To Moodle or not to Moodle? Part 2

As promised, here is part two of my Moodle review. I am going pick right up where I left off:
Quizzes (“Calculated” questions)
As I mentioned last time, after reading “Using Moodle”, I was very intrigued by the “Calculated” question type for the quiz module. Since the last post, I have finally jumped in and given my first calculated quiz and I LOVE it!!! It was a trigonometry quiz for my advanced math class. I was able to create complex word problems with parameters representing different values within the problem. I then created an equation for the correct answer involving the parameters from the question.  I was even able to set a tolerance of +/- 2 units to allow for a little error from rounding.  I also wrote equations for expected miscalculations and granted partial credit for these answers.  Another nice feature is “Adaptive” mode for questions in which students get instant feedback for submitted answers and are able to correct their answers with a penalty for each try.  When kids get tangled up in arithmetic errors, this is a great way to allow them to find their own mistakes and fix them.

Math teachers!!! Check out this link to find out more about the “calculated” question type and how you can use this powerful math assessment tool in Moodle.

Assignments
A practitioner of Project-Based Learning, I really like the Assignments module in Moodle. It allows students to upload files directly to the course website in response to a project prompt. For example, I had my students create a “Math Minute” Video using Animoto. I posted the instructions to the Moodle site as an assignment link in our weekly agenda. Students were able to upload their completed project directly to the site, and I could view and grade the submitted files, and even leave comments all on the Moodle. Here is a graphic I made using screenshots from this assignment and Picnik (to make it pretty).

Discussion Forum and Blog
The discussion forum module is a tool for collaboration and interaction between students in the online course. I have seen students ask for help and get assistance from their peers using the discussion forum. This is a great way for students who choose not to speak out in class to get the help they need from me and their peers.
Each Moodle participant also has his or her own blog to write in throughout the course. My students use it in a variety of ways–some jot reminders to themselves about what we do in class. Others use it as a place to store and share information they find on the internet about what they learned. Some just use it as a journal where they celebrate high test grades or bemoan the quiz for which they were not prepared. Although each student has an individual blog, all blog entries can be viewed for the entire course or sorted in myriad ways. I love going in and seeing what my students blog about; it’s always interesting! Click below to see snippets from our discussions and blogs.

a few final thoughts–
I require my students to “moodle” at least once a week for their participation grade in my class. This has produced a lively Moodle site that I have enjoyed watching grow from nothing to a rich online learning community in one grading period. So what’s the final verdict? I think you saw this already:

Please do not think this is my last post about Moodle; I am just getting started! I have also been using it for Professional Development and of course, I’ll be blogging about that soon! So, if your a Moodler, a wanna-be Moodler or just interested, stay tuned! Also be sure to check out part 1 of my Moodle review, in case you missed it. As a parting gift, here a short video created by my students about their use of Moodle. Enjoy!

Moodle Student Video from Tinashe Blanchet on Vimeo.

Calculus in Plain English–Volume 2

I have a lot of stuff to blog about, but so little time! Here is a tidbit: “Calculus in Plain English” is back!!!  I am teaching AP Calc AB this semester, and I only have 5 students in the class.  They will be making videos for each unit we cover.  Here is their first– “Limits in Plain English”.

BlanchetBlog regulars will notice that this is my first non-TeacherTube video. I am currently making the transition to Vimeo. It has its drawbacks (slow upload), but TeacherTube has become so bloated with ads and everything else but videos, that I have finally decided to try other sites. I would like to give SchoolTube a try, too. Since YouTube is blocked by our school system, I will always be searching for a good alternative for video sharing. Vimeo seems to be getting the job done for now.
I am very proud of my students and their first video. I know their next, “Derivatives in Plain English”, will be even better. Stay tuned!!!

Back in the classroom with blanchetBlog

School has been back in session for only a month, and I already feel like I have a million things going on in my classroom!  I am only teaching two classes in the fall semester- GEE Prep Math, a remediation course for students who struggle with math and need to pass the state test to graduate, and AP Calculus.  I have been doing lots of hands-on activities with my GEE class using some great manipulatives I bought from EAI while at NCTM in San Diego last year. We started the year with every math student’s kryptonite–fractions. My motto is “fractions are our friends”, but I have yet to get many students to agree. Nevertheless, we used fraction pattern tiles to explore the meaning of fractions, and I think having the concrete examples really helped.  In the photo above, you see students working with algebra tiles to express polynomial expressions. Although I sprung for the “quietshape” foam tiles from EAI, you can print your own and have the students cut them out. Check this link out for your own algebra tiles, and here is a place where you can get some activity ideas.

In my calculus class,we began with a review of Advanced Math and a project I have done before in Calculus—Function Family Trees. This year, since I have the model technology classroom, I had the students make a Glog (online poster) for their function families. Here is an example of their work:

Go to Glogster EDU to set up your own classes with this awesome tool!  I can already see that this is going to be a super-busy year for me and my students.  I love having the opportunity to teach AP Calculus again.  It was great experience when I taught it the year before last.   I now get the chance to revisit my tried and true strategies and refresh things with some new activities and projects.  My GEE Prep class is a chance for me to really learn how to use data to move students forward.  I have been crunching a lot of numbers trying to figure out what my kids’ strengths and weaknesses are.  I have also been asked to do some additional small group tutoring with these students.  I plan on using my data to provide targeted assistance in each student’s weakest areas.  I will also track practice test scores to see if my efforts are working.  My goal is to have a 100% passing rate for my students after they take my test prep course.  Wish me luck!  I wish you luck in the coming months, as well. Stay tuned for more!

UNO Math Camps-Last Day!

I had a great time working with Dr. McCarthy and the math campers this week! We all learned so much! Below, you will find a list of links to different “dynamic worksheets” students made to illustrate some of the topics covered in camp this week.
reflection
translation
angle bisectors with a “special guest”
perpendicular bisector of a line segment

OK, OK, I know the “guest stars” are quite random, but I’m all for creativity! As long as these kids understand the content, as they demonstrated by making these worksheets, there’s nothing wrong with being a little random. In Algebra camp, students performed songs and videos to show what they learned this week. Unfortunately, technical difficulties prevented the young directors from completing the editing of their films. Nevertheless, everyone learned a lot and had lots of fun. See you next year!!!