Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lower School Tech Night

On Thursday, April 26 a number of interested parents joined the Lower School TLC members, Page, and Ben for a conversation focused on technology in the classroom.  It was a great opportunity to share how we approach the use of technology in the classroom and what we are experimenting with.  I was not surprised that our reservations with integrating technology in the classroom are the same that parents have regarding technology at home.  However, I think we did a good job of expressing that we see technology as another tool to be used along with traditional tools.  Ultimately, each tool available to us should enhance student learning and our teaching.  Our visuals showed students using paper, books, hands on manipulatives, maps, scissors, iPads, and laptops and our conversation stressed that technology is integrated in a thoughtful and considerate manner.  I was very impressed with my colleagues use of technology in their learning spaces and am eager to learn more.  It is clear that we are using the tools to guide our learners in age appropriate ways and have found positive uses for technology in the classroom.

In preparing for the evening I asked a few of my students what they thought about the use of technology in school.  Here are their thoughts:

This morning I stumbled across the following article using my favorite personal app called Zite.  How Mobile Technologies Are Shaping A New Generation The article, written by Tammy Erickson, explores the idea that a new generation of children, perhaps dubbed Generation i, is emerging.  Unlike a few from Generation X  and most of Generation Y, these children are "the first participants in an era where everyone has access to everything, everywhere, at every time. This is the generation of mobile technology, wireless communication, and clouds of constant content."
  • Two-thirds of 4- to 7-year-olds have used an iPhone or iPod
  • 6% of 2- to 5-year-olds have their own smartphone
  • 50% of 11 year olds have own cell phone
  • 10% of households with children aged 6-12 have iPads (compared with only 3% of other households); 35% of these households with young children plan to buy some brand of tablet computer in the next year
  • 72% of the 100 top-selling education apps in Apple's iTunes App store this year were aimed at preschoolers and those in elementary school
  • One of the first products aimed at putting an iPhone into a baby's hands (Fisher-Price's oversize case, providing coverage against drools and tantrums, while doubling as a rattle), rapidly sold out on Amazon; the three apps designed for the case have been downloaded more than 700,000 times
  • Kids 11 to 14 spend, on average, 73 minutes a day texting
  • The average teen sends more than 50 texts a day
  • Over 25% of 2-5 year olds and over 40% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet
  • 88% of 6-8 year olds use the Internet to play games; 37%, to get help with homework; 25% to get the "inside scoop" on what interests them; and 22% to read and write email
  • 90% of tweens (10-12) play online games
  • Younger children spend over 10 hours a week playing video games
  • The amount of time all kids spend online daily has tripled in the past 10 years

In viewing these statements it is clear that education is at a crossroad.  We can continue to utilize traditional tools and deliver legacy content or we can truly prepare our students by offering a rejuvenated curriculum with carefully implemented technological tools.   

Monday, April 23, 2012


It seems like it is a pretty good time to be a math teacher.  Every week, I see several new resources for math problems, math projects, and real world math applications on Twitter and various websites.  These resources along with the potential for programming online and game access at the click of a mouse could produce a much-improved, more relevant math class.  Ahhh - if it were only that easy!  I'll save that for another post.

I thought I'd share a few resources that I've seen in the last few weeks:

  • Bedtime Math - - I read to my two boys before bed.  We cuddle up and read a few pages from a book before bedding down for the night.  But, being a math geek myself, I have also added something additional -  just before I leave their room, my son prompts, "Math problem please..."  Music to my ears - I give him a quick multiplication (or now, we are moving on to division) problem for him to figure out before I leave.  The site, Bedtime Math, picks up on the idea that we don't just have bedtime stories but we can throw some math in there too.  The site provides a math word problem everyday broken into different age levels, like this:
Wee ones (counting on fingers): If 2 cars, 2 trucks and 1 bicycle drive past your home, how many vehicles is that?
Little kids: If 32 cars and trucks drive by in an hour, and 12 are trucks, how many are cars?  Bonus: If half the cars have a dog riding along, and half of those dogs are sticking their heads out the window, how many dogs are hanging out the window?
Big kids: If 47 cars, 15 motorcycles, 4 buses and 2 ice-cream trucks drive by, how many vehicles is that?  Bonus: How many wheels is that in total? (Assume the trucks and buses are 4-wheeled like the cars.)

  •  NCTM Twitter Feed -!/nctm - While we are on the subject of daily mathematics problems, check out the Twitter feed from NCTM (the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).  The provide a challenging problem everyday (except for Mondays, I think).  What a great way to start off class or challenge those students who seem to always finish before the rest of the class.  Here's a sample:

  • Finally, you can now touch algebra.  Algebra Touch is an app for the iPad/iPhone and it allows you to interact with algebra equations.  The app takes advantage of the "touch" of the iPad and you can swipe, tap, slide, and move terms and equations around the screen.  I know there are some students who will be relieved to use this app.