Thursday, October 8, 2015

Engaging Students in Mathematics through Google Classroom and Beyond!

Story provided by +Christy Stewart, Elementary Math Specialist, Barbers Hill Elementary South

Google Classroom has given me a different way to approach individualized instruction for my elementary math students, grades 2-5. This on-line container allowed me to create announcements, assignments, and add a multitude of resources that engaged my students as they work to obtain mastery performance on their specified goals. 
We have used Google Slides to create personalized "Road Maps" where each student has rated themselves on targeted goals that are scaffold to obtain grade level student expectations. These "Road Maps" keep the learner focused and accountable as they progress toward their goal. It keeps me focused on the individual goals for many students that expand across four grade levels. Periodically, or as the student's performance level increases, the student's will review their "Road Map" and adjust their rating to reflect their current level of performance. This self-reflective formative assessment tool has helped to create a sense of ownership in my student's learning. 

Google Slides has been beneficial in not only creating the student's "Road Maps", but it has also been an efficient way to share graphic organizers to support vocabulary development. The Frayer Model is a common template that has the student unfold distinguishing characteristics that revolve around specified mathematical vocabulary. My students have enjoyed learning how to use the Research tools to collect examples and non-examples of the specified vocabulary words. In a most recent lesson, my fifth grade students were working to master the different ways to represent positive rational numbers through the thousandths place. They were given four vocabulary words to focus on as they created a slide for each word. After they created their Google Slide, they were to use their examples and non-examples to support them as they distinguished the similarities and differences between expanded form and expanded notation. The research tool even gave them a glimpse at a future vocabulary word, Scientific Notation. 
Many of the students were able to apply their knowledge of the base ten numeration system and make connections to expanded form and expanded notation. This lesson had each learner connecting mathematical vocabulary to various content standards, as well as process standards, that were acquired through the support of technology, the use of place value dice to create numbers in two of the three forms, and the opportunity to organize the information into another thinking map, a tree map. Google Classroom made putting these essential components of the learning process together efficiently, and in a manner that engaged the learner. My third and fourth graders did a similar lesson, but the place value was adjusted to meet the needs of their grade level student expectations. Fourth grade was asked to type their responses to four or more six digit numbers, and then submit their work to me through Google Classroom. This work was graded and returned to the student for them to reflect on their learning. If they improved in their learning, feeling more confident, and proving that through their score on the assignment, I asked them to adjust their "Road Map" rating accordingly. 

Numbers and Operations is the primary focus for grades K-3, 4 being a transition year to algebraic thinking. My students have been given multiple opportunities to create numbers using base ten blocks, and represent their models in different ways, demonstrating mastery of the exchange process of the base ten system. After proving their mastery at this skill they were asked to create a pictorial model for the various ways using place value stamps. During this lesson they were given many opportunities to loop back to practice counting on, and then given the opportunity to use on-line base ten materials to create numbers. These math tools were easy for the students to find and accessible for them at school and home. They enjoyed the different learning modalities to practice this critical concept. I have many more visions of how Google Classroom can be used to enhance my student's learning through a variety of learning experiences, and self- reflective opportunities. I can't wait to try them! 

It has been amazing to watch them grow mathematically and as active participants who want to go above and beyond! The list could go on and on, as to how Google Classroom has been helpful to my students and I. I have been able to make this the "one stop shopping" experience, having all web links, downloads, and other resources available for through their Google Classroom. This also gives those who have access to the internet at home the opportunity to practice math in an engaging manner. 

I look forward to seeing how their on-line portfolio continues to grow, not only in quantity, but in quality, as the year progresses!

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