Fall 2020 -Tech Recommendations to Start the Year

My Tech Diet to Start the Year

Desmos Activity Builder and Google slides. That’s it. Focus on building your learning community and not juggling 100 different cool tools.

Next options for adding on might be Google Jam Board, Google Forms, and/or Google Docs.

Tech to start with for students out of class would be Delta Math, Edpuzzle, and even more Desmos, Google Slides, or Google Docs.

Why Google Slides?

Use google slides to assign breakout room groups collaborative work that they can discuss and co-annotate. As they work you can see the writing appear in real time. It looks like this:

Notice that group 7 is not writing, so I will be popping into that room to see what is up. I also was able to take a screen shot of the problem I wanted them to work on and set it as the background of the slide deck, so it was there for each group to reference.

And here is a great way to have students discuss their rough draft attempts on a homework problem so they can revise and refine there efforts. Their improved draft would go in the center rectangle.

If you prefer, label the squares A, B, C, and D and have students put names in the speaker notes. Then you can project their work for discussion while keeping it anonymous.

This template and hundreds of others are available for download for free at http://www.theresawills.com. She also offers great free PD sessions on teaching synchronously at a distance. Strong recommend!

Gallery Walks Anyone?

This Google Slide Deck by @ashleyguerrero is perfect for a gallery walk activity.

Really, Desmos?

Yes really!

Peardeck, Nearpod, and Desmos all give you the ability to pace the class-control what is on everybody’s screen right now, see each student’s work immediately or near immediately. Each has a couple unique bells and whistles, but they all serve the purposes

  1. Classroom pacing/ management at a distance
  2. See student work in real time
  3. Facilitate conversation

Here are some things that cause me to recommend Desmos:

  • it is 100% free forever. You get all the features.
  • it is made for math. It can do other subjects, but it’s math typing tools, graphs, and tables make different math representations simple.
  • It has a whiteboard feature like peardeck and nearpod, but additional whiteboarding backgrounds like graph paper or a coordinate axis, isometric graph paper and circle/polar graph paper
  • the card sort feature is great for activities like those from our IM and CPM curriculums
  • the video tutorials make it simple to learn
  • it is possible to build in self checking feature when they submit answers
  • the built in comment feature lets you send individual students messages in real time or after class and allows students to go back and see later.
  • The built in snap shot feature makes it easy to take screens shots and prepare a teacher presentation using actual student work as class is happening or later if you find a common incomplete understanding you want to address.
  • the calculator is the same one used on our state test. If you have time to think about state test results right now, that practice with the tool is a plus.
  • The starter screen sets they offer are great for helping you begin getting to know your students and building those relationships.

All that being said, if you are a Peardeck pro, have the paid license and don’t know how to use Desmos, starting your year with tech you know is totally reasonable.

But especially for those of you about to learn something new, invest the time learning the one built by math teachers for math teachers.

Just my unsolicited two cents . . .