Decorations. Really?! Yes, because this is where I’m at right now. We have been teaching in a remote environment since school started. Not because of Covid but because we had black mold growing in our building and it had to be gutted and cleaned. I returned to my classroom Monday to take stock of what I needed. Sadly, I needed everything! They threw away EVERYTHING in my classroom.
I wanted an inviting space for my students, so I planned to spend the week trying to get my room ready, But, creating this last week of digital lessons, giving virtual feedback, answering emails, and scheduling extra Zoom tutoring sessions took up my time. On Thursday night I FREAKED OUT because I had no decorations in my classroom. I ran to JoAnn’s and bought some fabric for my curtains, Wal-Mart to replace the plastic bins, Dollar Store to buy some scissors, and a few other places for decor. I found NO DECORATIONS for a secondary math classroom. My solution, make my own.
I printed this Welcome banner last year from Math=Love. So I just printed a new set and stuck it to my door.
I also had an empty bulletin board. My giant Dumbledore and favorite quote gone forever. It was too sad to make a new one, so I opted for some Math Puns. I have provided the PDF if you want to print your own. Thankfully our school now has a color printer and I could print and laminate at school.
Bitmoji also has some new stickers PERFECT for the classroom.
I’m fairly pleased with the results. I will miss what I lost, puzzle books, decorations, all my stress squishies, and 20 years of memories and student work, but we will move forward and make the best of it.
If you use the Math=Love banner, tag Sarah Carter on Twitter (@mathequalslove). If you use the math puns, tag me on Twitter (@MandiTolenEDU).
I hope you have had a great start to you year. Keep being awesome for your students!
Student reflection is so very important! If we want students to see learning as a process and not and one and done situation, then we need to provide them ways to reflect on their learning.
This is an idea that I have used in my face-to-face classes and it has also been successful in my remote learning classes. You can achieve this in many different ways. I’ve included a few of the templates and ideas I’ve used below. I find Google Slides the best for me. It takes the least amount of time to read them. Google Forms is also quick, except I always feel like I need to merge the info into one document so it looks better, then it doesn’t save me time anymore 🤓!
Google Slides Reflection
Both of these slides do basically the same thing. The first one was created using a template from Slides Mania (yes, I mention it a lot because it’s AMAZING!!!). The second one is a template I created. They both ask basically the same thing. The second one can be assigned for EVERY lesson, the first one could be assigned after a few lessons.
I ask the same questions as above, letting students pick stickers or a drawing for the whiteboard to tell me where they are with the current information.
Pro: I can hear their voice inflection and they tend to tell me more in the videos.
Con: It takes a lot longer to get through the feedback!
Google Forms Reflection
I ask the same questions in the Google Form as I do in the Google Slides. I miss the visual interaction students get by dragging the icons in the Google Slides. You could have students upload images but I want this to be a fast process for them too.
You could also use the interactive drag features and the question features to do the same thing in a Pear Deck. It’s not much different from the Google Forms above, but the take away feature is nice. I don’t have one of these to share, but it’s an idea if you use Pear Deck.
Make Math Not Suck the BOOK
These are the types of ideas and templates I share in my book Make Math Not Suck. It’s full color and full of QR codes, stories to inspire, and ideas to use immediately. Fun fact, I’ve had many people tell me these ideas could be used in ANY classroom K-12, so share with your non-math friends too!
I am not a paperless classroom. As I say in my book, use technology if
it makes your job easier
it makes the learning better for students.
So why a digital flipbook? Well, it’s actually not just one reason.
We have to go remote this fall, not because of Covid but because we have “spores” in our building that required them to close the building, throw away all of our porous material (i.e. books, saved foldables and student work, 20 years of personal books and memories).
I know some of my students won’t have paper at home to make a foldable while remote.
Umm… my foldables are all gone (see reason 1). They were thrown away 😦 If they had been digital, it would still have them.
I saw this idea in a TikTok by @adungan and knew this was my solution.
