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27 May 2011
Comments: 8

HOT Apps for HOTS: Contacts and Bump

Signs of Math images in Photovisi collage

Bump it Up: Signs of Math Activity

While my focus is highlighting apps for HOTS, I also wanted to model how the iPad can be used in conjunction with Web 2.0 tools like Little Bird Tales which allows students or a teacher to create a video with images, text, & narration. I have used the tale as inspiration & direction for the activity. (Little Bird Tales now offers a mp4 download of your tale which cam be played on any iDevice – the cost is 99 cents per tale.)

Signs of Math Directions: Bump_Lesson (PDF Handout)

  1. Watch the tale as a class and discuss it (or view it in small groups or in stations with a task card).
  2. After you finish the tale, jot down 3-5 specific signs (signs do not have to be literally signs) of Math you see each day and what characteristics they possess to make them magically mathematical. Students could post the types of signs with info on a Today’s Meet chat from the computer or an iDevice.
  3. Spend some time gathering photographic evidence of signs of Math. (Either take a photo from the device’s camera or save images from the internet).** If teachers wanted to create a more directed activity, they could provide students with a list of objects to locate (e.g. square, right angle, polygon, sphere, fraction, etc…)
  4. Create a Math Sign Contact:
    1. Launch the Contacts app.
    2. Tap the “+” to create a new contact.
    3. Tap “add photo”. You will be given the option to “take photo” or “choose photo”. If you have already captured images, you will want to select “choose photo”. Tap the arrow to expand your camera roll. Tap the desired image to select it.
    4. Move and scale your image to best fit the frame by pinching in and out and and dragging up and down. Tap “Choose” when satisfied.
    5. Naming your sign: In the First field, type the name of your sign (e.g. parallel lines, acute angle, triangle, etc…). In the Last field, type the first letter of the first name
    6. Tap “+” to add field. Swipe down to the Notes section. Tap on Notes (In testing this, we did find the notes were not “bumped” – students may want to add the notes once their collection is complete) and write a definition or description of the math displayed in the picture.
  5. Bump your Math Signs to create a larger database. Who can collect the most? This might be a great time to discuss exponential growth.

After students have created a database, they can choose one image from their database and create a Popplet with it. This is fairly simple. When in Contacts, students can press and hold the image and they will be prompted to “save image”. This will save the image to their camera roll. Now they are ready to create a Popplet. Their task would be to take an image and list multiple attributes of that image annotating each image to highlight those attributes (as seen below).

Additional options would be to highlight different attributes of the same image, create a Frayer Model, or a Venn Diagram to classify multiple images:

Attributes: have students choose an image and highlight different elements (not all attributes of the same family). For example, a student could have an image of a kite and discuss intersecting lines, fractions, symmetry, polygons, triangles, angles, area, etc…

Frayer Model: another angle would be to create a Frayer Model for one image (e.g. definition, examples, nonexamples, characteristics).

Venn Diagram: classify images that fell into one or more categories (e.g. polygons &  quadrilaterals).

Cartoons: Another extension would be to have students create a math problem cartoon using images or the concepts they have learned from the Signs of Math activity. Check out Yolanda B’s Garden of Equations (secondary example) cartoon using Pixton & my Alien Pet Shop Prezi (elementary example). If you are interested in pursuing a cartoon project, check out the ToonDoo_student_directions handout and the teacher resource page Cartoons in the Classroom.

Check out similar activities highlighting the use of Bump and digital trading cards featured on Consider using the Flashcardlet app (in conjunction with Quizlet) to create your own Math Signs Flash Cards.

** I dug up an old video from my classroom archives for more inspiration. It is entitled, “Geometry in My World” and it should give some good examples of items we encounter in our everyday world and how you can view them with a geometric eye.


©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

25 May 2011
Comments: 2

Appy Hour: Math App-Teasers

Appy Hour will provide you with a fast-paced introductory approach to FREE apps that are appropriate for secondary students. App-teasers for Math will be sampled. After this class you will think beyond the concept of an App as simply being a game – you will leave with a menu of appealing concrete lesson ideas you can serve as soon as you are back with your students! An iPad with all required apps will be included for use during the duration of the class.

Math Appy Hour (Jog the Web Tour)

Jog iTunes with Me

app_happy_math (Menu of Math Apps Sampled)

Sample Parent Handout

Check out More Apps for Math

Check Out Podcasts For Math



©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted

23 May 2011
Comments: 0

HOT APPS for HOTS: iCard Sort

iCard sort is a great app to use for vocabulary & sorting. The apptivity below is a jeopardy-like vocabulary lesson that involves matching mathematics vocababulary to its corresponding definition. Lesson, extensions,and student record sheets are provided.


