Evidence of (Professional) Learning

As I work to design and deliver professional learning for my educators, I continue to seek ways to improve their experiences.  I am pursuing ways for my educators to capture their learning while they are in the sessions, share this learning beyond the session, and access later once the session is over.  Two examples from this summer are the use of Clips + FlipGrid and Pages with placeholder images.

Clips + FlipGrid

One day-long session related to supporting Gifted and Talented students in mathematics included 50+ elementary and secondary educators.  Early in the session I requested the attendees download the Clips app if they had not done so already.  Throughout our time together I reminded the educators to take photos and videos of the process.  These artifacts were stored in their camera roll, ready to access near the close of the session.

As the session came to a close, the educators used Clips to summarize and reflect on their time in the session.   In 20-30 minutes, all 50+ educators successfully created summaries of their learning with photos and videos as evidence!  These videos were shared within and beyond our time together with FlipGrid.

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Pages with Placeholder Images

Two half-day sessions related to teaching students supported through Special Education services in mathematics included elementary and secondary educators as well.  A portion of the experience involved clarification of our standards.  The educators were challenged to collaboratively model a given strand of the standards using manipulatives, images, and text.  These artifacts were captured and organized on a Pages document.  I created the Pages document with placeholder images ahead of time and shared through iCloud.

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The educators used their camera to capture photos and successfully demonstrated understanding of the standards as they created this artifact of their learning!

Next steps of my work include supporting my teachers to collect evidence of learning as part of their bigger professional learning journey.


Show Your Work with Pages

The most recent iWork update supports the creation of books and the addition of drawing in Pages with the same ease of workflow that we are accustomed to from Apple.

I put this update to the test by putting it in the hands of first graders and the outcome was fantastic!  The ease of use by 6 year olds was nearly seamless.  The only struggle I noticed was with their desire to change drawing colors.  More on that later.

I gave the first two students (I’ll call them Madison and Eli) math tools of their choosing and asked them to teach me something.

Madison wanted to show what she knew about addition with a rekenrek (the beaded math tool in the picture below).  Eli wanted to prove to me the area of an unfamiliar shape.  Both students followed the same process to create their books.

First, they chose a template.


Then, they replaced the placeholder on the cover page with their own photo.


On subsequent pages, they continued to add photos along with annotations using the drawing tool.


Note for teachers: This is powerful!

The ability for students to annotate their thinking directly on a photo they took provides us with a peek into their mind!  Think of this as the creative equivalent of Show Your Work.  Rather than writing an abstract number sentence separate from the tool (the rekenrek) they use to build it, have the students mark up the actual photo – connecting the number sentence to the tool.

Now, for Eli.  He selected this zig zag shape (shown in the picture below) and said he wanted to tell me how much it was worth.  That’s first grade speak for composite area!

So, just like Madison, he selected a template and began adding photos to replace the placeholders.

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He pointed to the shape and said it was worth 5.  Then, I asked him to prove it.  This is where I am pushing him to justify his thinking – to Show Your Work.


Without hesitation, Eli grabbed 5 one inch squares, placed them on top of the zig zag shape and took a picture.  Now I know what he is seeing in his mind when he said the shape was worth 5.  He saw 5 orange squares, placed in a non-overlapping way, on the composite figure.  He used the drawing tool to write count the squares and 5.


The only hiccup in the workflow with these students came when they attempted to change the drawing color.   Each  tapped the color wheel rather than dragging the white teardrop around the circle.  Though this was simple to overcome, it was important because it allowed for the students to choose their own color in order to add their personal touch to their books.


Another example of creating books in Pages is to capture the process, or tell the story, of a learning experience.  This class had read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant.  The students were tasked with solving the problems the relatives encountered during their visit.


The image below shows how this student inserted a photo of her cardboard creation (a bed for the relatives) into a book in Pages and began to use the drawing tool to annotate the parts.  She’s writing cup holder on the image.


This image shows how she added text to the page to justify her thinking – The relatives only had one bed.  There is no need to ask, “What is that? or Why did you make that?” as she has articulated each part of her creation.  As the teacher, I now have a clear view into her mind and don’t need to remind her to Show Your Work.


I challenge you to use the new books feature in Pages and empower your students to show their work!

Desmos: Number Lines

The amazing Desmos can be used to create number lines for our upper elementary learners.  After a few simple steps you can create a number line from a two-variable coordinate plane…

1. Access http://www.desmos.com.


2. Tap Graph Settings (the wrench tool) and uncheck the boxes for Grid and Y-Axis.



3. Check the box for Arrows.



4.  Add the point (a,0).


5.  Click the button to add a slider for a.


Press the play button and watch the point move between -10 and 10.  These are the default values.  You can adjust these values by clicking on the number and typing the value you prefer.

Now, the awesome part…

Press the pause button and ask what is the value?  Or, given a specific number, place the point on the number line.

