As I started this year with a corporation that went 1:1, I have to admit that I was skeptical about how I could use that laptop with my kids effectively. I mean I teach 7th grade math. How can one teach math with a computer? I can proudly say that I have seen the light, and I DO use a computer to teach math.
This revelation did not happen overnight. I did not just snap my fingers and let the magic happen. Just like with any other change, it takes time, sweat, and maybe a few tears. At first, this is hard to actually put out there but, I just scanned some worksheets and put them in modules. Then at least, when I was asked by anyone else, I could say yes I am using canvas. Yikes, that is not using technology in any purposeful way. I did not have a well thought out canvas page. I did not have any assignments on canvas, just a whole bunch of PDF files.
I was then asked if I wanted to attend a Blended Live conference. I am always interested in learning more, so I said sure (not even knowing what the conference was about). Wow, that conference opened my eyes to how much better my class could be. I learned all about blended learning, specifically station rotations. I went back to work that next Monday, and I began using station rotations regularly, 3-4 times a week.
Part of what makes blended learning is incorporating technology into the stations. This was going to be my biggest challenge in using stations. With the help of the e-learning team, I slowly started adding pieces to my class. I started with Math Space. I am lucky because our district has a student account for each student. It took an investment of time to spend a few class periods specifically showing the kids the skills needed to be able to work on Math Space. Once the kids were really familiar with Math Space, I added CK12, again investing a few days to show the kids the basics of the website to make them independent on it. They at least knew how to access help on the websites before I set them free to do it independently. I like both of these because when I am working with a small group on another topic, other small groups of students in the class can be working on these websites. Both the websites have hints and videos that students can click on while working through problems. This allows the students to use their resources to answer their own questions.
Thankfully I am part of the NexGenCadre, which continues to push me to find what is new and try it. I have also used canvas discussions, Flipgrid, Padlet, Kahoot, and Ixl. None of those are math specific, but can be used in math just like in any other subject.
Some people ask me how I use technology or how I use station rotation model in middle school math. I am here to say it can be done. What works in my classroom, might not work in your classroom, but unless you try something, anything, you will never know. We ask our students to try new things and have an open mind; we need to model that too. Students will surprise us with their ability to adapt and change, and you never know, they may even be able to teach us a thing or two.
Today's thoughts come to us from Ms. Katie Belanga. Katie is a 7th grade math teacher in her second year with Richmond Community Schools. Katie received her bachelor’s degree from The University of Toledo. She has previously taught in Columbus, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee. Katie was honored to receive a Rising Star award from Richmond Community Schools for the 2016-2017 school year. Katie and her husband Chip have three children, Logan, Gavin, and Addie, who keep them busy. The family also has a one year old golden-doodle named Oakley. Katie likes to be outside in both the summer and winter in her spare time.