Overheard from a Chemistry Teacher

I was in the main office the other day and I heard a chemistry teacher singing the praises of his Apple TV.  When reviewing homework (lots of math in chemistry), he asks students to mirror their iPads.  If a student has a question, he asks that student to mirror her iPad so the class can look at her work.  They work together to find the mistake and correct the problem.  Then they move on to the next one.  He said the students love sharing their work with the class and helping each other find mistakes … it’s like a puzzle (for the whole class to work on together).

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Their Work: More Interesting than Mine

Since Margaret was singing the praises of the killer combination of Apple TV and homework done on iPads earlier today, I thought I’d chime in.

I always struggle with how to review homework in pre-calc.  It’s easy for another student to share their answer with the class, but its usually more complicated than “x = 5,” and I really don’t think its that helpful for the rest of the class to hear the answer unless they can see it. When a student wants to talk about a problem they got wrong, what I have been doing is either projecting my solution or having a student project their correct solution to give us a visual for discussion, which was okay.

What I’m finding I like better is getting a student (or a couple of students) to project their entire assignment while we discuss the answers.  That way, we always have something to look at while we’re talking, because its hard to talk about math problems without seeing them, and, even if the student go something wrong, they can fix it in real time with my/the class’s input.  I think it’s really valuable for the rest of the class to see both the mistakes and the fixes.   I’m going to try this set up for going over homework more often.

Geometry Proofs: So Many Ways!

I teach Geometry.  My students struggle with the idea that there are lots of different ways to prove something.  What they really hate is that there isn’t one right answer.  I on the other hand get the most frustrated when a student is looking at a proof I have projected saying,  “I did something different … am I wrong?”

Prior to our 1:1 iPad environment, I would have said, “well let me come take a look” or “how about you write it on the board and we’ll look at it?” Oh the time I wasted waiting for kids to write on the board … oh the time I wasted looking at one kid’s work while the rest of the class stared off into the distance.

Enter Apple TV and students doing their homework in Notability on their iPads. Now I say, “could you mirror your iPad and we’ll look at your proof together as a class?”  Within seconds, the whole class is looking at an alternative method of proving something.  Sometimes  it’s right.  Sometimes it needs to be tweaked.  Other times, it’s way off.  But regardless, we get to look at several different proofs for each problem and still have class time left to do something else!

Self Grading Homework

When my students are working on a particularly difficult topic, I like to know if they’re on the right track.  If I don’t get questions via email or see students in my room the next morning, I begin class without knowing where my students stand with yesterday’s material.  This isn’t exactly ideal.  (I realize I could scrap the idea of homework, but that’s not where I’m headed.)

Instead, I have my students enter the answers to their homework problems into a Google Form.  They’re not submitting all of their work, so it doesn’t take much for me to scan through their answers and quickly get an idea of whether each student is on the right track.

I tried this for the first time last week when my trigonometry students.  I created a Google Form asking for identifying information (first and last name, email address, and class period) and answers to each of the five homework questions.  Since my students do their homework in Notability on their iPads, it was easy for them to quickly enter their answers and submit the form when the were finished with their homework:

Screenshot of Google Form

I checked in on the responses a few times, emailed students who seemed to be way off track and offered some hints based on which problems were wrong.

Screenshot of Form Submissions

I sent emails to students in lines 1 and 3 when I noticed their answers were incorrect.

Then, before class, I used Flubaroo, a script in Google Forms, to “grade” the homework and email students their grade (out of 5) as well as the answer key.  Below is the summary of the grades.  [Note: I did not use this grade, but rather, I gave full credit to students for completing the assignment.]

A summary of the graded homework from Flubaroo

Instead of starting class by asking what questions my students had, I was able to target the one question that  most students struggled with.  Another nice thing about using forms to collect homework responses is the ability to project all of the responses at the beginning of the class period.  When I ask an open-ended question, I like for my students to see all of the different responses and discuss which ones are better explanations.  Thank you Google!