Online Maths Activities

We had a numeracy curriculum day at my school today and I was asked to present a workshop on online maths sites. The audience was diverse with teachers from all grade levels as well as CRTs (casual replacement teachers) and student teachers.

I began by giving a few tips for using online maths sites.

1. Think of the learning intention first. When you find a good online activity, it can be tempting to want to just use it in your classroom. It’s important to think of the learning intention and then the resources, not the other way round.

2. Be organised. Have a play around with the site before your lesson (you don’t need to know everything about it). Get your tabs up on the interactive whiteboard or student links ready ahead of time. Have a system to archive your online resources. I would be lost without my Diigo social bookmarking account.

3. Learn with your students. You certainly don’t need to be the expert when using online resources.

4. Think out loud. For example, when you come across a website you could say, “I don’t know how to play this game so I’m going to click on help and read the instructions first”. I have found thinking out loud to be an excellent way to teach incidental ICT skills and troubleshooting.

5. Mix up the way you use online resources. Online maths activities can be used for whole class activities, small group work (don’t underestimate the power of collaboration), and individual work (through a rotation if you don’t have the resources for 1:1). Sometimes online activities are more teacher led, such as when you’re teaching a new concept, however, it’s always a good idea to have the students as actively engaged in their learning as possible.

I shared one or two examples of maths resources that could be used for all four areas of our maths lesson structure.

1. Warm up. This is a quick activity to get the students ready for learning.

  • A + Click: This site has quick activities for all age groups to develop logical reasoning and creative thinking. No sign in required.
  • Oswego: Students love playing these games on the IWB. There are games for all areas of the maths curriculum and many are timed which allows for some friendly competition. No sign in required.

2. Introduction. This is the teaching part of the maths lesson.

  • Virtual Manipulatives: A simple alternative to using the maths tools on the IWB software which I know many teachers find frustrating. No sign in required.
  • Studyladder: I like using the IWB resources and explanation videos as another way to teach a concept. Studyladder also has many other resources for all areas of the curriculum. Free sign up required.
3. Main task. This is the activity that the students complete with enabling and extending tasks to differentiate the curriculum.
  • Sqworl: A great visual way to put together a collection of maths activities for students to use on their computers. Free sign up required.
  • Woodlands: There are many sites that compile links to online activities into subjects. Woodlands is one my students really enjoy with links to many activities to practise maths skills. No sign in required.

4. Reflection. This is the time for sharing strategies and summarising what was learnt.

  • Jenny Eather’s Maths Dictionary: This site has kid-friendly and visual definitions for maths vocabularly. There are also excellent printable charts to use around your classroom on the site. No sign in required.

I compiled all of the links to the examples I gave and many more on a Sqworl http://sqworl.com/vec8xd

Participants were given time to play and find resources that would be useful in their classroom.

What online maths resources do you enjoy?

Do you have any great sites to add that aren’t on the Sqworl?

Could You Teach Without Technology?

In November last year I wrote a blog post about how I was missing my interactive whiteboard (IWB). My projector had broken and I was without it for all of Term Four. My classroom program suddenly became less authentic, less personalised and less engaging for both the students and myself.

Ironically, the same thing has happened this year! I have been without my IWB for two months and there are no signs of it being fixed any time soon. Luckily, I team teach in a double classroom with Kelly Jordan this year and we both have an IWB. So while this is hard to adapt to, I’m not totally lost!

All this has got me thinking…

Could I teach without technology?

I’m thinking the answer is no.

I mean, of course I could teach. I’d be capable of it. I just don’t think the teaching would be engaging, personalised, authentic, creative or collaborative enough to make me want to do it!

Not many people know that about three years ago I was ready to give up teaching. This would be hard for some people to believe considering how obsessed I am with the career now!

I had been teaching for about four years and I was already getting bored of it. Every day seemed to be the same and I felt confined to the four walls of my classroom.

Technology saved my career and aren’t I glad about that!

I was granted Teacher Professional Leave in 2008 which allowed me about 30 days out of the classroom to explore how technology could be used in the classroom. Through school visits, professional development, a visit the Education Department and a lot of experimentation I suddenly became extremely engaged in my career again!

