Friday, January 30, 2015

Showcase: Collaborative Tools in the Math Classroom

Padlet an online collaborative sticky board has been around for awhile, it was previously called Wallwisher.  We have seen Padlet used in lots of classrooms.  I wanted to showcase Elena Jones a math teacher at Goddard Middle School using this with her 8th grade students.

Rather than a typical study guide Elena decided to shift this from an independent activity to a collaborative activity that held students accountable for the information they were sharing.

Elena created a different Padlet for each topic (chapter) that was going to be assessed on the midterm exam. Students were required to contribute to at least five different boards. Their next step was to analyze each board to see if all vocabulary was covered. As they worked, students would ask her to "clean-up" or organize the board by re-arranging student comments so they were all visible. As they found a word missing, the students would ask who wants to add this missing information.  As Elena saw duplicate vocabulary words on a page, she would address the two students and have them discuss their definitions and come up with one 'best' definition. When students didn't know the definition of a word, she encouraged them to use their resources (internet...).

Here is one example of her student generated boards.

Students used these boards to study vocabulary and concepts for their midterm. Students really enjoyed collaborating and critically reading other student contributions to create these collaborative boards.

When I asked Elena if she would do it again and how effective she thought this was she responded. “This was a very effective and efficient way to engage all students to review for a dreaded mid term. Students had to collaborate to review vocabulary rather than complete a study guide. I will do this again for the final!”

In addition to using collaborative tools in her class, Elena is presenting at the InnEdCo Conference this summer at Keystone and has previously presented at our district Inspired Learning Conference that happens each April.  If that was not enough she also has a class set of iPads that she uses very effectively in her math classroom.  If you have questions or want to get a hold of Elena Jones check out her class website.

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