Friday, June 20, 2014

Online Student Forums: Some Options

I've had a few teachers ask me lately about options for students to interact online. They're usually looking for some sort of discussion forum, where students (and teachers) can post ideas and responses. Here are a few options, with some brief descriptions of each. Ideally these will be tools that you also use for other purposes with your students, but discussion forums might just be one way to start getting students involved in blended learning.

Google Groups
Students use their school Google accounts, teachers (and students) can create groups for specific discussion topics or for general class discussions.

If you are using this already, your class has a default general discussion forum. You can also create additional discussion forums for specific topics or groups of students.

This is designed primarily as a discussion forum, but it also includes some of the features of Moodle such as the ability to upload files and collect assignments. Unlike Google Groups and Moodle we don't create user accounts for students, they need to create their own accounts and then join your class using the appropriate code.

A quick and easy way to set up an online discussion for a day (or longer), it doesn't require student accounts or any other preparation.

There are other options, of course, but these are a few that we use often. Let us know if you'd like help implementing any of these or other tools.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Minecraft in Math at Bev Facey

Students in Yolanda Chang's Math 20-2 classes at Bev Facey participated in a week-long MinecraftEdu project that had them building models and doing related calculations to demonstrate their learning of rates and scale factors. At the end of the week, she had her students write reflections, here are some of the highlights.

This project improved my understanding of scale factor and rates and ratios because I realize how much you have to convert and apply your knowledge to make your scale factor work. In real life the measurements that things are in can be different than what you’re using. Like the material.

Being able to see the blocks helped me understand how scale factor works and how different scale factors can change the size of a sculpture.

The calculations of the actual design improved my understandings of scale factor as well as my understanding of rates and ratios. The only way to keep track of all the calculations was to be very organized and methodical.

It was a good learning experience considering everyone has different answers and the question really makes you think. So it’s not just a breeze by project.

It makes so much more sense when you’re in control of what you’re doing and making it bigger and such.

It allowed me to think of a real life situation and everything was 3-D which make it easier to think about and calculate.

It’s a good game to help you with math, it’s better than doing worksheets.

It was related to real life things. Everyone’s answers differed so you had to learn to do it on your own.

It shows you that you use these things in real life and it helps you get a better understanding of what’s going on. It also gives you a visual image and gives you the opportunity to show your own work and understanding on the project.

For me, my learning style is auditory and visual so doing this project allowed me to visually see and explore real life scenarios of how to use scale factors. This helped significantly for my learning and enjoyment of this class.

It made it more fun to do scale factors, rates and ratios. Combining elements of abstract learning and mainstream video gaming.

It was more real life. I can see what I’m figuring out in front of me. It’s easier than trying to read a question and having to envision.

Yes, it helped me understand how to use scale factor and the rates and ratios. I understand how to apply this to my everyday life. As well for my future working in the trades.

It helped to show that when you extend the outside, the interior amount got much bigger. It was easier to see pictorially instead of in numbers.

It helped me to understand construction and how much work actually has to go into it.

Because there were so many different steps of math to go through, I really included everything on some level.

It helped me learn the concept in a way that was more fun and challenging to myself.

Because it was very challenging it made us think hard.