## Low-tech mental oral starter!

Just a quick post. I got reminded listening to my partner’s daughter this evening that the most interesting and effective things in teaching can also be the simplest.

Her maths teacher uses a variation of the ’11’ game to practice counting down, through hundred barriers.  To play you would stand up all the class and begin with a random child and a number near a hundreds barrier (214 for example). Each child subtracts either 1,2 or3 numbers from 214 until some child says 197. The child who says 197 sits down and are out. So a sample game might go,

214,213,212,

211,210,

209,208,207,

206,205,

204,203,202

201,200,

199,198

197 OUT!

You play until only one person is left in.

You can also use an extension to this game. That is for the winning player’s table to get a reward of house points etc. The children then have to use a planning strategy to try to keep their table’s members in.

I’ll be giving it a go with my maths class tomorrow!

## Using tutpup in my classroom.

I was introduced to Tutpup through Year Six Teacher’s Blog in this article. It is an online mental maths and spelling game in which the children play against children around the world, in realtime. It is also free.

The children create their own login using this simple interface. They choose a colour, animal and then a number and that is their playername. They then need to create their own password – on a side issue password creation, remembering and retrieval is a skill that our children need so much now for their lives inside and outside of education, do we discuss this enough with them? – and the enter the class login that the teacher creates in their login process.

You may find that some of the colour and animal combinations have gone (i.e. they do not have any numbers left), but the children in my class really supported each other in this. As soon as one child had found a colour and animal that had numbers, they told the class who then went to that combination and created their login.

## Using physicsgames.net for problem solving.

Physics games is a site I use with my class to develop thinking skills. It is a site which contains hundreds of free games which, as the name suggests have some degree of physics in them. This doesn’t mean that they are complex science games. The science involved is often simple use of gravity, although many of the games have an element of forces in them also.

The site has been updated recently to put the games into categories; block removal, construction, demolition, platform, projectile and stacking. Each game, as well as being free is easily embedded into a blog site and could be embedded into a class blog page.

I use the site for problem solving activities, with the children working in table groups and attempting to solve the puzzles on the IWB. This approach often leads to other tables seeing the solution as we collaboratively achieve the goals.

The games on the site are successful, I feel, because they do not require the ‘knowledge’ which I feel sometimes holds back problem solvers where a problem is based in maths (as I find many problem solving activities are). There is no need for number bonding, nor tables. The problems are solved generally through the problem being identified, the resources being evaluated and then a mixture of trial and error approaches. Within these trials, the children may identify changing an order of events as being required for example or using one set of resources to change to effect of another. In nearly all of the games I have used, the skills required are built steadily from one level to the next leading to a good progression of problem solving skills being required.

As well as developing these skills, the games on the site are extremely popular, I find, with many of my class working on them at home and asking to stop in through playtime to work on them.

The link is in the sidebar under the category thinking skills.

## Prezi

My class are working on a topic which will involve a lot of research from the internet, and maybe some research from books. I was trying to think of ways for them to present this research to the rest of the class, and also if viable move away from a program like Powerpoint.

I’d seen prezi recommended by a few people on my PLN on twitter and had a further look at it. It’s an online presentation tool which allows the user to place words, pictures onto a larger space rather than using a slide based approach. It allows the presenter to zoom in on certain words or details of pictures as they wish. The Prezi approach seemed to rely a bit more on the people presenting their ideas and these being enhanced by the presentation, rather than the people speaking reading the text of the presentation to their audience. This idea of presenting rather than reading was something I wanted to aim for in the class. I also liked the fact that it didn’t lend itself too much to having too much text on the pages. This, I felt would encourage the children to be discerning in the information they put into the Prezi and what information they wish to tell their audience.

Many of the ways of working with Prezi are standard. Double click to place work on the space for example, but it’s when work needs to moved or resized that there is a slight difference. Prezi uses a tool called a zebra for this. By clicking in the centre of the zebra you can move your selected object, the middle ring allows you to resize an object and the outer ring allows you to rotate an object. I found it really simple to pick up how to make small presentations, as ever the best way is to go to the website and have a go yourself. Here is the link for that. Prezi.

We had a look at Prezi last Wednesday (after which I came down with a virus and have been off school since – not related to Prezi though) and after an initial 10 minutes when we had no internet access we made a start.

I began by explaining that we were going to learn how to use a new program which they would use in their topic work. This went down well, my class are very confident at using ICT and are developing good skills for learning about how to work with different programs. We had a quick look at the introductory video and then I made a Prezi to show them in around 3 minutes. I then allowed them 15 minutes of exploring time.

The exploring time is an approach I use a lot with ICT, and my class respond well to it. They seem to spend a few minutes exploring on their own, before their own Personal Learning Networks appear. Soon there was a buzz of ‘Look at this’ and ‘How did you do that?’ and ‘Come and look at this Mr.Drummond’ going on. The children’s enthusiasm and sharing of skills meant that no-one was getting left behind with the basics of using the program and some children were extending the possibilities already.

