Monday, January 9, 2017

Technology Tackles Tricky Standards

Over the past few years, Texas math teachers have been challenged with updated TEKS.  One of the new standards (4.5 A) requires students to utilize strip diagrams to represent their work.  Strip Diagrams can be difficult for students to comprehend without a clear visual representation. Mrs. Mooneyham, teacher at J.C. Thompson Elementary, met this challenge head on and turned to technology for help teaching students about the valuable strategy.  

In this 4th grade classroom, students spent several weeks utilizing strip diagrams to decode and represent word problems.  As a way for students to showcase what they had learned, the teacher created a Google Slides presentation with an individual slide assigned to each student in the class. On the first slide, students were presented with a word problem and asked to solve the equation using a strip diagram.  

Students were provided Thinking Blocks from the Math Playground website as a resource to create their strip diagrams. Once completed, students took a screenshot of their diagrams and added it to their slide, along with a written justification of their thinking.  An example can be seen to the left.

Mrs. Mooneyham always strives to provide students more opportunities for written feedback.  To take this activity deeper, students were asked to look at the work of one of their classmates and use the comment feature of Google Slides to ask questions and/or provide meaningful feedback to one another.  Feedback from the teacher was also given in the same way.  Mrs. Mooneyham found this piece especially valuable stating, “Students took giving and receiving feedback very seriously. They were able to see multiple ways to represent the problem using strip diagrams and were exposed to a lot of great feedback that would be lacking in a notebook.”

Through this learning experience, students were able to further develop their problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills.  The integration of technology into this lesson, increased engagement and deepened the level of learning.  Natalie, a student in the class, enjoyed this experience. “I liked how we got use this cool app that helped me understand strip diagrams.  The technology gave me the opportunity to do something outside of our other work.”  Thinking outside the box and looking to the vast array of resources available through technology, took this seemingly simple lesson to the next level.

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