## Final Leg

Spring implementation of Imagine IT:

There are three things that have had the most impact on me during the first 2 classes of this program: making it stick, tapping into the creativity of students, and alternate forms of assessment.

I had such a great time making my first video – focusing on what concepts of parabolas I wanted to include, coming up with the props (using the Legos of my children), syncing the dialogue to the images. I truly lost track of time during the assignment.

I was haunted by the study from our readings about the amount of material that is lost over time. How can we as teachers do everything possible to help our students retain information? I know students often ask “When am I ever going to use this?” I find myself asking that question on a regular basis. Early in my career, a veteran teacher gave me an excellent article titled “The Uselessness of Mathematics”. Wonderful article that focuses on the need for critical thinking and the realm of reality in which much of mathematics sits.

I never cease to be amazed at the creativity of students. In math, it is easy to give students many problems for practice – to really master a concept. I often tell myself “If they can do 10 problems, why assign 20?! If they CAN’T do 10 problems, why assign 20?!” There is a fine line between having students practice doing the same type of problem and changing a few problems slightly so students really have to grapple with subtle nuances. Assessing students in creative ways allows students the freedom to use their creativity to express their knowledge.

As I move forward for the last stage of my Imagine IT project, I would like to focus on students being more creative in their videos. I really was impressed by the videos they submitted. I had worried about them being able to record and download the videos – this turned out to be a non-issue. I had them work in pairs or triples and at least one person in the group had a recording device. I gave them a little extra credit if they filmed form someone else.

Audio and lighting can be improved as would be expected. I gave them very specific types of problems to videotape their explanations. This was to help them focus on the logistics of filming. Now during the second semester, I would like to give them more freedom to use their creativity in showing what they have learned in class. We will be spending a fair amount of time on trigonometry and this is a wonderful concept which combines concepts from both algebra and geometry. There is a great deal of symmetry and elegance to the topic.

My plan is to have them submit two videos this third quarter: cut the time to 1 minute, focus on using props from outside or around the house (not the usual markers, crayons, etc.) and thus being more creative. The first will be chosen from a few topics we did during first semester. The second will be a current topic (quadratic functions). For their final video submission, they will choose something from trigonometry which not only explains the particular concept fully, but also includes an application of the concept. One of my students submitted a video first semester that reminded me of old black and white movies – it might be fun for them to experiment with silent movies.

There are three things that have had the most impact on me during the first 2 classes of this program: making it stick, tapping into the creativity of students, and alternate forms of assessment.

I had such a great time making my first video – focusing on what concepts of parabolas I wanted to include, coming up with the props (using the Legos of my children), syncing the dialogue to the images. I truly lost track of time during the assignment.

I was haunted by the study from our readings about the amount of material that is lost over time. How can we as teachers do everything possible to help our students retain information? I know students often ask “When am I ever going to use this?” I find myself asking that question on a regular basis. Early in my career, a veteran teacher gave me an excellent article titled “The Uselessness of Mathematics”. Wonderful article that focuses on the need for critical thinking and the realm of reality in which much of mathematics sits.

I never cease to be amazed at the creativity of students. In math, it is easy to give students many problems for practice – to really master a concept. I often tell myself “If they can do 10 problems, why assign 20?! If they CAN’T do 10 problems, why assign 20?!” There is a fine line between having students practice doing the same type of problem and changing a few problems slightly so students really have to grapple with subtle nuances. Assessing students in creative ways allows students the freedom to use their creativity to express their knowledge.

As I move forward for the last stage of my Imagine IT project, I would like to focus on students being more creative in their videos. I really was impressed by the videos they submitted. I had worried about them being able to record and download the videos – this turned out to be a non-issue. I had them work in pairs or triples and at least one person in the group had a recording device. I gave them a little extra credit if they filmed form someone else.

