Math Mondays: Digital resources as a tool for differentiation

I've been mixing digital and pen-and paper-activities more this year than ever before.   For one, my students have tablets to use and two, digital resources add some variety to the activities.  My students like the variety, and I am happy to indulge IF students are both engaged and learning.

So far, I have found some resources are better than others in digital form:  

Math detectives, quests and treasure hunt projects work great in digital form.  Students can see the locations they are "traveling" to and learn fun facts about the places all while solving math problems and by extension the mystery.  We lose the opportunity to move around the room, so I still mix these with non-digital detectives.  The students are enjoying the variety.  I haven't yet had students create their own digital detective, but that may be an end of year project.

Interactive notebooks: At this point I still won't use digital interactive notebooks in math.  I've read the research and to date the evidence still shows that we learn more when we physically write than when we type.  I know that many tablets now have a stylus (we don't have those), so maybe someday.  I will wait until I have solid evidence, because student learning comes first.

Digital Task Cards:  Okay, now this might be my favorite digital resource.  
I have fallen in love with digital task cards because:

  • Task cards are easy to customize
  • I can use open-ended questions, drag and drop, or matching
  • Students can use them anytime, anywhere
  • Digital task cards are easy to add or delete cards from to differentiate for students
  • They are easy to assess
Here's how I use digital task cards:
  • Set up task cards in 2-3 levels.  I start with the most complicated version to create such as with drag and drop solutions and then make copies and eliminate parts.  To give you an example, for Pythagorean word problems I have one set with diagrams, one set without diagrams; and one with cut and paste solutions which students can match to the question cards.  
  • Differentiate by giving at the right time.  When a student has reached a place in the curriculum when they are ready for an assessment or practice of the topic on the cards, I email the student a copy of the version I would like the student to try.  
  • Assess with ease.  The student saves a copy of the cards with his/her first initial_lastname_class period.  This makes it super easy to track.  When the student has completed the task card set, s/he shares it with me.  I can quickly go in and assess right from my laptop.
It is unlikely my class will be ALL digital.  Just as students get bored with the same activity over and over again, digital activities are just another opportunity to add variety, and in many cases, make differentiation easy.  Find my favorite digital math resources here.

Math Mondays is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.



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