Tag Archives: maths

Teacher impact

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The other day, I noticed that is was one of my ex-student’s birthdays – I’m friends with his mum on Facebook after their family moved away from the area and I left the school anyway.

This particular student has Asperger’s and really gave me a run for my money at times when I taught him in Year 2 in 2015. But my fondest moments throughout the year were those in which he shared his friendships with his toys with the rest of the class. I wrote about his friendship with his Zhu Zhu pet Zak here.

The other friend he had was a large stuffed dolphin that he named Lachlan, which he brought back to school from a family holiday to Queensland. Lachlan soon became part of our class – I had to include him on the daily roll when I called out everybody’s names, I had to tell Lachlan’s owner to block his ears when we were going to watch a video (as dolphins don’t like loud noises) and Lachlan even had his own Happiness Bucket. The other class members would say Good Morning to Lachlan and stood up for him fiercely when another student punched him in the nose. Lachlan liked doing Maths, which was helpful, as his owner sure didn’t, so it was awesome to have Lachlan sit next to him during Maths.

Each Friday, we had a type of Lower Primary Assembly, where a student from each class received the ‘Ice Cream Award’  – a free ice cream from a local shop. I liked to give this award to members of my class who had really excelled throughout the week, or showed one of our school values beyond the basics. As I worked my way through my class roll, I decided that Lachlan’s owner would be excited if Lachlan the dolphin received the Ice Cream Award. (I’m not entirely sure what reason I gave, possibly for helping his owner with his Maths work!)

My goodness, the cheer that erupted from the WHOLE class when Lachlan’s name was announced was incredible. The smile on his owner’s face was so big it almost didn’t fit on his head!

What I had forgotten – or to be more honest – not even realised, was the impact that this had on me, and this student.
I wrote a message for him on her wall for his 11th birthday and I was stoked to receive a message from his mum on Friday and it melted my heart. It included a photo of her son, cuddled up with Lachlan the dolphin in bed and it read:

“Hello Fiona, sorry for taking some time to send this! Still sleeping with Lachie. He also still talks about Lachie getting the ice cream award! Hope you’re well. xo”

*Just to note, I was NEVER allowed to call the dolphin Lachie like his mum can, I had to pronounce his name in full, Lachlan, every time!

It made me sit back and think…3 years ago this stuffed dolphin toy received an award, through no merit of his own. I didn’t have to give an award to a dolphin, but he had become such an important part of our class that it was hard to overlook him as an award recipient. But the student STILL talks about it.

Sometimes, we need to form relationships with students that we find find difficult, challenging, or downright stupid (talking to a stuffed dolphin every day, seriously?!). But they’re the things they remember. They still talk about it. They value those things.

So before you dismiss those ‘silly’ things, think about the impact it might have on your student…and yourself!

dolphin

 

Maths in Motion

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My planning this term has been fairly slack given that I’ve been so sick and there’s nothing worse than being sick at home and trying to plan lessons. So, many of my lessons are comprised using the 6-step lesson plan: plan your lesson in the final 6 steps that you take to walk to your classroom!

Today’s Year 4 Digital Technology lesson was meant to be tinkering on Scratch, but I simply couldn’t be bothered collecting the shared laptops for the students to use, so I worked with what we had and we made slowmotion videos instead. I incorporated Maths into the lesson too, so it covered a little bit more curriculum!

I connected my iPad to the projector so that I could give students a quick 45-second tutorial on how to use the iMotion app. I demonstrated how to create a maths-like video using an abacus which built bigger numbers the more photos I took and then I let the kids loose on the Maths resources in the classroom. Given that it was their first experience with the app, there were a few wobbly cameras, a few fingers in the way and the odd blurry photo, but you know, practice makes perfect!

Here’s some of the creations!

 

Comfort Zones are for sissies.

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In 2018, I will be pushed waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone. Why?

I was asked by my Principal a few months ago if I’d be interested in running a STEM class. While I’m not 100% behind the concept of running STEM as a separate class because I feel that it should be fully integrated, due to needing an additional elective for Year 7/8 and a few other staffing conditions, I said yes!

