Friday, January 27, 2017

Kahoot or Quizlet Live or Quizizz

I'm a big fan of Kahoot.  I love the instant feedback that I get.  Plus, let's be honest...the kids love it!  Recently, I've found two other things that are along the same lines as Kahoot, but each with their own advantages and disadvantages.  Below, I'll outline what I liked and didn't like about three online class games:  Kahoot, Quizizz and Quizlet Live.

Like I said, I love Kahoot.  I think it's a great teaching tool with formative assessment built in to what you're doing.  When we play Kahoot in my classroom, I have 3 rules:  1.  I have to be able to identify you from your nickname.  2.  Move to a place where you can see.  3.  It needs to be quiet between questions so I can talk.

I think the best thing about Kahoot is that the whole class is answering every question at the same time, so you can teach in between each question as needed.  You can give kids real time feedback about their answers, and often specific feedback about what mistake they made based on the wrong answers they chose.  There is really nothing like this, especially if you'e got multiple questions of the same type in a row.  As a teacher, you find out right away what is going wrong, and get to see if your explanation leads to improved results.
Student engagement is another great advantage.  The kids love it and stay involved....can't beat that!

There are a few things that I don't love about Kahoot.  One is the general noise level.  My class gets LOUD when we play Kahoot.  Granted, it's because the kids are having fun, but still....that can get exhausting.  But really the main disadvantage to Kahoot for me is time.  My kids are always in a rush on a Kahoot to get the answer quickly so they can get more points.   Kahoots are also difficult to do with problems that take much time to solve, as it's a game of speed.

I just found out about Quizizz recently, and I've only had the chance to use it once.  In some ways, it is very similar to Kahoot.  You design a series of multiple choice questions for students to work through.  However, unlike a Kahoot, where the whole class is playing each question at the same time, on a Quizizz students are self-paced.

One cool thing I found about Quizizz is there is really easy ways to pull questions from different existing quizzes and merge them into one.  I'm usually really picky about my questions, so I loved this feature!  Noise level was another advantage.  Kids are basically working on the questions by themselves, and as soon as they finish, the next question comes less down time for things to get loud.  My students also liked not feeling rushed, and being able to work at their own pace.  The kids also loved the fact that it shows you a meme after each question.
Quizizz-classroom-technology   Quizizz-classroom-technology

The biggest disadvantage is missing out on the teaching time between questions, since not everyone is on the same  question at the same time.  My original Quizizz was 16 questions long, but that seemed way too long when I wasn't getting to give feedback between questions.  I think if I were to use this again, I would make several small Quizizz games (2-4 questions each, probably) so then I could teach in between games as we reviewed the questions.

Quizlet Live
Quizlet Live has students working collaboratively on a set of questions, trying to match the answers. The way I understand it, each kid on the team gets the same question, and they all have several options to pick from....but only one of them has the right answer.  So they have to work as a group, seeing between their whole team who has the correct answers.  If they miss a question, they have to go all the way back to 0.  It is a race to see which team finishes first.
Quizlet-classroom-technology  Quizlet-classroom-technology

The biggest advantage is that my kids absolultely LOVE this....maybe even more than Kahoot.  I also love that it adds the collaboration piece.  It also really makes them think, not even knowing if any of the answers are correct.  I like hearing the conversations my students have as they tell each other how they know that none of their answers are correct.  Great conversations!

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but one of my colleagues actually came and closed my door because my class was loud playing this.  But I'm also kind of ok with that because they were learning and having so much fun too.   The main disadvantage that I can think of is that to do quizlet live, you start out with a set of digital flashcards, and then it mixes the answers up.  I suppose there might be some content that is hard to figure out how to make it work on a flashcard.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Teaching Percent of a Number: Is that the answer? I don't know....what is the question!

    I have been teaching percent of a number for the last couple of days.  As always when I teach this topic, I think that actually teaching the kids to find percent of a number is less than half the battle.  I used to teach the kids to change percent to decimal and multiply.  In the last several years, however, I've really become a fan of either percent tables or proportions.  I think they set the kids up to understand better what their answer means, and how to be flexible in working from that answer.