I became familiar with blogs, web 2.0 tools, iPod Touches, interactive whiteboards, global collaboration and suddenly I was no longer confined to the four walls of my classroom. I instantly saw student engagement levels increase and student learning improve.

I became hooked and wanted to learn more and more about how technology could amplify my teaching and enrich my classroom program.

The journey I’ve been on over the past three years has been hugely satisfying and I am now more passionate than ever about my career.

Technology fuels my passion while enriching my students’ learning; it is now non-negotiable in my classroom program.

DSC06564

What do you think?

Could you teach without technology?

How did you get into technology?

Why do you like using technology in your classroom?

Sites for Integration Aides

Monday 9th August is a statewide curriculum day for Ultranet implementation in Victoria.

For readers who are outside of Victoria, Australia, the Ultranet is a  $60.5 million online portal for teachers, students and parents in Victorian government schools. Read my post on my initial thoughts on the Ultranet here.

I am a Lead User at my school, Leopold Primary School and we came online in Cycle One in May.

While I remain somewhat sceptical that the Ultranet will actually work on August 9th, we have come up with a detailed plan for training the staff on this day.

Catering for our integration aides was a consideration in our planning.

While our integration aides will be participating in the basic Ultranet and Web 2.0 workshops, we are also allowing them time to explore useful websites that they could use with their students on classroom computers.

I have prepared the following handout for our integration aides, which may also be useful for primary school teachers.

What do you have planned for August 9th?

Do you have any sites that you think would be particularly useful for integration aides?

StoryIt: Word Games

StoryIt is a website that doesn’t look amazing with its simple layout and advertisements but has some great resources for the junior primary classroom.

While there are stories to read and print, seasonal resources, printable shapes and more – the resources I’ve found most useful are the word games.

There are about fifteen word games available to play online that involve making sentences, making words, spelling, changing words etc.

In the Wiz Game, the goal is to make as many words as you can from the letter tiles. Get the question mark tile to the bottom and a vocabulary question appears. Select the best meaning of the word and earn extra points.

storyit2

The Odd One Out: Word Family game involves choosing the word that doesn’t belong.

storyit

There are games on the StoryIt site that would be suitable for students in at all levels of primary school.

These games could be used as a lesson introduction or closure on the IWB, with a small focus group or individual students could use the games on classroom computers.

Have you used the StoryIt Word Games?

How could you use these games in your classroom?

Quietube: Video Without the Distractions

Quietube is a handy tool that allows you to watch videos such a those on YouTube without all the distracting or inappropriate ads and comments etc. Providing YouTube isn’t blocked at your school, this is a great tool for the classroom!

Quietube also works with videos from Vimeo, BBC iPlayer (available in UK only) and Viddler.

Using Quietube is so easy. You simply drag the button from the site to your toolbar, then when you are watching a video on a site like YouTube, you press the Quietube button on your toolbar and the video opens in a distraction free window.

You can also get a short link to your distraction free Quietube video to send to a friend.

quietube

Do you know any other tools that make watching videos in the classroom easier?

Virtual Maths Manipulatives

I nearly always use my IWB (interactive whiteboard) for Maths whole-class introductions and often small group instruction.  Publisher McGraw Hill and Glencoe have a great maths resource for your IWB that is an alternative to IWB software. It is called Virtual Manipulatives.

Virtual Manipulatives is a Flash based website with interactive manipulatives that students and teachers can use to introduce or reinforce maths concepts. It is suitable for students from Kindergarten to Year Eight.

This site is very simple to use (mostly drag and drop) and requires very little preparation.

You simply choose a background from the collection of Game Boards, Story Boards or Work Mats. Work Mat options include place value mats, tens frames, graph paper, algebra tiles, in and out equation tables, blank calendars, number lines and number charts.

You can then set up or solve a problem by choosing from a set of manipulatives such as base ten blocks, counters, fraction tiles, cubes, spinners, tangrams, calendars, clocks, teddies and number cubes (dice).

You can narrow the choice of backgrounds and manipulatives to your grade level to find the most appropriate resources.

There is a pen tool to draw on the screen and completed work can be printed. There is also a stop watch feature to time the completion of tasks.

virtual manipulatives

Leave a comment. How could you use Virtual Manipulatives in your Maths lessons?

