## Tuesday, August 23, 2011

### A Paperless Math Activity

John T. Spencer

People often mock me when I talk of paperless math (and rest assured, I still believe in using paper within a math class) and using mental math.  However, I see a real value in using student discourse, mental math and multimedia tools within a math lesson.  I used the following with a group of fifth graders and the students have been moving further toward meaningful dialogue and conceptual thinking.

Math Discourse / Mental Math

Types of Apps:
Drawing App
Voice App
Comic App
Camera
Survey / Forms
Bonus: Splice

Step One:
Mental math problem:
317+764

Step Two:
Have students write out their answers afterward using a drawing app. Let them explain, verbally, their process using a voice app.

Step Three:
Explain the discourse process and then have them record the discourse with a partner.

Sample Questions:

Clarifying
What process did you use?
Why did you choose to use that process?
Why did you choose that step? (find a specific step)
Can you explain what you were thinking?
What part was challenging for you?  How did you get past the challenge?

Analytical Questions
Why does your process work? Is there a scenario where that might not work?
What can you do to prove to me that your process was correct?
Is there another way to look at this?
How did you arrive at that conclusion?
Is there a more efficient way to do this process?

Diagnostic Questions (If You’re Stuck)
What did you do to get to that point?
What part are you struggling with?
Is there another strategy you can use from another math process?
Can you predict the answer and work backward?
What do you already know? Can you build on this?
What information are you missing?

Step Four:
Students can “bump” the audio with one another.  Then, individually, students now listen to the discourse and rate themselves on how they did as a pair (using a survey app)

Step Five:
Try it again with a new partner.  This time, don’t use the rubric.

Step Six:
Reflection
Option 1: Using e-mail or a word processing app, describe, in a sentence how your process was similar or different from the process of your neighbors.
Option 2: Using e-mail or a word processing app, describe why it’s important to think through one's process

Step Seven:
Using a video app, take your notes, images and audio and put it altogether into a presentation about how to solve this type of problem.  Send the final product to your teacher. Or you can create a slideshow using comic program and show the mental process with thought bubbles and character dialogue.

John T. Spencer is a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who blogs at Education Rethink.  He recently finished Pencil Me In, an allegory for educational technology and he's working onSustainable Start, a book for new teachers. You can connect with him on Twitter @johntspencer

1. This lesson is a thing of beauty! I have a classroom set of iPads and have been trying to synthesize all of these great recording, collaboration and video creation apps into a lesson and you have laid it all out beautifully here. Creating lessons like these that utilize technology as platform for workflow instead of a device that "teaches", stimulates true creativity and learning. Well done!

2. Thanks for the kind words.

3. Your article is amazing I got an effective knowledge from you article. For the latest Education News please studysols.com

4. This is awesome! I'm doing a tech workshop next month on iPads and math. Do you mind if I use this as a kick off problem solving activity for the meeting. I always like to put the workshop participants into a simulation using the touch tech before we start the workshop and this would be perfect. I will give you full credit and promote your blog as I do at all my touch tech workshops. Keep up the awesome work!

5. I'd be honored.

6. Can Bump transfer an audio recording rather than just a music file?