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Lesson and Student Artifacts

This lesson was about making connections. Students used Voice Thread and the Show Me app. to show examples of 1/2 and 1/4, including time and money.

Week 13

This week we were to teach our lesson, post a write up of our lesson (which can be found in week 12), a visual to showing pre and post test results, three artifacts and our reflections.

As a teacher I am meeting NETS-T standard which is to:

Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching

Here is the lesson:

Title: Real Life Examples of ½ and 1/4th – Making Connections

Grade Level: 1st

Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice:

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

      In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • construct arguments using concrete referents such as objects, drawings, diagrams, and actions
  • justify conclusions, communicate conclusions
  • listen to arguments and decide whether the arguments make sense

4. Model with mathematics.

      In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • apply mathematics to solve problems in everyday life
  • identify important quantities in a practical situation and model the situation with manipulatives or pictures                     
  • interpret mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense

Alaska Math Content Standards:

Work with time and money.

                        1.MD.3 Tell and write time in half hours using both analog and digital clocks.

1.MD.5. Recognize and read money symbols including $ and ¢.

1.MD.6. Identify values of coins (e.g., nickel = 5 cents, quarter = 25 cents). Identify equivalent values of coins up to $1 (e.g., 5 pennies = 1 nickel, 5 nickels = 1 quarter).

Geometry

1.G.3. Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares. Describe the shares using the       words, halves, fourths, and quarters and phrases half of, fourth of and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of or   four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing (break apart) into more equal shares creates smaller shares.

            AK Speaking and Listening Standards

                        1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

b. Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the                                              comments of others through multiple exchanges.

2. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or  information presented orally or through other media.

5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Objectives: Students will work collaboratively to demonstrate the meaning of ½ and ¼ using real life examples including time and money.

Materials: photos, coins, one dollar bill, paper, pencils, base ten blocks, pattern  blocks, clock face, IPad with the Show Me app., access to VoiceThread.

Anticipatory Set:

Show the following You Tube videos to get students thinking about examples of ½ and ¼ in the real world and in their everyday life.

Fractions in everyday life can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EGPJCC-oBQ&list=WLCc2ydZDklWGaS1KPDefGw9-2c4EkKSF8

Fractions of the World can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvzT6FgRHZo&list=WLCc2ydZDklWGaS1KPDefGw9-2c4EkKSF8

Model:

Continue to show examples of ½ and ¼ using money and time in the daily calendar routine.

Show teacher created Show Me and explain that students will be working together in groups to make their own Show Me.

Demonstrate how to make a Show Me recording.

Guided Practice:

Invite students to try the Show Me app. It can be projected onto the Promethean Board with the document camera. As students work in their groups, teacher assists one group at a time with making a practice Show Me.

Independent Practice

Ask students to bring in examples of ½ or ¼ for show & tell. After students share with the class, ask them to make a voice thread explaining their show & tell. This will be ongoing throughout the week.

Students work together as a group to brainstorm ideas for making a Show Me. They can draw, take photos of real objects, or make a model. When the group is ready, the teacher will provide support in making the Show Me recording.

Closure: Groups of students will share their examples with the class.

The Show Me recordings and Voice Thread will be published and hopefully shared with another class in a different school.

Assessment:

Pretest – Students were given paper and pencil and asked to list, draw or explain with words examples of ½ and ¼ they find in their daily lives.

Post-test – Using the Show Me app. on the IPad, a group of students will create a recording that will demonstrate understanding of ½ and ¼ using examples from everyday life including time and money.

Both the pretest and post-test can be scored using the rubric.

Rubric

This visual shows the pretest results.:

Pretest

The reason why there are three separate tests for the pretest is because when I gave the assignment to draw as many examples from everyday life showing 1/2 and 1/4 (even though I suggested time and money), I did not get any examples of time or money. I also did not get any examples from everyday life. My pretest turned out to be an assessment only for standard G1.3 because the only answers I got were of circles and rectangles divided into one half and one fourth (even though I suggested using things such as time and money). A few students were able to draw one of two things or two of four things to show 1/2. So I gave a quiz that assessed telling time to the half hour and a separate quiz that assessed counting money (see week 12 post for photo of high, medium and low levels of understanding). The pretests show that most students can tell time to the half hour and most can accurately identify coins and their value. They know when to make a trade (5 pennies for a nickel, 10 pennies for a dime), yet they did not see time and money as related to fractions and they could not come up with a real life example. So my challenge this week was to help my first graders make connections.

