The final course for the Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy requires participants to apply what they have learned throughout the course by creating a plan for the embedded use of technology to foster student learning.
Throughout the year, grade 6 teachers have worked with students to practice their math communication skills. Reflections are done frequently which require clear, thorough descriptions of math ideas using accurate math vocabulary. Grading is assisted by use of a rubric. While teacher feedback is important, seeing exemplars of other student's work can also be of tremendous benefit. Traditionally this would involve putting examples onto a notice board (or into a smartboard document or under a document camera), and each of these approaches has a time cost factor.
This ongoing reflection process has generally seen an improvement in the quality of the work. However, with the exception of the pieces chosen to be exemplars,these reflective pieces only get teacher-to-student feedback, and this is carried out in a traditional, non-public manner.
In addition, group work on problem solving usually has a component where students are able to explain their thinking to the class, and then compare and contrast their methods with those of other students. This is an enjoyable, stimulating process that I firmly believe pushes kids to start to understand the mathematics more deeply. However, this stimulation and enjoyment bears a cost; it can become very time consuming. It was with this in mind that was hoping to find some viable, tech-driven alternatives.
My grade 6 students have just completed a unit on fractions as part of the Connected Math Program. Emphasis in this course is put on to students explaining their thinking. In line with this philosophy, I will be getting my students to solve a fraction problem and post their explanation on to their blog, along with a digital photo of the model they constructed as part of the support for their answer.
I am doing this for several reasons:
1. that the public nature of the forum will encourage students to make a quality effort with regard to the clarity of their explanations (so its not just Mr S. they are trying to impress, but the world).
2. having the opportunity to view many other examples from their peers will assist in cementing connections we make during class time with regard to different approaches;
3. that the comparing and contrasting between their method and an alternative method will promote deeper understanding.
Keep an eye on this space for the reflection to this activity, where students will post their answers, models and explanations on their own blog spaces.