Making Apps Meaningful

I’ve been researching apps to use with my class during math.  One thing I’ve found is that there are some very interesting games that require students to apply math skills.  However, in order to fully think through these concepts they would need the guidance of an adult who could prompt them with some well thought out questions.  What to do?

When I picture my students using the iPads I see individuals, pairs, and small groups working at their own pace.  I don’t see me leading a whole group lesson.  So here’s what I’ve come up with.  (Note this is only in the planning stages yet, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.)  This lesson uses 2 applications, Slice It (free version) and Read It Later, as well as a Google form.

Slice it is a pretty neat game that challenges the player with cutting various shapes into different sections.  Students are required to estimate area (they can confirm it because the shapes are presented on grid paper) to correctly section the shapes.  I also wanted my students to think about lines of symmetry, problem solving strategies, and the geometric properties of different triangles.  These are all concepts that are touched on in one of my math units.  I created a “think page” using a Google form and bookmarked it using Read It later for easy access.  Now, I can prompt each student to think about the concepts presented in the game in a way that is related to my curriculum.  I also have a way to assess their understanding, as their answers will appear in my spreadsheet.

As I created the form I thought about the types of questions I might ask students in order to prompt them to think about their problem solving strategies and to compare results of problems.  I chose mostly open ended questions so that students would need to articulate their thinking and justify their methods.  As the shapes and problems get more complex so do the questions.

I might use this lesson to…

  • Reinforce concepts taught in the curriculum by having students apply what they know in a different context.
  • Extend the lesson for some of my more advanced learners-I can adjust the difficulty by directing them to particular shapes or adjusting the questions on my think sheet.
  • Re-teach or revisit concepts with other students who may need extra time.
  • Assess student understanding of these concepts.

Some additional supports I might add on the iPad are…

  • photos of anchor charts and pages documents that students can refer back to when needed.
  • videos of me explaining or solving certain problems if students need to go back and have an additional modeling experience.
  • Additional links on Read It Later for students to access to support or extend the learning activity.

So what will I be doing during this time?  Many things!  First of all, just because students have technology in their hands doesn’t mean that we don’t interact with them.  So I might be…

  • Assisting students who need additional support.
  • Ask additional questions not on the sheet in response to what I see and hear in the classroom.
  • Working in a small group or one-on-one with students on or off the iPad to extend, reteach or pre-teach concepts for the next lesson.
  • Conferring and taking anecdotal notes on students’ math and/or technology skills.
  • Assess the effectiveness of the applications, lesson format, and overall learning experience to determine if I have impacted my students in a meaningful way.
  • Reflect on how the students are reacting to the lesson through kidwatching.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think it will work?  Does it help make the application more meaningful?  What other things will I need to consider when applying this in the classroom?

Apps and Programs Used

Read It Later:  A handy app that lets you bookmark sites from your computer and will display them on your iPad or mobile device.

Create an account at the website above.

Slice It: A game that challenges you to slice different shapes into equally sized pieced.  See screen shots below.

Google Docs: Forms

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One Response to Making Apps Meaningful

  1. Nancy C says:

    Again – Thanks for the great information. I loved the Google Doc video as it helped me ‘get’ it. Love your idea of having students complete a Google Form at the end of their game. They should see that learning is fun and then be able to relate that fun to what your objectives are. Great work.

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