To find the best instructional technology tools for your high school math class, you should consider the ease of use, whether it fosters interaction between teacher and students, and whether it makes for more time to focus on instruction and learning, and less on distractions. TeacherMade does all this and more. It was the star of my remote teaching and fits perfectly into our in-person learning routines, too.
In this article, I’ll discuss each of the educational technology instruments that I use in my 10th grade math class and some of the benefits to each one.
I’ve been using Nearpod since August, 2020 and even became a Nearpod Certified Instructor in January, 2021. I use Nearpod several times per week, typically when introducing a new topic.
Using this tool, I can take previous lessons from PowerPoint or Google Slides and completely transform them into interactive lessons with real-time information from EVERY student.
For example, I can create a matching activity after introducing vocabulary. Or, I can create questions for students using the DRAW IT tool. With DRAW IT, students can write on their screens or create a text box, allowing me to see their work in real-time as they work out problems.
Benefits to Nearpod are that I can engage with students based on what I see as they’re working. I can offer encouragement and further assess their level of understanding. There’s also a great POLL feature to quickly check-in on student progress and their confidence about the material. I often use the scale: “I GOT THIS,” “MEH,” or “HELP!” for this purpose.
Nearpod is definitely a technology tool that I will continue to integrate in the post-pandemic classroom.
I started using Jamboard this year as a simple shared whiteboard with students for when we were fully remote. I could share Jamboard with the entire class via Google Meet, or I could share a link with a small group to focus on a particular skill.
I’ve also used Jamboard’s 1:1 to check-in on a student that wasn’t participating and didn’t want to speak out during our video meeting. I’ve come to really like Jamboards with my ELLs, because I can quickly support them with a sentence starter or other strategy when we are working on analyzing data.
Jamboard is also great to use as a sort of visual checklist when we wrap up a unit. If I have students who need to wrap up a few different assignments, I make a Jamboard with several boxes on it, with each box containing the assignment I would like them to work on.
When I share the Jamboard to the Google Classroom, each student can make a tiny sticky note with their name on it and drag it to whichever assignment they’re working on. Then, I can see at a glance who is working on what.
Jamboard allows for student collaboration while I monitor their progress. This tech tool puts students in the driver’s seat so they can choose the order in which they complete tasks.
This is a tool that I use for students who need extra reinforcement of mathematical terminology and symbols. Something useful with Quizlet is that students can create their own with study terms and symbols that they are struggling with. I like to encourage students to make their own study guides using Quizlet for extra practice.
Kahoot and Quizizz are perfect for cumulative, spiraled review of essential mathematical topics. I typically use these a few times per grading period. First, I search each app’s shared library for a useful starting point and “make a copy,” then edit the content for my coursework and students’ needs. It’s a time-saving shortcut that lets me get the content in front of my students more quickly. No reason to reinvent the wheel, right?
This is a review game similar to Kahoot or Quizizz. I think my high school students prefer Gimkit over the other two because it is a newer tool compared to Kahoot which they’ve been playing for years.
Students earn in-game cash by answering questions correctly. They actually lose cash for incorrect answers. They can use their earnings to buy power-ups which give them advantages in the game. The students LOVE this and are constantly trying to slow down their classmates.
I use Blooket for my early finishers. I have a Blooket set up with some (slightly more complex) problems relating to our current topic. When I have a few students finish early, I set them up in the Blooket.
I like that I can set a specific amount of time for them to work, especially if we are close to the end of the period. I also let students vote if they want to play the Gold Quest, Tower Defense, Cafe, or Factory. Even though my students are 10th graders, they really like the game aspect. Cafe and Tower Defense are two of their favorites!
iXL is a really versatile tool that I can use for many purposes. At the beginning of the year, I have students complete the “Diagnostic.” I have them analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Using the overall results, I can select skills for a spiral review and for daily warm-ups.
I also use the skills for formative assessment. I love that students can work until they reach a level of proficiency, since some students require less questions and others benefit from additional practice.
I can also create an ongoing homework assignment for a unit where the assignment has a log of several skills to complete before the end of the unit. I embed the links for each skill directly into the Google Doc that I assign. Using a table, they can fill in the date they completed the skill, the ending score, minutes spent, and number of questions answered.
Students can use the usage analytics feature in iXL to get the information needed to fill in the table. I also have them rank each skill as easy, medium, or challenging.
You can see how I get a lot of useful information from these activities, and students enjoy taking control of their own learning.
Of the many instructional technologies I’ve been using this year, TeacherMade is the one that I use nearly every day. I use TeacherMade to make interactive notes and self-grading worksheets.
Taking existing worksheets or Google Docs, I can convert my PDF files into interactive documents. It’s extremely easy to add text boxes, multiple choice options, dropdown boxes, and other question types.
A huge benefit has been the auto-grading aspect of TeacherMade. Because students can see their scores as they work, the immediacy of the feedback has increased their motivation to strive for greater accuracy. And being able to see student responses in real-time as they’re working is a game changer for me.
Everyone has had one of those students who swears that they’re almost done with an assignment when in actuality you can easily see that they haven’t even started yet. Interactive worksheets in TeacherMade have eliminated this problem in my classroom.
Using technology in the classroom was once a luxury or a tool for differentiation. Over the past 18 months, educational technology has become a necessity. This shift has given teachers the opportunity to find new ways of connecting with students and novel instructional techniques that truly resonate with students in a way that classical methodologies just don’t.
I use lots of different technologies, but if I could only choose one, it would be TeacherMade. It allows me to take existing assignments, like tried-and-true worksheets, and transform them into interactivities befitting a 21st century classroom. And because the app has so many features and supports for teaching and learning, I can use it for practically any activity.
Shannon McGuire is a Massachusetts high school teacher certified in Mathematics and Special Education. She is currently a math teacher at Great New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. She has been an educator for over two decades and has always been passionate about utilizing technology in the classroom. She is Google and Nearpod certified and has spent a lot of time during the pandemic school year of 2020-2021 designing, then facilitating professional development for her colleagues to assist in remote and then hybrid teaching. She spends her non-classroom time with her husband and two sons and their two dogs, two cats, and one leopard gecko. Any free time is typically spent on the hiking trails of coastal Massachusetts or planning the next traveling adventure.