Storybird in the Math Classroom
Storybird is an amazing, free, online software that allows students to create their own stories using real artist's works and collaborate and share among their class. In math, it is always essential to get students to appreciate the real world contexts in which their work is derived. Storybird allows students to incorporate literacy and their own interests into the math that we are working on. It also allows for feedback from the teacher to make sure that the math value that students are getting out of their stories is pure and real. Students must work within a rubric to develop a starting number sentence or operation into a real context. The deep discussions around verbs and operations that occurs is invaluable for a synthesis of the math concepts. Oh, and it is reallly fun to read each others!
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Stephen communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
Data Review is a strategy I use to keep my students motivated to master our Math skills. Every day before class, I place a check mark by the names of students who have mastered a skill according to the previous day's Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video). During class I call out the names of students who have made progress towards mastery (only focusing on positive feedback), and we publicly celebrate those students who have reached mastery on skills that we're focusing on in that particular week. This quick cheer gives students a sense of gratification and success for their previous day's work. As for my students who haven't yet reached mastery, they hear about their peers' successes and consequently feel motivated to work harder to get a check mark for the following day. Because of the power of this quick public feedback, my students are invested in the work that they do throughout the day and the Exit Ticket they take at the end of each class. Data Review helps them see the connections between their daily effort and progress and the achievement of their overall goals.
I group my students into three proficiency groups - Mild, Medium, and Spicy. This is a system of general differentiation that allows me to easily assign practice or even homework. Students know their level and know that the assigned practice is likely best for them. Their level is also assigned to them based on various factors, including benchmark assessments, formative assessments, and informal observations made in class on a daily basis. I encourage my students to challenge themselves to try a "spicier" level when they're ready. This gives students the flexibility to try harder material and excel at an appropriate and personalized pace.