In September I needed to choose a project to work on for our final Coetail course. Since I still was in the process of finishing course 4 because of family circumstances I was having difficulty deciding on a project. In consultation with Kim Cofino, the course instructor, I decided to make a Voicethread with my students. They would be sharing an addition strategy using manipulatives to show how to do addition. Earlier this fall I wrote about my trials and frustration with Voicethread, here. I finally figured out several things regarding Voicethread. You can create a thread from an app on an iPad but you cannot watch already made threads on an iPad. Ipads don’t support Flash. You can upload photos to create a thread in Chrome but at least on my computer I cannot comment when in Chrome. (Actually lately, I can’t even upload.) Firefox or Safari seem to work all the time.
Back to my project. I did not start off the way I know I should have.I did not use Backward Design at this point but knew a learning target and jumped in. Explaining how to do an addition problem is a learning target for second grade. Unfortunately I didn’t create a rubric or clearly set out a goal for the project. I told the students that I wanted them to create a Voicethread to share how to do an addition problem as if they were teaching a younger student. I paired up the students according to the manipulative they wanted to use. They could choose from the number grid, snap blocks, number line or base 10 blocks. I had them work with a partner creating a problem they could teach to someone else. This was my next mistake as I didn’t spend enough time modeling how to explain a problem. I assumed that since the students could calculate the correct answer they were competent with the manipulatives. I had the students practice with each other and then I gave out the cameras. We had a lesson on taking photos and I tried to model for the students that they needed to photograph the steps on a whiteboard and with the manipulative. As I got the cameras back to upload the photos, I realized that this was too complicated at this point in second grade. So the next day I told the students that instead of still photos they should take a video of their partner. We had not worked with taking videos yet and so I had videos of the floor and students rolling on the floor. This still wasn’t working the way I had envisioned the project. I also realized that as I watched some of the videos that some of the students really had no idea how to use their chosen manipulative to explain a math problem. I had one student circle the numbers on the number grid and then write them on the whiteboard and add them. The student had totally ignored using the number grid as a way to find the answer. My final attempt was for me to have the student demonstrate to me how to use the manipulate and for me to videotape and at times ask clarifying questions. I finally got everyone videoed and a Voicethread made, but I didn’t feel that it had changed or added to the student’s learning and it hadn’t created any new tasks for the students. In Course 4 I wrote about SAMR. Through this project I learned a lot about myself and my students but the technology should have been helping the students to learn not just the teacher.
Recently we had Parent, Student, Teacher conferences. I made a short video of each student and put it on a usb drive. Each student’s explanation of the math strategy is part of the video. We have been working on subtraction but I have started to reteach subtraction with 2-digit numbers. I am going through various strategies using manipulatives and having the students practice with their own set of manipulatives. Also having some of the students come to the front of the room to demonstrate to the whole group. We will work on the strategies and practice various problems. Then we will once again videotape the students explaining a subtraction strategy. The student will then have a chance to reflect on the addition strategy voicethread and the subtraction strategy voicethread. There will be a rubric for the process and for the reflection and a page for students to fill out as they watch a partner’s video. As students look back I hope that they will see their progress in explaining, using manipulatives and continuing to grow in their understanding of math concepts. The unit planner for this unit is below.
Some of the take aways I have made from this project.
- It’s not be about the technology or a project but how to help students meet the standard.(Begin with Backward Design)
- Know the learning target and what you want the students to be able to know and do.
- Create a rubric before you begin.
- Don’t expect a class in September to be able to do what last year’s class did in May!
- Teaching the content and skills is necessary.
- Sometimes changes need to be made along the way – be flexible.
- Everyone, including the teacher can learn from mistakes.
- Students need a lot of practice in front of and behind the cameras.
I have written a rubric to use with the students as we work on subtraction strategies.
Here is the unit planner for the Harder Addition and Subtraction Strategies that we are currently working on.
Math Strategy Unit Planner
Although I had used Voicethread in previous years for students to share their addition and subtraction strategies this is the first time that we are using Voicethread/video multiple times for the students to not only share their understanding with others but to reflect on their learning and on the learning of others. I believe that this is taking the use of technology to the Redefinition level. Students will be able to see their progress along with their classmates progress.
When we complete the subtraction videos and reflections I will add those.