Archive for the ‘Math’ Category

Formative Assessment With the App NearPod

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Chris Loat

Janice Novakowski and I were invited to work with three intermediate colleagues at Blair Elementary as part of their Innovation project for the 2013/14 school year. One of the goals of their grant application was to investigate ways in which technology can help with formative assessment. After sharing a few webtools and apps with the teachers, we decided together that NearPod might best meet their needs.


This student took a photo of the work they did in their notebook and highlighted the specific question for the teacher before submitting it.

NearPod is an app that combines presentation, collaboration and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution. The app creates a wireless connection between the teacher and all students’ iPads and allows them to share work that between them. Teachers can create a lesson and manage that content on the students’ iPads. Responses by students on the iPad can be sent to the teacher during the lesson. This app can be used in various situations with all learners and we have found it to be a versatile app for formative assessment.

We felt NearPod would best suit the teachers’ needs because it provided specific formative feedback for each student (as opposed to general feedback about the class as a whole that you would get with the webtool PollEverywhere.) The teachers at Blair were looking at how immediate feedback during a lesson might inform their instruction and provide feedback to students in the area of mathematics and in writing. While planning how to integrate this app into the classroom experience, we realized that it is not necessary to create an entire NearPod lesson for each time you use the app. Instead, teachers can create a lesson with 5-6 blank pages, formatted as a ‘Draw It’ page and a couple of blank pages formatted as ‘Open Ended Question’. As the pages are blank, the prompts need to be provided by the teacher, and can be:

    1. written on the board/screen at the front of the room
    2. read out of a book
    3. given verbally.

One ‘blank’ NearPod lesson can be used in different situations with the intention that the teacher provides the prompts each time it is used. The students can respond in a variety of ways including:

    1. writing on the iPad
    2. taking a photo of their written work
    3. taking a photo of manipulatives they have used
    4. drawing a picture on the iPad
    5. taking a photo of a passage/picture from a book.

Students can also annotate/mark up their photos they take, which would allow them to highlight something they want the teacher to notice.


This student to a photo of the hundredths grid BLM used in the lesson, annotated it, and then submitted this as their answer.

On Tuesday, Janice worked with Kit Kwok as she introduced the NearPod app to her grade six students. One of Kit’s goals in using this technology was for her to receive immediate feedback when students began their practice questions in mathematics, so that she could provide support to the students who might need a mini-lesson or review before continuing on their own.

In this Math lesson, students provided their responses in two different ways: 1) Students completed the work took in their notebook and took a photograph of their response, often circling the answer to highlight it;  2) Other students took a photograph of the hundredths grid and then annotated it on the iPad before submitting it to their teacher.


This student completed their work on the hundredths grid BLM, photographed it, then annotated it in NearPod before submitting it to the teacher.

It should be noted that the Blair students are relatively fluent in using the iPads and were able to support each other and problem-solve as they learned how to use this app. Other classes may need more direction and practice before using it independently. It should also be noted that to start a lesson, students log in with a 5 letter passcode and download the template. Depending on the strength / speed of your wifi connection will determine how quickly the students can connect to the lesson. It is advised to stagger the log-in or do it well in advance.

Kit was very enthusiastic about the experience and was confident that this would be really useful to both her and her students. She liked how she could quickly see the list of students who had logged in and then being able to visually see who had submitted their work. She was able to click on a submitted file to enlarge it and see it in more detail and then provide immediate feedback to students as necessary. Going forward, it looks NearPod will provide the specific formative assessment needed to ensure our learners are understanding the concepts and information we teach on a daily basis.

~ Chris and Janice

Using the App ’30 Hands’ in a Math Lesson Related to Multiplication

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by Chris Loat 3 Comments

I paid a visit to my friend Patrece’s grade 4/5 classroom and I introduced her students to the app ’30 Hands’. For those who don’t know about this app, it is an app in which students take photos and put them into a slide show and then do a voice over for each slide. The students can then export their creation as a movie. I call these creations ‘Audio Slideshows’ and are a quick and effective way for students to explain their understanding or what they know.

The lesson I led integrated ’30 Hands’ with Math. The students were to make an audio slide show of different arrays they could find in the classroom. This helped with their understanding of the concept of multiplication and reinforced their basic facts. We did a quick review of what an array was and then we took a look around their room for examples of different arrays that were already in their classroom. Students pointed out the tote trays, their display of art work on a bulletin board, and the calendar were all examples of arrays.

