Managing and tracking progress

Week Three Essential Question:  What technology tools can I use to manage and track differentiated student progress in my class?

This week, I feel like some neural connections started to form in my brain between all of the new concepts that I’ve tried to absorb and some of my own old ideas and goals.  In particular, I realized I have an authentic purpose for Assignment #1 even though I am not currently teaching.  Having a real context has helped me look at the overwhelming variety of technology tools out there in a more selective way.

All week long I’ve been writing the names of applications and websites on little green Post-Its scattered over my (actual) desktop, and when I’ve remembered, I’ve tagged things in diigo (still getting used to that new tool!).  But now I feel like I can look at all of those seemingly infinite possibilities and really imagine using one or two of them…

My authentic purpose is this:  I have an idea of creating an intensive summer day camp experience for middle school age girls to help them overcome math anxiety or the “I hate math” syndrome.  Within that context, I can think about which technology tools might help me manage and track the girls’ progress, and help me help them set and track their own learning goals.

Two big goals of my “math boot camp for girls” idea are to help girls change their attitudes toward math and to help them find their own motivation to succeed in math.  With these goals in mind, I would want to have some pre-boot camp data about their attitudes and motivation.  This overlaps with last week’s work, identifying learners, but that’s good, because I need more time to think about that, too.

The tools that help us identify our learners also give us baseline data that we (and they) can use for tracking progress.  Here are some products I would want to have from each girl to start:  a video ( introducing herself and sharing why she is at math boot camp, the results of a multiple intelligences inventory (I like the Birmingham Grid for Learning ( Chancy shared in our Wikispaces page, the results of a Survey Monkey survey about math attitudes and experiences (I would create the survey), and the results of a basic multiplication facts diagnostic tool (

As we would progress through the math boot camp together, I would like to use EdModo to create a digital portfolio for each girl.  (So far, I have just set up an EdModo account and tried making a Group for my Girl Scout troop.  I need much more time to learn about all that I could do with EdModo.)

Collaborative problem solving would be an emphasis for the boot camp, so the girls could use Wiggio to share their ideas and stategies, and then they could create a presentation of their problems and solutions with KeyNote, PowerPoint, or even Wikispaces.  They could write individual blogs (WordPress) to reflect on their learning.

I would like to work with the girls to construct an assessment rubric based on the girls’ learning and attitudinal goals for the boot camp.  Could we use EdModo to do that?

I have co-coached FIRST LEGO League robotics teams for several years, and I think the LEGO NXT robot and software provide an excellent opportunity for students to set and track their own problem solving goals.  I know from experience that many girls love to have an all-girl robotics opportunity, so I would definitely incorporate this into the boot camp.

Another idea I have to identify and perhaps track shifts in girls’ attitudes toward their own learning process is to use Pinterest.  I would proceed with extreme caution here because so much content on Pinterest is inappropriate for young people; in fact, I might have to find another means to accomplish this idea.  But what I have in mind is to select a wide range of quotations (easily found and repinned to a new board on Pinterest) that address self esteem, perseverance, goals, patience, overcoming adversity, celebrating success, etc., etc…  I would offer up the whole board and ask girls to create their own boards, repinning the quotes that they most relate to.  We could revisit these boards throughout the boot camp to add more pins.  I think there could be some rich discussion prompted by the quotes.

I haven’t had time to really flesh out these ideas, but I am so excited because I’ve had this math boot camp idea for a while, but if you asked me three weeks ago how I might incorporate technology tools, I would not have had any idea, and now I see so many (infinite!) possibilities.  Cool!

Refining Assignment One:

I am currently working in two wikipages:  simulation space (with Colin and Chip) and Middle School Math (with Chancy and Jason).  I started out with Colin and Chip because I happened to mention to them about my son’s simulation.  I haven’t contributed much to the page this week, but I did learn how to use a comment bubble from Lee’s video, so I tried that.  Also, we took a field trip in the real world to JDHS to see the crisis simulation that my son and his government teacher have been creating.  I feel like Colin, Chip, and I communicate fairly well through Twitter and e-mail; time is as usual the biggest obstacle.

I decided to seek out the Middle School Math group and try to sell my idea of a focus on math anxiety, and Jason (I think) brought up student motivation, which I think is often closely linked to levels of anxiety and a great topic to explore.  I posted some comment bubbles on that page and played around just a little with a header.  Time!  Time!  Time!  Jason set up a Wiggio account and invited Chancy and myself, and we started sharing ideas there.  I also went back and read their blogs and watched their video introductions.  It’s a start!

Engaging in the Learning Path:

I’ve explored so many resources this week that the tabs at the top of my computer desktop are so tiny you can barely click on them.  Quite overwhelming!  I’ve tagged a lot of resources for my diigo library, but I need time to really read them and organize them.

I commented on a few blogs this week, and I discovered that I can use the highlighting tool from diigo to copy key insights from blogs.  That is really helpful!  I need to keep going back to those insights, and I forget where to find them without diigo.

I haven’t forgotten my water metaphor… there were moments this week that felt like trying to swim in a tsunami.  Sometimes you just have to ride it out.



About annekurland

#diffimooc participant UAS EDMA 658 Technology for Teaching and Learning Mathematics
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4 Responses to Managing and tracking progress

  1. Well, Miss Overachiever, wow, two wikis AND a math camp! Because I am no good at wikis, I will not offer to help with those. Because I am good at camps and math, I will offer to help with it. Hilarious, my tabs were microscopic as well: sure sign of overload! The opening comment about neural connections reminded me of Azhar’s blogposts about neural science. So many apps, so little time…keep up the good attitude and wonderful learning, Annie Banannie.

  2. chzahrt says:

    I hear where you are coming from about time and keeping the resources organized. I have been trying to just focuse on a few myself: many of which you mentioned. I think it is very important to focus on reducing math anxiety as well. At my school I see the boys having just as much anxiety of the girls, of course every student is very different. I think information collected from your plan could be used to benefit boys and girls. I like the resources you mentioned especially using Wiggio or Edmodo to communicate and to construct a portfolio. Nice work on your blog!

  3. dtj800 says:

    What a great synopsis of your learning this week. I love the idea of a middle school math boot camp for girls. Having just subbed for eighth-grade math over a three-week period, I can testify to the mental attitude barriers that so many students come into class with.

  4. Tracie Weisz says:

    Wow! Impressive work! I love the math boot camp – what a great idea and especially for girls. Such a crucial time to catch them and build that confidence – and without the distraction of those icky boys :). You are definitely a tsunami survivor – way to organize and tackle the task at hand!

    Two math blogs I love getting a chance to recommend to math teachers are Dy/Dan, a really innovative math teacher who posts his thinking and great ideas here: and another by a Canadian teacher Darren Kuropatwa here: He is a superintendent now, but still keeps links to all of his class math blogs on the right side of his blog (scroll down a little) – really brilliant collaborative things at many levels.

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