      Some years I have some percent stations that I use to introduce the kids to the different methods, but this year we used a pretty simple graphic organizer.  After going through a few problems together, they seemed to really be getting the hang of it....the math of it, that is!
percent tables #percentofanumber #modelwithmathematics
This is an example of one of the percent tables that we use.

      However, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked in the last two days, "So is that my answer, or do I have to add (or subtract) to get the answer?".   We talk many times about how reading plays a role in getting these questions right.   When a kid asks me that, I usually ask a question in return:  "Does your number answer the question?" and I read it back to them.  The tough part is that when I talk with kids, that makes sense, but then applying it on their kids need something more.

     So at the moment, I'm feeling reflective, trying to think of ways to help this make more sense to my kids.  Here are 3 things I think I'm going to try....
percent of a number #erroranalysis

     1.  Highlighting---I think for my more visual kids, it might be helpful to highlight the percent in the problem, and what the answer is asking for.  Then students could look to see if what the question asks "matches" what the question gave them....if not, they need to do something else to get their answer.
percent of a number #storyproblems

     2.  Silly answer skits---I tried this once last year (with a different topic), and it was fun.  We basically turned a story problem into a short skit, and then acted it out with their "wrong" answers.  The last time I did this, it was based on the problem below.  When trying to answer the question how many peppers can you buy for $9 (which is right in the table!), many of my students told me the cost of 9 peppers.

So I thought if I had the kids act this out, they might realize their mistakes.  Here is the script we used.
When we acted this skit out, I think many light bulbs went on for students....helping them realize that their answer had to make sense.  I think I could use the same strategy for these types of problems. For example:  "Tax is 6%, book costs $10.  What is the total cost?"  I could have kids act out trying to buy a $10 book with only $0.60!  

     3.  Sorting cards--I'm excited about this idea.  I think I'm going to make my kids a card sort.  So, for example, if they have a card that says 6% tax, book is $10 then they will have to find cards that say $0.60 tax and $10.60 total cost.   I guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.....making a card sort!

UPDATE:  I finished the sorting cards....can't wait to use them!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Have I Mentioned that I Love Desmos.....

I know I've said this before, but I really love Desmos.  Today was one more example of that.

We are working on proportional relationships right now.  We've been working on  proportions and unit rates, but now it's time to move on to the next level of understanding.  I'm trying to get students to see the connections between what we have learned about unit rates, and tables, graphs and equations.

The last couple of days I've been doing a series of partner activities about proportional relationships.  The first activity was a breeze for the kids....find the unit rate.  The first time around all of the kids had the same unit rate so they could check each other's work.  Then we did another activity where they kids had different unit rates and had to compare and choose the better deal.

Then I had the kids graph the unit rates.  I don't know why I'd never thought to do this before, but it was a great addition to this activity.  On one graph, I had the kids graph both of their points (such as 12 books for $48 and 6 books for $24).  Then they graph the unit rate (1 book for $4).  It was a good chance for kids to make the connection about all of the points in a proportional relationship falling on a straight line.

With the second activity, I decided to save some time and show some graphs on Desmos instead of having kids graph them.  It may have been a split second decision, but it worked out great! In one class, the Desmos graphs brought up a major misunderstanding that I wouldn't have realized otherwise....and Desmos made it so much easier to clear up.  We were looking at this graph below, and my students though that the green line was a lower unit rate because the line was shorter...that was all they could see.
Luckily, with Desmos it was so easy to take care of this misconception.  I quickly changed from the tables I was using to equations, as shown below.  
As students watched me type the equation and saw the lines become longer, it was like I could see the light bulbs come on, and within a couple of questions they could explain not only which unit rate was better but what they had misunderstood.  This was definitely a case of technology supporting understanding, in an immediate way that other tools couldn't have done...this is technology at its best.  Simple, but awesome!