I never forgot about this blog. It tumbles across my brain space every now and again, a reminder of a time when I didn’t have quite so much on my plate. (Wait – there was a time like that?!) So why start blogging again? For real this time. Not like that time a couple years ago where I wrote two whole posts…
Last summer, we book-clubbed Kids Deserve It. If you haven’t read it yet, go now, click that link, and get yourself a copy. It’s an easy read that will completely revitalize your drive to be awesome. It’s a book that nails the why behind teaching. It’s a neon light reminder that kids are the reason we do what we do. It’s also a big reason I’m coming back to blogging. I want to share the amazing things we’re doing in class in hopes of helping others reclaim their joy.
But at the root, I want to talk about what we’re doing. I have some incredible co-teachers that inspire me every day. We are teaching some amazing lessons and I want a place where I can talk about what went well and what we’ve learned. I want a place to collaborate and share. I want to talk about teaching.
I’m in a new school this year, and serve in a few new roles. I couldn’t be more excited, though it’s definitely taking a toll on my free time (and therefore my blogging). One of my new roles is as a Student Intervention Team representative. While I’ve sat on SIT teams for years, I’ve never had to manage folders or be as involved in the intervention process. I’ve been doing a ton of internet reading on effective interventions and wanted to share this free one that has been making a regular appearance in my classroom.
TenMarks.com is a math site made for teachers. Teachers can sign up for a FREE account, input their classes, and assign online tasks based on grade-specific common core standards. Each grade level has activities and assessments geared toward the standards. Simply click on the standard and assign a task. The standards are grouped for easy access and teachers can check out sample questions before building an assignment. There are several reasons why I love TenMarks.com:
1. You can put in as many groups as you need. (Read: differentiation for small groups)
2. The app gives you reports on how the kids do on each assignment and stores the scores in a digital gradebook. Teachers can view the final score, how many hints were used, how many instructional videos were viewed, and so on.
3. The questions are a good mix of rigor – basic calculations, but also error analysis and explanation questions in each standard. (Example: Given two student examples, which student got the answer wrong and why?) Also, some questions have more than one correct answer, making children do more analysis than a typical pen and paper assessment.
4. My all time favorite part – if a child doesn’t understand a question, they can click on the video tutorial. Each question has a video explaining how to solve that style of problem. It’s the perfect reteaching component!
5. If they still don’t get the question, they can utilize three extra hints.
6. At the end, students are given a score and then given a chance to go back and fix the questions they got wrong or got partially wrong to improve their score. Who doesn’t love a second chance?
We are using this app at my school as a math intervention for struggling students. The video tutorials give that essential reteaching component. Additionally, since students get individual logins, they can access the site from home and work with parents on the same type of problems. I’m also using it for some on-grade level data collection for my own students.
A few notes:
-The tutorial videos work on any device – including the iPads.
-Kids can access the site from anywhere, but there is a free app to go along with the program that streamlines everything for students.
-There is a Jam Session area where kids can practice skills without doing teacher assignments.
-There is a paid version of this. When teachers get the free version they can only assign tasks from the grade level specific standards. If you upgrade, one of the features is differentiated assignments – allowing teachers to assign any level standard to a class. I did not pay for anything – I’m happily using the free version.
Some of you may have already seen this site. It got sent to me in a mass email that I initially tossed into the trash folder. A big thanks to our reading coach, for telling me to take the time and check it out. Hope some of you find this app useful.
I’m not sure how long it has been around, but ThatQuiz.org is my new favorite teaching tool. The site is a quiz generating site, one that has infinite customization options. While there are science and vocabulary quizzes available, ThatQuiz focuses on math.
Teachers register for a free account and set up their classes. Then users choose a quiz from the huge variety of pre-made quizzes. The initial menu features Integers, Fractions, Concepts and Geometry. Each of these is then broken down into various skills from Kindergarten to high school. To make life even better, each quiz has many different customization options. For example, in the homework assignment on time skills that I created I had to choose between 10-100 questions, one of four difficulty levels, time limit, order, simple clocks or elapsed time, addition or subtraction of time, converting time, or time zones. Each concept has just as many, if not more, options for editing. If you don’t like the questions featured, you can also create your own. Or browse and download quizzes made by other educators. I’m telling you, this site has unlimited possibilities.
To make this site even better, it collects data on each of your children. When a test is generated you are given a unique test code. As long as the student has this code, they can access the test from anywhere. Once they log in and take the test, you can analyze your grade book to see how the kids do. You can also delete scores to allow children to retest.
This site is perfect for creating quick assessments to check student knowledge. I love using a ThatQuiz as a pre-assessment to see what my students know before the start of a unit. As you can see from our grade book on Time, I have some work ahead of me! I also really like using it for homework. I mostly hate assigning homework, but have certain requirements from my administration. I’ll often assign a ThatQuiz for homework on Monday, but have it due on Friday. Students without internet access then have a full week of homeroom or library time to get the assignment done.