How many of your students actually enjoy math? When do you really see your students jumping up for joy when it is time for math class or hear them saying that they love math? We have all been there–sitting at our desk, watching our teacher show us how to do each problem step by step as we frantically try to write it all down, and then ending the class doing practice problems. It is always the same everyday. Well now math teachers around the world can change it up by implementing the use of something new and interactive. They can use mathcasts!
Technology is becoming more and more popular in the classroom, today. Whether teachers and students are using SMART Boards, laptops, iPads, or even cell phones, chalk boards and textbooks are becoming more and more uncommon. Mathcasts are great tools for teachers to use in which teachers can teach students, students can teach teachers, and students can teach each other. After first reading about mathcasts on the Technology Integration in Education website on Michael Peter’s Blog written by Michael Peters in one of his posts called Mathcasting Bootcamp, I was hooked instantly.
So what are these wonderful “whiteboard movies” that make learning math so fun? From both the blog Mathcasting Bootcamp and the official Mathcasts website, I learned that mathcasts are videos of writing with voice that can be used to show and describe different math concepts and topics and illustrate how problems that relate to the lesson can be solved. Both teachers and students are beginning to really dive deep and take learning to a whole new level with this tool, using it for self-improvement, collaboration, understanding, and development. Click on the picture below and watch a video that describes all of the benefits of mathcasts for both teachers and students.
Teachers can make their classrooms thrive in the unique wonders of mathcasts, and I found these many wonders on the Mathcasts website. Math teachers alike can create these videos to teach lessons, show step-by-step processes, relate math to the real world, and make this broad, ubiquitous subject more enjoyable for their students. They can also create mathcasts to share with other teachers and their colleagues and to provide them with the different techniques the might use in approaching different problems and concepts.
Mathcasts are also an extremely helpful and great way for teachers to assess their students on their understanding of the content. Teachers can use them for projects and have their students create their own mathcasts, demonstrating their comprehension of the material being taught. This allows teachers to see how well the student has grasped the concept and watch step by step how each student tries to reach an end result.
Teachers aren’t the only ones who like to use mathcasts. Students, too, are using them, even when it isn’t required of them by their teacher. Mathcasts are new and refreshing ways to learn, much different than the average textbook reading and note taking. They give students the opportunity to record themselves as they are showing off their skills and knowledge to an audience. Children and young teens love to hear themselves talk and
show what they can do, so what a perfect way to do so through mathcasts.
Mathcasts also give students the ability to teach each other, seeing the many different steps and methods that other students might take in solving a problem. Just as teachers use mathcasts for collaboration, so do students. I found an awesome blog called Mathcast Central written by firstname.lastname@example.org that is dedicated fully to student-made mathcasts. Each post is an example of a mathcast that one of the Math Masters made, pertaining to the material that was taught. You can also find a plethora of student-made mathcasts on the Math247 Wiki Matchasts Library.
Mathcasts not only allow students to show what they know, but it also gives them extra practice with new technology that they may have never used before. In such a
technologically dependent society, practice with different tools is vital. So, students are doing two things: 1. showing that they know the material being taught and teaching each other on how to do different problems using different strategies, while at the same time, 2. using microphones and video cameras and practicing with new types of computer software and programs like SMART and Voicethread.
So how can you create a mathcast? It honestly is so simple and inexpensive, too. The blog post Matcasting Bootcamp describes many different software, programs, and apps that can be downloaded (many for free) to help teachers create them. Most classrooms are already equipped with a SMART Board or some sort of interactive whiteboard, and then all you need is some program to record the work you are doing on the interactive white board and the words you are saying to describe the problems as you go.
Two of the most common programs used by teachers are Jing and Voicethread, which are easily downloaded from their websites. Below is a video of mathcasting using Jing and SMART Notebook, which is the software we use when using a SMART Board.
It is so easy that I was even able to create one using Jing and SMART Notebook after freely downloading both programs onto my computer. I simply just took a screenshot video of the work I was doing on the Notebook while talking into the microphone. Once I was finished, I saved it to my computer and it was ready to be shared.
Mathcasts can even be created using iPads, which are now starting to be continually used as learning tools in the classroom. Using an app called Educreations, your iPad becomes a “recordable whiteboard”. It is the same thing as using a SMART Board or any other interactive white board, but instead it is on a little tablet, that sits right in front of you, right at the tips of your fingers. Visit the blog called Beating Math Stick and read the post written on March 7, 2012 to view even more student-made mathcasts that were created by students at The Duke School on their very own iPads.
Interactivity is key in teaching and learning, and that is what mathcasts are creating here in the classroom, today. Our students are not only able to show us teachers what they are capable of doing with the material that we teach them, but they are also able to show their fellow students how they individually think about different problems, allowing them to bounce off of each other for ideas. What is even better is that mathcasts are just screencasts that are used for math, so teachers of all subjects can use this tool.
With matchcasts and screencasts, we can show our students and ourselves that learning is fun and is a continuous circle, but now it is up to you. How can you utilize these tools in your classroom? How can you use mathcasts to increase interactivity and assess how well your students understand the material? After watching some of the student-made mathcasts in the blog posts I linked above, how do you think your students will benefit from the use of mathcasts? Comment with your ideas and feedback below!