This week’s Middle School Math Sunday Funday prompt is helping students that are behind in math.
It’s always a challenge to find ways to get students caught up when they’ve fallen behind, and for me this year has been more challenging than ever. I’m teaching at two schools — two classes at one school in the morning and two classes at the other school in the afternoon. This means that I’m only available to give extra help before school in one location and after school in the other, which often doesn’t match up with my students’ availability outside of school.
I teach in a 1:1 laptop school district, so since my students all have their laptops outside of school hours, I’ve looked for ways to use technology to help them get caught up. My favorite method right now is to make video tutorials using the Doceri app on my iPad, and then upload the video to my class resources in our district’s online learning management system. Although my in-class lessons typically involve hands-on activities, rich tasks, and in-depth discussions, I’ve had to let go of the idea that I can always provide those kind of experiences for students who need to get caught up. This causes a great deal of anxiety for me, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes we just need to fill the gaps however we can, and filling a gap in a less-than-ideal way is better than not filling it at all.
There are so many video tutorials (for just about any math concept) available online, but when I preview them, they almost never cover exactly what I’d like for them to cover, or use exactly the vocabulary I’d use, or show exactly the examples I would have chosen. (Okay, confession here: I’m a bit of a perfectionist.) And maybe the “perfect” video tutorials exist out there somewhere, but in less than the time it would take you to find it, you can make your own!
Doceri is easy to use. It records your voice and your writing on the screen, but it doesn’t record a video of you. (Bonus points for being able to make tutorial videos in your pajamas!) You can change the background patterns (there are some great ones for math, like various sizes of graph squares and isometric graphs). You can import files as a background. You can set up “pages” ahead of time so that you don’t have to write it all out as you’re recording. I’m sure Doceri can do a lot more than what I’ve discovered so far, but it certainly does what I need it to do! I made a quick video to explain some of the things I like about Doceri.
And on a related side note: I’ve also created Doceri videos to use on days when I’ve had to be out of the classroom. I’m not a lecture-then-practice sort of teacher, but it’s hard to find substitutes who are able to teach 6th grade math and I really hate wasting a day giving my students busywork to do while I’m out. So having video tutorials for my students to watch before practicing a new skill (or reviewing an old one) at least keeps those days from being a total waste!