Sunday, March 10, 2013

Extra Help

I have known about Livebinders for a while now but never saw them as something that I really needed (until now).  Honestly most of the ones that I had seen seemed messy to me and just a ton of links all thrown together.  I don't like messy, it stresses me out.

As I mentioned here, I was feeling that I could be doing a better job of offering extra help.  I try to stress that practice on their own isn't all that valuable without checking their answers.  Then one day as I was teaching I overheard a girl say to her friends that she wished that she could record my teaching so that when they got confused later at home they could watch me explain how to do an example.

Uh, yes..I absolutely should be doing that.  So that comment inspired me to go home and find as much good supplemental materials as I could.

Originally I posted the links right on the class website page, but soon realized that things were going to get messy soon.  Also I didn't want to delete the links because I didn't want to have to remake the page again next year.

Livebinder, however, was exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted a way to compile a whole bunch of links in an organized fashion.

I went with the layout that has the tabs on the side.  I think it's more organized and less cluttered looking.

I set up one tab per unit and then labeled each subtab to match the skill that it addresses.  I also post the SBG skill list for each unit.  For each skill, I have mostly similar stuff:

  • A kuta worksheet with the answers.  This is not fancy, it's just a ton of good practice with the answers included.  The problems also get more difficult as the worksheet goes on (which my kids know) so I tell them to choose problems accordingly.  If they are having tons of trouble they focus on the easier ones until they are getting them correct.  If they are finding them simple, they can skip further ahead.  Some kids that know they're pretty good with a skill will skip right to the end of the worksheet and work on the most difficult ones.
  • A Khan academy video of the skill.  Now I know that most people hate on Khan academy, but I don't think it's all bad.  I do not think that it can ever replace my class, but I think that in an extra help capacity, reiterating what I already taught, it's good.  Most of the videos are short and I can find ones that focus on exactly the skill I've taught.
  • Khan academy practice.  Now this, I really love.  In my opinion, it is wonderful guided practice.  It gives kids a problem and they type in their answer and check it.  The part that I'm loving is the I'd like a hint button.  It gives kids small hints to guide them in the right direction without actually giving them the answer until the very end.  Depending on how much help a kid needs, they can keep pressing the hint button until they know what to do.  Take a look at this one and look how the first couple hints are just nudges in the right direction.
For now these three have been my "formula" for setting up online skill practice.  I'm sure I could find hundreds of websites that provide practice problems but at a certain point it's just overload.  I think this is actually really important.  If you give kids too much, it can get overwhelming.  Instead I think it's better to focus and handpick exactly what you think is the best.

I like using the Livebinder format because it can be an extra help work in progress.  In a year from now I will have posted all the chapters and can just continue to tweak things from there, instead of recreating it all every year.

One thing worth mentioning is that posting all this stuff is useless if the kids aren't going to use it.  You need to get them to want the help and see it as valuable.  I think that the standards based grading helped with that immensely.  They are motivated to get help because they know that it will help their grade.  They want the 5's.  After the first unit, they are starting to realize that they aren't improving by just retaking quizzes.

Also just saying, "I put some stuff online, go look at it" isn't enough if you want them to use it.  Because they just won't.  I took the time during class to put it up on the projector and walk them through each link and what to do.  One girl that is strong in all the skills said that even though she doesn't need help, she wanted to go on to play with the Khan practice because it looks fun.  So yeah, that's awesome.

A couple days ago a student that has been struggling and reluctant to ask for help came to me with about 4 pages of practice she had done.  She said she watched the videos from the livebinder and that they really helped her to understand what was going on.  Then on the next test she did better on substitution than she ever had before.  So it really is working.  Even if she's the only one, it's worth it.

This is a copy of the binder I'm using with my kids.  I'd share the actual one, but I like using the view counter to get an idea of how many kids are actually using it.  So this one will not update, but you can check it out to get an idea.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great idea! This could be really useful to put the responsibility of learning back into the hands of students.

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  2. I haven't used these before...I think they will really come in handy as we are changing over to common core so I'll be reorganizing all of my resources and looking for new...I love the idea of setting it up for student resources.
    As for SBG, do you have a rubric for your values?

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    1. I borrowed @algebrainiac 's rubric for scoring..she has a copy of it in here: http://algebrainiac.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/open-housecurriculum-night/

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  3. Would it be possible to get the link to your class website? I have been using one for all of my classes for the past 2 years but I'm horrible at organization and from reading your posts you are wonderful at it. I'm just curious to see how you layout your website to get some ideas.

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    1. sure, drop me an e-mail and I'll send you a link

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    2. I can't find your email address and when I click on email under your profile it isn't popping up.

      My email address is msomathscience@gmail.com

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  4. Sarah, I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how much I love reading your blog. You share so many great ideas and I love trying them out in my own classroom! I'm sure your students appreciate all you do for them as well! Thanks for you blog! -Rachael

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  5. This is great. Our school uses My Big Campus, and I'm finding that the way it presents "bundles" of information is really confusing to students. I might try giving the kids a link to a LiveBinder instead.

    My website was always a mess, which is why I was happy to try My Big Campus since I didn't have to format anything. But I have spent more time fighting it than I ever did my website!

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    1. Yeah I'm not a fan of the website we use either so I just opt to use something else. Instead of posting stuff there, I just posted a link to the website that I prefer using

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  6. This is great! Like you, I learned about this a while ago but it just seemed like so much work, and the examples I saw either had so little information on it I just thought why bother, I post it on my page, or were so confusing I knew none of my students would use them. I love your example- this will definitely be something I would like to try next year!

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    1. Yes that was my thought exactly. It has been really helpful though..I guess the key is choosing quality things to add instead of just linking to every single thing you can find (many of the ones I've been sent include way too much).

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  8. I loved this idea and am preparing to implement it for my class next year. However, did you notice the khan academy links are not working? If you have any ideas on what I can do to fix this, please share.

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  9. I used a weebly to create a resource page for my kids, just because I had experience with it. Here is my post about it and a link to my unit 1: http://typeamathland.blogspot.com/2014/02/spring-semester-professional-goal.html

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