Sunday, April 27, 2014

Algebra Tech Tool: Interactivate-Algebra Quiz

Differentiation is essential in any classroom, but can be particularly beneficial in a PBL classroom. The following tool, reviewed by my classmate Hilary P again, provides a quick and efficient way of checking students' knowledge on basic algebraic manipulations covering a variety of topics: quadratics, distributive property, variable on both sides of the equation, etc. At the time of our initial review, we only had 4 questions to do, so parts 5 and 6 were evaluated by me after experiences with the tool.
Original CEP Post

Tech Tool Overview

Curator - Hilary P

Name of Tech Tool: Interactivate - Algebra Quiz
Brief Description of Tech Tool: A quiz is given - the red line counts down time, and the user can choose the type of problems to display.


Description of Learning Activity

This tech tool provides students with practice solving algebraic equations. Students can select whether to practice solving equations that require one or two steps, or whether to practice more complex equations which involve moving variables to one side of the equation or solving by first using the distributive property. When implementing this task in my classroom, I would use this tech tool as independent practice. Most likely, I would ask students to increase the time allotted to solve each problem (from the default of 20 seconds), and require them to write down their steps used to solve each problem. Additionally, I might use this activity as a differentiated practice. If this applet was used after I had explicitly taught how to solve the various equation types, I might do a quick mastery check prior to the practice, and students that were unable to solve one and two step equations would practice that, while students that have mastered each type of solving would practice all types, but increase the level. From what I can tell, Level 1 just involves more negative coefficients, and Level 2 has fractional answers, and Level 3 has fractional coefficients. While all students need to be able to solve all types of equations, if a student has not yet mastered solving one and two step equations, it will be very difficult for them to solve more complex equations.

1. Learning Activity Types

  • LA-Practice - practicing for fluency

This algebra quiz applet provides students with the opportunity to practice their solving skills. Additionally, the timer (red scroll bar) pushes students to be able to solve equations quickly.

2. What mathematics is being learned?

NCTM Standards

  • NCTM-N&0-understand operations - understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another;
  • NCTM-N&0-compute fluently - compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
  • NCTM-Alg-patterns - understand patterns, relations, and functions;

Proficiency Strands

  • PS-procedural fluency
This applet simply provides students with the opportunity to solve algebraic equations. Students are not required to write equations from a mathematics situation, but given an equation and asked to solve.

3. How is the mathematics represented?

Equations of various type are given in this tech tool. Students are asked to solve for variable. The tech tool gives students immediate feedback by marking the answer as correct, or incorrect and then displaying the correct answer.

4. What role does technology play?

Make boldface the affordances that play a significant role in this technology use. For each affordance that you select, comment briefly on why.
  • Computing & Automating - This applet requires students to quickly solve for the variable, x, and provides students with immediate feedback on whether or not their answer is correct. This is different than providing students with the correct answers after they have done 10 problems, but instead allows students to see their progress as they go.
  • Representing Ideas & Thinking -
  • Accessing Information - The only reason I think this applet allows students/teachers to access information is because it provides a detailed report of their mastery of each equation type and level. Students can view this report to monitor their own progress, and teachers can monitor the classes progress through this report as well.
  • Communicating & Collaborating -
  • Capturing & Creating -

What advantages and/or‍ disadvantages‍ does the technology offer for facilitating learning?

This technology tool allows students to practice their solving skills. The app gives the students ‍immediate feedback‍ on how well they are understanding solving equations. Additionally, this tool can provide teachers with the ability to quickly differentiate the practice by assigning students different types of equations to practice or different levels of practice. This technology tool does not provide students with any conceptual understanding of solving equations. Students are simply following a procedure to solve for the given variable, and then typing in the correct answer for x.

5. How does the technology fit or interact with the social context of learning?

This applet is most useful to teachers as an individual activity for the students as it provides detailed information about the students' mastery level through the quiz. This kind of information can then be used by the teacher to further differentiate their instruction. Teachers also have the ability to differentiate within the applet by selecting various different inputs for the quiz from the content covered to the type of numbers used to the amount of time each student gets for each problem.

6. What do teachers and learners need to know?

Teachers should be prepared to set up the quiz for students or to provide students with information about the type of quiz that they should be taking based on their skill level. Teachers should also know that the answer does not provide corrective feedback on the problems if a student gets the problem wrong. Rather a pop-up tells you the correct answer. Students may need to write down their problems/work so that you can review wrong answers with them.

How this tool Supports & Supplements PBL/PrBL

Teachers can use this tool as a means to deliver quizzes quickly to students to check their understanding at any point during the PBL or PrBL process. This helps students to practice their procedural skills with algebraic manipulations and solving equations which is not always available through PBL/PrBL instances, and it also provides students with practice answering questions in a timed atmosphere, which they will need in anticipation of high-stakes testing. The information obtained from the applet can help teachers to plan for differentiation within their projects or problems.