Making Progress with Padlet

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Melisa O’Donoghue, Hilltop Middle School, Chula Vista, CA

Within the last few years, our district prepared teachers for the shift toward the Common Core Standards and its Standards of Mathematical Practice, launched a 1:1 iPad initiative, and adopted the CPM curriculum.  Due to these changes, planning is much different from years past. Balancing the standards, technology, and CPM is now my basis for planning daily lessons.  Planning must involve higher levels of technology integration (SAMR), applying the rigor and relevance of the CCSSM/SMPs, and incorporating the CPM Guiding Principles.  Padlet is an App that has helped me through this challenging transition.

Padlet is a free web-based app that allows a moderator to create and share a topic or essential question with a group of people.  Anyone with the shared link, on any device, can respond to it.  Padlet describes itself as “a digital canvas to create beautiful projects that are easy to share and collaborate on.” My first experience with Padlet was at a professional development workshop on technology.  The trainer asked us to give her feedback on the training through Padlet.  Once logged-in, it felt like all of the participants were putting their opinions on digital post-it notes and sharing it with the rest of the class.  My immediate thought was to use this app as a discussion forum for my classroom.  The great thing about Padlet is the ability to moderate posts and accept appropriate responses while removing inappropriate ones.  Another great thing about Padlet is that responses can be posted in a variety of ways. Participants can text responses, upload images, videos, and documents, add a link, or take a picture/video using a webcam.  All that is left for the teacher is to create questions that will facilitate the student’s ability to construct viable arguments through these discussion forums.

Our CPM adoption training has helped me to understand the importance of utilizing the Study Team Teaching Strategies. Our first closure activity in Core Connections Course 2 was a poster presentation on manipulating a sample space for a given set of probability conditions.  Typically in a Gallery Walk, students or teams can leave feedback on post-it notes while reviewing other study team posters. To incorporate technology, I decided that each study team would create and then post a QR code next to their posters that linked to their team’s Padlet.  Teams visited and analyzed each other posters. When they scanned the poster’s QR code, teams could give feedback on the work displayed.  Using Padlet to analyze work brings learning to another level as students can take photos of specific errors, comment on them, and post it to Padlet for further discussion.

Reflection is also an important part of learning.  Through the use of Learning Logs, students are able to summarize their understanding of current concepts.  Reading individual Learning Logs gave me insight on exactly what the students know.  It dawned on me that students could gain the same insight by posting their Learning Logs on Padlet and reading other student responses, making it a collective learning experience. Using Padlet, teachers can post a Learning Log prompt and students can explain and give examples to that prompt. Some students are shy about posting their work for others to see, so I allow them to post using their student ID number instead of their name.  Knowing that their work will be read by their teacher and their peers, students tend to put forth more effort and creativity in their responses.  Students can take photos of their work samples or videotape themselves as they summarize their understanding.

On a day-to-day basis, I am amazed at the collaboration, mathematical discussions, and discoveries of each study team.  The CPM curriculum consistently provides wonderful learning opportunities for students.  Every so often, I allow teams to document these learning opportunities through Padlet.  One of my favorite lessons in Core Connections Course 2 is Lesson 7.1.1, “What is the relationship?” teams discover the relationship of distance, rate, and time by conducting an experiment using toy cars.  Using the iPad, teams videotape a toy car travelling for five seconds while marking the distance. This process is repeated for 10, 15, and 20 seconds as groups collect the data. As many Core Connections Course 2 teachers know, not every toy will give you a constant rate, nor will it travel for 20 seconds in a straight line!  Teams make due with the data they collected.  Using Desmos, they input their data on a table and create a graph showing the linear relationship. Throughout this unit, additional questioning allows students to discover constant rate, constant of proportionality, and introduces them to linear graphs while differentiating the faster car from the slower ones.  Students are able to document the learning process of this lesson by creating their own Padlet and posting videos of their experiment, screenshots of their Desmos graphs, and responses to the guiding questions.

Lastly, I have used Padlet when conducting CPM trainings.  I model Study Team Teaching Strategies within my workshops so teachers can experience their effectiveness.  One strategy I used recently was Carousel: Around the World.  Typically in the classroom, a different problem or question is written on top of posters hung around the classroom. Each team is given a different colored marker to write a response under the problem/question.  A gallery walk follows with a class discussion as a closure.  The topic of the CPM training I conducted was “Questioning.”  Instead of large posters, I typed a Questioning Prompt, included a QR code, and then hung them around the classroom. Teachers scanned and responded to the prompts on Padlet.  Teachers were to create questions for the following prompts:  Questions that Value Learning from Mistakes, Questions to Check for Understanding, Questions to Check for Participation, Questions that Push Learning Forward, Questions that Help Students Reflect on Their Solutions.  At the end of the Carousel, we had an open discussion on the questions they created.  The best part about using Padlet for this activity was that teachers had access to everyone’s questions and could use the questions in their classrooms later.

We are all transitioning to new ways of teaching and learning mathematics. When so many new things are thrown at us, it may become difficult to tell if you are making progress from year to year. A general rule that has helped me to continue to make progress in the midst of so much change is “Less Is More.”  It is better to fully explore the depth of a single teaching strategy then to scratch the surface of several strategies. Take the time to create and refine a few quality questions that maximize learning. Pick one app and exhaust its potential. When incorporating a new app, ask yourself, will this app allow your students to make sense of problems, reason abstractly, construct viable arguments, model with mathematics, use it as an appropriate tool, attend to precision, look for and make use of structure, and express regularity? Will it deepen understanding?  Is it grounded in context? Does it assess students in multiple ways? Does it support collaborative teams?  I hope this article has introduced you to an app you can make progress with over the coming months and years.

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.