Post Test Results based on the rubric:

Post test

The post test results show that all students have increased their level of understanding. I graded each student individually based on their performance using the rubric. Many  more students are meeting the AK Standards addressed in the lesson.

I created a little ShowMe tutorial of my own and shared it with my students to give students some ideas. I explained that they would be working together in groups to create a ShowMe about 1/2 and 1/4 in everyday life.

I typed up a little letter to parents explaining that we would be focusing our Show & Tells for this week on examples of 1/2 and 1/4 in everyday  life. As student brought in their examples, I would take a photo of it and put it in a VoiceThread. As they shared with the class, they also created a slide for a class VoiceThread. The VoiceThread we created is called 1/2 and 1/4  in Everyday Life.

This week we did a great deal of finding and sharing examples of 1/2 and 1/4. Students worked together in their groups to build models of 1/2 and 1/4. Some students experimented with other fractions as well.  Students took pictures of their creations using an IPad. After working through several technical difficulties, each group did complete the ShowMe. The students enjoyed watching themselves on the screen as I played them back.

You can view the ShowMe by clicking on the following links:

We Love Math

Fractions 1/2, 1/4

Fractions, Time and Money

Fractions in Real Life

It is hard for me to choose a high, medium and low because in each one, you will see high levels of understanding as well as some misconceptions and errors. If I had to choose, I think I would pick Fractions in Real Life as the high because they were confident, they used a variety of representations and explanations. I would give the Fractions 1/2, 1/4 a medium high. They did some great representations of fractions, but there were also some misconceptions within the group and some difficulty with the explanations. I give We Love Math a medium ranking. The Fractions, Time and Money would be my pick for a low because they had some misconceptions and two of the three group members seemed very unsure about their explanations.

The most challenging thing for me was making the recordings. When creating a ShowMe, you can start and stop, but I have yet to discover a way to edit without recreating the whole thing. It was challenging to work with one group and keep the others occupied doing something quietly and independently.

I had problems with the VoiceThread as well. For some reason, it was not always recording the voices when the students worked at the Promethean Board. I loved using the Promethean Board because the whole class could see and it is easier for students to draw with the pen than with a mouse. I used my Ipad for some, but was unable to figure out how to change the identities. The teacher computer in the lab always worked great except for the last day I tried it, the voice was not recording. So… the kids did great. They were always anxious to have a turn. The learning curve for me was frustrating at times, but we all need something to keep up humble.

There will always be a learning curve when we try new things and technical difficulties are a fact of life. If we can work through them, we can begin to reap the benefits of our efforts. Because I used the Ipad with a new app., my students were highly motivated. Because I recorded their explanations, I have a record of the vocabulary they used, how confident they were, as well as any misconceptions they had. Because they worked together as a team, there was a great deal of sharing and discussion during all phases of the project. Because I published the  finished ShowMe videos, other first grade students can see it and comment on it. I have shared the links with my PLN. I would like to watch the videos again with my class after a few weeks have passed. Maybe some people will have added comments. Even if there are no new comments, I will be curious to see if anyone’s thinking has changed.

Week 12 How to show impact on student learning #diffimooc

This week the essential question is: How will I demonstrate impact on student learning as a result of my differentiated lesson?

In my last post, I stated my theory that students learn to identify 1/2 and 1/4 as a shaded part of a circle or square in much the same way they learn to identify the shape of a triangle, square or circle. They can identify it, but can they tell you more about it? Can tell about the attributes or make connections to the real world? To find out, I gave my students a pretest. I gave them a blank piece of paper and asked them to tell me about all the ways they could think of to show 1/2 or 1/4. They could make a list, draw or write words to tell me about where they might find 1/2 or 1/4 in every day life. The reason I used paper and pencil for the pretest is that it was much more efficient. My students are not familiar with the Show Me app.  at this point, so even though I want to introduce it as a way for them to showcase their final project, I chose not to use it for a pretest.

