Jul. 3, 2012

# Connecting Students to Geometry Through Twitter

Alan and Brian have been working with a cohort in Texas made up of teachers and administrators who are a part of the Texas Association of School Administrators. At a recent event in Austin, high school math teacher, Jessica Caviness, shared a fun implementation of Twitter in her geometry class. We thought it was so great, we simply had to share it. Jessica provided us with a quick write-up explaining her work.

“When will we use this?” It’s the question all teachers hate and motivated me to change my approach to teaching. Being a geometry teacher, it was easy for me to find life applications of my subject. I found myself snapping pictures daily and adding them into my smart board lessons. It wasn’t until I went to Alan November’s conference in Austin that I realized there were easier and faster ways to bring “real life” into my classroom. Why had I never thought of any of this before?

How it started…

Upon my return from Alan November’s conference my students were quick to ask what I had learned. I told them the truth. “I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of information shared at the conference, but I did make a Twitter account.” When they heard this they were so excited and said, “Yay Mrs. Caviness. You’re finally catching up with the times.” That very moment the students pulled out their phones and asked me what my user name was. Completely caught off guard, I wrote it on the board, and by the end of the day I had close to 50 followers.

So now what? I had a Twitter account, but what should I tweet? A few days later I found myself at the Texas Rangers baseball game thinking about a problem we had done in class about finding the location of the perfect bunt a few chapters back. Hey, I wonder if the students really learned anything from that chapter and remember the answer? So I took a picture of the field and tweeted it out asking the students for the answer. I was shocked when only minutes later I had several replies. I was so excited.

A few weeks later, I was again at the Rangers game and holding a diet coke cup in my hand when I had an idea. This time instead of tweeting out a question, I would instead tweet out the picture and ask for questions to go with the picture. We were studying volume so it was perfect. Again, I had several students reply and you should have seen the problems they came up with. I was so impressed I not only asked them how they added those diagrams to my picture but I also used 2 of the questions on the next day’s quiz. This really sparked the student’s interest as they ALL wanted to make a quiz question.

Since then, I have used Twitter for a variety of reasons. Below is an example of how I used Twitter to foster an attempt at the flipped classroom approach followed by a small sample of student responses. It was highly successful and was used many times thereafter.

Just a few of the many student responses.

- So, when the radius passes through any chord in the circle, does it always create a right angle?
- A diameter is just a special kind of chord, right?
- This seems like a pretty easy chapter. I understand the chords really well!
- I think this is all really cool because all the definitions connect. For example, a tangent is a line that touches a circle once and then tangent circles are circles that touch only once. That makes it a lot easier to remember everything! One question though, what is a big circle with a smaller circle in the center called if they do not share a center and the smaller circle is not touching the bigger circle? Would that just be an internal circle?
- I don’t understand how you figure out if a radius is perpendicular to a chord if they do not tell you ahead of time.
- At first I was kind of confused with the radii intersecting, but I watched it again to understand. (Now I got it!)
- The video is pretty cool and it was in monotone. I can’t wait to start applying triangles to circles and all sorts of things!
- How do we find the measure of an Intercepted Arc if we do not know the Central Angle?
- I find these chords easy… partially because we studied them in algebra.
- The program she’s using seems a lot like the 1 we used 4 para//elograms. R we commenting so U know we R watching these videos?
- Based on what I saw in this video, circles seem really easy, SO FAR!! This is kind of like the Khan Academy videos.

These questions/responses really opened my eyes to things I hadn’t really thought of before involving both the content itself AND basic teaching strategies. It makes so much sense having an idea of what the kids know and don’t know before starting a lesson. It also seems to peak student interest knowing what to expect…I also had great feedback from the “slower” students saying they really enjoyed being able to pause and repeat the videos. They could learn at “their” pace.

Here is one more example of a tweet I posted before the school year came to an end. Having Twitter at my fingertips really allowed me to capture moments in my everyday life that could be used to teach my geometry curriculum. It was also an effortless way for me to keep in touch with students and parents as well as teachers around the world.

A few student responses:

- Sector?
- Sector of a circle??
- Sector of a circle 🙂
- Well, I am not really sure what to make of that. If you are looking at the hamburger, I see three sectors left over.
- The dark meat stuff plus crust is a sector. The crust is a segment.
- The missing meet is the sector, but it could also be the segment if you look at the meat present being the “shaded region.”
- Also, the corn is a tangent.

The uses of Twitter in the classroom are endless. Thank you, Alan, for sharing this wealth of information!

I really love this! Thank you so much Ms. Caviness for sharing this wonderful ideas!

This blog has given me so many ideas! I teach science but this idea is completely relevant to us science people as well. Thanks for sharing!

Ww hope you all will come back later and share with us what you implement as a result of what you've learned here.

[…] is nice to see a teacher attempting to use simple tools to help students learn better. This is the story of an innovative teacher connecting students to Geometry through Twitter. “When will we use this?” It’s the question all teachers hate and motivated me to change my […]

I think I found my twin. Jessica, this is brilliant! I recently changed schools (comm college) where we have flipped classrooms. What an awesome way to use Twitter!

[…] Caviness talking to November learning about her use of twitter in geometry class, and here’s Jessica’s own account, with more detail, examples and analysis on how implementing twitter […]

This is really awesome! It made me ask myself, if my students would follow me? Then I thought, what a great way to teach proper digital citizenship. I love this blog, and can’t wait to share it with the teachers I work with.