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Introducing the math selfie

Math selfies, QR codes, and Kahoot games enrich one school

Sure, you may have taken a selfie, but you likely haven’t taken an equivalent fraction selfie — and if you ask the Jefferson Elementary School fourth-graders in Jennifer Moser’s fourth-grade math class, you haven’t really lived until you’ve snapped, uploaded and shared your share of equivalent fraction selfies.

These high-tech, mathematically-savvy and, let’s face it, just plain cool selfies are just one way Wichita Falls ISD students are using digital technology in their classrooms as a way to enhance and enrich learning.

Teams of administrators spent much of Wednesday visiting these classrooms, part of the District Classroom Pilot Program, as part of the nationwide Digital Technology Day. They wanted to see the innovative ways educators are using such technology. The district launched the program this school year, supplying 42 teachers across all grade levels and subject areas with iPad Minis, Google Chromebooks or laptops for a cost of about $475,000.

Each test classroom received 30 devices that are kept on a charging depot in the room when the students aren’t using them.

Moser said before implementing the devices, teachers met with Shad McGaha, chief technology officer, and other tech leaders to work out how the technology might be used.

“It took a lot of collaboration,” she said.

In Moser’s fourth-grade math class, students worked out equivalent fractions the traditional way — with old-fashioned pencil and paper — and then used an app called WordFoto that creates works of art using images of the students and the equivalent fractions they worked out. The students can upload the photos so that parents can see them and can make comments.

Jefferson’s Julie Yandell, who teaches fifth-grade reading, has peppered her classroom and the hallway outside with QR codes. Students scan the codes with their iPad Minis, which will whisk the iPad screen away to topics such as “Man vs. Society” or “Conflict.”

“They have their benchmark (test). … So I made different stations.”

The QR codes connect the students to some topic the students have covered in class to help them review test concepts.

Yandell added that students also are building a Google site for a novel they read, “Dollhouse Murders.”

In third-grade teacher Meagan Vaughn’s pilot digital classroom at Jefferson, students were busy reading one of two stories, “Chores of the Past” and “Community Helpers.” While one student read a story, the other recorded a video of that student.

The purpose of the activity, Vaughn said, is “so that they can see their fluency.”

The students take video of one another reading about once a week, then the videos are uploaded to Seesaw, a digital portfolio where students document and share what they are learning at school.

“I can pull it up and view them,” Vaughn said of the videos. It helps her keep track of who might need reading help.

Digital pilot teacher Catherine Casillas, who teaches sixth-grade math at Cunningham Elementary School, uses a game-based platform called Kahoot to reinforce math concepts.

“It keeps them more engaged. They have fun,” Cunningham Principal Ashley Davis said of the math game. “All the kids load it up and get really excited.”

Cunningham sixth-grader Dorian Ramsey said she used the iPad Mini to do a presentation about chemical changes. She had to find a picture of a chemical change, so she picked a burning candle.

McGaha said the district wants whole grade levels, instead of just the test classrooms, to have sets of digital technology, whether it’s iPad Minis, Chromebooks or laptops.

“Our plan next year is for every kid in the district to have a Chromebook to take home.”

Ashley Thomas, the district’s communications officer, in an update said that there are no plans for all students in the district to be assigned Chromebooks in 2016-17, though there has been some discussion about all sixth-grade students having them. No final decisions have been made, however.

He asked some Cunningham students, “What would it be like to move from a classroom that has iPads to one that doesn’t?”

Ramsey said, “It would be boring.

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