Zoom in and out to adjust the minimum and maximum values or tap on Graph Settings (the wrench tool) to adjust precisely.


Keynote + Garageband + iMovie = Subitizing Video

Subitizing is the instant recognition of the total number of objects in an image.  Early in mathematics, children use perceptual subitizing to identify quantity – think about dots on dice.  When you see the three, you don’t count one-two-three, you know it’s three.cube-689619_1280.jpg

Later, children use conceptual subitizing to identify quantity as units of units.  That is, they see the seven as three-one-three (or three-three-one).dominoes.jpg

Read more about subitizing in this article by NCTM: Subitizing: What is it?  Why Teach it?

So, in my pursuit to challenge myself technologically and utilize some great tools from Apple, I created this video below.  Note: again, I restricted myself to one hour for this work.


Paper Fifty Three (Think Kit): Sketch Noting

I am participating in the CISD Digital Learning Coach Blogging Challenge.  I have chosen to utilize the Think Kit in Paper Fifty Three to organize ideas and reflect on the experience and outcome with this blog post.

I am experienced with sketch noting with Paper, but I rarely use the Think Kit.  On the sketch below, I used tools in the Think Kit to enhance my practice.

Using the app, Paper, I created this sketch to illustrate and organize the new (updated 2015) Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.  The blue oval and orange circles in the center are connected with arrows – all created with the Think Kit tools embedded within Paper.  A few other shapes on the sketch were also created with the Think Kit tools.

Prekindergarten Mathematics


Read about the features of Think Kit, including diagram, fill, and cut here.

Other sketch notes I have created can be found on my blog here.

Keynote Animations: Measuring with a Protractor

I am participating in the CISD Digital Learning Coach Blogging Challenge.  I have chosen to utilize the animation features in Keynote in a new way and reflect on the experience and outcome with this blog post.

In about an hour, I created this 42 second video:




Now for the steps I took to arrive at the video as the final product:

  • Create a new Keynote Presentation – I chose the white theme.
  • Use Pixabay to identify the ferris wheel image (Bonus!  It’s in the Public Domain!)
  • Slide 1: Insert ferris wheel image and add text (find the measure of the angle between the spokes on the ferris wheel).
  • Slide 2: Create the ray from the center of the ferris wheel and use the line draw feature to animate.  Create a second ray on top of the other one.
  • Slide 3: Use the magic move feature to animate the angle opening and add text (estimate the angle measure).
  • Grab an image of a protractor and use Photoshop’s magic eraser tool to make the background (and all of the inside parts) transparent.
  • Slide 4: Insert the edited protractor image.
  • Slide 5: Use magic move to rotate the protractor.
  • Use another program with equation editor ability (such as Microsoft Word) to create the 20 degrees symbol – am I missing something with Keynote here?  Can I create math type in Keynote without having the actual MathType program on my Mac?
  • Slide 5: Insert the 20 degrees symbol.
  • Slide 6: Add the text (how did your estimate compare?)
  • Export the Keynote file to Quicktime.
  • Upload the Quicktime file to Vimeo.

All of that in about an hour.  I know Keynote has so many features I have not yet used/learned.  It is a powerful tool and well worth exploring!

Here’s a pic of my 6 slides:

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6 Keynote Slides

My friend, Kyle Pearce has some great examples of using Keynote animations with math on his website:

Note: I gave myself an hour to complete this because I know I would devote an entire weekend to a Keynote if I could!




Explain Everything: Addition with Regrouping

I am participating in the CISD Digital Learning Coach Blogging Challenge.  I have chosen to utilize Explain Everything in a new way and reflect on the experience and outcome with this blog post.

Inspired by this video by Graham Fletcher, I decided to try Explain Everything with ten frames and counters for grade 1 (addition with regrouping).  Knowing the process of regrouping is as important, or even more important than, the solution to an addition problem, I realized a digital tool such as Explain Everything could be used to capture learners’ thinking.

First, I made this template:


This is an image, click the link below to access the file (on your iPad).

Link to Explain Everything File

Then came the easy part…hand it to children and let them explore.  With no support and one take later, these files were saved on my iPad:


Notice the problem has been changed.  She did that herself!


And another…Notice she gives herself a smiley face!

In a setting that is not 1:1 (iPads for every learner), educators could choose to set up a station with a single iPad loaded with the template file to capture learners’ thinking.

Also, educators could use Explain Everything to create video explanations to share with learners and parents.  There is so much power in hearing someone’s voice and understand their thinking.

I love Explain Everything – it has such potential in the classroom even for our youngest of learners!


Transformational 6

After reading and re-reading Clearing the Confusion between Technology Rich and Innovative Poor: Six Questions by November Learning (bit.ly/transformational6), I have transferred the idea from students as children to students as adults – teachers.  If educators are learners (and they are!), then the tasks we ask of them in professional learning settings (such as book studies) should be innovative.  Those tasks should…

Book Study Innovation-3