This means that I’ll be teaching a STEM elective for a composite Year 7/8 class. There are 3 different 7/8 classes meaning that I’ll teach the same content for Term 1, 2 and 3 to the groups as they rotate through and then Term 4 will be different, as students opt-in to the elective of their choice in the final Term.

For the Year 9/10 class however, student opt-in to it from the beginning, so I have them all year. This is where it gets a bit scary. Year 7/8 content I feel like I can handle for the most part…but Year 9/10? My High School Science skills are fairly limited and rusty beyond all belief and regarding High School Maths…well, I can add numbers and work out angles and percentages…that’s all I need right? I’m not so stressed about the Technology & Engineering aspects, so that’s my little comfort factor.

To fully push me out of my comfort zone beyond all belief, I’m teaching French. FRENCH.  From Year 2-Year 8. To be honest, I accepted the request to teach it (I had the option to say no…) and I am excited about it, but it’s going to be a steeeeeep learning curve. I know a few French words, like crêpe, baguette, croissant…but they are all foods, which surely can’t take up the entire curriculum? French podcasts, here I come! Plus apps, puppet shows, comic strips…eeeek!

 

Teaching something out of your comfort zone next year? Let me know!

And good on you – the world is a better place for taking on a good challenge!

Coding with Blue-Bots and Bee-Bots

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This year I’ve been doing a lot of work with Lower Primary in regards to Digital Technology, especially with Blue-Bots. A Blue-Bot is similar to a Bee-Bot, however it has enhanced functionality by being able to be blue-toothed to a device and connect to the BlueBot app. You can read about some of the similarities and differences here.

We bought some of these transparent pocket mats from Modern Teaching Aids so that we could create our own mats for the students to code the Blue-Bots around – I found blocks for Rosie’s Walk, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Gingerbread Man all from the Sparklebox website, for free. I simply found the matching picture book on our library shelves and sat the book with the cards and the mat so that students could arrange the cards in the mat wherever they liked and then read the story. As they read, or after they read, they take turns to code the Blue-Bot to move to each part of the story pictured. Great idea for using during narratives or retells for Literacy!bluebots

For Maths, there are these Coding Challenge Cards. I like to ask my students to estimate what shape the BlueBot would draw/make with the given instructions, then test if their prediction was correct! I also found these cool Bee-Bot rulers for using Bee-Bots or Blue-Bots for measurement activities in Maths.IMG_4626

This set of resources is courtesy of the Teach YourChildren Well website and is easily adaptable for many different year levels. It has a huge range of challenges and our Year 7 & 8 students used them and referenced different angles on the map, terminology such as ‘as the crow flies’ to determine difference distances travelled and distance conversions using a variety of given map scales. These devices aren’t just for Primary kids!

My students have also loved creating their own mazes for the Blue-Bots to travel through –  a fantastic opportunity for them to explore width of tracks, estimating how long it should be and the types of materials they should use. They used building blocks, stationary, Lego…so many different things!

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I’d love to hear of any other ideas you’ve used with your Blue-Bots or Bee-Bots!

Please note, I have not created any of these resources myself, but have given you the link to the original source!

But HOW do I make iPads about learning, not games?

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At the start of my career, I was a self-confessed worksheet girl. I photocopied every morning and every afternoon, had folders for each day with all the worksheets I would need, complete with binders of resources that I’d collected from multiple teaching placements. I probably killed a few million trees…sorry trees.

Since I was introduced to iPads in the classroom, or for that matter any digital technology, my printing and photocopying has decreased.

maths-worksheet

memegenerator.net

But how do I teach maths now? What do I get my students to do instead of worksheets? If we don’t glue a worksheet in their book, or upload it onto a digital portfolio, how will parents know they’ve learned anything and how will we as teachers, assess them?

It’s simple:

  • teach them how to use the technology using simple instructions.
  • focus on creation apps, rather than consumption apps – make the students think!
  • give them time to explore (not ‘play’, explore) what the app can do.