I recreated one of our foldables that was destroyed. I plan, with all of my digital lessons, to have students take pictures of their work and paste it in the foldable (or notes or practice, etc). I don’t want them to have to draw every image, but I also don’t want phantom floating notes so when they look at them there is no image or problem to reference.
I made a little tutorial that I am posting in Canvas/Google Classroom (this has been another huge debacle) to help them create a good scan and clip their images. (This is a Slides Mania notebook template)
Here is the foldable as the students will see it. I will put it in Google Classroom and set it to make a copy.
If you are putting this in Canvas, make sure you force a copy. Here is a gif from Jake Miller (@JakeMillerTech) to help you with that.
And here is a completed copy with student work snipped and uploaded into the document.
If you want the template, here is a link. You can also snag a copy on Slides Mania in the By EDU for EDU section. Paula is AMAZING and creates great stuff. She is also kind enough to share what others teachers create.
Now, if you are adventurous and want to make your own, I created a tutorial posted on InfinitelyTeaching. You will also find a 6 topic template posted there ;-).
This summer I have spent some (a lot) of my time writing curriculum for our Virtual Academy. One thing I have focused on is multiple representations of the content for each concept. I’m hoping to better meet the needs of all my learners. I broke by options into two categories, Read and Watch (Listen). Students are given the choice of which way they would prefer to learn the material and it provides additional resources if they need reinforcement.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be limited to virtual learning. Students in your classroom will benefit from multiple representations too.
Videos (Watch, Listen)
There are many options for using videos in your lessons. I have listed a few of my favorites below.
Make Your Own
I like to use Notability on my iPad. I have some tutorials on how I create my videos and upload to Google Drive and or YouTube, (YouTube adds closed captioning). If you watch your students, you will notice many of them watching videos with closed-captioning on. This not only meets accessibility needs for students, but also meets their learning style.
Videos from Others
You can find so many videos that are already created. I like this option because students need to hear information multiple ways. You are teaching it one way and videos from someone else may say the same thing in a different way. For my lessons, I used Kahn Academy, CK-12, and Delta Math, and YouTube. You would think this saves time, but you do have to watch the videos before you post them so it works out to be about the same amount of time.
I created an infographic for each lesson. This allows a student who like visual representations an option for learning. A few are shared below; feel free to use them. Please do not sell these. Some of the examples are from various resources I have so I do not want any of us violating copyright laws.
I have also adapted a few of my classroom posters into virtual “posters” or infographics. This one is based on a bulletin board set from Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove). I love this set, so I updated it for my virtual classroom.
Notes (Read and/or Watch)
One of the things I LOVE about Notability is the created PDF file for each note I write. I have these set to save to my Google Drive and I can easily share them with students. I include written examples as part of my visual learning options. Sometimes I also make a video of the examples (if the videos I select don’t have examples) and sometimes I just post the written version.
Check for Understanding
If I were in the classroom, I would walk around and check for understanding with each student. Virtually, I wanted a way for students to check their own understanding. I did not make this worth points and I had students self-report instead of returning the check for understanding to me.
I use checks from Kahn Academy, Delta Math, and CK-12. All three of these offer short checks for understanding with links to additional resources. I also use Desmos and Geogebra activities, making sure I provide the answers within the activity so students don’t need to rely on me to check their work.
I have often used self-checking slides in my classroom so I have a nice supply I can use for virtual learning. In the classroom, these allow me to differentiate based on student needs while I walk around the classroom and help individual students. Virtually, it’s a great quick check for understanding. I have shared a few below.
Here is a quick tutorial to create your own. You can also use step 1 of this tutorial for more elaborate instructions on using the Master Slide.
This is all just one step for each of my lessons. I also have launch type activities such as Which One Doesn’t Belong, Number Talks, Puzzles, and Open-Ended Question. I try to include some kind of activity, a reflection, and practice for each lesson too. I’ll share some of these resources soon.
I would love see anything you create or use from the ideas you see here. Tag me on Twitter @MandiTolenEDU.
