One of the best parts of going through a graduate program is the opportunity to work with other teachers. A fellow math teacher, Amy Paskov, and I worked together to create an online math course for students to complete prior to coming to entering high school. Since I am an eighth grade math teacher and Amy is a ninth grade teacher, we thought working together would be a great partnership. We both had the interest of our students in mind when we created our unit. Too many times incoming freshman struggle with basic math skills that they need in order to complete high level math courses in high school.
Prior to completing our unit we wanted to make sure we chose topics that students needed to master prior to attending high school. The first two modules of our unit covers fractions, decimals, and percents. These are areas that are vital to higher level math in high school. Since we know that students have covered these topics numerous times before completing our unit, we wanted to find entertaining and engaging ways to get the students to become proficient in the topics.
One of the readings in the ED 722 course was by Tony Gates. His article A New Pedagogy is Emerging... and Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor, identifies using online resources to create a course. I referenced this article frequently when determining how to construct and create our unit. With a combination of multimedia, open education resources and education games our unit is designed to help students better understand the topics of fractions, decimals and percents. The layout of each module takes into consideration that students might not want to listen to lecture after lecture of a topic. Instead we designed the module to allow students to learn the material, practice it using either a game or online quiz, then watch a few more tutorials and then interact with more games or quizzes. This will help with keeping the students engaged with the material and not get bored too quickly with the modules.
After the students complete a module, they are asked to complete an assessment using a Google Form. The results of the Google Form will be sent to both Amy and I or whichever math teachers use the course. They will use the data to determine what information their students are proficient in prior to coming to high school. It will also help high school teachers to plan out the first few weeks of classes that are usually set aside for basic math review.
In addition to the Google Form assessment, students will be asked to contribute a blog post for each module about what resource they found most helpful. This will give the students the ability to discuss their learning process with one another. It might also provide additional resources that we could use in the unit to help students learn better. This unit is designed to be used for years and it will constantly be refined and updated to provide the best online learning course for incoming high school freshman.
Amy and I have already discussed how we would like to present this unit to our school district department heads. Although before we roll it out to be used by two large school districts, I think we need to add a few more modules to the unit to really encompass all of the pertinent information that students need to succeed with high school math.
The following link will take you to the homepage of our unit: High School Math Transition Course
Feel free to explore the first two modules. We hope you like what we have created and possibly see a place for it within your school district.