ATOMIM Grant Incentives for Teachers (GIFT) Program
Grants Awarded


Jennifer Michaelis

Lewiston High School, Lewiston, ME

I wrote a proposal last year to purchase two HoverCam document cameras. After borrowing one and having it in my room for the school year, I was delighted to learn that I would be able to purchase my own dedicated for my classroom use – no checking out of the library required!  My goal was to use the two cameras together to record and post our Geometry lessons on Blackboard, making lessons available for students who missed class or needed to see the lesson again.

The wrench in the works:

At the end of the year, my teaching schedule changed for this year, and I was no longer going to be teaching Geometry. Instead, I’d be teaching juniors and seniors, primarily Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus. At our school that also meant I would be giving up my classroom and becoming a floating teacher.  Every room’s tech set-up was different, which meant my “document camera station” wouldn’t work. I learned almost immediately that I needed to purchase an extended (20-foot) USB cable to ensure that no matter how the room was arranged, I could position my camera for best classroom management and ease of use.  And it didn’t take long before I realized that the videos were wonderful, but to make them truly useful I needed to learn how to compress them for posting online.

BUT the positives:

Even though we weren’t doing constructions, I still use the document cameras essentially every day in at least one of my classes. Students love the cameras and appreciate that they can see the actual worksheet. They seem to absolutely love the idea that our lessons are not on the board, and I love the idea that I can zoom in and out and really create dynamic presentations. I surveyed my students to ask what they like about the document cameras, and they say it’s more efficient and time-saving compared to re-writing each problem on the board, and it’s easier to see compared to the SMARTBoard scrolling.  And, unlike using a traditional chalk board, our work is preserved as we do it, so watching a video allows students to see step-by-step solutions instead of just the end solutions.  

Even better: in part because of my use last year, LHS ended up ordering a dozen more cameras for teacher use. Some of the cameras have been allocated to specific teachers (for example, science labs and art classes), but others are available in the library for teachers to check out as they need them.  Early in the year I was able to facilitate PD sessions on how to use the cameras, so the benefit has now expanded building-wide. Student engagement is up, student feedback is positive, and teacher use of technology is expanded.

Goals for continued use

I am going to continue to record and post lessons/snapshots with the cameras, and through the HoverCam Twitter feed and blog posts, I plan to continue to investigate ways to expand how I use the cameras.  I also recently learned that a wireless base is now available.  This is great for a floating teacher, and will definitely be my next purchase!  It will allow me to put the camera anywhere in the room so that I don’t need to be tethered to a desktop/laptop with a fixed connection to a projector.

In short, I didn’t quite end up using the document cameras exactly how I had intended for the classes I anticipated teaching, but I did use them with tremendous success. They have been well received and our school technology use is growing!  This grant allowed me to change my own classroom, but also gave us the knowledge and experience to change countless classrooms in our building.  And best of all, students love the cameras!

Dwight Thorne 

King Middle School, Portland, ME

Imagine your classroom full of students working at a geometry problem where they must compute the number of rotations it would take for a wheel with a radius 3 centimeters to travel a specific distance. The students compute, discuss, raise their hands, volunteer answers, decide on the best solution, then move on to the next problem. Now, imagine the same problem but this time, the students program their solutions into a robot and WATCH to see how accurate their solutions are based on how precisely the robot moves across the desired course.  

Last year, my first at King Middle School, I volunteered to assist another teacher with an early morning robotics club. I was new to robotics and as we explored the basics of programing a robot to move, I realized that the mathematics involved were perfe

ct problems to be presenting in middle school geometry. I also noted the wonderfully high level of engagement and motivation that the robots inspired. When I tried a problem-of- the-day with a borrowed robot in my regular math classes the reaction was the same. The students were highly motivated and very excited.

