Dr. Stephanie Burroughs, Ed.D.

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Student-Friendly Online Learning

Very happy that connections on #edutwitter lead to @sjunkins crafting this infographic based on my blog post. Visit the original article here

#StudentChoice and #StudentVoice

Giving students a choice and a voice in what they are learning and how they are demonstrating what they know can help create engaging and motivating learning experiences for all. While there are many different paths we can take to innovative teaching and learning, giving students an opportunity to take ownership in what they are learning can have a lasting impact on their confidence as students and as adults. 

It is important to note that, if you're grading on a rubric or developing a checklist for the elements that are required on a given assessment, the means by which students choose to navigate that assignment are independent from their level of understanding. So let go and let them drive their learning!

Here are some examples of quick and easy methods to integrate student choice and voice in the classroom:

Student Choice Performance Assessment

Choice from a Menu of Topics

Student Choice on the Method of Demonstrating Knowledge

While this option is the most extreme, it's also the simplest. This is great for English and History courses, but it can also be used in Mathematics and Science classes with amazing results! 

After you've completed a few units in your course or at the very beginning of your course, have students choose a topic that interests them and research the Mathematics behind that topic. You can set parameters for how complex the Mathematics needs to be based on student ability levels, but then just let them run with it. It is amazing how interested students will get in a topic if they chose it and you can often inspire them to  pull in different concepts with probing questions.

This option gives you the opportunity to provide students with a little more structure. Maybe you want this structure because you're concerned about rigor or maybe you are in a unit in your course that requires a little more attention to detail, but for whatever reason you are hesitant to just let them come up with their own material. 

I like to use quadratics for this example. Because there are multiple solving methods and this is really the first time students are exposed to a topic where they have this many options. Any math teacher can easily develop a list of problems or a list of methods that they want students to choose from. You can assign this at the beginning of the unit or at the end, dependent upon what you're comfortable with and develop some guidelines so that students go in the depth you want them to go into.   


This is your 'start small' option for those of you who are nervous about grading 30 different assignments or about developing an assignment that lacks in rigor or polish at the end. 

You have a project or problem set that you want students to report out on, why not give them the option to demonstrate what they know in the method of their choice? Students may develop a written report, presentation, video, or activity for their classmates and really surprise you with how creative they can be in Math class!


Massachusetts DESE Assessment Literacy Rubric

What better way to start an assessment conversation than to use a rubric? 

I was lucky enough to have a colleague share this with me the other day and I think it is fantastic. I have been communicating the importance of assessment review and reaching consensus on the purpose of assessments and our standards for building them, but this rubric very clearly gives teachers an opportunity to self-assess their assessment literacy and work toward a common goal. I cannot wait to use this with my teachers for a rich discussion on assessments. My hope is to leverage this tool to frame our assessment work moving forward. 


Flipgrid and Padlet

Looking for ways to help students communicate their ideas in Mathematics class?

Flipgrid and Padlet will help you do just that. These tools allow for students to contribute ideas, like and comment on the ideas of their peers, and provide teachers with a great way to share out student thinking in class. 



What does it do?

Flipgrid's free version allows you to create a classroom and have students post quick videos on a topic or concept. 

What can I use it for in Math class?

​Flipgrid is fantastic for having students present a specific problem in math class. Students can show a picture of their work and talk through what steps they took to solve a problem. 

Flipgrid can also be used to present a vocabulary term, have students pose questions to each other on a concept, or have students challenge their classmates with a problem they created. 

What's the point?

Flipgrid supports students learning to communicate their ideas in Math, using proper vocabulary, and learning to critique the reasoning of their peers. Flipgrid helps student presentation skills too! 



What does it do?

Padlet is a virtual wall that lets you pose a question or topic and have students contribute their ideas for the class to see. 

What can I use it for in Math class?

Padlet can be used to review a topic at the end of class and have students contribute what they're still confused about or what they learned in one place.

Padlet can be used to ask students what they notice or wonder about a brand new concept. 

Padlet can be used to pose questions about prior knowledge or brainstorming ideas on a problem prior to getting started.

What's the point?

Padlet allows students to pose questions and share ideas anonymously, encouraging the reluctant learner to participate in class and giving students the opportunity to view the ideas of their whole class at once. Padlet supports students on their ability to communicate and share their thinking in mathematics class!


Jo Boaler and Mathematical Mindsets

I'm not sure if you've heard of Jo Boaler, YouCubed, or Carol Dweck, but there have been some pretty amazing discoveries in brain science of late, many of which challenge the myth that there are actually 'math brains' and 'non-math brains.' I've heard so many students claim that they're not a math person in my career and use it as an excuse for their mistakes in Mathematics class. I have heard adults excuse away their children's struggles in Mathematics under the guise that they themselves have never been a math person. This has frustrated me to no end! Why give up on an entire subject? 