This is what I got:

DSCN0953DSCN0952DSCN0957

a) 1/2 with no shading  b) 1/2 and 1/4 shaded in a variety of shapes   c) 1/2 of a rectangle shaded, 1/2 as 2/4 of a rectangle, 1/2 as 2 of 4 circles and 1/4 of a circle shaded.

The pretest samples show a range of understanding. Student a drew the least, student b did better and student c was able to draw a variety of ways to represent 1/2, however none of the students gave a real life example.

Based on these results, my theory seems correct. I decided my students could use some help with making some connections to the real world. I was a little surprised that there were no examples of a half an hour, since we do time to the half hour as part of our calendar routine now. We have also talked about quarters being 1/4 of a dollar.

I showed my students the two YouTube videos that I posted last week just to give them some ideas. I gave them a show & tell assignment, which was that next week the show & tells had to be an example of 1/2 or 1/4. I am hoping to take a photo of some of the examples and get students to tell about on Voice Thread. They can also use it as part of their group Show Me. This is also a way for me do do some formative assessment prior to the final project.

Here is my lesson plan:

Title: Real Life Examples of ½ and 1/4th – Making Connections

Grade Level: 1st

Alaska Standards Adressed:

Alaska Standards for Mathematical Practice:

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

      In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • construct arguments using concrete referents such as objects, drawings, diagrams, and actions
  • justify conclusions, communicate conclusions
  • listen to arguments and decide whether the arguments make sense

4. Model with mathematics.

      In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • apply mathematics to solve problems in everyday life
  • identify important quantities in a practical situation and model the situation with manipulatives or pictures                     
  • interpret mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense

Alaska Math Content Standards:

Work with time and money.

                        1.MD.3 Tell and write time in half hours using both analog and digital clocks.

1.MD.5. Recognize and read money symbols including $ and ¢.

1.MD.6. Identify values of coins (e.g., nickel = 5 cents, quarter = 25 cents). Identify equivalent values of coins up to $1 (e.g., 5 pennies = 1 nickel, 5 nickels = 1 quarter).

Geometry

1.G.3. Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares. Describe the shares using the words, halves, fourths, and quarters and phrases half of, fourth of and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of or our of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing (break apart) into more equal shares creates smaller shares.

            AK Speaking and Listening Standards

                        1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

b. Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.

2. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Objectives: Students will work collaboratively to demonstrate the meaning of ½ and ¼ using real life examples including time and money.

Materials: photos, coins, one dollar bill, paper, pencils, base ten blocks, pattern  blocks, clock face, IPad with the Show Me app., access to Voice Thread.

Anticipatory Set:

Show the following You Tube videos to get students thinking about examples of ½ and ¼ in the real world and in their everyday life.

Fractions in everyday life can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EGPJCC-oBQ&list=WLCc2ydZDklWGaS1KPDefGw9-2c4EkKSF8

Fractions of the World can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvzT6FgRHZo&list=WLCc2ydZDklWGaS1KPDefGw9-2c4EkKSF8

Model:

Continue to show examples of ½ and ¼ using money and time in the daily calendar routine.

Show teacher created Show Me and explain that students will be working together in groups to make their own Show Me.

Demonstrate how to make a Show Me recording.

Guided Practice:

Invite students to try the Show Me app. It can be projected onto the Promethean Board with the document camera. As students work in their groups, teacher assists one group at a time with making a practice Show Me.

Independent Practice:

Ask students to bring in examples of ½ or ¼ for show & tell. After students share with the class, ask them to make a voice thread explaining their show & tell. This will be ongoing throughout the week.

Students work together as a group to brainstorm ideas for making a Show Me. They can draw, take photos of real objects, or make a model. When the group is ready, the teacher will provide support in making the Show Me recording.

Closure: Groups of students will share their examples with the class.

The Show Me recordings and Voice Thread will be published and hopefully shared with another class in a different school.

