Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Explanation Station


Looking for a worthwhile station during Guided Math? How about one that is an excellent formative assessment that makes student mathematical thinking visible and helps you determine next steps in small group instruction? And what if this same station worked for any math topic/concept?

Look no further… what you need is an Explanation Station.

What does it entail?

Using the Explain Everything app on the iPad, students record solving a problem or explaining a concept designed by the teacher. Students think out loud during the process; and, therefore, the app captures a much fuller picture about what a student knows. When a student solves a problem on a piece of paper a teacher misses out on so much. Even if a student writes every step, it’s often not clear if the student really understands the concept or methodology employed. Is the student just regurgitating steps without comprehension of them? Moreover, did the student just get lucky with the final answer? By adding the narration layer, a student can demonstrate key vocabulary as well as articulate knowledge of strategies. Plus, at the station, students are encouraged not to strive for perfection and even admit if there’s confusion or a mistake has been made. They are told not to erase, but cross out and explain why they know there is a mistake. It’s important for students to know the purpose of the station is for the teacher to find out what s/he knows, and from there, the teacher will know how to help a student progress and get better in his/her math learning. Whenever I explain the purpose to students I can see a sense of relief in their faces, and they are ready to give the station a try.

Here is  a direction sheet developed for a grade four classroom that I have been supporting. (It can be used with any grade level.) In addition, here are the guiding questions that never change at the station. The only change is the problem or concept that the teacher puts on a small piece of paper or an index card (easily differentiated for students).

Ready to see an example? Please take a moment to check out this student’s recent work created at the station, showing an equivalent fraction for 1/2.

I’d love to help you set up a similar station in your classroom during Guided Math. Just let me know!

posted under Assessment, Math | 2 Comments »

Reflection on Managing a Station or Center


I have been assisting in a grade 3 classroom every Friday for the past month. My job: train students how to go through the steps of an iPad math creation station. The goals: 1) the current math student learning objective and 2) independence!

In reflecting on my time in there, I think it has been successful, and many students have achieved the goal of working on their own… and here’s why:

  1. We took the time to set expectations and to show students the process step by step. There were no assumptions that the students just should know what to do. They were shown slowly, and those that completed steps quickly became helpers.
  2. Students were empowered. Not only did we ask students who caught on quickly to be helpers, when appropriate I would be flexible and give a next step tutorial to them. Once they completed the steps, I asked them to lead the overall demonstration when other students were ready. This modeled what should be happening at the station: help each other out without doing it for someone as well as seek out friends or “experts” if you are struggling.
  3. The creation task was broken down into logical steps with a checklist so that students could keep track of their progress. Furthermore, a direction sheet for a specific app was available as a support to remind students of details. These resources have been excellent ways for me and the teacher to redirect students who come to us with questions. (Did you look at your checklist? Can the answer be found on the direction sheet?)
  4. The classroom teacher created an example each week. She showed this example to students as a part of her preview of each of the stations in the room. This preview gave students an opportunity to see expectations and ask questions like they would any of the other stations before actually being at the station. The heads-up is great for relieving anxious students, too!
  5. The teacher gave time during the week for students to do a little prep work, if necessary, such as cutting out shapes, jotting down notes, etc. so that they had the necessary materials at the station. Creating on the fly is an important skill; however, it was bogging down the station.
  6. Coordinating with support teachers to be available to work at the station with specific students has helped a lot. Students who struggle with multiple steps and reading are having their needs met, and we have found that they now are shifting toward more moments of independence at the station.
  7. The teacher did her own prepping for the station. Taking time to consult with me about any adjustments with a focus on keeping it as consistent as possible, learning how to make copies in her Google Drive in her math folder, making a physical binder for students to keep the direction sheets, having clipboards out with the latest check list and thinking about the best groupings of students to visit the station first have been extremely beneficial to the success of the station.
  8. The procedures and apps used have remained the same each week. I talked with the teacher about how the technology was not the focus. Finding a good app(s) and sticking with them was crucial. The only thing necessary to change was the objective each week. Some worry that the students will become bored. Nope… we haven’t seen that yet. A consistent workflow with no hang-ups about procedures and learning new apps is demonstrating what the students know in math. This aspect is very important for those students who struggle with multiple steps and reading, making the acquisition of the routine much easier. The station is math formative assessment at its best!

I’m sure there are many more things that haven’t even been realized yet. I am very encouraged by what I am seeing in this classroom. I feel like I am more of a coach at the station now, identifying kid’s specific procedural areas of weakness and clearing up confusion so they can get on the right course.

I hope my thoughts are useful as teachers work on setting up guided math and stations in their classrooms. Please share any of your own experiences in the comments!

BTW- this is the iPad workflow (for those who are curious):

  • Plan and create four talking avatars about the math learning objective using Chatterpix Kids.
  • Put the four videos into a media collage using PicPlayPost.
  • Share your media collage to the teacher’s assignment in Google Classroom.

A big congratulations to Mrs. Kelly and her students for an awesome job in getting this Station Rotation Model to work so well!

Students as Creators – Collages of Learning & Discovery


Last week, I ran a hands-on workshop for K-2 teachers in my school district. I do not work directly with these teachers, but I did my best to give them ideas of how to think about how students could be creators versus consumers on iPads. The student examples that were showcased during the workshop were from the results of my collaborations with Abbot teachers. I wanted to share this creation work with more people, so I’m posting it on my blog today… perhaps, I little bit of a boast… but I’m proud of our work and hope it will inspire others. I’d also love to gather more ideas. Please comment with your how your students create on iPads!

Students as Creators

Organize with a YouTube Playlist


Video is a great way to grab your students’ attention. The right video can jump start a unit, teach a tricky concept, deepen understanding or serve as a review. Often videos are watched whole class with a classroom discussion following, or a teacher may assign a video in Google Classroom for independent viewing and commenting.

For whatever reason or method that you show videos, the question is “how are you saving and organizing these videos?” Do you often find yourself searching for the videos again or trying to figure out what browser in which you bookmarked them? Wouldn’t it be great if you had them all in one place, categorized, ready to share with students as well as colleagues, no matter what device you are using?

An idea: Make YouTube playlists.

YouTube is one of the most popular video services, and while there is a ton of non-educational material on it, there is equally a lot of good curriculum being shared there as well. It’s so easy to gather the videos that you find on YouTube, too.

You probably already have discovered other people’s playlists on YouTube. Here’s a social studies one:

Here is Google’s step by step directions for creating and maintaining your own playlists.

Now, when you find a great Revolutionary War video, for example, you can add it to your curated Revolutionary War playlist. You won’t lose your videos anymore. They will be kept on a virtual bookshelf filled with videos, and you even will have a single link that you can share these multiple videos with students as a review on an overall topic.

I also envision this as a great way for grade level or subject area teachers to work together in the collection of resources since you can add collaborators to playlists! See below for directions:

So what do you think? I’m curious if you currently use playlists and/or if you see this as a worthwhile endeavor?

QR Codes – How to Make


QR Codes have been mentioned by a few colleagues over the last two weeks. Therefore, I am passing along a 3-Minute Classroom Problem Solvers’ video on the subject. Please watch below, and let me know if you have any questions. Also, I’d love to hear how you are using QR Codes with students.

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