With a GIFT Grant from ATOMIM I was able to purchase the next generation LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robot. This version includes bluetooth connectivity allowing  students to input their programs wirelessly, from their iPads. At this point the robot has only made guest appearances to support learning around circle geometry but my plan for my next 6-7 grade cycle is to introduce a set of progressively complex challenges that require students to use radius, diameter, pi, and circumference to move a robot through various challenge courses. Beyond the geometry concepts, the challenges also reinforce precise calculations, as minor miscalculations over the course of multiple moves become major miscalculations! As I progressed with my understanding of Common Core and embraced the idea of presenting students with rigorous life-like problems, the idea of a robot as a permanent resident of my math class seemed like an excellent step in the right direction. 

Peggy Weeks

Oceanside High School West, Thomaston, ME

My students and I were thrilled when I was notified that I was chosen to be a recipient of the ATOMIM grant that I had applied for during the spring of 2013.  At the time, iPads were not available for me to use as an educational tool in my classroom at Oceanside High School.  I was still using a white board and an overhead projector for presentations of lessons, problems, and explanations.  With the funds that I received from the grant and additional funds that my school provided, I purchased an iPad, OtterBox case, and software that allowed me to mirror the iPad screen through a data projector.  This year our students each have an iPad available for their use and each classroom has Apple TV. 

I began incorporating the iPad into my algebra 1 classes using the app, Educreations.  It is a recordable whiteboard app that can be used in the classroom.  I found that students enjoyed volunteering to demonstrate and explain problems using the iPad and this app.  Explanations can be saved and shared online so that students can later view the explanations if needed.  Lessons can also be created for students, which is a great way to create a flipped classroom or to benefit students who are absent.  My students immediately became more engaged as they took responsibility for explanations of concepts and problems that they shared with their classmates. 

This year, with the increased availability of iPads in our school I am investigating other apps such as Explain Everything, which has many more features available than the Educreations app.  I continue to use the iPad in my classroom on a daily basis.


Jenny Jorgensen

"Using an iPad as Part of the RTI Process to Support Students who Struggle in Math"

by Jenny Jorgensen, Harrison Middle School, Yarmouth, ME

It was an exciting day when I read the email stating the I had been awarded the grant that allowed me to see my goal come to fruition. As the Math Lead Teacher at Harrison Middle School, I am responsible for providing Tier 2 instruction for students who receive RTI support in mathematics. Last year I began thinking about increasing how I support these students and considered using iPad math apps as an engaging strategy. After spending several months learning about the iPad (with RTI students in mind) I completed the application for the ATOMIM GIFT program. I became a regular visitor to the computer lab, asking for advice, help, and sharing my excitement about what students were saying about the apps that we were exploring.   Throughout the year I researched and applied new learning. There are some great apps for the iPad and that I wanted my students to have access to them. Next, I created a blog http:// where I commented on the apps Iʼd purchased and tried with students. If you go to the blog, youʼll find that I am particularly excited about the free app, Show Me, which I used with students last spring and will continue to do so this year. Fortunately, I was awarded the ATOMIM grant to purchase the iPad.

As the new school year begins, I am planning how to make the best use of the iPad. I will continue having students use the Show Me app as a way for them to record their mathematical thinking both verbally and visually. Students are engaged as they work through a problem, often creating more than one recording of their thinking. I am able to listen to their recordings and plan future lessons based on their demonstrated understanding. Itʼs amazing to listen to a studentʼs recording and hear their voice depicting either unsureness or confidence. Students can then share their recording with their mathematics teacher, their parents, as well as upload it to their account to use as a reference for the future. This app has been particularly beneficial for the students and for me as a way to gather insight about their mathematical knowledge and disposition.

This fall Iʼve learned about another free app, Educreations, which I will explore and add my thoughts to my blog. Iʼm grateful to our stateʼs math association (ATOMIM) and for the grant opportunities available to its members. I encourage other teachers to apply for the grant as a way to support a vision they have that would enhance their studentsʼ math experience or increase their teaching practice.

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