Assessment:

Pretest – Students were given paper and pencil and asked to list, draw or explain with words examples of ½ and ¼ they find in their daily lives.

Post-test – Using the Show Me app. on the IPad, a group of students will create a recording that will demonstrate understanding of ½ and ¼ using examples from everyday life including time and money.

Both the pretest and post-test can be scored using the rubric.

Which Technology to Use #diffimooc

This week the essential question is: What technology will I use to allow students to demonstrate they have met the standards targeted by my rubric? What are the classroom management considerations that I must address?

I have two ideas in mind for ways that students can showcase their understanding of the standards presented in my rubric. One is VoiceThread and the other is the ShowMe app. There are pros and cons to each. I have listed them in the table below. The process of making the table helped me to decide how I wanted to use each.

Table

After experimenting with both VoiceThread and the ShowMe app., my plan is to upload several photos into a VoiceThread and let students comment on them individually. Of course the whole class will see the comments, but hopefully each individual will have something different to add.

My plan is to make an exemplar in ShowMe to show my students. Hopefully this will give them some ideas about what they might do for the project. In small groups, students will brainstorm solutions to the essential question: How many different ways can we show ½ and ¼?

Something similar to this:

Or this:

Once students see some examples, they should be able to come up with some of their own. Students can brainstorm in small groups, making a list of their ideas. They can draw, build, cut and paste, take photos, or bring in examples. They will have to decide how to put it all together. When they feel ready, I will guide them through the process of making the ShowMe.

To do the VoiceThread, I need to have one student at a time recording. I should be able to have the students take turns making their comments on the Promethean Board while speaking into the headset. This way they can draw and record at the same time. The rest of the class can see their work at the same time. If I do this in short sections it might work out to do it this way. Another idea is to have the other students working quietly on something else. This could be in the classroom or in the computer lab.

One challenge for recording the ShowMe’s is to avoid a lot of background noise. My plan is to make a recording with one group at a time while the rest of the class is doing something quietly. I may need to use recess time to do the recording part.

There are many good resources on the classroom management Pearltree this week. I have been reading through them. I have gotten several good tips. There were a couple on VoiceThread that I found useful. I posted a few resources to the Pearltree that I found. I like seeing all the resources at once in the form of a big interactive concept map. It is another tool for curating resources and a fun way to share them as well.

Week 10 Using Technology to Differentiate the Product #diffimooc

This week we were to think of ways we can use technology to differentiate the product in our classroom.

We were to start with the standards, identify standards we wanted to focus on, create a rubric and be thinking about a product.

I started by reading the AK Math Standards for my grade level (1st). Next I pulled out all the standards that looked applicable to my project ideas. Once I finally settled on one idea, I narrowed the standards further.  I also tried to choose standards that would work well together. I wanted my students to be able to make some connections.

I decided that I wanted to do something that would help students connect the fractions of ½ and ¼ to their everyday lives. I saw some connections with the time and money standards. Time and money are also things that students need continued practice with, especially identifying equivalent values. Although most of my students can draw partition a shape into halves and fourths, they could use some practice using the vocabulary. Sometimes I think students memorize what ½ and ¼ look like just as they learn to identify a square or triangle. They can identify it, but they are not sure about the attributes.

If students could work together to create examples of ½ and ¼ I think they could learn a great deal from each other and their efforts would go a long way toward developing a deeper understanding of the concepts. I am thinking that small groups could create a VoiceThread or a ShowMe video to share with others. They could contribute to the projects in ways they felt most comfortable such as writing, drawing, speaking, building a model, or taking pictures. I will need to assist them with the technology, but I have a feeling the technology will be a motivator for them.

I have talked with another teacher in my PLN about sharing the videos each of our classes create. In this way, the students can learn from students in classrooms outside their own community.

What follows is a description of the process I went through in creating a rubric for this week.

