Sunday, May 17, 2015

Using Google Forms in the Classroom

Google Forms is seriously my new best friend.  We switched to 1:1 iPads this year and I have found two ways to use Google Forms that are very helpful to me in doing my job.  I hope these descriptions might help you find a new way to use them.

1) COUNTING BALLOTS - One of my jobs is to coordinate all the all-school elections we have…for example, Homecoming Queen, Student Council Elections, Class Officer Elections, etc.  Over the years that I have done this job, we have gone from paper balloting (which was seriously horrible as I had to count the ballots BY HAND), to using a scantron machine, to now using GOOGLE FORMS!  Previously, there was always some type of complaining afterwards…ugh it was NOT A FUN TIME!  Using Google forms allows me to quickly create a ballot, email the link the the appropriate students, and then collect the results.  Easy Peasy.  There can't be any complaining because the computer counted the ballots.  Not to mention this is a huge money savings as those Scantron Ballots are super expensive.

2)  IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK - Using Google Forms allows me to give my students a quick question, have them fill out a form and get an immediate response.  (There are other apps that do this too - see my post on Socrative for example.)  The best part about Google Forms is that there is an add on app (FREE :) that lets Google grade the question(s) for you.  (It is called Flubaroo).  Not only that, but it gives you the option to email the students the correct answers to your questions.  Seriously a time saver!

One of my major hesitations to using google forms previously was that I couldn't type mathematical notation into a google form easily.  I have two ways that I can work around this.

A) Still give the students the questions on paper and just have them enter the answers into google forms.

B) You can insert a picture into google forms.  This is handy when you want the students to see the problem online.  It is most helpful when the answers are still numbers that the students can type in, or you can take a picture of the answer choices too.

[This is is the first post about google forms.  I will follow up later in the week with specific tips about using google forms in the math class.]

Do you have other ways you use Google Forms?  I'd love to hear about them :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Physics Task Card Activities

This is a post about task cards and puzzles I have created for my AP Physics class.  I teach AP Physics - Mechanics.  So, these activities are specifically geared for that course, but could be used in other Mechanics courses as well.

Check them out :)

1)  Free Fall Task Cards - this is a set of 10 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Free Fall.  Each task card includes a QR Code that can be scanned so students have immediate feedback.

2)  Potential and Kinetic Energy and Conservation of Energy Task Cards - this is a set of 12 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Energy.  This packet also includes two worksheets that can be used as examples about a pendulum and a roller coaster.  QR codes are included on each task card.

3) Coming Soon - Projectile Motion Cards

4)  End of Year Word Puzzles - do you need something to fill some time or a short sub activity?  My students loved these Crossword and Word Search Puzzles.  The word search puzzle gives the symbol for various different physics terms and students will find the word that goes with the symbol.  The crossword puzzle features 25 different vocabulary words that students should be familiar with by the end of a mechanics course.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mental Math Challenge

Mental math is a serious problem.  I know that, as math teachers, we have all experienced the sinking feeling in our stomachs when we see students pull out their calculators to multiply by 10 or add 1!  It makes me want to pull my hair out :)

So, I decided to challenge my class the other day.  I told my Geometry Honors class that we were going to have a Mental Math Challenge.  They were not allowed to use a paper, pencil, or calculator.  They had to sit and listen to me give 4 directions such as…

Start with the number 5.

Add 10.

Divide by 3.

Add 2.

What is your answer?

Then they had to enter their answer immediately into a google form.

No repeating, no calculator, no pencil…it was a serious recipe for disaster!

Quite frankly, I was surprised when I graded the google forms.  Students did HORRIBLE!

My students are great - the kids are good and they study…but they need help with mental math :)  I figure that mental math is like exercise…you need to keep doing it to keep your mind healthy!

So, I created these task cards to help.

I think they can be used in a few ways.

1.  You could use the stack of cards as a center.

2.  You could read the directions on each card to the class, and then choose a student to scan the QR Code.  (If you don't have a smart device to read the QR Code, no problem, an answer key is included).