Above are the 9 discoveries that support the idea that anyone can learn Mathematics. If you follow the link to the site, you will find links and resources embedded within the image. What I love about these 9 discoveries is that they challenge the conventional ways of teaching mathematics through tracking, pressure, and memorization. When I read these it's as though someone is finally saying what I've felt in my head and heart since I began teaching: All kids can learn Math. My intuition has actually been supported through research and I find that fantastic! 


Typing in Mathematics

As we begin to integrate technology more consistently, there is an expectation that we encourage students to use technology as a means of showcasing what they know. In math, it means we are going to have to start integrating typing mathematics into our instruction. I recommend that we start small, introducing typing in Math at the moment that we have students master PEMDAS and exponents in grade 6. In this way, we can build off of student skill sets vertically so that by the time they reach Calculus and see limits they are looking for a way to type it and memorialize their understanding electronically. Here are a few ways that we can integrate typing in Mathematics:

  1. Use your LMS to have students type in their answers to homework questions or contribute to a vocabulary or conceptual discussion with their classmates. Most learner management systems are making this easier for kids; Schoology has math type integrated into their textbox.
  2. Have students integrate typing Mathematics into an instructional video. There are a variety of ways this can be done including iMovie, iBooks, Prezi, Powerpoint, etc. We shouldn't limit how this is communicated, but rather encourage students to seek out platforms and methods to type Mathematics. This next generation of students cannot stop at simply using technology, they must also be versatile.
  3. Have students take a mathematical proof and expand it out in a writing assignment that integrates typing out their mathematics work. This can be done with any assignment ranging from a straightforward explanation of their work to a creative writing assignment where students apply their reasoning to a real-world scenario. My favorite is included below:



Writing in Mathematics

I believe it's just as important to practice math concepts as it is to write down your solution strategy and communicate your understanding. I often assign writing assignments when I believe my students need to pause and summarize their notes or make connections between concepts. It's often awkward at first, but in establishing a blueprint and providing kids with structure a Mathematics writing assignment can become as easy as that standard 5 paragraph essay. 

Here is an example of how I took my school's Problem Solving rubric and developed it into a simple and straight forward writing assignment blueprint to support students in learning to write in Math class. This blue print works for basic "solve this" questions and also more complex word problems.



 My top 3 apps for Mathematics Education:

Get them, use them, and tell everyone what you did with them!





Doceri is amazing and I have used it many times to model and support teachers in technology based professional development. In all seriousness, when I found this application it changed the way I teach. The top three reasons why I love this app are:

  1. It records as I write so I can play back that missed example problem for that student who just came back from guidance and missed.
  2. It allows me to create screencast videos for flipped learning and virtual extra help and support. My students can hear and see me do out math work and they can play it back as many times as they need to.
  3. Any class notes I take, I can screenshot and export as a PDF to twitter, my class website, or to an absent student via e-mail. 

So, what is it?

It is a free app for iPad that you can use for free with Apple TV or purchase a desktop license to connect to your computer. You can write over all of your existing files and use their templates to develop your own lessons.

Follow Doceri on twitter, especially look for their #DoceriChat to connect with like-minded educators.


I love twitter for the professional resources it provides and for the opportunities to support my students throughout the school year using virtual extra help. Here's how I use twitter:

  1. First and foremost, twitter has connected educators everywhere and allowed us an opportunity to share and collaborate. I am a twitter creeper, so I don't engage in discussions through twitter, but I do follow the hashtags. The hashtags I frequent include #mathchat, #edtech, and #docerichat. All of these are great resources and discussions that I benefit from. 
  2. I use twitter as a source for reminders and homework announcements for my students. Each year, I create a hashtag specific to my class and have my students follow it. In this way, homework announcements show up on their twitter feed in case they missed writing it down in class.
  3. Finally, and my favorite, is the use of twitter for extra help. My students will take pictures of their work and tweet me questions throughout the school year. I respond with a screencast, written advice, or a new image where I have marked up their work and given support. I find the time that I spend doing this to be efficient and incredibly rewarding. 


At the most recent NCTM conference I found myself frequenting the desmos table, and it wasn't just for cool stickers. Dismiss is free and accessible to all students on all devices, making it a fantastic go-to for a virtual graphing calculator because I know that every student can pull it up on their device. But here's what's also cool about Desmos:

  1. Regression tables can be dragged and dropped from Excel into Desmos. This solves a huge issue in integrating technology in a one to one environment. You can model your equation, type it in, and assess how well your equation fits the regression data without having to leave your computer behind for those pesky handheld calculators. 
  2. Desmos has a series of stored resources for teachers accessible on the iPad and on their site. You can build quadratics and vary the values of a, b, and c in live time with your students, which has been done before but Desmos has made it easy to find. They also have trigonometric and polar functions though, so beat that!
  3. Desmos has a robust website where they are developing tutorials and support for teachers. Check it out, they are a great resource for integrating mathematics in the real world and for blended learning. 

Either I missed the boat or Desmos has really spent this past year building itself up. Overall they have great functionality and accessibility and are a fantastic resource for teachers. Follow them, visit their site, use them, please!