I always try and include some extra fun lessons in the last week of term that revise a range of topics students are familiar with. In addition, it is always extra special to be able to introduce some new concepts at the same time. I got the idea for this lesson from the Black Douglas Mathematics Centre, an incredibly rich resource closely linked to Maths 300, but it is free! If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at these resources as a school, please take the time to do so. They are just packed with open-ended, purposefully engaging lessons with a focus on problem solving throughout.
I taught this lesson in the last week of Term 3, and found myself wishing we had the time to investigate more!
Smarties! Introducing Negative Numbers.
- 600g pick n’ mix smarties
- paper bags with random selection of approx. 30 smarties per pair of students
- 10x10mm grid paper (enlarged to A3)
Our Learning Intention was based on using our number skills to experiment with negative numbers (which my students weren’t familiar with previously), but the learning experience included so much more, including: data-collection, chance, graphing, number patterns and calculator use. Our Success Criteria was to effectively show addition and subtraction using negative numbers on a number line.
I went to my local supermarket and bought 600g of pick n’ mix smarties, which was enough for around 30 smarties per pair in a class of 24 students. I also gave each pair a 10x10mm sheet of grid paper, enlarged to A3, to assist them with the graphing of their random selection of smarties.
The rules of the game were as follows:
- Each pair was to count their smarties and each player record this number in their own scrapbooks as their starting score.
- All of the smarties are placed back into the paper bag.
- Students take smarties out one by one, each student guessing which colour will come out next.
- A correct guess scores +2 points
- Incorrect guess scores -2 points
The students kept a record of the addition and subtraction in their scrapbooks:
Prior to this, I encouraged each group to build a simple column graph to refer to during the game – I had little input, simply observing and taking some anecdotal notes about graphing skills, axis labelling etc. Some of the graphing was interesting!
The students amazed me with their creativity when they began playing the game. Nobody ate any, they were far too valuable! Instead, they rebuilt their graph to assist them with correct guessing.
We had a great discussion about which strategy/strategies we were using from our Mathematicians’ Toolbox (an invaluable tool from edgalaxy.com, which can be found and printed here)
As students waded into unfamiliar negative number territory, some were able to successfully apply prior knowledge. I stopped other students and encouraged them to use a calculator and a number line to support their calculations.
The discussion at the completion of the lesson was based on meeting our Success Criteria, but also somewhat disturbed by the munching of half-melted smarties (‘no thank-you, I don’t want one’). As I said, I wish we could have used this as a springboard for a follow-up lesson, but it was a great one to explore in the last week of term nonetheless.
I’d love to hear your comments, suggestions and reflections below:
What resources do you use to enhance your maths classroom?
Have you found any other open-ended resource banks like Maths300?
What makes a great maths lesson?
Forgive me for the down-time between posts, my energy over the holidays has been funnelled into pizza-eating, football-watching and very little exercise, rather than blogging and university assignments!
At the end of Term 3 I used these two resources to conveniently create and file my parent-teacher notes. This is just one idea, there are many others out there.
Firstly, some information below to familiarise you with the resources discussed in this post:
Evernote is a Windows/Mac/iOS/Web-based platform for taking notes and storing them in a cloud server for retrieval and synchronization across multiple devices. (See here for a great teacher blog, and many tips from an Evernote expert and enthusiast!)
Kustomnote is a web-based platform built specifically for use with Evernote. It allows you to connect your account and create multiple note templates for a range of needs (including anecdotal notes, guided-group notes and many more)
Now that we have the basics, this short post will be useful if you are, like me, finding resources that make things that we already do, even easier!
Once you have downloaded and signed up with Evernote, you are able to log in to Kustomnote using the same ID, which makes things much simpler. On the left hand toolbar, it was as simple as clicking ‘New note’ to customise the fields that I would be using before and during PTIs to record my notes, they looked like this:
- Student & Parent/Carers
- Interview Date/Time
- Wellbeing & Celebrations
- Requested follow up interview (Yes/No)
- Teacher follow-up actions
You can view and clone my note here as I have made it available publicly. Please feel free to make changes, improve it and let me know!
With the Kustomnote template created, it was simply a case of creating a template for each student by clicking the ‘New Parent-Teacher Interview Mid-Year note’ button and entering the information for each student that I wanted to share with the parent. As I saved each new note, each student’s name and information conveniently appeared in my Evernote cloud across all my devices in an attractive, formatted note. I was able to use my iPad to communicate during interviews and add to existing notes.
Overall, I found the experience a great success. Although slightly time consuming to begin with (I spent a good hour experimenting with the templates and formatting) the process ultimately paid off and produced accessible, clear records of each meeting.