In this season of virtual learning, digital manipulatives are more important than ever. There are a few I have used over the years in my own classroom like the protractor, ruler, algebra tiles, and algebra balance scale. I created them to fulfill a need in my class. My students can’t always purchase these supplies, or if they do, they are broken by the time we need them.
At a conference last week, I had elementary teachers ask if I had additional resources or digital tool websites for teachers. I did have resources, but they were in many different places. I’ve created a Wakelet of these resources to make it easier and included the link below. I will continue to add to it.
I’ve also had the request to include more elementary related material. I have an elementary friend who will be sharing some of her resources here but I would LOVE to feature you on my blog. If you have a fun learning activity that Makes Math Not Suck for elementary students, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We could set up a guest blog post OR I can simply feature your activity.
I have been using the Geometric Town project for years. You can read about it from my original post and also obtain the non-digital version. During this crazy Covid-19 quarantine, I’ve been updating my activities to make them more virtual learning friendly. In this situation, I gave students the choice to complete this activity digitally or on paper.
There are components of this project that I like on paper, like graphing equations by hand and students using their creativity with their buildings. Other benefits became evident when I created this digitally. The use of Desmos to create the graphs and the use of digital icons made correcting misconceptions much easier.
Either way, this is still a fun project that reviews many of standards from the year.
I LOVE GOOGLE DRAWING!!! If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know how much I use Drawing or the Drawing features in slides. This post is dedicated to how I use Google Drawing to create my own images for activities and assessments.
Google Drawing will download as a transparent .PNG image. It’s vector based, so if you make a large image it will scale without much degradation of the image. I once create panels for a tri-fold display board, printed them and glued them to the board. The images were crisp and looked professional.
Here is a tutorial on some basic features of Google Drawing.
These are just a few of the images you can make with Google Drawing.
These are just a few of the VERY MANY images I’ve created in Google Drawing.
This tool will allow you to create your own AWESOME looking content. Enjoy
Have you seen a teenagers backpack? Three weeks into school and the protractor I asked them to buy is already in pieces in the bottom of their backpack. Books, binders, and a computer have been shoved into that backpack and the protractor is now broken. Or maybe they couldn’t afford school supplies to begin with. Protractors are not usually among the free supplies students can get. There are many reasons to use digital manipulatives, this is just one example, and inspiration behind my measuring angles activity. Created in Google Slides with a transparent protractor (google transparent protractor), students can move and rotate the protractor to practice measuring angles.
The balancing equations activity and the algebra tiles were created out of need for manipulatives but no funds to purchase them. Creating them digitally allowed me to have a set of manipulatives for every student.
A third reason to use digital manipulatives, blended and virtual learning. In this crazy Covid-19 time, we can’t send algebra tiles home with students, and not everyone has a protractor or ruler at home, but we can provide them with one digitally.
I create my manipulatives in Google Slides, but Google Drawing will work too. You can set any piece that you don’t want to move as the background so students don’t get frustrated. I may have learned this that hard way. Design the parts you don’t want to move. When you are ready, go to File – Download as PNG. Then click on the background button in the toolbar and choose an image from a file. Once the image is uploaded, you can delete everything. Your background will be behind it all. After your background is set, start creating the moving parts or parts you want the to type in.
Here are three digital manipulatives I’ve created for my classroom. If you use these in your classroom or with virtual learning, I would love to hear how it goes.
This is one of those activities I do in my classroom every year after we learn about equations of circles. Well… most of my kiddos don’t have a compass at home so I came up with a Google Slides way to do this. I even included an animation on the 2nd page to show students how to make the circles and change them to transparent.
My friend and colleague learned how to make digital escape rooms from me. You all don’t have me next to you everyday so you can learn from my post on Ditch That Textbook. This is the second escape room she has made. She’s getting pretty good at them!
I plan to use this one as a self-assessment during our distance learning time. I’m so grateful for colleagues who are willing to try new things and then share when they do.
Feel free to use this escape room. It includes a review of equations of lines and equations of circles.