Integrated Math vs. Traditional Math

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What’s the difference? Integrated math is a series of courses that “integrate” all the main topics in mathematics, i.e. algebra, geometry, data, and trigonometry. Traditional math is an approach that breaks those topics down into their individual parts, i.e. Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus. Many high schools offer both course pathways. However, the integrated pathway is typically offered as an alternative for students that are not confident enough in math to take the traditional path. When this is the case the integrated pathway is also typically “watered down” to make it easier for students to pass. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards ODE, and the writers of the CCSS, are strongly recommending that high schools no longer offer an alternative pathway for the sole purpose of giving students a way to obtain their math credits. Many people oppose the integrated pathway. So, which should you choose? It is the recommendation of this writer that you base that decision on what is best for your students. However, if you are on the fence, choose the integrated approach. Students receive an integrated approach in middle school. The traditional path tends to leave students behind because the topics are segregated and it is not apparent how everything fits together. When choosing this pathway though be sure to consider the implications on instruction. Allow teachers time to be trained and become familiar with the new method of presenting mathematics. The standards are the same but the daily lessons will be quite a bit different. Set teachers up for success and students will be successful too. Click here to read an article on NCTMs website about this topic.

Keeping Students’ Interest

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How many times have you walked into something because you were paying more attention to your phone than where you were going? Our students have the same problem except they have it much worse. The amount of time a student spends immersed in their own digital world is hard to believe. Students are becoming more and more seduced by the power of digital media. What are we going to do about it? Checking all electronic devices at the door usually creates undesirable results and makes students less likely to be interested in school. One option is to use students’ love of electronics to get them to learn. More and more teachers are using online games and tools to enhance their daily instruction. The use of online resources though has its own undesirable consequences. How do you find games that are educational? How do you make sure the game is school appropriate? NCTM Tips gave a helpful guide for using online games including, the benefits of using games, how to choose the right games, and a list of games that are appropriate. Check out the article here. Consider using more games in your instruction but make sure that you take the time to play the games yourself. Your time will be rewarded in student learning.

To Google it or not to Google it?

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I saw a forum on Tech and Learning that asked the question “Can you Google-proof a question using Bloom’s Taxonomy?”. It was an interesting conversation. You can check it out here. It made me think though about what we are doing in our classrooms that would be Google-able. Simple math questions (i.e. 2+2) are easily answered by Google. But much more rigorous questions require students to think about the context of the question, the information that is unnecessary, the information that is important, the process to solve, etc. You can’t google many of those things. Google can help students get to the right answer and give suggestions but the problem must be solved by the student. When considering whether a question is rigorous enough try this test. Put it into a search engine. If the search comes back with the correct answer quickly perhaps the question needs to be more challenging. If the search comes back with an answer that is vague and, at best, helpful then maybe you have a question that will truly make students think.

Online Algebra Course

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This article highlights a study performed on the east coast in rural districts. The research was meant to find the benefits of middle school students taking an online Algebra course in 8th grade. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2011/12/online_algebra_i_class_can_boo.html

7 Reasons To Leverage Social Networking Tools in the Classroom

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Check out this article about using social networking sites to increase communication in your classroom. Try it some time and see how students respond. http://www.emergingedtech.com/2011/06/7-reasons-to-leverage-social-networking-tools-in-the-classroom/

Using Twitter in the Classroom

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There have been thousands of articles about using twitter in the classroom. Emerging EdTech has put together a list of ways to make twitter useful in the classroom. If you would like to take a look at how this article click the following link. http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/ Begin to think about how you can link students’ desire to share information through social media and your classroom. They will love it.

What is Web 2.0?

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Let’s take a step back. Web 1.0 is an internet experience that is strictly meant for consumption. Interaction with and modification of content is not possible. Websites like those provided by corporations are a good example. Browsing Lowe’s website only allows you to view the available products, not to add any new products. “You can look but not touch”. Web 2.0, however, is much different. The content and modification of content is now in the hands of those consuming the information. Things like wikis, blogs, and other interactive types of information media are good examples. This allows the consumer control over some of what is being presented. You can add comments, attempt to correct previous statements that are misleading or incorrect, have discussions, etc.

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