Google Drive + Screenshots = Faster Feedback

When my students do their math homework and struggle with a problem, they often wait until the next day to ask me about it.  Occasionally they will email me with a jumbled message in an attempt to type algebra.  While these are not terrible options, Google Drive provides an even better (and faster) way for students to get help with a problem.  Now that my students are doing their homework on their iPads, this process is even easier!

When a student has a question about his work, he can take a screenshot on his iPad of his attempt at the problem in Notabililty, save the image to his Google Drive, and share the image with me (and preferably add a message asking a question about the problem).

When I get an email notification that a student has shared an image with me, I can give him feedback quickly by opening the image in Google Drive and inserting text comments on different portions of the image.  He will see these comments immediately.

For Student Directions and Teacher Directions, check out our Raid Our Files page.

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iPads as Notebooks? — Part 1

The Pedagogy

During the 2012-2013 school year, I started turning to my iPad more and more, rather than paper, while during personal work.  I stopped making paper answer keys, choosing instead to annotate PDFs, wrote up solutions to share with my students using digital ink, and kept track of my own notes about topics I was teaching in my iPad rather than a notebook or binder.   The better I got at using my iPad and the more organized I became, the better this system worked for me.

Did this mean my students should stop using notebooks and switch over completely to their iPads?   After giving it some thought, my answer is:  it depends.

In choosing whether to use an iPad as a notebook, here are some things to consider:

What other resources do the students need to use while working on their iPad?

My Algebra I students are using the HMH FUSE series, a comprehensive Algebra I resource built for the iPad, instead of a textbook.  When they are doing problems from FUSE, they need to be looking at them from their iPads.  Even for the most adept multi-tasker, switching back and forth between this and a note-taking app would be inefficient and frustrating.  So, my Algebra I students do problems and notes in notebooks, but whenever I have something that I would have passed out to them on paper in the past, I deliver it to them electronically.


What are they used to?

I teach a Pre-Calculus course to honors level juniors, motivated students who focus on academics and have already discovered the habits that work for them by 11th grade. They have a regular, hardback textbook, so they are required to use their iPads as their notebooks for our first unit.  After that, they have the choice of switching back to a regular notebook.  They have the freedom to make an informed decision.

Will it actually help the students?

I also teach a geometry course (without a textbook) with students who are less set in their ways.  Here’s what I am trying:  they aren’t allowed to use notebooks, and they do everything on their iPads:  all notes, all homework, all activities, unless they are physically making things.  My hope here is that if they always have something to do for class on their iPad, they won’t be tempted to be doing something else – iMessaging, live Tweeting everything I say, etc.

How does all this look from a workflow point-of-view?  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post – The Tools!

Stylish Styluses

On orientation day at our school, we see each of our classes for 10 minutes each.   One of our goals during this time is to tell our students what materials they need for the year, and this year we both had to add a new item to our lists:  iPad styluses.

Do you really need a stylus?  iPads are so sensitive, and being able to use the touch screen without a stylus is part of the charm.

For math class, absolutely.  When we were learning to be iPad users ourselves last year, we discovered that writing out solutions, drawing diagrams, and drawing graphs on our iPads was a total game changer, allowing us to really harness the power of this mobile tool to make our workflow, at the very least, more efficient.  This year, we want to teach our students to do the same, but doing these tasks well demands precision and accuracy, and neither is possible on an iPad without a stylus.

So, what do we recommend?

Lia loves the Adonit Jot Pro

“Artists use them for detailed drawings, and since math requires comparable precision and attention to detail, this stylus is a math tech nerd’s dream.”  -Lia