Then is was time to take photos. We talked briefly about taking good photos and pointed out that all of the parts of the array need to be in the photo. Conversely, students could take photos of only part of an array if the array was too big. Students opened the app we navigated to the slide screen, after which they were sent off to take five photos of different arrays in or near the classroom.

After taking their photos, we reconvened the students and looked at what information needed to be included in their audio recording for each photo: 1) name the array in two ways  2) give the multiplication sentence and related facts  3) provide the answer to each multiplication sentence. We also talked about speaking clearly and loud enough so their voices could be easily heard, and about the fact they might need to find a quiet place near the classroom to do their recording.

Students then went off to find a quiet place to record. Most students found they had to do two or more takes for each slide, but eventually they all recorded their narrations for each slide with the relevant information. Students then exported their audio slide show as a movie and we shared them with the class with the classroom projector. I find the students are more apt to complete a well crafted product if they know it will be shared with the rest of the class. Below are a couple of samples of the student movies.

Was it a useful lesson for the kids? Absolutely, as it not only solidified their understanding of arrays and multiplication, but also introduced them to a very useful app. I remember one student in particular who did not fully understand how arrays connected to the concept of multiplication, but while rehearsing the narrations for her photos, the light bulb went on and she had a big smile on her face. Was it the verbal rehearsing or the visual in front of her, or the combination of the two that helped her understand? I wish I had asked, but one thing I know is that when students utilize verbal and visual information, there is a greater likelihood they will better understand concepts.

Using Screencasting in the Classroom

Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by Chris Loat

When teaching students in the upper grades, one type of question they do not like is the ‘Explain Your Thinking’ type of question. Sometimes, students just want to get the answer and move on. Being one of those students when I was in grade 6, I understand that; I got the answer correct and I wanted to just finish the work. However we know that students who are able to reflect on the processes they use to solve problems will be better able to utilize these processes in different situations. 

The iPad has come to the rescue and made it easier to utilize screencasting to complete this type of work. Students are now able to do work on the iPad and record their verbal explanation of the work they are doing. There are many apps that allow for this type of work, including Doceri, ShowMe, Explain Everything, ScreenChomp, and Educreations. Regardless of which one you choose, these apps are able to synchronously record both pen strokes and audio to create a screencast. I like the app Doceri as it is free, it has a variety of tools, can use multiple screens, and it allows for easy sharing.
Ideas for Integrating Screencasting into your Curriculum
1. Math:

  • the teacher can explain a Math concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • pose an exemplar type question and allow students to answer it using Doceri, then email it to you to keep as evidence of their learning
  • students can also explain a Math concept and post this online for others to learn from
  • load a hundreds chart on the iPad and show / explain different number patterns (or load any other black line master used in Math to explain other Math concpets)

2. Science:

  • the teacher can explain a Science concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • students can explain the steps of a cycle or process (students should load the photos on the screen before recording their explanations)
  • students can take a photo of an important part of an experiment and have students explain its importance or the explanation of what happenend and why

3. Social Studies:

  • the teacher can explain a Social Studies concept and post it online for students to use if they forget or struggle with learning the concept
  • students can load a map on the screen and explain why settlements / cities are often located along particular geographic features (e.g. rivers)
  • students can create a slideshow of photos about a particular topic (e.g. Ancient Egypt) and give a verbal explanation of each slide

4. Language Arts:

  • students can load a photo of their poem and read it aloud, then send it to their teacher as evidence of their oral reading and use of expression
  • students can load a photo of a setting and highlight/verbally explain the parts they could describe in their writing
  • students can load a photo (about any topic) and verbally explain how the photo could be incorporated into a creative story or poem; pre-talking before writing often works for students rather than silent brainstorming
  • students can read aloud a passage and while reading, make connections (text to self, text to text, text to world); underline the part of the book and then verbally explain their connection

5. Physical Eduation:

  • the teacher or student can load photos of the finishing position or important position of an exercise or skill to show students and explain to them how to complete an exercise or skill
  • the teacher or student can load photos of basic offensive strategy or defensive zone coverage in basketball (or any other sport) and explain the key strategic points

6. Art:

  • students can take a photo of their own art piece t and explain the process used to create it
  • students can make a slideshow of some pieces of their own art and give a verbal reflection about their own work
  • the teacher can take a photo of a person’s face and draw lines showing the proportional position of different parts of the face
Have fun making your screencasts. They are a great way for kids to show what they know.