Thursday, April 14, 2016

Google Classroom Polls for Math Teachers

Last week Google added the ability to ask a simple multiple choice question in Google Classroom. The interface is very similar to Google Forms, but can be setup in just a few clicks.

Shortly after Google's announcement, my friend Ben Rimes published another video in his "video story problem" series. That got me thinking about smashing the two ideas together to help math teachers engage students with real-world math problems.

I quickly setup a new question in Google Classroom and changed it to a Poll question. I grabbed the link to Ben's video (he's using Vimeo, so I had to use the link option, not the YouTube button).

I added in a quick summary for what students are expected to accomplish:
The video below contains a real-life math problem. Your challenge is to figure if it is a better deal to by the "yard of Twix" or to purchase 18 separate Twix bars. Use your math skills to help you determine which option is the most cost effective. Choose one of the options below to indicate your choice, but be prepared to show your work and explain HOW you came to your conclusion.
That's it! Students now have an engaging question which will test not only their math skills, but also critical thinking skills (i.e. how much DOES an individual Twix bar costs?). Thanks Ben for sharing your video!

One of the challenges that math teachers face is having students show their work in a digital format. The use of Google Classroom and the poll feature avoids this challenge all together by forcing students to come to a conclusion, select a response, and be prepared to show their work.

I have not provided students with any specific guidelines regarding HOW they need to show their work. They can use pencil and paper, Google Docs, FastFig, Desmos, etc.

Note that I did elect to hide the class summary so that students are not able to see which response is the most popular. You could leave it on as well in order to stir up more controversy about the right decision. That choice will be up to you and the personality of your students.

This assignment is NOT about getting the right answer, it is about the journey TO the correct (or incorrect) answer. Students should be evaluated on their process not necessarily coming to the correct conclusion.

Ben has created a half dozen or so video story problems, but it would be great if there were more to select from! If you have created any similar videos or found some good ones, please leave a comment with a link!

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