Patty Papers

Separating Prime Cuts of Educational Technology from Common "Mystery Meat"


Our YouTube Channel

Student mathcasts created by my trigonometry class this trimester and teacher-created mathcasts can be viewed on my YouTube Channel at

A few highlights:



Socrative gets pics, and gets smarter!

I have been using Socrative this year and love it, but I did wish I had the ability to add pictures/graphs to questions. And now, I can! In the latest update,  Socrative introduced two important features to it’s popular web-based (and free!) student response system software:

  • Teacher can now add images to questions.
  • Socrative now has the ability to automatically grade short response questions.

If you haven’t tried Socrative yet, I highly recommend it! It is free and can be accessed by students with any internet-capable device.



Strawpoll is an easy-to-use polling software that allows your to quickly gather information from your students.  Just enter your question and answer choices, decide whether you want the question to be single-answer or multi-select, and then create! The URL for your new poll will be displayed and ready for use. To view the results of your poll, just visit the poll URL and click “results” on the bottom right corner of the page.

Here’s a poll I created this morning for my Precalculus students at the beginning of class regarding the previous lesson:

Hope you find this to be a useful tool!


SOTF 2013 Conference

I will be presenting this fall at the 2013 Schools of the Future (SOTF) Conference at the Honolulu Convention Center. In my session on October 18th, participants will learn how to use free interactive technologies to assess students during the learning process, facilitate classroom discussion, and increase student collaboration. This session will emphasize formative assessment strategies that can be used in any content area or grade level. Technologies will include Socrative which can be used as a student response system, Hot Potatoes software, and a variety of screencasting technologies to capture student thinking.

SOTF 2012 was a fantastic conference and I anticipate that SOTF 2013 will be another great event. I highly encourage all of those in Hawaii to register for this event!


Socrative resource

Some of you may like to try out Socrative in your own classroom, but may not have the time to invest without knowing if it will be useful for you and your students. If you want to see some sample Socrative quizzes and lessons, teachers are starting to upload their Socrative resources to the TES website. Here are some nice quizzes and lessons, particularly on science, so you can try out Socrative without a huge time expenditure upfront.

You can read about our classroom’s first experience with Socrative here.


Socrative: student response system alternative

I tried out delivering quizzes to my students today using Socrative. This is a free service (free is good) that basically turns the smart phones and laptops that my students have into a classroom response system. Signing up for an account is easy and I found the interface to be fairly intuitive. Within an hour, I had played with the software, created two quizzes, and learned my way around well enough to try it out with my next class.

When you create an account at Socrative, you are assigned a “room number” where students can find you. Once you are ready to launch an activity, all students have to do is visit, click login as student, and enter your room number to engage in the activity. When you start the activity, it shows up on their smart phone or laptop.

My precalculus class and I tried three activities today: teacher-paced quiz, student-paced quiz, and exit ticket. Here is a recap of each.

Teacher-paced quiz:

I created a short 3 problem multiple choice quiz about solving trig equations. I started this quiz in teacher-paced mode which means that all students are on the same question at the same time. This allowed us to see class results so we could stop and discuss or address misconceptions that I noticed as we progressed through the quiz. Great for formative assessment and checking for understanding. I was able to view a bar graph of the live class results as they entered their answers which showed how many students chose each answer option. After ending the quiz, I was able to download an excel file that shows each student’s response to each individual question and color codes their responses so I can easily check for errors (green = correct, pink = incorrect).

Student-paced quiz:

I created a four problem MC quiz about inverse trig functions. I started this quiz in student-led mode which means that each student can progress through the quiz at his/her own pace. The teacher can choose whether to provide immediate feedback after each question or not; I chose to provide immediate feedback and stressed to my students the importance of giving each student the opportunity to answer the question rather than sharing answers, which they respected. My students are pretty good about focusing on the process rather than just on getting the right answer, but I would probably change this setting if I had students who just focus on the answers rather than the “why” of it all. The live class results during the quiz showed how many questions each student had answered so far and their cumulative score so far, and I was able to download an excel file after ending the quiz that showed each student’s response to each individual question.

Exit slip: 

The exit slip is a ready-to-use template. All you do is start the exit slip and three questions are posed to students. The first question is a multiple-choice question that asks students to rate their understanding of today’s lesson. The second question is a free-response question that asks students what they learned today. The third question asks students to solve the question posted on the board (you can watch my video response here: We recorded it at the Smartboard using Screenr, another freebie). Again, I can download an excel file of student responses. My students thought the exit slip was very cool as they have had a sub for the past two days while I attended the Schools for the Future Conference and wanted to make sure I knew what their concerns and questions are at this point. I think this is a good way to end a lesson, but I’d like to be able to modify it as an entrance slip to see how they felt about the homework and to let me know what their questions are.


I definitely give Socrative two thumbs up! I have desperately missed my eInstruction student response system that I had at my previous school and have been looking for some sort of substitute. While I still want a student response system, this will definitely do for now. It actually has many of the features I used most often with my eInstruction system. I still need to try it out a bit more to use it on the fly, but I think the learning curve for this program is pretty small if you have any experience with student response systems. The downfall I see would be in using this for summative assessment if computer/smart phone access during the assessment would compromise test security and validity.



How to Teach Using Classroom Clickers

clickersHow to Teach Using Classroom Clickers is an article with some great tips for introducing and utilizing this technology in your classroom. It is written for university professors but still offers tips and suggestions that apply to elementary and secondary classrooms as well.


Math & Technology in Today’s Classroom

I will be presenting this summer at the Summer Institute in Olympia, WA. During my session, Math & Technology in Today’s Classroom, I’ll show how I use technology such as the electronic whiteboard, student response systems, software, mathcasts and video projects to promote student learning and achievement and for assessment (both formative and summative).


If you’d like to begin creating mathcasts and you use a Windows PC, then FreeScreenCast can make screencasting simple for you.


Just install the screencast recorder, select the part of the screen you want to record, record it, upload your screencast, and then share it. Give it a try!




I’m going to begin a book study soon of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works. There are four math teachers in our department with Hitachi Starboards, Avervision document cameras, and eInstruction student response systems, and we are going to use this book as a catalyst for our discussions of ways to better utilize these technologies in our classrooms. I plan to post my comments and reactions here throughout our book study.

I am also purchasing Engaging the Online Learner. I’ll be teaching an online math course next year and am definitely looking for ways to make it an interactive experience; hopefully this book will give me some ideas for this.

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