Yesterday was Monday, August 10th, 2020. My mind is swirling with all the uncertainties this fall holds. I was fishing on a lake in Maine and it allows my brain to empty and then get creative.
I was thinking about #VNPS - Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces - working at whiteboards in collaborative groups in the classroom - 3 kids staying in a close spacing - passing/sharing/taking turns with 1 marker. Well, that won't be allowed this school year. I was trying to think about how I could turn these lessons into a virtual whiteboard lesson. I miss the math conversations. I worked some hard on getting them the past 3 years and then when we went to zoom remote teaching in the Spring, most kids had their microphones off and lost their voice.
Now, I need to find a way to hear students' discussion/debates/strategies and watch them work it out. I thought I need some practice students to try some tech tools on to see if it will meet our needs. I put a tweet out at 11am EST for people to sign up to help me on Tuesday at 11 am EST - 24 hour turnaround. I didn't want to think about it much more.
And, people signed up. Over 50 teachers came to join in our investigation. I was estimating we might go for an hour, but we went for almost 2 hours. I appreciate everyone who came to play today. I think in the business world, this might have been considered a Focus Group and people might actually get paid to test the tools like we did. But, you know...it's different in the teacher world. I am on vacation and did this. But, enough of that.
I had high hopes. I thought I was going to try 4 and come away with at least 1 maybe 2 tools that might do the job.
Synopsis of our work:
- Google Slides with a Visual Pattern type problem. Ask students to investigate what changes as the step changes. We did this at #TMC17 and I have used it on the first day of school in Geometry every since. I made a google slide and made slides for groups of 4 to work on together. I gave them a topic to investigate after we did a brainstorming session. I wanted them to be able to work in breakout groups and discuss as well as use a pencil tool with different colors to show their thinking. We learned:
- There isn't really a pencil tool in Google Slides. It is the line segment and you choose squiggly. Some people added text, so people tables, but not so great to draw.
- I should lock my backgrounds so students don't accidentally move them - make them, take a snapshot, and then add back in as a picture.
- It was suggested if I have 8 groups, to make those 8 pages hyperlinks so the kids can just click on their page.
- Teacher can see if live. Teacher could write on if needed.
- Desmos New Whiteboard in Activity Builder with Geometry Oral instructions. In my old class, I would have groups of kids at the board and I would say 1st person, draw and label Point P, draw and label line AB, etc. I envisioned the Whiteboards in Desmos as if it was a group one and they would all be able to write on it in the same group. I made 15 whiteboards in one Activity Builder. I made breakout groups but didn't put them into the groups - instead had them write down their room number and student number as they were listed. I said, all my #1s, draw and label Point P. I thought there would be 1 WB for Group 1 with a point on it and one for group 2, etc. Instead, there were 5 WB in Group 1 because - my brain wasn't working correctly - and each student is working in their own Desmos AS, they aren't working on each others, so not really the collaborating I wanted. We learned:
- I could use the overlay function to see all of Group1's together, but that is not what I was intending.
- Also, pointed out, oral over zoom may be too difficult for hearing impaired students so would need another way for directions - in chat?
- Next up, we tried Whiteboard.fi. Students don't need to sign in. I gave them a code. I had not used this one. I did know they would be individual whiteboards. I combined this with an Open Middle problem where students had to use #1-9 to fill in blanks. I had the picture on My WB for them and they had their to look at. We learned:
- I can push my image onto the student's board under the bottom of the teacher WB (little tough to find)
- Ethan wrote on his WB before I pushed my image so it covered his work. He then could remove my image too. So, that is a little weird that it isn't locked.
- I can see everyone's work, but I am not sure there is really a way to collaborate.
- Oh, yes and Sam moved in on Ethan's WB by signing out and signing back in using Ethan's name and then he could write on Ethan's WB. That could be trouble.
- And, my fourth and final was Classkick.com. I used this a lot in the spring. Both my kids and I liked it. I used it more for live practice. I made like 4 slides each with a problem on it. Not so easy in math with having to add equations. I still have to type it in Google doc and screenshot it and input as a picture. I can see all their WB and write on them. I used these in Zoom so I could call someone back to a certain slide and work with them on it, or they could call me to a slide if they were stuck. Kids can raise a hand using the tech and if it is teacher enabled, then you can let other students help someone who is raising their hand. We learned:
- If someone helps someone and then leaves, you can't tell who helped out (or maybe wrote something inappropriate).
Here is my Google Slide LINK to what I used. (Hint; There are Schitt's Creek GIFs in it)
Here is our long Zoom conversation. Password is: V2JRq+3N. ( I hope that works)
Overall, it was so good to have this conversation in a safe place where we could trial and error and discuss and learn and make mistakes. I did not walk away with 1 tool I will use. As usual, I will have to figure out what it is I hope to accomplish with the task and then find the best tool to handle it remotely.
HINT: Someone should make something where kids can work on whiteboards collaboratively with a decent tool for drawing and writing out math and a good teacher dashboard.