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My Thoughts on Geoboards by Math Learning Center, Screencasts, and Google Hangouts

So I was recently tasked with the assignment of having to find an app or extension in the Google Chrome store, create a screencast, and then have a Google Hangout with a few fellow students.  The first thing I did was search the Chrome store.  I wanted to find an app or extension that would be personally useful to me.  I teach third grade and wanted something that would tie in with the curriculum areas I teach.  After much searching, I found the Geoboards app by Math Learning Center.  I was excited about this app since we use geoboards in the classroom to teach various math topics, including geometry, finding area of various polygons, and determining perimeter which are all standards in third grade.  The app itself was very easy to learn and use.  I went through the online tutorial which was short and informative and then decided to play with the app.  There are several features that I really liked about the app, the first one being that it is online.  As I previously stated, I have used geoboards in the past and one of the biggest issues are the elastics.  They dry out and break when kids are using them.  In addition, sometimes kids decide it would be more fun to fling elastics around the room than actually do what they are supposed to be doing.  So the idea of having online elastics thrilled me.  Also, traditional geoboards are limited to a 5 x 5 square but the online version gives users the option of making a 10 x 15 geoboard which gives the teacher the ability to assign more difficult problems, thus providing more opportunities for enhanced student learning.  I could see myself using this app in my classroom quite a bit; the only holdup I can foresee is availability of the Chromebooks, which are often a hot commodity in our school.

After I found my app, now it was time to do my screencast.  I had never done one before and I must say, it was not as easy as I thought it was going to be!  The product I used, Screencast-o-matic, was very easy to learn and use but I must have recorded and re-recorded at least a dozen times!  I would get started, get tongue-tied or forget what I was going to say, and have to start all over again.  Eventually, I did get through it and while, overall, I think it came out pretty well, I must say I hate the sound of my recorded voice!

The last piece of assignment was to host a Google Hangout on Air with several people.  I usually love learning new technology but I had been a participant in 2 GHOAs and had technical issues both times.  Needless to say, I was a little leery about actually hosting a GHOA.  I did have minor technical issues at the beginning but overall, it went really well.  I think what I liked best was being able to actually see my fellow participants.  I have been on telephone conference calls plenty of times but have always found them slightly unnerving because you can’t see the other person and can’t tell when someone is going to speak or if they are even paying attention to the conversation at all.  GHOA takes that unnerving aspect away because I could see everyone involved and the conversation felt more like an actual face-to-face conversation.  I would love to try more GHOAs because I think if I used it more, I would become more comfortable with the technology.

Overall, what started off as feeling like a very intimidating, overwhelming assignment turned into a wonderful learning experience.  Yes, there were some bumps in the road but that just served to enhance my learning of the products involved.  I would feel very comfortable showing someone how to use the Geoboard app and Screencast-o-matic.  GHOA? Well, we’ll leave that for another time!

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