Tuesday, February 8, 2011

During the month of January, I have been using something new in my classroom. It has quickly become my favorite piece of technology. The website is called . It is free math website that allows teachers to create a class. Once the class is created, you pick a grade and they have a predetermined list of skills based on six math standards: number sense, algebra, measurement, fractions, geometry, and probability (this may be different for different grades). Each standard is broken into sub-standards such as number theory basics, decimals, fraction concepts, addition concepts, introduction to algebra, foundations of geometry, area and perimeter, and many more. Each sub-standard is further broken into individual skills like angles and their classification, triangle classification, quadrilateral classification, decimals and factions, equivalent fractions, and so on. On the free account, the teacher is also allowed to pick a few more other skills. I chose addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division concepts from earlier grades for my students who still struggle with those skills. Every skill has over 30 practice problems that focus on that specific skill. The problems are all multiple choice. For every problem there are two or three hints for the student and the student also has the option of watching a video that explains step by step the concepts involved in solving the problem.
Each student receives a username and password and they are able to log on from any computer that has access to the internet. As they work through the problems, they submit their answers. From the teacher portal, I am able to look at the work students are doing on each standard, or each sub-standard, or each skill. I can view this as a class overview or just look at individual students. The report is also color-coded based on the percent of questions the student has answered correctly. Every week, I am emailed a report that tells me how active the class has been and the average number of questions answered correctly. Also, you can add parent emails to each students account and they will receive weekly emails with their student’s information.
I have found this to be incredibly helpful in assessing and organizing students into flexible groups for math content and small skills groups. Also, I have contacted many parents and if they have access to the internet, their struggling students can receive extra practice on specific skills that they are struggling with. I have many parents worry that they do not have sufficient math knowledge to help their students, but now they can watch the videos with their students and help them with the math.
While there are so many benefits with tenmarks, there are a few things that I would like to see changed. Because every question is multiple choice, I do have some students who are simply guessing at the question even though I ask them to show work on paper. Also I do not have enough headphones for the class and I have found that students are embarrassed to watch the videos when the whole class hears what they are struggling with. It takes a motivated student to really work and learn from the website if they are struggling with a skill. Also, the website itself is not one-hundred percent reliable. There are times that we are unable to work on it because it is responding so slowly and I have not been able to access student results for weeks at a time. Over all it has helped me focus in on my students needs and on what my students already know and keep all that information organized. I feel this is a huge benefit for me and my students.


Kelly Berry said...

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for sharing your successes and struggles in implementing this new technology.

Have you found many students accessing the program from home? I'm curious if any students would be willing to complete modules from TenMarks as their homework. In order to get credit for their homework, they would have to show their work (process and thinking) skills as they completed the modules.

For classroom use, what about a PBS reward system for showing work and demonstrating understanding of the modules?

Keep up your excellent work and leadership for your students!

Joseph Miller said...

Jesse, Would love to hear how you combine the feedback the system is giving the students with the feedback you provide. It would be cool to send parents a little survey and ask them if they are using the the system with their student. If they think it is helping.