Tag Archives: games based learning

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.

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.

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Drench.

A new game which I’ve introduced to my class is drench.  I’m not sure where how I found the game, I thought it was via the Guardian Technology Pages but it was actually via a comment on their report on ‘Games to relax you’.

The game involves the player selecting one of 6 colours and trying to change all of the board into 1 colour in 30 moves or less. Drench has proved very popular with many of the children in my class, although not with myself as I am very colour blind and find I cannot tell a 2 pairs of the colours apart from each other!

To find a winning strategy children (or adults) have to plan what colours lie around the ‘active’ area (the area which they can change the colour for) and plan 2 or 3 moves ahead. It develops spatiality and thinking ahead, and like many of the best games contains simple gameplay which remains challenging through successively harder levels.

I find using it in the final 2 minutes around play or break works really well with my class and I have tried children working in table groups to complete the puzzle as quickly as they can. I also  use it in plenaries and also introductions to maths sessions to revisit bit of spatial learning.

Spatial awareness, as I have mentioned previously, is an area I feel ICT (especially games based learning) can make large developments as children have the opportunity to explore spaces in an enjoyable context.

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.

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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FugD_CIjrDY&hl=en_GB&fs=1&]

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