3.  Give a few cards to each student or group and have them trade.

4.  Make the cards into a stack - punch a hole and put them on a ring.  Bring them in a car for one of your children :)

4.  The cards are easy to make differentiable - some are more difficult than others.

I envision creating another stack soon that also involves some negative and some larger numbers!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Physics Mystery Bag Challenge

What in the world can you do on the day before Spring Break in Physics class with a bunch of senior boys who just want to be done with school?  (To be fair, I have girls in the class too, but they are much more willing to sit down and listen, even on the day before Spring Break!)

I searched pinterest and websites and came across this website Mystery Bag Challenge.  I felt like I could adapt this idea to fit my class.

I used the idea from the blog I mentioned and decided to try the Pom Pom Challenge.  I liked this activity because I already had most of the materials on hand - I just had to buy the pom poms.

The students entered the classroom and saw the Mystery Bags and immediately wanted them - they figured that there were Easter treats inside :)

Once everyone got to class, I divided the class into groups and showed them what was in the bag.  (All of the bags had the same materials):

The task at hand:  Build a pom pom launcher that can launch the pom pom as far as possible.  The group that launches it the farthest wins.  (I didn't need to offer any prize other than WINNING - did I mention I have a bunch of competitive students?)

The students got right to it and started to think up ideas.  As we went along I had to make a couple of rules…you had to actually build something, you couldn't just use a straw that was provided and make something that resembled a pea shooter.  Also, I had to make the rule that the pom poms could not be modified (students want to roll them in tape or attach one to a popsicle stick and launch that).

Here are some pictures of the students in process:

And a picture of a group that decided they didn't need all their supplies and were raising the white flag :)

There were a couple of really good efforts!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this activity!  I am trying to think of some more Mystery Physics in a bag, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them :)

Have a great Spring Break,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Using the Post It Plus App in Math Class

Every Tuesday at my school, we have Tech Tuesday.  Every teacher has to go to a tech session where the tech department talks to us about a new app that we should be familiar with.  So far this year, we've learned about Explain Everything, Socrative, iMovie, and Book Creator, just to name a few.

This last week, we were supposed to investigate an app that we were interested in and show how we could use it in class.  I seriously had NO ideas until I happened to come across this Post It Plus app [FREE!].  (Post It Plus App Info)  A lightbulb went off!  I can use this app in class!  As a bonus, I can even design things for my girls using this app :)

The general idea is to be able to take a picture of post it notes and be able to transport them and organize them.  So, if you are in a meeting or just have a big bunch of post it notes on your wall, you can take a picture of them in the app and THEN…. wait for it… move them around in the app!

How am I envisioning using this in class?  …for matching or ordering activities.  For example, I was thinking of using it in my geometry class for students to match area formulas to shapes.  In calculus, I was thinking of using it for students to match trig functions to their derivatives.  For my girls, I was thinking of having them put the numbers from 1 - 10 in order.

So, the first step is to write some things on post it notes - who doesn't have a million of those laying around?  Different colors?  Yes!

I decided to try this using geometry formulas.  So, I wrote some of the different formulas and their corresponding shapes on different color post-it notes that I had laying around.  Here is a picture of the post it notes on the floor of my kitchen.

Here is a picture after I imported them into the Post It Notes App.

I think that the app recognizes the post its very well!  Note that you can only use square post its - according to the directions in the app, the app will not recognize other post it shapes - they will be made into square post its.  I used black marker to write on the post its…I wonder how regular pen or pencil would work?  I will have to try that.

The next step is to see if I can export this post it board to another iPad.  I successfully shared this "board" to a student's iPad by Air Drop.  Their iPad opened it automatically, right into their app.  (Students had to have the app too so that they can move the post its around - no problem - did I mention the app is FREE :)

Finally, I want to see how I can grade this.  I want to see how the students can send it back to me.

My students matched up the formulas…

and then they choose to export the file in pdf format back to me through email.

My only problem was, how do I know whose is whose?  I wanted them to somehow put their name on it, so everyone could get credit for their own work.  I believe that the students could submit this through a classroom management system such as Showbie also.  But, we didn't try that yet.  I don't know about you, but I hate having the students submit things through email…I hate having all of those emails to sift through.  Still working on that one, but I call use the Post It Plus app a success!

Have a great weekend.