My Classroom Staples

Here are some of my go-to technology and classroom tools.

Desmos

Desmos is online, completely free graphing calculator software, plus it has classroom activities that are directly related to Ontario curriculum. My personal favourite is the Parabola Marble Slides activity for quadratic transformations. The more I teach the more things I discover that Desmos can do. It even has probability distributions and regression models.

Whiteboards (VNPS)

In my experience, students who are resistant to writing things down on paper are much more willing to write on a whiteboard – sometimes because they don’t know where to start or they’re afraid of being wrong. With whiteboards, I get to see my students’ thinking much more easily and I can have a conversation with them about the math. And if they make a mistake, it’s gone with one swipe of the eraser.

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Cubalinks

Math manipulatives are great. I’m a big fan of math you can touch. Also, there’s nothing quite like seeing 16-year-olds get excited about playing with blocks.

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Algebra Tiles

They rock. Many other bloggers have written in depth about their uses, particularly with respect to expanding and simplifying, solving linear equations, and factoring.

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Google Apps for Education

I feel like this post would not be complete without mentioning Google Apps for Education. The main platform I use for communication with my classes is Google Classroom, which I love. I find it to be more organized and easier to use than most other platforms I’ve used, as a student or teacher. I post PDFs of my lessons on Google Classroom the night before each class, and at the end of the week I uploaded completed notes for the week. It also does all of the helpful education platform things, like assignment uploads, reminders, and the option to email the whole class.

CamScanner

CamScanner is a SmartPhone app that I learned about from a teacher friend. I use it to take pictures of the board when we summarize class notes, or I’m posting sample solutions to an assessment. It auto-crops the picture and adjusts it so that it’s not slanted, and uses the “magic colour” filter to make the writing stand out on the background. When you’re done with the document, it gives you the option to email it to yourself directly as a PDF or as separate images. It saves me a lot of time when I’m uploading completed notes so that I’m not spending hours typing out things that I wrote on the board earlier in the week.

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This is a screenshot of the notes from a lesson in Grade 12 data management on the normal distribution. CamScanner makes it really easy to include diagrams that would otherwise be unnecessarily complicated to redo and add in – and look at the quality! If you’ve ever taken a picture of a writing on a whiteboard with dying markers you will know what I mean. (Your inability to read some of the values is because of my messy writing and not the fault of the app.)

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