Our Assistant Principal sent the math department a great site (www.internet4classrooms.com) which is filled with online resources. The best part is that they have an entire section devoted to the common core, with links (notice that's plural - more than one) for each standard within the math common core. I found a link on there reviewing a skill I know my students are still struggling with, and copied it to my homepage as a warm up. When students came in, I had them log on, visit my homepage and click the link. Then they completed the practice problems on that site while I took roll and all of those other management things. The site I chose kept track of how many problems students had attempted and solved correctly, so I made my way around the room and took note of how everyone was doing. These are the exact same types of problems I would have given them on paper, but unlike paper and pencil, I had no complaints (and even had someone ask if we could keep doing warm-ups like this). Crazy... but very cool.

After a few minutes of this, I had students go back to my homepage and close their laptops. I don't know if anyone is familiar with the website www.thirteen.org/get-the-math, but it is AWESOME! I highly recommend it. They have videos and corresponding challenges that show students how math is used in real professions - and they're jobs students think are cool - like video game designer, fashion designer, recording studio execs (is that what that would be called...?), and so on. They also have extension activities where students can solve other, similar, challenges.

I used the recording studio challenge already this year. It was related to proportional reasoning, and showed the students how you have to be able to find a unit rate to mix two tracks of music together. The students really enjoyed it - especially the extension activity where they picked their own songs to mix. The only problem was that I only had five computers at the time, so I either had to put students in groups or have them rotate through the computers. I had students watch the video as a class, and together we completed the first challenge. Later on, I had them revisit the site as a station activity and mix their own music.

This time, we were working on percent application, so we completed the fashion designer challenge. In this challenge the students are given a shirt that the designer has decided is too expensive to sell as is, so students have to choose from a predetermined list of choices to lower the price. They have to calculate what the wholesale cost would be before a 220% markup, and then select their changes, and reenter the cost break down on a spreadsheet. I had students watch the video together as a class, and then we had a short discussion before I let the students begin. I let them work in pairs (but required them to each complete the work). I had some students who were struggling with how to complete the spreadsheet, but overall the activity went very well. A few of the boys were not so pleased with the fashion part of it, but I only had one student (who happened to be a girl) who was not engaged in the activity (and that was out of 80 students - pretty good, I'd say).

I was very happy with how my first attempt at integrating the laptops went, and it definitely made more excited to use them again. The students are much more engaged, which means they're learning that much more.

Does anyone else have any really cool sites they want to share?

~Brittany~