This activity can be delivered as a review or as a pre-activity. If teachers choose to do the activity before the lesson, they may want to allow students to use resources to locate words as well (textbooks,,,, etc…).

Bump it Up: Another extension to this activity would be for students to use the Contacts app (an standard app on the device) to build a math vocabulary database with images of the vocabulary (captured from the device or from the internet), a website that may give more information, & the definitions written in the notes field. (see Signs of Math Bump activity).

If a teacher has issues beaming or blasting decks due to wifi or internet issues, consier having students create the deck to match the grid. It may take a little more time but the activity will be saved.

All definitions were used from

©2011. Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved. Permission to reproduce for classroom use granted.

23 May 2011
Comments: 2

Flipping the Classroom

I recently was asked to be part of a Think Tank to promote global education through the use of technology integration in our schools (many times highlighting the power of mobile devices & Web 2.0 tools). I have since then been inspired to share this video and its message with anyone and everyone that will lend me their ears.

As a Math teacher, I am familiar with the direct teach… assign guided/independent work in class… work not finished becomes homework… homework is not completed or completed inaccurately (and oftentimes with misconceptions) due to lack of instructional support at home. This cycle has gone on for much too long and is clearly still a practice as we see multiple interventions occurring to save students from failure on high stakes assessments and grade level promotion.

Though I was aware of the Kahn Academy app and am quite familiar with other Math apps that can be used to build math capacity and strengthen math skills, it was not till last week when the idea of “flipping the classroom” was added to my vernacular. How exquisitely simple the idea for such a powerful change to pedagogy and student results. Ask yourself, “How would our knowledge of Math or Science differ if Einstein & Newton had left detailed videos to explain their theories and concepts?” The entire video is linked below (it only takes 20 minutes to be inspired).

Let’s use video to reinvent education: Salman Khan on

While this is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all approach, it does have many benefits for our learners:

  • allows learners who fall behind to not feel ashamed in asking for help as they can access the videos from home (rather than ask a question in front of the class)
  • allows self-directed and self-motivated learners to move ahead at a pace that is right for them
    • One example that was given during our meeting was that of a second grade student who had not qualified for the GT program but was extremely interested in what those students were doing in the program – especially with Math. The GT teacher directed him to her website with all of her teacher videos and assignments for the next few weeks. He quickly returned and wanted to know when she would be posting the next video, as he had not only completed the first video and assignment but all of them. Some times the walls of our classrooms are too small to contain the voracious appetite for learning and discovery that many of our students possess. She has since then began coaching him as a student in Khan Academy.
    • I too had a similar story. I taught a Pre-Algebra Advanced course for 7th grade students. While the students were predominantly GT, the levels and spectrum of GT varied throughout the classroom. One student always stood out to me. He would receive perfect scores on his assessments and he would actually read ahead to the next 2-3 chapters in the Math textbook. I recommended him to move to Algebra that year and he did well being two years ahead of his peers in Math. At the time we did not have access to or knowledge of the wealth of video and online resources available for a student of his caliber. Looking back, this would have been a wonderful gift to empart to all of my Math students.
  • allows students who missed class or have transferred from another campus, district, state to fill in the gaps (lessons & skills) that they may have missed
  • provides copious amounts of data (e.g. time spent on video or activity, problems missed, how many attempts, etc…) to teachers to track students and provide more resources and remediation of needed

Much of the Criticism I have seen against the Flipped Classroom highlights the lack of technology available to access the videos, inability and delay to ask questions, the idea that videos should not be the primary delivery method for all students, the necessity of additional resources to accompany lectures. While I do agree with many of the criticisms highlighted in this article, I believe there are ways to work around them:

  • It is true that not all students have internet access at home. However, many of them have mobile devices that will solve this issue. This may lead to a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) classroom concept as well. For those that do not, perhaps teachers and schools can agree to some sort of check out process for mobile devices.
  • It is true that while watching a video, you can not ask questions and have them answered. Even if students do write down their questions for the next day, they may be overwhelmed with how many questions that have. This is where social media and peer collaboration is key. First, most teachers will have a good idea where students will encounter an issue and they could supply additional resources to scaffold and supplement these topics and ideas. Also, peers are an excellent (and oftentimes underused) resource – especially if the teacher creates some form of online learning community (e.g. Edmodo, Moodle) for students to collaborate and support each other.
  • It is true that this should not be a one-size-fits-all approach nor the only instructional resource in the classroom. It is more the idea than the resource itself and it could be used as much or as often as an instructor sees fit. It is not intended to completely replace the role of the teacher or of good current instructional practices.
    • Some schools may call upon teachers who are strong orators and have a way with teaching a particular concepts to create videos of their lectures and disseminate them for other classes. Others may want to record student explanations as well. Both of these ideas can be easily accomplished using a document camera (the actual person delivering instruction would not even need to appear in the video – just the action of explaining the instruction or problem/examples).
    • Teachers should work together to create and supply resources to accompany videos. Resources could range from PPT’s, to interactive websites, to SMART lessons, to podcasts, to videocasts, to apps, to Khan Academy activities, to math-themed children’s books, to ePubs, to online learning communities. A veritable scmorgasbord of resources and support to meet the needs of any and all learners.
Though the focus on this blog is Math, the idea of reversing your classroom could be applied across the curriculum. How will you FLIP YOUR CLASSROOM?