NETS-T

d. Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching

 

Some of the standards I pulled:

 

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

  • focus on the problem and check for alternate methods
  • check if the solution makes sense

4. Model with mathematics.

In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • apply mathematics to solve problems in everyday life
  • identify important quantities in a practical situation and model the situation with manipulatives or pictures

6. Attend to precision.

In grades K-2 mathematically proficient students will:

  • give thoughtful explanations to each other
  • use clear definitions and reasoning in discussion with others
  • state the meaning of symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately
  • Work with time and money.
  • 1.MD.3. Tell and write time in half hours using both analog and digital clocks.
  • 1.MD.5. Recognize and read money symbols including $ and ¢.
  • 1.MD.6. Identify values of coins (e.g., nickel = 5 cents, quarter = 25 cents). Identify equivalent values of coins up to $1 (e.g., 5 pennies = 1 nickel, 5 nickels = 1 quarter).
  • Geometry.
  • 1.G.3. Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares.  Describe the shares using the words, halves, fourths, and quarters and phrases half of, fourth of and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing (break apart) into more equal shares creates smaller shares.

AK Speaking and Listening Standards K-5

1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

b. Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.

c. Ask questions to clear up any confusion about the topics and texts under discussion

2. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

The next step was to “unpack” the standards. What will a student need to be able to do in order to be successful? So, as I read through the standards, I tried to condense the language into a format that would lend itself to making a rubric.

Students will be able to:

Solve problems:

  • solve problems related to everyday life
  • focus on a problem and check for alternate methods using models, pictures or symbols
  • check to see if the solution makes sense
  • use clear and thoughtful explanations during discussions, including definitions for the symbols used

Work with time and money:

  • tell time to the half hour
  • recognize $ and cents symbols
  • Identify values of coins and equivalent values up to $1.00.

Geometry:

  • Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares.
  • Describe shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, one half of, one fourth of, and one quarter of.
  • Describe the whole as two of or four of the shares.
  • Understand decomposition – breaking the whole into more equal shares means smaller shares.

Use appropriate listening and speaking skills:

  • Participate in collaborative group discussions:

–       follow agreed upon rules

–       build on others talk by making and responding to comments

–       asking questions to clarify understanding

  • ask questions about key points or details presented orally or other form of media
  • add drawing or other visuals to description to clarify ideas

Next, I came up with some possible questions I might pose to a group of students.

Possible questions:

How could you explain the meaning of ½ and 1/4th?

Can you think of some ways people use ½ and ¼ in everyday life?

Using examples from everyday life like time and money, how many different ways could you show ½ and 1/4th?

From here it was fairly easy to develop the rubric. The hardest part was deciding which standards to focus on.

4 – Exceeds Expectations 3 – Proficient 2 – Learning in Progress 1- Needs more time and help
Time Tells time to the quarter hour on both digital and analog clock Tells time to the half hour on digital and analog clock. Tells time to the hour, inconsistent with half hour. Inconsistent with both hour and half hour.
Money Identifies values of coins and equivalent values greater than $1.00. Uses the cent and $ symbol correctly and consistently. Identifies coin values and equivalent values up to $1.00. Identifies the values of coins, but not consistently. Identifies some equivalent coin values up to $1.00. Unsure of the coins and their values.
Geometry Understands and uses fractions other than ¼ and ½. Partitions circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares. Uses appropriate vocabulary to describe shares and understands decomposition. Can identify ½ and ¼, but not able to explain what they mean.  Does not use correct vocabulary. Not able to distinguish between ½ and ¼.
Problem Solving Solves problems using a variety of methods. Uses a wide variety of examples, with exceptionally clear and descriptive explanations. Solves problems using examples from everyday life, clear explanations, pictures, models, and appropriate symbols. Checks to see if solution makes sense. May be able to work through the problem, but description is not clear. Cannot explain how they arrived at the solution or why they think it is correct. Unable to explain the process for solving a problem. Solutions are often incorrect.
Listening & Speaking Follows rules, contributes, comments and encourages others to contribute. Follows rules for group discussion. Contributes to conversation and comments on other’s ideas. Needs to be reminded of the rules for conversation. Contributes to the conversation when prompted Did not contribute to the group discussion.

