This week I dove into exploring technologies that support student learning and engagement inside the classroom. In Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011), Renee Hobbs claims there are five communication compentencies central to learning across all subject areas (p. 12). Access to relevant material, the ability to analyze critically, focused creation, thoughtful reflection, and actively sharing their knowledge. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) suggest that this culture of learning “thrives on change” (p. 37) which is true even in my short teaching experience. I began to think about previous lessons and how students engaged in these five competencies. I found a lesson that fell short in many areas so I began to search for ways to bring it to the 21st century.
“Digital media provides access to a rich source of information and play,”(p. 37-38) according to Thomas and Brown so I started by looking at the Top 100 Tools for Learning. I was happy to see that I had used many of these tools before. Then I came across Desmos Activity Builder and Mentimeter. Both I had heard about before but have not purposefully implemented with students yet. So I adapted an only less tech-savvy lesson of mine to step up to the 21st century technology enabled world with these tools.
This is an Algebra 2 lesson introducing absolute value functions. In Texas we use Texas Educational Knowledge Standards (TEKS) instead of CCSS. The content standards the lesson covers are:
AII.6.C The student is expected to analyze the effect on the graphs of f(x) = |x| when f(x) is replaced by af(x), f(bx), f(x-c), and f(x) + d for specific positive and negative real values of a, b, c, and d
AII.6.D The student is expected to formulate absolute value linear equations
Desmos Activity Builder is a great tool to enhance student engagement and learning into this content because of how interactive it is. Students will be able to use sliders in the activity to move the function and explore how key features displace the function from its parent form. All of the students will have access to an iPad to complete the activity on and a notebook to record answers. Desmos is a perfect tool for students to analyze functions and form conclusions based on their exploration. During class discussion student will be able to reflect on the experience and create their own functions. I am going to use Mentimeter, a collaborative poll/quiz tool, to give me quick formative feedback on my students. This will allow students to answer honestly and quickly so I know if we need to review a concept before continuing on to harder student created examples. I invite you to check out the before and after of this now tech-savvy lesson:
Old lesson worksheet: Here
Plan for the technology enriched lesson: Here
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.