One of my new favorite teaching tools is GradeCam. Through the use of their webpage, teachers can create multiple choice question tests and then with the use of a document camera, students can scan their forms and instantly know how their score and what questions they missed. I’ve been using it for the past week, and I’ve found that it’s something that I can incorporate into my classroom everyday.

Getting started is easy, as signing up only requires a valid email address.Once an account has been set up, the next thing that you should do is create a class roster. The way that I did this, was by going to the “Setup” tab, and then selecting “Add Class”. After you have named the class, it next has you add students to your class roster. While you could do it manually for each student (which might take a while), you can also import a class roster from a CSV file. I found the latter to be very easy, especially since the walk through they provide, makes the process so easy. A couple important notes when importing students using this method: make sure each student has a unique student number (Mine are given numbers 1-32, with either a 1, 2, 3, or 4 in front of this previous number…ie 229 is assigned to a student in second block with their last name being toward the end of the alphabet), make sure that students first name and last name are in their own individual column, and give titles to each of the columns (as this allows the site to identify what each column represents).

So far this service is free, with options to buy plans that get you more features. I am currently using the free plan and I love it. It has everything that I can use, although, if my district had the money, I would highly recommend a paid version as there are some key features that could be useful for lesson planning and grading.

At the start of the week I have students pick up a sheet that includes 5 multiple choice answer forms of 10 questions each. Then using my projector, I display 3-5 warm-up questions for them to answer. Some days I do more and some days I do less, it really depends on how tough the content is in which we are learning. I like for the answer forms to have 10 questions just to be safe. The cool part about this site is that even though your answer form might have 10 questions and the actual test/worksheet/problems that you assign are less than this number, it will still score the test accurately without marking blank answers as wrong.

Link  —  Posted: March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This summer I was reading the Math Teacher Mambo blog and I read an interesting post about how she wanted to use Mad Libs in her classroom. Since the first days of school can be a bit boring and mundane to some students, I decided to liven it up. Rather than just hand out books and provide a form telling me their book number and condition, I though it might be fun to make the form that the students’ fill out, regarding the information of their book, Mad Lib themed.

The day before I handed out textbooks, I had students fill out a sheet that didn’t really make sense to them at the time. On this sheet there were a bunch of randoms, like nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. The next day, as I handed out books, I provided a form for them to write in their answers from the previous day. After everyone had finished filling out the form, I asked for volunteers to read their stories. My first class didn’t have any volunteers, but all my other classes did. Those that read out loud, provided the class with a funny story which everyone else enjoyed. In addition, the experience also helped us to understand a little bit more about those that read their stories. One kid filled in all of his blanks with sports related words and everybody soon realized how big sports are in this kid’s life.

Whenever we travel, I love doing touristy things. This past weekend my wife, son, and I, traveled to Detroit for a wedding. On our last day there, which was labor day, we were looking for something fun to do as a family. Since my son loves trains, we decided to visit Greenfield Village, as we heard rumors that there was a train that went around the park.

Once we got there, the first thing that we did was ride the train. Of course my son loved it. After that, we spent the next couple hours exploring the park. While I enjoyed all that the park had to offer, the one thing that really struck my interest was a sign found in the Steinmetz Cabin. I had never heard of Dr. Charles Steinmetz before this day, but after reading this short tidbit about his life I am interested in finding out more about his work as a mathematician.

Dr. Charles Steinmetz

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the best part of the day. When we got there, we were ready to shell out the $17 per ticket. To our surprise, Labor day happened to be a Target Family Fun Day and admission into the park was free. All we had to pay for were the train and bus rides, sunscreen so that we wouldn’t have a little red kid, and our all-you-can-drink soda (which we weren’t able to refill because of the super long lines that we didn’t want to stand in). Thank you Target…You Made Our Day!

Epic Math Button

I saw this button the other day on one of my student’s key lanyards. I called her over and told her how much I loved her button…she promised to pick on up for me.

Image  —  Posted: August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today was the first day back to school after holiday break. Tomorrow, my Algebra 1 class has their end of year exam to determine whether or not they are proficient enough to move on to Intermediate Algebra.

Why does our school have such a test? As math teachers, we’ve found that different teachers grade different ways, and as a result, some students aren’t as proficient as they should be as they enter the next level of mathematics.  To overcome this, the math department created a test, over a decade ago, in which all Algebra students need to pass in order to advance to higher math courses. By doing so, the math department can be sure that students in upper level math courses are proficient in their algebraic fundamentals. On the downside, students hate it because if they don’t pass, then it’s another year of Algebra for them, no matter what their grade is in Algebra. Counselors and the Vice Principal in charge of scheduling hate it because it puts a huge number of students back into Algebra, instead of having them go on to their pre-scheduled class.

Why was the test scheduled on the second day after returning back from holiday break? I have no clue, but I think it has something to do with scheduling.

After meeting with my Algebra class today, one thing is certain; a majority of my class either didn’t study, or they studied a minimal amount; which is a bit disappointing, since I spent so much time creating a YouTube playlist that includes videos for each of the skills on the test.

For the last couple semesters I have incorporated a standards based grade book. For my Algebra class, I have aligned the grade book with the skills that are seen on this end-of-year test. One thing that I am going to try, that I have never attempted, is to use the degree of error to determine how accurate my grade book is compared to this test. I intend to only use the assessments portion of my grade book. I think it will be interesting to see individual student’s degree of error and also the class results.

Stay tuned for the results…

After reading the Official Google Blog today and noticing this link, I’ve decided that this would be an awesome way to really have students practice for the end of year “Exit” exam, which they need to pass in order to move on to the next level of Algebra. By combining YouTube and Google+, I would really be able to provide additional assistance to students that are struggling with concepts.

When I’m at home, one thing I really enjoy is lounging out and watching TV. While my favorite shows include Breaking Bad, Eureka, Scare Tactics, and other amazing shows; the one type of show that I can’t stand is reality TV. While I do try and avoid these types of shows, it’s important to remember that since I’m married, I don’t always get to dictate what will be recorded and watched on the DVR, and occasionally I may be in the room as my wife is watching one of her shows. This was the case a few weeks back as I caught an episode of the Kardashians.

The episode was the one where Kim loses her diamond earring in the ocean. If you haven’t seen it, then you can check it out here. My favorite part of this scenario was when Kris Humphries made the comment that he would never own something so expensive, because then if it’s lost, he won’t be upset about losing something so valuable in terms of price.

Even though I can be a bit materialistic at times, I am trying not to be, especially since we just had our first child and I know things will get broken from time to time. So if when things get broken, my goal is not to dwell on them and remember that things can be replace. And for those items that can’t be replaced, well, I guess extra care should be taken so that they don’t get lost or broken by keeping them out of sight or in a secured area.

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