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!
At the end of the lesson, when it comes time to practice, my students find themselves at varying levels of success with the material. Some of my students have mastered material, while others need more guidance. I teach my students how to use Robert Marzano's scale of self-assessment, which allows them to rate their level of need. In our class, each level of the scale corresponds to a mode of practice, including teacher guidance, peer tutoring, online practice, and enrichment.
Friday Review is a one-day activity designed to address specific needs and growth areas for each student. Using very recent data (from Exit Tickets or formative assessments), I identify specific skills that each student needs reinforcement with. Throughout class, students rotate through either small group lessons with me or individualized activities at their tables. When students work with me, they work on remedial practice to make sure they fill in any gaps in their understanding. While working independently, students work on various activities, including targeted online practice, practice worksheets, and hands-on activities, all selected and designed based on assessment data. Though my students work with their peers at times, they rotate through activities based on their individualized schedules, working towards their personal goals. At the end of the block, all of my students take an Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video) to measure their mastery. This allows me to track their growth and to plan how to support students who need additional practice.
This collaborative strategy is simple but effective. Students roam the room finding new questions to answer together, and scan the code with an iPad to check their work. Then, they put all the answers together to unlock a secret code. The use of QR codes in class has greatly improved the effectiveness of student work because of their ability to stop and check their answers. Their enthusiasm for this activity is clear, and making it into a competition of sorts makes it all the more fun. I utilize the QR codes in everything from directions to links to activities. Still, my favorite use is monitoring groups during QR code breakers.