Pearl Trees and Promethean Boards #diffimooc

This week our essential question was: How can we use pealtrees in the classroom? I had to think about this a while as I have first graders. I came up with the idea of creating a pearltree with links to many different websites. I found that I was able to add pearls with links to specific games. This could be handy during workshop time. I could quickly select the particular game I wanted a student to play based on their needs. A handy way of differentiating instruction. I could allow the students to choose a game by clicking on a pearl themselves. Sometimes it is good to offer student choice and sometimes I want to offer limited choices so I know they are practicing the skills they have not yet mastered. Pearl tree allows me to do just that.  Here is a photo of a pearltree  I created for first grade games:

Image

I used pearltrees this week to curate resources for our group project, which was about interactive white boards. It is a fun tool because you can add text, photos, sideshows, or links to websites. You can move the pearls around to create an interactive concept map.  This works great with a Promethean Board.

I chose Promethean Board for my project because I have one in my classroom that I use every day. I have been using it now for several years, yet I am always learning more about it. It is a very powerful learning tool. Integrating the Promethean ActivClassroom into lessons can increase student achievement an average of 17% (Marzano & Haystead, 2009). They also found that student achievement was more likely to increase if the teacher was experienced and used the board between 75% and 85% of the time.

I also found some criticisms of the Promethean Board on the Wikipedia site. There was a concern that the white boards would lock teachers into a lecture style of teaching, that teachers spend more time focusing on the technology than on what students should be learning, that the pace of instruction is actually slowed by the use of white board as students take turns at the board.

As for the first concern, I think teachers have the power to teach in the style that fits the needs of their students, white board or not. As for focusing more on the technology, well, there probably is some truth to that. As with any new technology it takes time to become proficient at it. It can be frustrating if the teacher has to spend too much class time figuring out how to work the equipment. On the up side, I know that when I first got a Promethean Board in my classroom, my students were very excited about it and we learned together. Yes, sometimes the pace can be slowed by students taking turns. This is where you have to use management skills and teacher discretion about how much time to give each student and how many students to allow a turn. If interest starts to wane, it might be best to let some students have a turn in a different lesson.

As for myself, I love being able to share things from the web with my first graders. Parent e-mail me photos and students tell about them for show and tell. We send and receive emails when students go on vacation. The fact that I can make charts with different pages allows me to scaffold lessons from easy to hard. Once the flip charts are made, I can use them for review. There are also so many websites that I can connect to which students can practice their skills in fun and motivating ways. When students are working at the Promethean Board, they are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.

I created a short slide show so you can see the Promethean Board in action. Here is the link:

http://www.kizoa.com/slideshow/d4268920k9566483o1/promethean-board

I also created a little tutorial just to give you a sample of I use this resource.

I worked with several other people to create a webpage about interactive white boards called Differentiating the Process. Thank you Lindsey for setting this up!

Can Video Games Enhance Learning? #diffimooc

As I was contemplating this week’s question, I watched a couple YouTube videos on the subject. One, called Video Games and Learning by Dainel Floyd, talked about tangential learning or learning that takes place while you are already engaged in something. He talked about a divide between educational games and entertainment games. According to Floyd,  educational games tend to be not that fun because they “beat you over the head with the point” or lure you in with the promise of a good time only to supply you with instructional content that you could learn just as well with a textbook.  Games for entertainment are fun, but not exactly life enhancing. But what if the two could come together? What if you planted bit of interesting information inside a game that someone was already actively engaged in? Maybe they would learn the information without even realizing they were being educated! This is the principle of tangential learning and (in my opinion) our task for this week.

In my classroom I have used some computer games. The Lexia reading program uses games to develop basic reading skills. My students like doing the games and learn from the program. We have ThinkCentral as part of our math curriculum which includes MegaMath. I can actually make assignments for specific lessons and my students can play interactive math games for specific skills. I occasionally let my students do games from the Hoodamath website and I am always amazed at how my 1st graders can very quickly figure out how to play the games and become successful at them in a very short time. My students taught me how to play BadPiggies – a game where one uses trial and error to design and test a cart carrying piggies. It actually goes along with our science unit Balance and Motion. These are all wonderful resources, but due to spring break, I had very little time in my classroom this week to actually make an honest observation of students learning specific standards from games.

