In March, teachers of 6-8 Middle School Math met to collaborate in their subject area. This day of collaboration began with a presentation from Dr. Xiao-Ning Zhang, a professor in the Science Department at Saint Bonaventure University (SBU). Dr. Zhang discussed at length the exciting opportunity she and her department have been working on in collaboration with the Cattaraugus County Health Department. The Health Department released some of its data to SBU in order for students to have access to real, meaningful data as part of their lessons. By sharing with area middle school teachers, Dr. Zhang is hoping to get teachers interested in having real data to use in class in order to help students see how data is used in real-life as well as increase their statistical fluency. Her efforts will be highlighted further during SBU’s K-12 Science and Math Teacher Workshop from July 8-11.
In addition, teachers spent much of the afternoon exploring different technology tools that they can utilize in their classrooms to help increase the engagement of their students. One such tool was Desmos which allows teachers to graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and more. Desmos even has classroom activities that are pre-built and ready-to-use in the classroom.
A second tool shared was Graspable Math which allows the user to “grasp” terms in an equation and move them to the other side in order to solve the equation. The program does not allow for the students to make arithmetic mistakes and can be a valuable tool for those students who struggle in this area.
A third and final tool shared was Gimkit, a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win. Created by a current high school student, one teacher described it as, “Kahoot on Steroids!” Gimkit’s platform is similar to Kahoot but allows students to work at their own pace, answering questions for money, and using the money they earn strategically to buy upgrades that enhance their earning potential. Teachers enjoyed trying this out for themselves and were excited to try it in their own classrooms!
By: Justin Shumaker, CA BOCES Professional Development