To get you started, I’ve created 4 different task cards which can be used for whole class or small group work in maths. They are based around students creating and applying their knowledge, with a focus on sharing their work with their class and teacher, through taking screenshots, sharing on the big screen, or adding to a collaborative Google Slide. You can download them for free here.

Friends of Ten!

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Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

10s frame

Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.

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Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

Bridging to ten for times tables

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Making 7

Are there any tricks to learning the 7 times tables? They were my most hated as a child and are the times tables that my two Year 5 tutoring students find the most difficult. There is no repeated number pattern in the ‘ones’ column, until you reach 7×11 (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 73, 70, 77) – making it such a difficult pattern to remember that it’s pointless.

It seems that the most difficult part of the seven times tables is crossing into the next decade, going from the numbers in the twenties, to the numbers in the thirties, all while repeatedly adding 7. The girls are confident at adding numbers 1-10 to a number ending in a zero, so I needed to help them extend this skill into their times tables.

So today, I asked the two girls “Give me two numbers that equal 7”.

They came up with the 3 combinations that you would find on two dice:

1+6, 2+5 & 3+4

And then we skip counted by 7, breaking up the 7 into two components if we needed.

Like so:

7 + (3+4) : First, add the 3 to bridge to ten. Then, simply add 10+4.

14 + (6+1): Choose the number that will bridge to the next ten; in this case, 6. Then, add 20+1.

21 + 7. The girls knew what 1+7 was, so this was easy as we didn’t need to bridge to ten.

28 + (2+5). I began to ask the girls, “How many to get to the ten? What do we have left to add?”

As I explained to the girls’ mother afterwards, bridging to ten is such an important part of basic addition, but sometimes we forget that it still applies for repeated addition, that being multiplication.

I’m planning on using the same strategy to help the girls work on their 6 and 8 times tables, as they’re the only tables we are yet to master. Unless there’s some other easy tricks for those tables?

Technology for relief teachers.

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Today was my first day of relief teaching in the school that I’m not actually working part-time at this year. So, I was not connected to the school wifi, or have log in details or anything. For someone who loves integrating technology into lessons in any way possible, I was slightly ‘meh’ about my day in Year 6.

Regardless of this, I had packed my iPad in my handbag. What was I planning to do with it? No idea! But I was determined. I pulled out my folder of ‘Break’ apps, courtesy of @DaleSidebottom. I had ClassBreak, MathBreak, TeacherShake, QuizBreak, BrainBrea, ScienceBreak & LiteracyBreak. All of these can be purchased from the iTunes App Store, search: The Ultimate Teachers App Pack.

But which ones could be used without an internet connection?

  • LiteracyBreak – a great range of Introduction Games, Nursery Rhymes, Brainteasers, Debating Topics, Writing Games, Bus Activities (think: school camp and long excursions!), Group Games and a section for ideas on Organising Groups.
  • ScienceBreak – all sections except Science Videos (links to Youtube videos) will work offline. Great ideas for lesson starters, simple low-prep experiments, fun facts…and the list goes on!
  • ClassBreak – a plethora of activities and games: icebreakers, PE, team building and time filler! Subject games & classroom activities, riddles, jokes, quotes of the day, brain gym & a true and false guessing game.
  • MathBreak – this was my go-to app for the day and my favourite section was the riddles! Most of them were maths-related, but some were just good old fashioned logic thinking! This app also features a list of dice games and times table tricks.

Anything else? Well, I asked another teacher if there was a CRT log-in for the Interactive Whiteboard & classroom computer, and there was. (Always pays to ask!) Right – logged in and ready to go!

This was perfect, as I had 7 statements for the students to write out in their books and then decide if they agree or disagree with them…and then the good old discuss and compare, most popular responses etc. Perfect to do as a Kahoot survey! (You don’t have a free Kahoot account? Why not?!)

So, at the beginning of lunch, I whipped up a Kahoot survey (it took all of 4 minutes) and once the students had done the required work of writing the questions down, they decided on their answers – survey style. It was a great way of gaining a whole class snapshot of their beliefs & opinions and provided a healthy discussion board for us to chat about.