After the explore, I set the context. In this case it was presenting some ideas the class were working on around the history of movies, famous actors and making movies. The class spent the remainder of the lesson working on these.

In the plenary part of the lesson we discussed the positives and negatives we had found in using Prezi and I also discussed the idea that the skills used in learning how to use a new piece of software, in using a learning network within the class and in knowing when a program is the best fit for the job were equally as important as the skills they had learned directly connected to Prezi (such as using the zebra tool).

As we complete some Prezi, I will attempt to embed them onto my class’s blog page.

## Web 2.0 Week 3.

Before I post, I’ve noticed that some of the keys on this laptop are a bit sticky,so apologies for any typo’s.

I’ve not used a lot in the way of web 2.0 in class this week, which I feel in an odd way is a positive things. Whilst one of my aims for 2010 was to utilise the web 2.0 more in class, it’s important that it’s used to enhance what is already there, not just to ‘show off’ what is there on the internet or what my new ‘find’ of the week is.

What we have done this week is used word to edit some stories. My experience is that using word for this gives the redrafting process a lift as well as producing good-looking stories at the end of the process. I feel that children like the edit process on a word processing tool. Unlike a rubber there is no grubby mark left in word!

Also by word processing it is then a short step to publishing on the web, which I have made a start on this week on my class’s blog page and on Buddy Bear’s Diary page.

My class are using some of our web tools out of school now which I am pleased about. Several children have created their own wallwisher sites. There have been the first set of comments left on the blog and I received an e-mail through GLOW on Sunday asking for some help with writing up Buddy’s weekend diary. I’m pleased at the beginnings of what I hope is taking learning beyond the classroom walls.

Next week we will be using simple wikipedia to do some research on movie making. I’ve forgotten now whom I got the link from for that site, but I’ve had a look around it and it’s really good. It gives children just the facts they need without them getting bogged down in technical language.

## Web 2.0, week 2

This week, as you can read below, we’ve used a range of IT across the curriculum in P7.

Our maths has used the wii extensively for work on mean, mode and median averages, and we have used mind42.com to create online mindmaps about how to make Buddy Bear famous. There is more about using mind42.com in the post below.

We also used wallwisher to suggest ideas about how we could make Buddy famous. This has been done entirely out of school and can be seen here. Hopefully we’ll get a stream of ideas going onto this page. Again,I like wallwisher as it is a simple way of children putting down their simple thoughts about something, a book, a unit of work etc and it is also a kept record of their ideas (as opposed to the piece of large paper with post-its beginning to fall off). 4 of my class have now created their own walls using wallwisher to post (with their friends) their favourite pets, sports etc. This suggests to me that they find using the software both stimulating and effective.

I have created a blog for Buddy Bear, using blogger. The idea behind this came from the postings on wallwisher suggesting we put a film of Buddy on youtube and post some pictures of him onto the internet. Blogger seemed a good way of bringing all of these online ideas together. I will also use that blog site to allow the children to tell the world of Buddy’s adventures when they get to take him him. Buddy’s blog can be found here.

I read Tom Barrett’s excellent articles on bloggging, specifically the ones about using Blogger with his class. This seemed like a good option for Buddy Bear’s Blog, as I wanted to have text (his diary entry) and pictures (of his visits) and eventually video all in the same place. By adding some tools to the basic blog my class can gauge how successful they are in making buddy famous around the world. The tools I added were a feedjit live traffic feed, a clustrmap and a simple hit counter. The class enjoy looking at the blog and some have viewed it at home, but as yet only I have left a comment.

I created a picasa account for the project which I will put pictures of Buddy in as the children take them. Blogger runs using google accounts so the account for the blog provides a picasa account and an e-mail account to which the children can e-mail their pictures in as they take them.

## Mind42.com

We began our new topic this week, it’s all about trying to make Buddy Bear into a famous film star. He’s not been successful so far, and he wants our P7 classes to help him. Much of the planning of this topic needs to come from the ideas the children have, so an obvious place to start, I thought was with a mind map.

I’ve made mindmaps before using Publisher very successfully, but our LA doesn’t seem to support Publisher in primary schools, so I wondered if there was an online web 2.0 type alternative. I posted on twitter and 10 minutes later I got a response from @atstewart suggesting mind42.com I had a look at it on Tuesday evening and had a bit of a play and it seemed really simple to use.

I liked the fact that it could easily use pictures from the internet (it has a built in google image search), as well as the fact that I found it a really simple, but smart piece of software to use. It created good quality mindmaps easily. It took away the need for rubbers, rulers that don’t have a ‘nick’ in them and felt tips that don’t work and allowed the children the chance to edit their maps as they went along, without making a mess.

When we used the program on Wednesday, the children soon worked their way around it and as ever helped each other out and found out quickly what could be done. The program autosaves work to the account it is signed in to. It allows the maps to be saved and then printed by a variety of means, including pdf. There is also a publish to web option.