I encourage everyone to have a look at the possibilities when combining these two excellent resources, and please share your uses for them in the comment space below.
Cheers, enjoy the rest of the break Aussie teachers!
How do you use Evernote professionally/personally?
What uses have you found for Evernote in the classroom that you can share in the comments section below?
Have you used any other software that complements Evernote?
In an earlier post I wrote about publishing for a purpose, and giving students the opportunity to choose from a range of publishing tools/types to suit their writing. I have received some amazing feedback on Twitter and Facebook from my loyal PLN, and from my colleagues too. Here are some of the most talked about publishing resources I have discovered in the last few days.
Answergarden – Probably the best brainstorming, jigsaw tool that I have found all week. This site allows you to create a question for students (or staff!) and monitor their answers using the generated link. I love having this on the smartboard while small groups of students add to the brainstorm via a shared netbook. No sign-up, no obligation. Try one out here!
Flipbook – This tool is awesomely simple to use: create, export. It is as simple as that. Students can create a digital flipbook and export it as a GIF file to their email. I love the idea of this being integrated into a mixed-media publishing approach – e.g. students publish their flipbooks to their wiki or blog page.
Piktochart – An infographic creator tool that offers three basic templates and a video tour for students, which I think is a great starting point to introduce the topic. I am really excited to try this one out in the first week of Term 4, I’ll keep you posted!
Glogster – A big thank-you to Hana who posted this on the OpenEdToolbox Facebook page! I have not used Glogster in the classroom (yet!) but their .edu address offers simple templates which students can use to create an interactive poster including music, video, text and even data-attachments. Thanks again, Hana!
Sock Puppets – I owe another thank-you to Mary (Follow her @Mj0401Mary) who shared her experiences with this app in the comments on one of my posts. There are heaps of similar apps out there for iPad to animate and record, but I’m sharing this one because it looks great and I think Mary deserves a mention!
Search Cube – This one is a research tool, not a publishing tool. It is extremely cool though. My students love it! Give it a click!
I am also looking forward to posting about the shake-up of my classroom design and changes to my literacy block in Term 4, I’ll keep you posted!
Enjoy the last days of Term 3, Aussie teachers! To everyone else, keep up the good work!
Have you successfully used any publishing tools in your classroom that I haven’t discussed here? Share them in the comments section below.
I’m sure that the clever people over at Transum Software won’t mind me inserting their banner as a plug for their excellent Maths Starter of the Day.
I am a great believer in students having a daily starter to get their brains into gear, I am planning a future post on my grade’s morning routine. However, this great resource (which I also plugged on the OET Facebook page earlier this week) serves for a range of purposes.
The calendar view allows the teacher (or student) to select each day’s maths problem and present it to the grade in an IWB friendly format. I must stress that these are interactive and not all of them merely use the IWB as a data-projector, which is very awesome.
I have used them for mental-starters, found subject-specific problems for tuning in opportunities and also make the link available to students via our class wiki. These resources provide great opportunities for modelled and shared problem solving and working mathematically.
You can find the link to this excellent resource here.
What maths tuning-in resources have you found most useful?
Does your grade do a daily starter?
Colleague: ‘What apps should I get?’
Rotate iPad 90 degrees, shuffle across to them,
The reality is that there are just so many apps out there, for such a range of purposes, that it is not always possible (in the same time it takes to drink your lukewarm coffee) to pinpoint to a colleague exactly which apps are relevant, useful and practical for them. My current experience of app-based technology in education is an enthusiastic group of professionals spending precious time integrating apps that actually make their lives more complicated! Personally, I have done this and later found myself spending more time re-reorganising files and folders, notes and photographs to get everything back into one, accessible space. I can say the same for so-called lesson enhancing apps.
Reflecting on this, I’m sure we all agree that our focus is best directed when we find an app that does a better job for us than we are doing already. I’d like to clarify my future posts by categorising apps under three simple terms – those being that the app makes things easier, faster or cooler.Because every student will tell you that if it (the lesson) is easy to interact, fast or cool, they’re in. And teachers? Well, I can only speak for myself…
With this in mind, I’m going to choose an app each month that achieves one, two or all of these criteria, to share and evaluate them. Perhaps by explaining their usefulness under these simple terms, I can make them more readily accessible to you.
I look forward to hearing your feedback, experiences and suggestions for alternatives so that this monthly section can become a forum and resource for others. Please feel free to use the comments section to direct future posts or any app categories that you would like to discuss.
Disclaimer: I am by no means an Apple expert. I will only present apps that are tried and tested.