27 February, 2010
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.
To begin, the teacher needs to sign up first as… a teacher. Once this is done you can create classes for your pupils to use. I currently have two classes, one for my class and one for my maths class. You set a class code for each of your classes and the children need this when they sign up. It would be possible for one teacher login to run many of the classes in a school but I wouldn’t recommend this. Each teacher would be better creating a teacher login as they then have access to the data on how their children are progressing, and can move their children onto the games which will develop their pupils skills appropriately. Once the teacher has logged in and created a class or classes the children are ready to be introduced to the program.
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.
The login process I felt was brilliant, it gave the children the responsibility for much of the process and meant that a teacher doesn’t have to create groups of 30 logins which would take a long time. If a child forgets their password, they are easily reset through the teacher login, and it is also possible to print out a list of pupil’s first names and their login names to help them remember (not passwords though, obviously!!)
Now it’s time to start playing!! When I introduced it to my class on Wednesday morning, they were soon all logged into the game and really enjoying it, the idea of playing against children from all around the globe really motivated them.
They can play 5 different games from their opening screen seen here. In Maths 101 the children can choose to add, subtract, multiply or divide. Maths mix, as the name suggests mixes up the operations. Algebra is simple ‘c+8 = 15, what is C?’ style to being with. Tables allows the children to play on any table up to 12. Spelling reads a word to the child who then has to type it in (keyboard skills as well as spelling which is good I feel). Each of these five games is available to play at different levels.
The children played lots of games in 30 minutes on Wednesday, and asked to play at lunchtime. They also played at home that evening and some played in the morning before school, so they were highly motivated! How do I know they did this… well they told me and I could check on the teacher stats pages.
On these pages, you can look up the scores of the children in your class, individually. You can see what games they have been playing the most and which they aren’t. You can check that they are playing at an appropriate level, you can see when they last logged on, on by looking at the games they have played you can even see which questions they were asked and whether they got them correct or not. Fantastic. I am going to use this data with the class next week to move some children onto higher levels, so they are challenging themselves a bit more, and suggest that they may want to look at certain areas in their maths (division and subtraction spring to mind already, as I see not many of those games are being played).
Tutpup also gives out a hall of fame league table for the most wins in 24 hrs, 7 days and 30 days. These tables are for in class, in the country and around the workd. One of my class was #1 in the world over that last 24 hrs and was rightfully proud of her work. You can graduate up through different levels in each of the games and can win awards too for achieving certain amount of wins at different levels. Again, these are features that the children in my classes have found highly motivating.
Some of the class have made suggestions for things they would like to see in Tutup, these include the ability to create friends lists, (a bit like msn??) allowing the children to see if their friends usernames are online, and if so challenge them to a game. I suggested they send these ideas in via the feedback button at the top of the page, along with their comments on how much they are enjoying the game.
Tutpup, with my class, has proved to be highly motivating (two of them are playing online now on Sat morning) and will develop children’s skills in mental maths and spelling at levels appropriate to each child with the help of the teacher stats pages. The work is recorded for evidence and shows the progression the children make accordingly. I feel it is a great use of ICT to enhance the learning of children in and out of the classroom.