So – back to school again and I thought I would make a final and rather important update to Resolutions for (Mathematics) Teachers. Reading John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers is such an important reminder that we should really be looking at the impact of all we do on our students. We might think a particular method or resource is amazing, but do we think so because we have considered very carefully how it will help our students learn? For a summary of the book,read this from The Main Idea.
The five dimensions of Expert Teachers Hattie identified were based on a review of the literature.
Expert teachers identify the most important ways to represent the subjects they teach
Expert teachers create an optimal classroom climate for learning
Expert teachers monitor learning and provide feedback
Expert teachers believe all students can reach the success criteria
Expert teachers influence a wide range of student outcomes not solely limited to test scores
I have written various posts on the available tools online for writing Mathematics and this is a topic which remains consistently popular. Time for yet another revisit and update as new possibilities are now available – all resources / links here have been checked. I have removed resources where blogs / twitter have not been updated for some considerable time as I think this is a cause for concern regarding the longevity of the resource.
Something I use a lot. I should explain my requirements – I want tools to communicate Mathematics online, for example I may wish to provide some model solutions or answer students’ questions. Writing mathematics can be a pain (and yes I know about LaTeX). Note that there are various possibilities – sometimes just a static picture is required, sometimes you may want to display how to solve a problem in stages, or perhaps you require a collaborative space. You will also need to consider if you want the examples to be permanent or whether you just want a collaborative space for discussion. A graphics tablet is essential.
My favourite method for illustrating Mathematics online (and in fact the one I use most often) when I just need a series of static displays is to turn an interactive whiteboard flipchart (or a PowerPoint) into a pdf file; the pdf file can then be sent to students or uploaded to whatever virtual learning environment or online storage your school uses. If you do not have access to interactive whiteboard software there are alternatives, one could use Windows Paint for example; there are also various free online tools available; see some of the resources below.
flipchart to pdf example
For sharing resources, it is possible to upload a PowerPoint or pdf file to Slideshare. There are many examples on this blog of my SlideShare slideshows – see this for example
I should mention that I find Slideshare excellent – I use the free version which offers me everything I need – it works every time – I use it a lot!
I created the PowerPoint for the slideshow above by writing on the interactive whiteboard software using my graphics tablet and taking a picture of each page using the Windows snipping tool (it’s in Accessories) – this takes seconds – the snipping tool is something I use every day! (Alternatively I could have saved the interactive whiteboard flipchart as a pdf).
There are as always several options:
For a free online whiteboard tool for teachers and classrooms try Whiteboard.fi. You can read about the features here and follow News and Updates. It is currently possible to lock the classroom once a class has started, preventing new students joining and coming soon the teacher will be able to pause student whiteboards, disabling their drawing functionality until a teacher wishes to enable it again. For Maths teachers we see coming soon we will be able to insert equations.
The ability to insert an image is excellent, given that each student can only see their own board and the teacher’s it strikes me that Diagnostic Questions could be so useful here. Display the question, have students put their answers on their boards and the teacher will be able to see the responses of all the students. The image featured above is from the White Rose Maths Collection which features quizzes for each topic unit for their Years 1 to 8 maths mastery schemes of work. Remember there are numerous collections including GCSE questions from the examination boards and a collection of problems adapted from the UKMT Mathematical Challenges.
If you wish to record a screencast of the moving pen / step by step solution variety and save your work, Screencast-o-matic is an excellent option. It is very easy to use to capture the screen and your recording can then be uploaded to YouTube if you wish.
Illustrating how to simplify an algebraic fraction :
Screencast-o-maticoffers everything I want in this category. It is very easy to use indeed – I can write very smoothly whilst recording.
Further resources offering various solutions for writing Mathematics online:
For a collaborative board, try twiddla which seems excellent for collaboration – voice as well if you want. Twiddla offers some very sophisticated features including the ability to use mathematical formulae and upload files and images. Use of the board with all it’s features is free but you cannot save any of your work (possible with a subscription). This would be good for working online with a group of students.
From Microsoft, comes their free whiteboard app. To use Microsoft Whiteboard on Windows 10, you must sign in with a free Microsoft account or an Office 365 account (work or school). Full instructions are provided on the help page.
Finally – your students may find this amusing – the Writing Repeaterfrom ICT Games – write something and play it back – now this is a lovely tool for little ones learning to write but I’m sure we can think of some uses!
A consistently popular post on this blog is that on online whiteboards. If I want to communicate mathematics online to answer a student query for example I find it quicker to use a graphics tablet and an online whiteboard.
I do keep an eye on various LaTex generators, one that has come to my attention is MyScript. In this demonstration, handwriting is turned into LaTex (one line at a time). The handwriting recognition is impressive and I found it easy using my graphics tablet to enter expressions accurately; see the quadratic formula below for example.
So you scribble an expression and it get turned into LaTex for you – it works:
But I must confess I was just as excited to note that immediately see a graph where appropriate, powered by my favourite Desmos graphing calculator.
..and finally, if you wish to be distracted by some more fun applications there are some other great demonstrations from MyScript. Try Web Shape for example and turn your sketches into vectorized shapes. This should work well on the interactive whiteboard.