You do need a sign-in to use the program, but I created a temporary one (in that I deleted the account after the lesson) and shared the username and password with the whole class. Through using their GLOW passwords the children invited their friends to collaborate on their  mindmaps.  As I hoped, the children are beginning to move past the ‘msn’ novelty of collaborative work and are just adding to and editting each other maps.

I thought this was a really good piece of web based software which I feel we will use regularly in class and hopefully the children will use it out of school too.

Here is a vimeo to watch explaining it all!

## Wii Sports for Mean, Mode and Median.

My final lesson of the week to involve the Wii used the practice option for batting on Wii sports baseball.
I decided that I wanted to create a larger range of numbers for the children to find the median number of. Wii sports baseball batting practice allows you to have 10 swings at 10 pitches. It records (quite quickly) what the distance is that you hit it. It was this data we recorded for our averages lesson.

As with the bowling, there were 10 numbers to record, meaning we had to split the 5th and 6th numbers to find the median.
After a discussion about the best way to do this, we managed quite well and got better at it as we progressed through the tables taking their turns at batting. The children were by now quite good at finding the mean and mode for the range of numbers.

One of the more interesting discussions we had whilst using the Wii for averages, was the way the modal average differed between the bowling game and the baseball game. In the bowling game, the mode was 10, and the mean average score was frequently around 9. The children could clearly see that the mode and mean were closely related in that scenario.

However, despite some of my group being ace sluggers, (the record was 7 homers out of 10 attempts!), the mode for each set distances was 0. This was not close to the mean average, which was around 110m. We briefly discussed the reasons behind this and talked about which average is most useful in which situations.

One final thought about the Wii bowling. The scoring of bowling is quite complex when spares and strikes are involved (which with my class they always seemed to be) I wonder i there is some maths to be investigated  in how the scores are made, maybe with a secondary class devising new scoring methods for bowling and using the Wii bowling game to see how they would work, comparing the scoring methods with each other.

The children throughout the week certainly enjoyed our use of the Wii, and they seem to have learned how to calculate the mean, mode and median averages for a set of numbers.

An enjoyable and productive week in maths.

## Wii for Mean, Mode and Median – The Outcome.

I thoroughly enjoyed our maths session on Monday, using the wii and I think the children did as well. As ever, I’ve learned a few things which would lead to a few ‘tweaks’ if I was to do it again. Before I discuss those I must say the P7 children are all far better ten-pin bowlers on the wii than I am and had a range of entertaining styles all of which proved to highly effective!

The lesson had a sparkle to it to begin with as the class noticed straight away that the wii was set up. ‘Are we using the wii in maths?’ was a popular question!

That moved on to ‘We’re not using brain training are we?’ which I found interesting and probably reinforced the point that just having a wii on for maths isn’t enough. It needs to be properly targetted and integral to the lesson, not just the lesson itself.

We formed our teams and each team played out their first frames, and we got used to recording our scores. Bowling is good for this, as you can pause between throws to make sure everyone is up to speed.

On the second frame I introduced the idea of modal average. The skills on show ensured that we quickly identified 10 as the modal score. The class found this quite easy.

After the third frame for each team we introduced the mean average. We needed a bit of calculation help on this to get the division by 12 done. We also spent some time working on rounding to 2 d.p.

After the fourth frame we began to find the median also. In hindsight I shouldn’t have had 4 teams, as it meant we always had an even number of scores to find the median for, and this made understanding of this concept harder.

We carried on and completed the game. I changed my idea of getting the averages onto the board and adding on points as I felt I didn’t want to pressurise the groups too much! We also dropped finding the mode after 6 frames as it was always going to be 10!

In summary the class and I enjoyed it, the lesson had an exciting feel to it and I feel the children learned the objectives I had for them at the start of the lesson.

## Wii Sports for Mean, Median and Modal averages.

I’m teaching averages this week with my maths group and I decided yesterday to begin the week by using wii sports bowling to create the data for is to work with. I first came across the idea of using the wii for maths through Tom Barrett’s Site and from Tom’s interesting ways.

I know the children will enjoy using the wii – it’s always the most popular choice in Golden Time, so that part of the plan seems fine.

I also know from assessment of the group that they need to learn about averages. Averages can tend to be a once or twice a year topic so I thought using the wii would make it memorable and thus allow the children to recall their learning easily.

I’m going to split my group into 8 groups of 3, and then into 4 groups of 6. These groups will then be the 4 teams for bowling, with each team member bowling consecutively on their team.

The teams will each have to fill in a scoresheet for each bowl from every team. This will just record the total for both throws (not the actual bowling score with strikes and spares).

From round 2 onwards we will calculate in each team, the mean, median and modal score for the entire game. One member from each team will then write their answers on the board. If the team gets all 3 answers correct I will award 5 more pins to their team score in the final total at the end (or on the excel on the IWB, not sure yet!)

We will do this until the game is complete.

I need to think about where I position the wii and TV in the class and how to place the tables I will have to move. I need space for the bowlers and space to let the group see the events. I need access to the chalk board for teams to write their averages up and also space for them to work without other groups overhearing them!

I’m really looking forward to it, let’s see what happens!