We talked with high school math teacher Shannon McGuire about how she uses TeacherMade for self-paced learning in her classroom. Shannon credits TeacherMade as the ideal tool for helping to learn math at their own pace.
When I tell people that I am a high school Math Teacher, people look at me as if I am an alien. When I tell them that I have been doing it for over two decades and I absolutely love it, then they are certain that I must have arrived from another planet. The past few years teaching through a global pandemic hasn’t always been easy, in fact, they have been some of the most challenging. Yet, the immersion into teaching via technology has given us some gifts that we can use to forge a new path of blended learning. I am so thrilled to be back in the classroom, but I am even happier that new tools for student engagement like TeacherMade have been created to help us rebuild a better, more engaging classroom experience for our students.
I am lucky enough to have stumbled upon TeacherMade when it was just starting out in the Fall of 2020. Since then, I have converted many of my traditional paper materials into TeacherMade interactive, self-grading worksheets. I have made simple daily warm-ups, exit tickets, and even larger assessments like a recent final exam I made for my senior elective Probability & Statistics class. This year I was able to transform my final exam using TeacherMade. I had some matching vocabulary, some drop-down fill-ins, some filling in tables of data, some multiple choice, and some paragraph responses where students had to provide their analysis of the data.
My school has a very quick turnaround time for final exams and final senior grades calculated. TeacherMade makes this a breeze. The auto-correcting is of course, automatic, but it is also very easy to go through each student’s submission and possibly provide credit for an alternate response while scoring the open response items.
While I utilize TeacherMade worksheets in various ways, my favorite way to use TeacherMade in the Math classroom is for math concepts that build on each other because students can check their work as they go. For instance, if we look at these two questions:
we will see how there’s actually not just two questions but 27 connected pieces of data. What can be done with TeacherMade is that students can individually submit their work to be corrected at various points before moving on. Students can check their tables and make any corrections before answering the questions and/or converting the frequencies to relative frequencies. Relative frequencies are decimals, and even my high school students struggle to accurately round a decimal to a specified place value. It is difficult to get students to attend to that level of detail.
When students correct their own work, I have noticed they mark rounding errors as correct because they say, “that’s what I meant.” If a teacher corrects the work, the students still don’t consider it a real error.
On practice assignments like this, I encourage my students to submit their work as many times as they would like. I specifically tell them that at the very least, I want them to check their work after each table before the question. The students instantly see the green/red boxes around their responses and know if they need to fix anything before they move on. To say this has transformed my students’ willingness to revise responses is an understatement. Students want to fix their errors. They begin asking about the error. They talk to each other, and they talk to me about the how and the why of their errors.
The other amazing piece that TeacherMade adds to my math classroom full of students, each working at their own pace on various problems/questions, is that I can open the TeacherMade app and scroll through their assignments from my computer screen. Even before they have submitted anything, the teacher’s view shows their responses in green/red outline. Using this feature, I can give students real-time feedback as they are working. Not just a vague “good job” who is quietly working without any regard to their accuracy, I can provide very specific feedback like “number three looks perfect, but can you back up to part b on number 4?”
The specificity with which dialogue can be created truly changes how students react to working with numbers. Students have shifted from getting work “done” to getting things done accurately and understanding why. They have increased their academic stamina by revisiting and revising tasks and questions instead of just turning in an assignment that is “good enough.”
My use of TeacherMade may have sprung from necessity when I, like so many others, was thrown into virtual teaching, but it is TeacherMade’s application in a blended classroom that is helping us rebuild our instruction to something stronger than before.