Meghan Zigmond (@ZigZagsTech) teaches first grade in a public school near Corpus Christy, Texas. She has taught first grade for nine years. “Even if you are not an early childhood teacher, you will be able to get a lot out of today,” Meghan continues. She plans to address a number of apps and resources that can be used at all levels.

To begin, Meghan shows that her presentation is actually created in Tackk. At the top of her screen, she shows an example of visual thinking in math.

Visible Thinking

She sets up about how the focus is that the “The Tool is one thing, but the way we look at it is much more important.” – from George Couros (@gcouros). While it’s easy to play math games, the power is more in how students can be creators to show their learning.

What does it mean to make thinking visible?

While Meghan begins to define it herself, she also offered up the Padlet wall below for the rest of the group to contribute. She wants her students to not only solve problems but to also show their process – what did they do to arrive at the answer.

Visible thinking is also an extremely powerful tool for assessment. It suddenly opens up avenues for providing feedback, redirecting learning, and also encouraging creative thinking. “What does visible thinking look like with students?” Meghan asks.

  • Students working independently in stations
  • Collaboration with students working together to share their learning
  • Creating new artifacts that allows students to show their growth

With math, students are held to a high standard. Meghan sees iPads and apps as a great way to allow students a new way to address the processes associated with mathematical thinking.

Virtual Manipulatives & Mathematicians Best Friends

The presentation site that Meghan designed has a wealth of resources. To begin, she addresses the value of virtual manipulatives as they offer a cleaner and neater way for students to get hands on. It is also a great way to model how to share and take-turns with their thinking, especially when they share iPads and work together to solve problems.

Rekenrek Example

To understand how to apply these manipulatives into the classroom, Meghan told a story about her Beagle.

If Corky chased 6 squirrels on on Tuesday and some squirrels today for a total 13. How many did he chase today?

She then showed how her students by use a Rekenrek to model the process of being able to create a number story and then solve the problem.

Furthermore, App Smashing is excellent for visible thinking. Meghan then took her screen capture from Rekenrak and imported it into Skitch in order to label the drawing and explain the problem. A final great step in the process is that Meghan’s students often Tweet out their work to share with a broader audience.

Number Pieces and Manipulatives

For her next example, Meghan illustrates the use of the Number Pieces app to show a math problem and then solve it. A great advantage of this is that the manipulatives are next to the problem that the students can write along side. However, Meghan does caution that some students with fine motor skills issues may need a stylus as a modification.

After making her manipulatives, Meghan illustrates how she can take a screen capture and then import it into Popplet in order to write another number sentence, draw connections, or make a connection. With these first examples don’t have student voice recorded as audio; however, she says that it isn’t always necessary.

Scene Makers

By using these different scene making apps, Meghan’s students can create story problems with pictures in order to make math problems. For example, one student could make a story and the other could then solve it and make a video response.

Meghan’s students even collaborated to make a book of story problems for each other to solve.

Adding Student Voice

Meghan began by comparing AudioBoom and Croak.It for recording audio. Two major advantages are longer recording times as well as the ability to pause and think before resuming recording. It’s a great way for students to explain themselves. It’s also possible to publish their voice with an image.

Because all of Meghan’s students use a class account, she can login through Safari to hear all of the recordings in one place and also capture the links to the individual recordings and then share them. In this example, she copies the audio link and adds it to a ThingLink. This way all of their thinking is curated into one place. Maybe it’s a way to explain different concepts – like different story problems – or even as a portfolio for students to be able to save their thinking over the course of the school year.

One of the most powerful things about visible thinking is that it should be SHARED. All of the options that Meghan has shared so far ultimately results in being tweeted, blogged, shared, etc. For the students, it’s also really exciting and empowering to hear each others’ thinking.

Another simple tool is Flipgram. Students can create quick flip videos to their camera to share their thinking. Similarly, Meghan talks about Greg’s Hyperlapse app smash when they were doing an RSA animate type video. She saw that and had the students do a similar technique using manipulatives and then sped it up.

Ways to Share Thinking

For students, what’s the point of making thinking visible if they don’t ever get a chance to share it? Meghan gives her students a number of options to be able to publish their ideas. For example, her students created PicCollage projects of fact families and tweeted them out. It empowers her students to do above and beyond because they have an audience.

Meghan also created a Twitter account for her dog (@beaglecookies). He tweets out math problems to the students, and it gets them really excited to then do math warm up problems. Sometimes they tweet back iPad creations and sometimes it’s even a photo of whiteboards to show their thinking.

At the bottom of her presentation, Meghan also provides great resources for the future and ways to further connect and share. This was a fabulous session on ways to use iPads in meaningful ways in the math classroom. What was most impressive was the number of different ways that she empowers her students to be creators and constructors of their own learning.

>> Meghan’s amazing Tackk presentation.