I do have access to a  7th grade student 24/7 this week, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and venture into the world of middle school math. I figured a good mom should provide their own child with some educational – I mean entertaining and educational games for Spring Break. My child agreed to help me out by trying some of the games I found.

I began by reading over the AK Math Standards for 7th grade, so I would know what types of games to try .  I went through several before choosing three or four to my daughter to try. Sometimes the games were frustrating because they offered little in the way of directions and were not that fun to play. I remember thinking, “No wonder these are free.” I did find a couple I thought would work (remember this is Spring Break, so they should at least be fun right?)

Card Clutter: In this game the goal is to clear the screen of cards in order to move to the next level. You must tap the cards in order least to greatest. The game begins with positive whole numbers than moves to include negative numbers, fractions, decimals, absolute value, exponents, and combinations of all of these. Addresses AK Math Standards 7.NS.1 and 7.NS.2.

My daughter asked me if a negative whole number was smaller than a part of the number. She was validating what she knew and was about to test it. So she got feedback from me and then again from the game. Later she told me that she had forgotten what the absolute value signs meant, but was able to figure it out by playing the game – an example of tangential learning! Yahoo!

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Next I gave her the game Guess My Rule. The object is to guess the value of x and y. In order to do this, you must mentally create and solve linear equations. If you guess wrong, the computer gives you the correct y value for the x value you provided.It addresses AK Math Standards 7.EE.1.

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Although I thought my daughter would like this one, I was wrong. She became frustrated and told me that although teachers think these learning games are fun, it is easier to just learn it out of a book. Hmmm. Seems like I just heard this in that YouTube video I mentioned earlier. So far, only one of the two games played were a success.

The next game I tried was called Math Pro 7. The object is to get the monkey down the ladders by tilting the IPad. Every few seconds, a problem pops up that you have to answer in order to continue playing. If you get the question correct, you earn bananas. If you get it incorrect, the monkey gets set back and you loose bananas. Also, you can click on the question mark and it will give you an explanation as well as a link to a Khan Academy video. This game addresses AK Math Standards  7.NS.1.,  7.NS.2,  7.EE.1, and 7.EE.2.

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This one was a hit. There was enough fun to make doing the problems worth it and enough success with the problems as not to get in the way of the fun. I am not sure any new learning was taking place during this game, but it was definitely engaging and she was thinking. I’m sure the more she played it the more challenging it would get.

Another game I tried out was called Algeboat. The object is to load the boats with cargo (a numbered bundle which becomes the x value). Then choose a flag that satisfies the equation on the boat. If you choose correctly, the boat will sail away and you collect points. It addresses AK Math Standards 7.NS.1 and 7.EE.1.

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The fun factor in this game was enough to keep my daughter doing the problems. It was very engaging and challenging because there are several possibilities and you need to plan ahead. You need to think about the answers as you are loading the boat with the x value.

The games that I found addressed the following standards:

Number System

7.NS.1. Apply and extend previous understandings of addition and subtraction to add and subtract rational numbers; represent addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram.w and application of number sense.

7.EE.2. Understand that rewriting an expression in different forms in a problem context can shed light on the problem and how the quantities in it are related. For example, a + 0.05a = 1.05a means that “increase by 5%” is the same as “multiply by 1.05.”

Expressions and Equations

Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.

7.EE.1. Apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, expand and simplify linear expressions with rational coefficients.

P.S. Tonight my daughter told me she learned about input, output today in school and thinks she might give the What’s My Rule game another try sometime. She also asked to play the “monkey on the ladder game” which was Math Pro 7. So maybe it is possible to bridge the gap between educational games and games for entertainment.

It takes time to sift through the many and varied games available. However, once you find a few that are right for you and your students, the game becomes a valuable teaching tool.

I always find great ideas as I read the blogs of my classmates as well as the tweets. Two that I happened to see this week were Learning Works for Kids and Top 20 Apps. for young kids. I recently acquired an IPad for my classroom, so I am looking for apps. and thinking about how best to use the IPad in my classroom.

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