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TOM VAKKAS
Second Place

3-5 | Math | Video Production

Station WCNY in New York

My Classroom Innovation

I have created over 200 math videos that are student-centered, engaging, and show how "math is everywhere!" The "real-life" math videos I create accompany topics like pets, sports, toys, games, etc. and incorporate research-proven, standards-based mathematics for all learners. Not only do I create math videos, but my students, as well as their parents take my cameras home and create math videos of their own and interviews (where is math at home? work?). I then work with students and parents on the math videos and slideshows to include multiple representations (different ways to solve the problem) using research-proven strategies (number lines, circles and stars, partial sums, products, and quotients, arrays, and the "drop 1 subtraction method". Every video I make starts out with "Hi Kids, it's Mathster Vakkas..." and ends with "Be Aware! Math is Everywhere!"

How Students were Engaged

My whole school watches my math videos on a large Smart screen and I have students engaged in solving the problem (I walk around with the microphone to engage them). I also have parents come to be interviewed by me live and show their video that they made with their child. In my classroom, I use my videos (and my students') as part of our math lessons (introducing new topics or units, practicing skills, assessing learning). Students are engaged because the videos embody topics of student interest. Even the most reluctant math students love the videos and are instantly engaged in mathematics because of them. My work was recognized at my Board Office during a presentation (a wonderful article in the local newspaper), and I also won a local public education grant to purchase more cameras for my initiative of "Mathster Vakkas Productions". Our school has also recently won the 2010 Blue Ribbon Award for academic achievement.

PBS Program/Content Used

PBS Teachers Connect and Share with teachers and discussions in math