Friday, April 12, 2013

Guided Math Resources

I recently went to a workshop about guided math groups, and I have tons of new ideas that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. I couldn't wait, however, to share a couple of the resources that I'm really excited about.

First, is this book:

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, Second Edition  is a resource that I was able to start using with my students as soon as I got it. It is full of open-ended questions and parallel tasks that students at any level could access. It's organized both by grade levels (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) and domain strands (Number and Operations, Geometry, Measurement, Algebra, and Data Analysis and Probability). It also lists which Common Core State Standards each question aligns to.

We were working on line plots (4.MD.4) when the book first arrived. Consider these problems:
You create a line plot that is based on measuring items to the nearest quarter of an inch. You notice that your plot looks a lot like a steep mountain. What might the measurements be and what might you be measuring? Why does it make sense that your plot would look like a steep mountain? (p. 174)
We had a great class discussion about inferences we can make about data based on the shape of a line plot, and students were really creative about what the line plot could be measuring.

There was also a parallel task where students could choose how to represent the data.
The set of data below describes the ages of a group of people at a family party.
32, 30, 5, 2, 1, 62, 58, 28, 26, 25, 24, 2, 4, 39, 16. 
Choice 1: Create a line plot to display the data. 
Choice 2: Create a bar graph to display the data. (p. 186)
Some students felt more comfortable with bar graphs, but they realized that it was harder to figure out intervals and scales for the bar graph vs. a line plot. That yielded a great discussion about how to choose which type of graph to use.

This is a great resource to use for student math journals, and it's one that I will be going to daily. I can't recommend this resource enough.

Another math resource that I'm falling in love with for my math workshop and guided math groups comes from the Bridges in Mathematics program. Until attending the workshop, I'd never even heard of this program, but it seems like it's well-suited for developing math centers and guided math groups. There are some sample tasks available as a free supplement to the the program (to align it with Common Core) at I'm also planning to purchase their Building Computational Fluency program for $45. I need something more structured and organized for checking students' multiplication and division fluency in the fall.

Do any of you use the Bridges in Mathematics program in your school? If so, I'd love to hear more about it -- I'm really intrigued!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Paperless Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

This is the seventh post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven't completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.

Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! Linky.

Mission #7: Annotating Rubrics with GoodReader (iPad)

I try to give my students high-quality feedback whenever possible, especially on their writing assignments. In the past, it would take me days to grade all of their papers and write hand-write comments on their rubrics. So when I passed those papers and rubrics back to students, it would kill me to see students stuff them into the abyss of their backpacks, or worse -- toss them into the recycling bin. I wanted them to take it home and share it with their parents, and I wanted them to be able to refer back to that feedback. Eventually I learned to photocopy the rubrics before I passed them back, but that still wasn't ideal. It created more paper clutter and one more thing for me to work on organizing.

When I say that GoodReader has become one of my all-time favorite apps, I mean it. I now use GoodReader to fill out rubrics and other student feedback. To start, make sure that you have the rubric saved as .pdf in Dropbox. While GoodReader can read any type of document, it will only annotate a .pdf. Then open up the .pdf of the rubric in GoodReader (see previous tutorial).

Choose the highlighter tool to highlight the appropriate categories on the rubric. The first time that you go to annotate a document, it will ask you if you want to save to this file or create an annotated copy. If it's a document that I'm only planning to use once or student work, I typically select "Save to this file." When I'm planning to use the document over and over again, though, I'll create an annotated copy. That's what I'd choose when using a rubric to grade student work.

Once I've made my selection, I'll be able to annotate all over the document. Once you're in the highlighter tool, you can drag your finger over the text that you want to highlight. You can change the color of your highlighter, and you can also delete highlights by tapping on the highlighted area.

At the end of the rubric, I like to type specific comments for my students. To do that, choose the typewriter tool. A little window will pop up for you to type your comments, and then it will save them to the document. If it saves it in the wrong spot, simply tap on the text and a new menu of options will appear.

You can drag and drop the text into the correct space and re-size the text area to get it formatted the way you'd like.

 When you're done annotating the rubric, tap the center of your screen to see the "My Documents" option.

From there, you'll want to rename your file. To do this, select "Manage Files," then tap on the annotated copy of your rubric and select "rename."

Once you've renamed your document, you'll have some options for moving it. First, I send a copy to the student's notebook in Evernote. To do this, tap "Manage Files" again, select your newly renamed document, and select "Open In." A new window will pop up asking how you'll want to save the file. Select "Flatten annotations" because that will preserve your edits and merge it into the document so that you don't lose your work.