MeeGenius

MeeGenius is a new site that has been popular on Twitter recently. MeeGenius is an online library of picture books for young children. Currently there are nearly 30 books available to read, most of which are popular fairy tales.

meegenius library

The books can be read independently or there is an option to hear the book being read to you with the words being highlighted as you hear them. If you choose the read along option, you can pause the books as they are read aloud. This is useful as it allows you to ask the students questions and focus on teaching points.

One of the most exciting features of this site is the ability to personalise the stories. This could be a great way to entice reluctant readers and a fun tool to make the stories more meaningful to your students. You simply answer a few questions and the book is rewritten to include new character names and locations etc. You can also click on the “edit” button to rewrite the whole book. This could be useful for creating “Fractured Fairy tales” with students.

meegenisu

You don’t need to sign up to read the MeeGenius stories, however you do need to sign-up if you wish to save and email your personalised stories.

These stories would be great on an IWB or classroom computers. While the site is completely free, you can buy MeeGenius Apps from the iTunes store for iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads (currently AU$2.49)

Leave a comment. How could you use MeeGenius in your classroom?

Storytelling Tool: Five Card Flickr

Five Card Flickr is a simple yet useful tool that I found out about from a number of people on Twitter.

Five Card Flickr deals you random pictures from Flickr that you put together to tell a story. From each 5 photos you are dealt, you choose one to add to your story. You then repeat this 4 more times until you have 5 photos that you can then use to tell a story.

Students could use this tool for oral language story telling or for inspiration for creating a written story. Stories could be created individually or as a class using an IWB.

Stories can be written on the site and saved to a gallery or alternatively, students could just write on paper.

Especially with younger students, oral language is an important area that can sometimes be neglected in the crowded curriculum.

The possibilities of Five Card Flickr are only limited by the students’ creativity! Give it a try.

five card flickr

Do you know any other sites that are useful for writing or oral language prompts?

Clasroom Resources: Teachers Pet

I have been using the website SparkleBox for quite a while to find a wide range of printable resources for my primary classroom. I was therefore surprised to discover that the SparkleBox website has been been undergoing a troubled time recently with it’s creator and editor, Samuel King being imprisioned in January 2010 for child pornography offences. Read about it here. As a result of the convictions, many teachers felt compelled to boycott their use of SparkleBox.

sparklebox

This week on Twitter, I found out about an alternative new website called Teacher’s Pet. The site that was launched on April 14th 2010 is the combined work of a teacher, Christina and Flash programmer, Jay. The site contains free printable PDFs and will soon contain IWB resources and music. The website is nicely designed and the resources are clear, colourful and purposeful. While this is a UK site, it looks like it could be useful for primary teachers worldwide. This site is very new, however new resources are being upload regularly and hopefully it will eventually become a site that is as comprehensive as it’s comparable website, SparkleBox. Check it out!

Teachers Pet

Postscript: I have just come across another new similar site called Twinkl. There must be a few SparkleBox alternatives popping up on the web. This is good news for teachers!

Leave a comment if you know any other sites with printable resources for teachers.

Sentence Activities for Lower Primary

This week, I have been reinforcing to my Grade Two students the importance of correctly using full stops and capital letters to form sentences. I have found that primary students of all age groups tend to need constant reinforcement of these concepts.

My students defined a sentence as a piece of writing that makes sense by itself, starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, exclamation mark or question mark.”

I used some great online resources to teach students about sentences, full stops and capital letters.

BBC Skillswise Making Sentences

This site by the BBC has some great factsheets, quizzes, games and worksheets about sentences. My students particularly enjoyed the games which involve deciding whether sentences make sense and adding punctuation to text. This site also has links to activities about putting sentences together and using commas.

bbc sentences

Capital Letters and Full Stops

This site from the Welsh National Grid for Learning includes explanations, games, worksheets and activities about using capital letters and full stops. The resources revolve around a theme of “Dewi the Dragon”. My students enjoyed punctuating the sentences in the story about Dewi with capital letters and full stops.

Capital letters and full stops

Have you tried any of these resources or do you know of any other resources for teaching about sentences?