Aaaaand, just because I love inspiring students with clips from Youtube, this clip tied in really well with the topic of our afternoon lesson – serving others.

So never fear, relief teachers can use technology successfully! Anything else to add to my list?

4 Apps for creating…3 different ways!

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Often iPad apps are seen as a quick fix to boredom – used to entertain, with minimal thinking involved. Here are 4 free apps to use in the classroom, for students to create, rather than to consume!

Number pieces – free

  • Using number lines as a basic counting tool in Numeracy, and annotate to show different numbers on the line.
  • Making numbers to 100 using the Base 10 blocks.
  • Forming a variety of numbers and annotating their extended notation. This could be photographed and added into Educreations, to include students voice to explain their thinking.

ChatterPix Kids – free

  • Counting to 10. Students can take a photo of themselves, add a mouth and record their verbal counting.
  • Role-playing. Students can record their thoughts on what to say in certain situations they may encounter in the classroom or in the playground.
  • Oral presentations. Students can record their thoughts on paper and then read them aloud while recording their own voice.

Make Beliefs Comix – free

  • Inserting characters to use as a basic storytelling tool.
  • Using the characters to add speech bubbles and create dialogue between 2 or more characters.
  • Create a comic which includes dialogue, and follow it up with a lesson on talking marks when writing.

PicCollage – free

  • Learning a specific sound/blend. Students take photos of objects around their classroom that begin with that sound/blend. They can add text, or a title of the letter they are working on.
  • Writing descriptions. Students can photograph an object, and add text to add adjectives around the photo.
  • Modelling behaviours during Literacy – how to Read to Self. Students can take photos of their partner reading and annotate with text to identify the correct behaviours to show during this time.

(These ideas were designed with F-2 classes in mind, but can easily be adapted for higher year levels.)

Recent ‘gems’ from the App Store

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I thought I’d share with you a few of my most recent valuable iPad downloads from the App Store. Some of them I found through apps like AppOfTheDay and AppsGoneFree, whereas others were in the featured section of iTunes.

ABC Spy HD – free

A fantastic introduction to the alphabet for students which integrates with the world around them. Students are to scroll through the alphabet and take a photo of something beginning with each letter. They can choose a frame for their photo, add the word using text if they like and email and print the book when they are finished. Taking photos of classmates who have names starting with letters is a good way to start the letter-sound relationship and the fact that it can be made into a concrete material is fabulous!

Curious Ruler – free for a limited time

This app would be a fantastic resource for the maths classroom, especially when measuring using formal and informal units. By taking a photo of an object in the classroom, students can choose an informal unit to measure it with – compare the object’s length to the Australian $1 coin, a soccer ball, or a DVD. Changing the units means that you can view the results in centimetres or inches and encourage students to check that it’s correct using hands-on materials!

Dreamtime – free

This iBook-style app features a variety of Dreamtime stories written, illustrated and animated by students at Healesville High School. It offers an audio feature, so the story can be read aloud, or students can read it themselves. By touching individual words, they are read aloud for a full, authentic reading experience. For anybody who is teaching Indigenous culture and would like to focus on the history of story-telling, this app is a great find! 

K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite – free (Full version – $2.49)

If fluency and comprehension are a focus in your class, this app offers an easy assessment method. By entering a student’s name, you are able to ask students to read a passage as the app times how long it takes and calculates a words per minute score. At the end of each passage there are 3 comprehension questions for the reader to answer, highlighting correct and incorrect answers. While this version is free, it offers a range of passages to choose from without limiting you too much.

K12 Equivalence Tiles – free

Another app by K12 Inc., this app allows you to manipulate values in fraction, decimal and percentage format, to show the comparison between them and highlight the equivalence. With each different value colour-coded, it makes it easy to see the similarities and differences between the 3 types of figures. While there isn’t any option to export the chart, taking a screenshot of it and importing it into another app like Explain Everything or Educreations would allow students to explain and rationalise their mathematical thinking.

 

Although this is just a snapshot of what I’ve recently downloaded, I hope they’ve been helpful!