Once you've chosen that, another window will open showing which of your installed programs you can open it in. As you can see, I've get several options available. You could also upload it directly to Dropbox if you would like to back up your work there rather than in your student notebook. This might be a good option if you have a folder shared with the student for passing back work.
When I'm ready to hand back the rubric to students, I open it in Edmodo and attach it as a direct message to the individual student. This allows the student and his or her parents to see it. They could also download a copy if they're using a computer. (I've had mixed results with document downloads through Edmodo on the iPad.)

This system has been incredibly helpful for me. It's easy to manage because I don't have to keep track of paper or make sure that I've made enough copies of the grading rubric before I start grading. Just one more step in the quest to curb paper clutter.

What are some other ways you can imagine using GoodReader in the classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments section!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Paperless Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)

This is the sixth post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven't completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.
Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! Linky

Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)

As I've mentioned before, I work off a lot of devices. I'm in a 1:1 iPad classroom, but even before my students had access, I had an iPad of my own that I used constantly. I liked having it handy for anything that I was working on, and once I learned about GoodReader, my love for the iPad grew tremendously. I've shared some love for GoodReader before, but GoodReader is the ultimate document reader for the iPad. It allows you to read any type of document and annotate over .pdf files. It also syncs with a variety of other apps, allowing you to pull and read all of your important documents into one place.

Once you have your important documents organized on Dropbox, open up the GoodReader app on your iPad. Here, you'll be able to connect GoodReader to your Dropbox account. To do this,

My documents list already has some items and folders listed, but yours will likely be empty. The left column shows all of the folders and documents you have saved in GoodReader (and could therefore access without an internet connection). The right column has all of the utilities for GoodReader. Today, we're going to focus on the one towards the bottom -- "Connect to Servers." 

When you click on the "Add" button, you'll be able to see the many, many connections GoodReader can make. Here are a few highlights:
  • Popular Mail Servers (GMail, Hotmail, etc.) - this connection doesn't grab all of your emails, but it will allow you to see any messages that have an attachment. This is great for when you're at a meeting and somebody sends out some documents you need.
  • Dropbox - you can read all of the files that you've saved there.
  • Google Drive - view any type of Google Drive file that you have -- from spreadsheets to presentations to documents.
The connection set-ups are fairly intuitive. You will need to name each set up (On some screens that shows up as "Readable Title;" I named mine based on what I was connecting to), but then you simply enter your username. You can also enter your password, in which case it will be saved to the device and you won't have to enter it again, or you can log-in each time you want to access a document.

As you can see from my left column, there are a few folders that I've downloaded straight to GoodReader so they'll always be available to me. These are folders that I'm constantly using and want easy access to. I also have it set up so that they'll automatically download updates to those folders whenever I add more documents to my Dropbox account. 

Once the folders are set up in GoodReader, you can read the documents, but you can also annotate over .pdf files. I use that feature a lot on my curriculum documents, and I've also started doing all of my running records and reading assessments on my iPad. Here's an example that shows you the annotation tools in the document viewing pane:

I keep my annotating toolbar pinned on the right side, and there you can see a variety of annotation options that are available -- typewriting text, creating "sticky notes," highlighting, underlining, drawing boxes, arrows, etc., and the last option is the freehand tool. I use this for running records with a stylus.

One of the best things about GoodReader is that it works well with other apps. Once I finish annotating a document, I can send it to other apps such as Evernote or Dropbox  from the original "My Documents" screen.

How I Use It

This is one of my must-have apps because of the broad range of ways it can be used:

  • Turn your iPad into a second computer monitor -- When I'm using lots of curriculum documents to write unit plans, I can leave it open in GoodReader with all of my notes and highlights while I work on my laptop or computer. No more switching between screens on my computer. (Am I the only one who finds that annoying sometimes???)
  • Highlight standards that you're focusing on each term without having to print out (or lose) new documents all the time.
  • Annotate rubrics, running records, and other types of student work
  • Use with students to create paperless assignments

I'll be posting more in-depth tutorials about how to do all of these in future installations of this series, but for now, your challenge is to begin exploring GoodReader. Then, in the comment section, share a bit about how you think this app could be useful.

Spring break starts next week for me, and I can't wait! I will try to get another installment posted this week, but I make no promises. It's the end of the term, and that's always a super-busy time with report cards and grading. I must say, however, that I'm more organized than ever going into this given how much less paper I'm using!

Have a great week!
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