blog (see “Sample Blog Starter Problem,” page 20). I also post a blogging
rubric so students understand how I
will grade their responses (see “
Blogging Rubric,” page 20).
I soon discovered that students
would much rather write math strategies in a blog than on paper. At first,
it took them three or four attempts to
answer a question well, but they adapted quickly. Each time they blogged, the
quality of their work and their level of
understanding improved. Their use of
academic language increased as well.
Overall, this approach helped students
develop the ability to problem-solve
at a deeper level. When students took
the TAKS, they were able to take apart
each problem, analyze it, and creatively apply problem-solving strategies to
improve their performance.
I also use MathBloggers to provide a forum where students can ask
for and get help from their peers. I
give them extra credit for correctly
answering a question in detail for
another student, which encourages
collaboration and strengthens critical-thinking and problem-solving
skills. One student was struggling to
understand a problem involving two
parallel lines cut by a transversal and
asked for help on MathBloggers. A
second student offered assistance and
described in detail, using words only,
what an alternate exterior angle was
and what an alternate interior angle
was. This process helped both students go through the problem step by
step and deepen their understanding.
I also found that students who helped
their peers with homework questions
on MathBloggers improved their own
grades as well. By teaching their peers,
many went from average to above-average performance.
This collaboration outside the
school day also carried over into the
classroom. Students felt more like they
were on the same team. As a result,
discipline issues decreased and motivation and participation increased.
Tips for a One-to-One Classroom
• Make it a class rule that students can help one another but can never touch
another student’s computer. That way, you can be sure learning occurs even
when students help one another.
• Always have a low-tech backup lesson ready in case the technology fails.
Managing classroom Behavior and disruptions
• Create a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) webpage or binder of self-help
instructions. Teach the class how to locate and use them. If using a binder,
split the FAQs into related areas with dividers. For younger students, include
• Establish the “try three before me” rule. This means the student tries three
other methods before interrupting the teacher. These methods may include
using the help or support feature on a software program, using the FAQ
binder or webpage, or asking a neighbor.
• Use colored paper cups to signal for help. For example, a blue cup means
“all is well,” and a red cup means “help is needed.” Students should place
the red cup on the computer or desk and go back to work while waiting for
the teacher to assist.
• Develop a team of student experts who can assist students with computer
projects. Rotate this job every six weeks.
• Provide online educational resources for students to explore when they finish
early. Create online learning centers to provide differentiated instruction.
Evaluating computer projects
• Have a gallery walk. Allow students to walk around the room and view their
peers’ work. This generates good ideas for the next lesson and allows
students to say something positive about each other’s work.
• Grade projects in stages (such as outline, rough draft, and final draft) instead
of waiting until the end to offer evaluation.