Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Language of Math: iPads and ELLs

We've all probably heard it said that math is a universal language, however a closer look reveals that the language of math is actually very complex and can be difficult to understand without explicit instruction and opportunities for practice.

A 3rd grade teacher and I (an EL teacher) have worked to incorporate instruction on the language of math into our co-taught math class through explicit teaching of math vocabulary and daily opportunities for math talk. Because our math class has several EL students, multiple gifted students, and many other students in between, we use many differentiation strategies to give students what they need, whether it be pre-teaching, re-teaching, opportunities for practice, or acceleration on a given topic.

One of the differentiation strategies we are excited about involves the screencasting apps ShowMe and Screen Chomp on the iPads. Students who have demonstrated that they are proficient on a given benchmark are asked to choose a problem that addresses that benchmark and write out a step-by-step plan on how to solve the problem.

Then, the student grabs an iPad, chooses ShowMe or Screen Chomp, and records and narrates a screencast of him/herself solving the problem. Students can also screencast what they know about specific vocabulary words. During independent work time, students can watch a class screencast to help them understand a concept or vocabulary word they have been struggling with, or to preview the next concept we will be learning about.

Our goal is that all of our students have multiple opportunities to record and watch the screencasts, so that the iPads are viewed as a resource for everyone. The iPads provide an authentic purpose and audience for math vocabulary and math talk, and our students are engaged and invested in their learning.

Math Language: iPads and English Learners

Don't worry if you can't make it to Minneapolis for our presentation...just check out our presentation via Prezi and Camtasia:

We are very excited to share what we love about ShowMe and ScreenChomp tomorrow!
Have you used them in your classroom before?
Leave us a comment to let us know what has worked well for you or what challenges you have faced with screencasting!

Thanks so much and happy screencasting!