Friday, July 25, 2014

Teaching with Maths Apps

There are loads of Maths apps available, mostly as games for independent maintenance. But there are also a few that can be used in teaching sessions.
One example is 'Thinking Blocks'. There are several apps in the series and they are all free.

All of the Apps present problems to be solved and the solving of them is done in several parts. Mirror the app to a TV  or a projector  and use it in a group lesson. When I demo this I like students to have their maths books or a small whiteboard, plus a device i.e. an iPad where they can use other apps to solve/record the problems and their learning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Calendar Art and Photo Montages

Jane has some fantastic art created by students in her class. I have just discovered a great Photo Montage app called Juxtaposer, so I suggested to her that we could superimpose the children onto the art work. She has decided this would be a great way to do their 'Calendar Art' this year. Calendar Art is a fundraising activity that schools do where they take the children's art and make it into individual calendars that family and friends can buy.
The examples below show how it can be done. Jane is going to get her children to dress up as Medieval Characters, take their photos and then superimpose onto photos of their artwork.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Miss! I've turned my brain on..."

"Miss! I've turned my brain on..."
This is what one young man said to his teacher and me after I had taught him and another student using my favourite 'Free' maths apps.

While I was talking with the teacher  I noticed that he was having difficulty with his maths. I called him over and started him on Educreations. He needed help with some of his 5 timestables so with the help of the Number Rack app (or he could have used the Number Frames or Number Line) he wrote the problem on Educreations and solved it using Number Rack.
He knew what 5x5 was but not 5x3 so he used Number Rack to solve it.

He tried several other problems  and using Number Rack in his own way he was able to solve them.

A little later I demonstrated to the teacher how she could use her projector with the iPads for teaching. I have Airserver on my laptop which enables me to mirror iPads to my laptop which is connected to the projector.

 Both students airplayed from their iPads to my laptop and we were able to see both students solving the problem at the same time.
 After showing students how to move the pieces across and how to write, they started solving the problem themselves.
I did not have to tell them how the rods and ones would stick together if you move them close to each other, they worked that out. It was interesting to see problem after problem how they started to reorganise the pieces into ways that worked for them.

Eventually I showed them how to select all the ones by drawing a circle around them (not with the pen tool, just trace around with your finger and a dotted circle will appear) and then tap on the join symbol at the bottom of the screen which takes 10 ones and joins them up into a 10 rod leaving behind any ones.

Once they discovered that they were away and solving the problems was performed very quickly and accurately.
Shortly after that the boy who had been having the problems in maths stated "Miss! I've turned my brain on!"

I went and worked in another classroom that was working on Problem Solving. The students were working on large pieces of paper. Some of the students were having trouble verbalising their thinking. 

At the same time I did the problem with a bit of App Smashing.
I took a photo of the problem that was up on the IWB.
I started to solve it and used Number Pieces to solve the first part. I then took a screen capture and inserted it into Educreations.
I used the text tool on Educreations to summarise my first lot of solutions. (I could have at this point recorded my voice explaining what I have found out so far).
I then used Number Frames to solve the next part of the problem. Again at this point I could have recorded my voice.
The only issue I have with Educreations is that you can't save without recording your voice, and you can't edit once it is saved. You can take a screen capture though (Home and Power Button pressed together). You could use Show Me but there is no text tool, but it will allow you to save without voice and to edit later.
I showed this to the teacher after the session and she is very motivated to try it with her students.

If you do want to edit and add voice later I would recommend the App Explain Everything

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Quick Publishing Idea

I was working with a Year 0/1 teacher who has iPads and uses them in her class for reading and maths but not for writing yet.
I suggested that she download Book Creator and use it as a quick publishing tool.

I asked her to get one child's writing book. I opened up Book Creator, tapped on the + button, selected camera and took a  photo of the child's drawing.

I then tapped on the + and selected text and typed in the student's story. We then called over the student and got her to read her story to us while I recorded it in Book Creator by tapping on + and selecting Add Sound.

This is something that can be done quite quickly when conferencing with the student.
Once you have recorded all the pages you want, this can then be shared and opened with iBooks.
  • this can then become an independent reading activity within iBooks
  • or a shared book mirrored to a tv, IWB or projector where you can annotate
    • full stops 
    • capital letters
    • features of text
  •  presented via projector to syndicate or school assembly
  • if students have a book each, it will show the progress of writing and drawings over a year, it can be a great assessment tool and can be shared as an ePub file to parents who can open and view if they have a smart phone/iPad/tablet or software on their computers that open ePub files
  • a next step is to video the child reading their story and adding the video to the page as well

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Don't forget about computers

An interesting phenomenon I am seeing in schools at the moment, is 5 year old children arriving not being able to use a computer. They don't know how to use a keyboard, a mouse, let alone a trackpad... but they know how to swipe! 5 year olds have been playing with smart phones, tablets and iPads for a few years now but they seem to have had very little experience with computers. I have heard New Entrant teachers saying, I don't want computers in my classroom, I only want iPads! My response to this is you must have a least one computer in the class (if not more). 5 year olds still need exposure to keyboards and they still need to develop mouse skills.

At the other end of the spectrum, I was talking to some secondary teachers the other day, who are also saying that they are starting to get students through who have very poor keyboard skills as they have been in BYOD classrooms and have used only iPads. All of the schools I work in have a balance of devices available. Even the 1-1 iPad classes will have available several laptops that students can choose to use for their learning.

So my recommendation is to still have computers in the classroom. Children need to have a choice of what device they want to use for their learning. Keyboarding practice is still needed. 
These are 3 of the online keyboard games I recommend.
Headsprout game, learn how to use a mouse and a keyboard.
See how high you can go. Make sure that you are using the correct fingers. This one also has the magic line which means letters for the left hand side of the keyboard appear on the left side of the magic line and on the right for letters for the right hand.
Start at level one and work your way up to Level four.
 For more activities that you could make into a learning centre, have a look at these downloads.