Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Navigating the Multitude of Apps for Chromebooks in a Math Classroom

The school in which I work is (mostly) 1-to-1 with Chromebooks.  Last year was the first year that nearly all of my students had this technology with them in class each day and, to be honest, I did not do a great job of looking for ways to use them.  This summer that became a priority for me.

Today, a colleague of mine and myself spent a good portion of the day exploring various apps and websites, including Plickers, Socrative, Kahoot, Google Forms, Desmos Activity Builder, and Pear Deck.  (We honestly ran out of time to do much with Pear Deck besides watch 2 instructional videos on YouTube, but plan to look into it more individually and discuss later.)  We created a teacher login on each of these, built a quiz or other interactive worksheet, and used a student login to take the quiz.  In our investigation, we were looking for these factors:

  1. Ease of construction - We wanted the app to be easy for teachers to use and it needed to include the option of adding an image.  We were also looking at the amount of time it took to create a quiz question.  
  2. Enjoyable for students - This one speaks for itself.  
  3. Grading options - Ultimately we were looking for options of immediate feedback for students.  Other various teacher report options were also being evaluated.  Each of the apps we examined fit our needs in this area.
Here's what we discovered.  We LOVE the ease of use of Socrative, Kahoot, Plickers, and Desmos.  In each of these, creation of questions was very quick.  This was not true for Google Forms quizzes.  We had trouble formatting images of graphs and equations using g(Math) with the quiz questions.  This feature alone has ruled out Google Forms as an option in our classes, at least this year.

As far as student enjoyment is concerned, Kahoot seems to be the most enjoyable.  We love the fact that video can be included in the questions (and quite easily I might add).  I was initially concerned that the fast pace might deter some of the slower students, but the ability to change the time available for each question helped ease that somewhat.   

Ultimately we decided that Kahoot best fits our needs for review activities.  I can see this being a great activity option on the second day of review for a chapter test or as a brief review before a quiz.  Personally, I would not use Kahoot as a graded activity.  Socrative seems to be a better option where quizzes are concerned.   The ability of the students to work through questions at their own pace was an important consideration here.  The grading features of these questions was also much more appropriate for quiz/test questions.  Desmos' Activity Builder is a great option for an activity in class.  I can see this being something useful for test/quiz review or just to practice more thoroughly with topics.  The little we saw of Pear Deck gave us the impression that it would be more beneficial as a type of formative assessment or presentation tool.  

Overall, I have decided to add some combinations of these tools in my classes this year.  As a geometry and precalculus teacher, each of these programs has some advantages and disadvantages.  I foresee, especially in geometry, having to create a lot of images and upload to these programs.  As for precalc, I see more use of Desmos in that area.  My goal is to use the Chromebooks at least twice a week.  If I feel confident that I can add more, I'll do so, but I don't want to stress myself out committing to an every day schedule.  

Oh a happy note...My copy count should decrease this year :)

No comments:

Post a Comment