17 May 2011
Comments: 2

Podcasts 4 Math

Our Web 2.0 Part 2 Moodle course provided some wonderful discussion on useful Math podcasts. Why reinvent the wheel? Here are some of the resources (with descriptions) that were provided from teachers enrolled in the course. Use these as mini lessons, reviews, independent study pieces, or to clear up common misconceptions.

  • The Video Math Tutor–  Even during summer kids can access podcasts to see how some of the math they will be doing in summer is done, it serves as a good review and resource. Tips on how to solve algebra problems, gives graphing calculator tips, brian teasers, and other tips for both students and teacher.
  • Edutopia (Math)– I like this feed because it is a good resource for teachers when they need new ideas or a new insight to approaches or thoughts on teaching. “Teaching Elementary Students the Magic of Math” really shows how math can and should be integrated fully into all subjects of learning.
  • The Wizard of Oz- From Fractions to Formulas – I love to show that math is not scary.  When information is presented to the students in a familiar or entertaining method it grabs the kids attention and diminishes fear of a subject.
  • Math Guy podcast – Fun math games and trick. Gets kids excited about math and using numbers
  • Mathtrain.TV – Review over middle school concepts, interest, percent of a number, unit cost.
  • Khan Academy – Geometry: Khan Academy has podcasts in all of the subject areas in mathematics. It gives very detailed and drawn out explanations of various mathematics topics, including geometry. It is an excellent podcast for students who struggle with their work or for those who would like to see more examples outside of class.
  • Mr. A’s Geometry Podcast: This podcast is similar to the Khan Academy podcast. Detailed explanations of various geometry topics are shown, but more closely resembles what a student would
  • Math Mutation: This podcast provides weekly topics in mathematics that are described as “fun, interesting and weird corners of math.” It can be used to show students than math can be fun and interesting.
  • Math by Design: “These videos and support materials will give you another weapon in your answer arsenal. In the videos, students meet people whose everyday, real life includes just the kind of mathematics they explore in Math by Design. Use the Discussion Questions and Related Practice resources to extend and enrich your students’ video watching experience!”
  • Media 4 Math: Videos range from algebra applications in the mortgage crisis to exploring 3D Geometry. Also has a great section on Math in the News with PPT presentations to accompany.
  • Is All About Math: Math is a subject area that is ever changing. Even though the concepts remain consistent, the strategies and techniques for presenting those concepts are anything but consistent. Using this video podcast as a resource to stay current and on trend is vital in giving my students the advantage they need to be successful beyond my classroom. I am using this in Google reader.
  • The Math Dude (Algebra 1): This is a wonderful tool for my geometry students who need to brush up on algebra and to fill in any gaps that they may experience from their previous year. This was found in iTunes as a video podcast. I like that my students can access this when they need reinforcement on a concept or just another way to look at an area that may be particularly problematic for them. This could also be used as a mini lesson to fill in weak areas in important concepts.
  • Precalculus – Fenton: I found this video podcast in iTunes. This would be a great tool for students who are absent from class. It would also give me ideas when I am looking for ways to present particular lessons. Students can use it as a review or to obtain a different perspective. One drawback is that it took a long time to download.

Also Check out:,, Math Snacks& MathtrainTV.

Some of these podcasts can be subscribed to which will feed into iTunes, others can be saved as an audio or movie file and imported into iTunes, and some are even bundled as an app. Please post others you find in the comments section along with a description and/or how they can be used.

12 May 2011
Comments: 0

Simpsons in the Classroom

I have used Simpson’s clips for years in my classroom as hooks, theme-based lessons, and to illustrate Mathematical concepts from fractions to Pi using Simpsons Math. Check out my Girls Just Wanna Add Sums Packet and the Simpsons Math site for even more resources on this topic/episode.

Now the Simpsons’ will be invading a Science Classroom near you. From periodic tables to Newton’s Laws, Simpson’s can provide a new perspective (or a frame of reference) on illustrating the not so concrete laws of science (e.g. Angular Momentum, Second Law of Thermodynamics, Metric System, Newton’s First & Third Law, Photon Pressure, Zinc Film, Inelastic Collision, and More…)