Audio and lighting can be improved as would be expected. I gave them very specific types of problems to videotape their explanations. This was to help them focus on the logistics of filming. Now during the second semester, I would like to give them more freedom to use their creativity in showing what they have learned in class. We will be spending a fair amount of time on trigonometry and this is a wonderful concept which combines concepts from both algebra and geometry. There is a great deal of symmetry and elegance to the topic.

My plan is to have them submit two videos this third quarter: cut the time to 1 minute, focus on using props from outside or around the house (not the usual markers, crayons, etc.) and thus being more creative. The first will be chosen from a few topics we did during first semester. The second will be a current topic (quadratic functions). For their final video submission, they will choose something from trigonometry which not only explains the particular concept fully, but also includes an application of the concept. One of my students submitted a video first semester that reminded me of old black and white movies – it might be fun for them to experiment with silent movies.

February 15 update to Imagine IT

We are now in the home stretch. In my first run at having students make videos, I opened it up to all my students. I had the Advanced Algebra students present the solution to a Linear Programming problem. My College Algebra students presented solutions to polynomial equations, focusing on zeros and also end behavior.

Not everyone submitted a video but I got some great submissions, people recording for each other, others working in pairs. This time around, I have decided to limit the production of videos to my 5th period Advanced Algebra class. Instead of giving them a specific problem to explain, helping them to focus more on just getting the video done, I am asking them to use their creativity and choose a topic we covered during the first semester: order of operations, solving linear equations, systems of equations, systems of linear inequalities, functions, and inverses of functions. They will be able to choose a topic they had interest in rather than one chosen by me. I am also shortening the video to 1 minute, instead of 90 seconds like the first one.

I am hoping that by showing the video I made last summer the students will be inspired to use things around the house and branch out a little in how they present the topic/concept of their choice. There are 25 students in the class and if students work in pairs or threes, I will be able to help more with editing and giving them suggestions before their final product is submitted in approximately three weeks.

We are now in the home stretch. In my first run at having students make videos, I opened it up to all my students. I had the Advanced Algebra students present the solution to a Linear Programming problem. My College Algebra students presented solutions to polynomial equations, focusing on zeros and also end behavior.

Not everyone submitted a video but I got some great submissions, people recording for each other, others working in pairs. This time around, I have decided to limit the production of videos to my 5th period Advanced Algebra class. Instead of giving them a specific problem to explain, helping them to focus more on just getting the video done, I am asking them to use their creativity and choose a topic we covered during the first semester: order of operations, solving linear equations, systems of equations, systems of linear inequalities, functions, and inverses of functions. They will be able to choose a topic they had interest in rather than one chosen by me. I am also shortening the video to 1 minute, instead of 90 seconds like the first one.

I am hoping that by showing the video I made last summer the students will be inspired to use things around the house and branch out a little in how they present the topic/concept of their choice. There are 25 students in the class and if students work in pairs or threes, I will be able to help more with editing and giving them suggestions before their final product is submitted in approximately three weeks.

March 5 update to ImagineIT

I assigned the next video project for my students to submit. I kept the directions simple: choose any topic/concept from this year, be creative in their production, limit the video to 60 seconds (instead of 90 sec as with the previous submissions). The students could submit a video on their own or could work in a maximum group of three.

The assignment as due yesterday, March 4, at midnight. The students were complaining somewhat about having to do the assignment, I think partly since there was a quiz they needed to study for on the same day. I said they could submit as late as midnight.

I intentionally pushed the students to be creative and I am hoping this works. I have received six videos so far and a few of them really are great. I am sure they will continue to trickle in.

I assigned the next video project for my students to submit. I kept the directions simple: choose any topic/concept from this year, be creative in their production, limit the video to 60 seconds (instead of 90 sec as with the previous submissions). The students could submit a video on their own or could work in a maximum group of three.

The assignment as due yesterday, March 4, at midnight. The students were complaining somewhat about having to do the assignment, I think partly since there was a quiz they needed to study for on the same day. I said they could submit as late as midnight.

I intentionally pushed the students to be creative and I am hoping this works. I have received six videos so far and a few of them really are great. I am sure they will continue to trickle in.