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NCCE Wrap-Up: Math Casting and Digital Storytelling

As the NCCE conference wrapped up on Friday, I attended sessions about how to use digital tools in math to create "math casts", and how to harness commercial and free, online digital tools to encourage students to tell digital stories.

Toby Beck is a 7th grade math teacher at Ridgeview Elementary school in Vancouver, Canada. In his class, he creates "math casts," which are screen captures paired with audio that explain math problems. Beck has created a slew of math casts on his own to help his students understand certain mathematical concepts at their own pace, since they can watch, pause, and rewind the videos as many times as they need to and whenever they need to.

Beck also requires his students to create their own math casts to demonstrate understanding of the concepts, reinforcing their knowledge by allowing them to teach the process to someone else and even personalize problems. For example, one student interested in basketball created word problems that found the mean of three different basketball players based on the points they scored in the last 3 games. Students can also upload their math casts into their e-portfolio and refer to it later, he said. Check out Beck's blog for examples of math casts made by students.

Beck's school has a strong focus on using technology in the classroom, which means that the students have access to the laptops they need to be able to complete these projects. Although the school does not have enough devices for a 1-to-1 computing environment, it has recently permitted students to bring in their own devices to help bridge that gap. Beck uses Microsoft OneNote as well as Jing to create the math casts.

Meanwhile, in Snoqualmie, Wash., Joe Dockery is working with his students at Mount Si High School to create digital stories through Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, and other free, online digital tools. Dockery has headed partnerships between the high school and the elementary school in his district that pair students and ask them to interview and record each other, he said. He also offers dozens of tutorials on the subject on his website.

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