Math

Infographics: Seeing Information in a New Light

Let’s be honest. Data can be both dry and uninteresting. Text representations of data can also be complicated and difficult to understand.  In an attempt to make complex data easier to digest, teachers are using infographics as an effective means of delivery. Information + graphics= infographic, a visual representation of information. Not new to media, infographics are commonly used on news broadcasts as well as in various periodicals. National Geographic employs beautiful inforgraphics that allows the reader a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter.

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Photo Credit: Retrieved from http://edutech4teachers.edublogs.org/

Infographics can effectively help our students conceptualize information. The visual nature of an infographic allows data to be conveyed quickly and efficiently while appealing to the students sense of creativity and design. Not only geared towards older children, educators can utilize infographics in the early elementary classroom as well. Allowing students to create simple infographics to represent concepts and text data can reach the visual learner while fostering 21st century skills in the classroom.

Integrating infographics can be rewarding for both students and educators alike. In order to be effective, educators must guide students in how to read and determine the main idea of the infographic. Guidance in creating an inforgraphic includes how to utilize creation tools and how to establish a general “flow” that will enable readers to grasp the concept. There are many tools to created infographics, but Glogster is most suited for the k-8 classroom. In the web 2.0 family, Glogster edu allows teachers to establish classes and monitor student work. “Glogs” can easily be shared using a variety of channels. Visual.ly can create more complex infographics for secondary students. Both Glogster and Visual.ly have extensive libraries where educators can browse pre-made infographics for lessons.

The uses of infographics are endless. Visual representations of numbers and statistics have emerged in all content areas. Social Studies teachers have turned migration and population data into visual data. Early elementary teachers assist students in creating visuals of concepts or word problems in math.  Let’s be innovative. Our visual students will benefit from our visual teaching.

For more tools to create infographics in the classroom, check out teachthougt’s 46 Tools to Make Infographics in the Classroom.

Prodigy Math Game

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Student engagement is crucial to the learning process.  In order to increase engagement, we must increase active learning. Prodigy Math Game does just that by drawing students into the learning process through an engaging, curriculum aligned role playing game. Geared towards children in grades 1-8, Prodigy Math Game is centered around answering math questions to play an imaginative game where students control their own wizard in an exciting, virtual world.

Prodigy Math Game offers differentiated instruction at its best with each student receiving instruction personalized to their learning pace and ability. Prodigy’s goal of creating love for math and student engagement is achieved through this exciting and effective gaming platform. In fact, Prodigy’s claim that your kids will be begging to play this holds some serious truth. My experiences with Prodigy Math Game in the classroom has been positive with students being completely immersed in the learning process and eager to meet their goals.

Video Learning With a Boy and His Robot

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From mitosis to semicolons, explanations can be tricky for even the most veteran educator; especially if you are introducing a concept in an early grade. There are plenty of sites that can bring video learning into the classroom to assist educators with introducing topics, or simply providing students another way of processing information.  One of my favorites sites is BrainPOP.  Each video is led by Tim and Moby, an odd duo consisting of a boy and his robot.  Tim and Moby have a unique flair for delivering information to students in both a simple and engaging way.

Created by an immunologist and pediatrician, Avraham Kadar, M.D., Brain pop was initially used to explain difficult concepts to young patients. Currently, BrainPOP is used by educators as an effective 21st century tool to enhance curriculum content.In addition to offering animated videos relating to all content areas, BrainPOP is Common Core aligned, offers an ELL portal for English language learners, and Brain POP jr. for k-3 students.

With capabilities that reach far beyond an extensive video library, BrainPOP boasts an online educational setting that bolsters student achievement and supports professional development. “My BrainPOP” allow teachers progress monitoring, and individualized assessment creation.  Students can access games, quizzes, and other standards aligned activities. BrainPOP supports multiple learning styles and digital learning by delivering content using a wide variety of media types Completely compatible with most classroom devices, BrainPOP is an ideal integration of technology into the classroom.Most importantly, after just a few uses, Tim and Moby will surely become classroom favorites.

Web Page Creation in the Classroom

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Culminating projects can be fun for students. It is the optimal time to allow students a creative channel to showcase their knowledge using a variety of formats. With new web 2.0 tools, final projects can be interesting and innovative while clearly showing whether students have met the intended learning objective.

One of my favorite projects to end or accompany a unit of study is the use of website creation in the classroom. Free, online website templates allow students to easily create web pages that are both organized and professional looking.

Weebly and Wix are free and easy to use website creators. Weebly offers Weebly for Education offering features such as student account management and parent connections. With an extensive library of templates to choose from, students can create a website without requiring any knowledge of html.

The benefits of website design are far-reaching and supports many 21st century learning outcomes(taken from http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework).

Think Creatively

  • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
  • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
  • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts

Work Creatively with Others

  • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
  • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
  • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas
  • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes


Implement Innovations

  • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the field in which the innovation will occur

Web design can be implemented across the curriculum:

  • Allow students to be become experts in a field and collaboratively create a classroom site on a specific subject. Other classes can use this site for reference purposes.
  • Students can create a site to support a cause. Many classrooms have empowered students to become advocates for change. Sites that involve environmental awareness, anti-bullying or literacy campaigns are ideal for elementary aged students.
  • Create a themed site on biographies, art, or music.
  • For older students, foster the skill of maintaining ongoing content by allowing them to manage your classroom website.
  • Students can create a mock business site.
  • Websites can be used as online portfolios for students.

Web design tips:

  • Ensure students are creating for a specific audience.
  • Discuss the importance of content and design
  • Discuss the importance of proofreading!
  • Discuss creative commons.

Whether you are a web design novice or an experienced master, drag and drop, template based website creators are easy to implement into the classroom and can be an ideal addition to your next unit of study.