Saturday, January 10, 2015

Technology Connects Learners

Would you rather...

Tough question, right? Not for our 5th graders!:)

Have I mentioned how much I love being in a 1:1 environment? I am continually amazed, humbled, and WOWED by what my kids can do each and every day!

That being said, working with my students and in the type of learning environment that we do, I am constantly challenging myself to learn more, as well. One tool that I am working more with is Google+.  It is amazing what is out there!

A few months back, we received a message from another teacher in our district via Google+. She forwarded us a note from a community that she was a part of. It was from an instructional technology coach from Illinois, Michael Johnson. He was working with a math teacher, Tara Nunes, in his middle school, and was looking to connect with students from other states on some math problems. We reached out and became connected! A slew of e-mails and a video chat later, we were in business!

Tara's math students created these amazing real-world math problems called "Would You Rather", based off of ideas she got from this blogpost. She had her students post the problems to their Kidblog pages. Kidblog is a fantastic tool that allows kids to share their work via their own blog page. It has hundreds of different uses! Be sure to check it out, if you haven't before! It is an amazing tool!

One of the cool ways Kidblog can be used, is to connect one class to another. With some help from Michael, we connected Tara's Kidblog class with ours. Voila! Our students could now see each other's work, give feedback, and most importantly in this case--answer some tough math questions!

Now, Tara teaches 8th grade math students. Our kiddos are only 5th graders. They were pretty excited to not only hear that they were going to get to solve "harder, middle school math problems", but also that these kids were from ANOTHER STATE! :) 

For one week during math workshop, they worked in groups to solve the problems during "May Do" time in our math workshop block! They looked at the various problems posted by Tara's students on her Kidblog page, chose the ones that made sense to them, and worked to explain their mathematical thinking to "big kids" that they will probably never meet in person!

They loved it! The problems challenged their thinking! They need to collaborate, solve problems they might face in the real world, communicate their thinking, and most importantly--HAVE FUN IN MATH! We LOVED the experience! Thank you, Tara and Michael, for collaborating with us! We hope to do it again soon!

Google+ is this exciting, never-ending world! It boggles my mind how fast technology is moving and shaking our educational landscape. Because of technology, we could easily collaborate with teaching peers from another state. Because of technology, our students were given a real-world, problem solving experience. Because of technology, our students were connected with other students for a joint, educational purpose. Because of technology, our students could collaborate, communicate, and critically think about math in a brand new & exciting way. Because of technology, our possibilities are endless.

How have you collaborated or connected with others? We'd love to hear from you!
Happy Teaching,
~Angela :)

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