As I shared in my last blog post, this blog series, #TechUptheMath, will focus on six applications over the course of the next few weeks that I believe create transformative learning experiences in math. They take the learning targets and infuse technology in such a way that it does one or more of the following:

  • Visualize: Allows students to visualize the math concept in a way not possible without the technology

  • Multimodal Learning: Many of these applications offer students more than one way to share their thinking

  • Interaction: Many of these programs empower our students to interact with their classmates' or teacher's math thinking.

How can Flashcard Factory #TechUpThe Math?

If you are not already familiar with Pear Deck's Flashcard Factory, you are truly missing out. According to Pear Deck's website, Flashcard Factory,

"Flashcard Factory was designed to transform the way students engage with vocabulary. When you play Flashcard Factory students pair up and work together to create dynamic and engaging flashcards. Students collaborate to illustrate and define terms, making learning vocab an active and social experience! Flashcard Factory is free to use and works with Google Apps for Education.

But Flashcard Factory is so much more than that- a few years ago, one of my fellow tech coaches, Michele Meshover, shared how one of her teachers used this program for math and it totally changed my perception of how Flashcard Factory could be used. She shared that this teacher used this program with basic facts and had one student draw the solution; while the other student solved the problem. I started using this idea and it is truly genius! But most people don't know about this innovative approach to use Pear Deck's Flashcard Factory and the opportunities it offers all students, especially our littles!

Flashcard Factory starts with students entering a code to join the activity. I always start by introducing students to Peary Foreman and explaining how he likes his workers to work collaboratively in his factory and how he has them work in two separate shifts- the day and night shifts. After students log in, I explain that they will be working with a partner that Peary Foreman selects. Once assigned a partner, the student's name on top stays put and the student's name on the bottom goes to the other student's desk. I then explain the criteria for the flashcards to the students and show them an example. Students start the process and the math talking starts. It is only interrupted by their delight when their "card" falls down on the conveyor belt in the front of the room on the Smart Board.

Seeing The Power of Flashcard Factory

While coteaching lessons in my school this year, many of my teachers have done Flashcard Factory lessons with me.

  • Two of my first grade classes used basic addition and subtraction facts. One student, the artist, showed how to solve the problem; while the other student, the detective, wrote the sum or difference

  • Three of my second grade classes, Mr. Wall, Ms. Phillips and Ms. Burton's classes, used basic addition and subtraction facts. One student, the artist, showed how to solve the problem; while the other student, the detective, wrote the rest of the fact family.

  • Ms. Sappington's fifth grade class even used this program for multiplying and dividing fractions by having one student draw models to solve the problem, while the other student came up with a matching word problem.

  • Ms. Hutchinson-Smith's third graders used multiplication and division basic facts in Flashcard Factory. One student showed how to solve the problem; while the other student wrote a word problem for the facts.

A #TechUptheMath Highlight

One of our new teachers in my school, Ms. Speight, has truly embraced the power of Flashcard Factory. A few weeks ago, I came in her class to do a Flashcard Factory lesson using subtraction facts. As we started the lesson, she was instantly intrigued by this program and the possibilities it could offer her students. During this lesson, her students worked together to both solve and illustrate subtraction facts. It was truly amazing. Hearing her young scholars share their mathematical thinking at such a young age and collaborate was inspiring. Her students were engaged throughout the whole process, from creating the flashcards to quality control when we discussed whether or not the cards they had made were good examples or not there yet.

In fact, Ms. Speight was so inspired that she started to create her first Flashcard Factory lesson. She decided to have the artist draw shapes and then have the detective identify how many sides and vertices each shape had. I was so impressed and asked if I could come in and help her with this lesson she created. She agreed and this time during the lesson, she drove the lesson and I assisted. Talk to any tech coach and they will share when a teacher learns a new skill and takes over a lesson, it fills them with such a sense of pride. I am so proud of Ms. Speight for taking a risk and trying something new. That is truly the magic of coteaching lessons!

So how does this #TechUpThe Math and show VMI?

This #TechUptheMath lessons clearly empowered Interaction, while also offering students a way to visualize the math using the digital tools. The interaction between students while creating the flashcards was amazing. But it didn't stop there- after the flashcards were completed, all students participated in Quality Control. During Quality Control, the class discusses whether or not, the cards meet the criteria shared at the beginning. Students use a thumbs up if it does and a thumbs straight if it is not there yet. The teacher clicks either the green check or the red X and students earn points for their shifts- day or night shifts. The interactions that happen between students and with students during this part is amazing every single time. These #TechUpTheMath lessons are truly gems of Interaction!

Join me to #TechUptheMath and share your ideas

Over the next few blog posts, consider adding some of these tech tools into your math classroom. Check their VMI and see how they can transform learning. Post your ideas and successes using the #TechUptheMath and tag me @TannenbaumTech. I can't wait to see what you share!