their own purpose.  The bottom line is that students are highly engaged in their learning and are being given a medium to share their thinking with a wider audience.

A Strong Team Means Success For Students

Wisconsin educators are facing some changes in the future. That should come as no surprise. Education isn’t static but is always developing and changing. According to the Wisconsin DPI, 50% of our teacher evaluations will be based on student achievement and 50% will be based on educator effectiveness. This might be intimidating to many teachers. The purpose is for all students to succeed. I understand that and I will do my best to make this happen. Some teachers might be tempted to work in isolation to ensure that they succeed at their job. I am grateful to work with a wonderful team of teachers who is committed to working together and helping each other learn and grow. We enjoy bringing our students together on many Friday mornings to celebrate reading and to present different anchor lessons to our children putting the different comprehension strategies into practice. We put aside our nerves and we get really fired up about reading which in turn causes our students’ excitement about reading to grow. Last Friday we focused on metacognition and made the analogy between metacognition and a tool kit. We labeled different tools with the metacognition thinking stems we have been teaching our students to use and put them in an actual tool box. I then read the humorous story “Dog Breath” by Dav Pilkey and purposefully got confused throughout. My fellow first grade teachers modeled how good readers can “fix up” their thinking when things don’t make sense and start to get confusing. The lesson would have been okay if I did it alone, but it was much more interesting and meaningful when we did it together. An added bonus was that we even recorded the lesson using our iPad in case a new student moves in without prior knowledge about metacognition or if a student is developing in their understanding about it and would benefit from experiencing the lesson again.

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A Blessing in Disguise

I never thought I would say this, but the photo copier breaking down mid way through the second day of a new school year was a blessing in disguise. My goal is to use less paper and my student iPads more. I want to do as much writing on the iPad with my students as I can. I want them to become comfortable using a stylus pen and annotating PDF’s. I want to go digital with my reading portfolios. The broken copier gave me the push I needed to get started. In a matter of minutes this morning I had this week’s poem uploaded onto each iPad. We talked about how to handle the device properly. We practiced holding the stylus pens. We took turns zooming in, zooming out, erasing, changing pen color, and finally writing. It was a blast. It’s going to be a great year!

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