Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Using Math Journals for Honest Dialogue

This year in Math has been very engaging and honest and because of that the learning my students have done has improved ten fold from my students from last year.

A large part of that comes with them journalling their feelings, reactions, opinions, and honest talk about Math. 

I found this great link from Joanne Griffin that includes 101 Math Journal Topics.  You can download the .DOC from her website here.


But here are some examples of work and the honest, sometimes brutal, answers you can get from their Math journalling.

Believe it or not, your Math curriculum can very well we swayed by your students honest reactions to their Math learning.  It isn't just as simple as saying, "This is what you need to learn and there's only one way to do it."
If you want to reach every student in your classroom, they need to be able to have an avenue to share their thoughts, opinions, and especially feelings about Math.
I have one student who absolutely despises Math, most because we do the occassional worksheet or textbook work.  He can't concentrate and when he does and can't understand a question, he shuts out Math and begins to either distract others or even complain he's not good at Math when he is actually one of my best students.
Incorporating Math Games this year has made the dialogue between my students and myself alot more open and engaging because I told them specifically I rather not give them worksheets or pencil and paper work because games can help them practice everyday in a fun way.  Some of my students would sometimes rather do a Cross-Number Puzzle for their Math Centre instead of a game and will frequently ask me if they can.
But I wouldn't have known this if the dialogue hadn't been opened via their Math Journals.  They feel safer and more confident to ask me if they can do either pencil or paper work or if they can play games.
Having that safe atmosphere for learning and having fun at the same time is a great way to foster a positive learning environment!

TeachersPayTeachers Is Awesome...But Also Very Tempting

I just recently started to post some of my games and work that I have used in my classroom onto the popular TeachersPayTeachers website.

I'm not going to charge money for games that took me 10-15 minutes to make, what's the point?  I do enjoy grabbing freebies off the website, so why should I think other teachers would enjoy the same thing?

This morning, I have already posted our student created Multiplication Search & Find, which was created by one of my students this year!  He is very excited that he created this game, just wait until he hears that other teachers may be using it as well!

There is also a adjective card sort game with Comparative and Superlative Adjectives.  It is a long but not exhaustive list of the different adjectives (up to eight pages!) that you can laminate, cut out, and put into decks of cards to play!

You can visit my store here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Fourth-Grade-Somethings

Have a great day teaching the future!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Top 5 Math Apps in Grade 4A

In our class this year, we have been blessed with four available iPads for the kids to use this year during our Math Centre time.
However, I have been told by many of my students that they have gone home that night and downloaded many of the games!  I was shocked!  A good surprised kind of shocked that is.
I know it is technology and it is more prevalent in our culture and society and especially schooling now that it has been and is still growing, but the fact they had enough fun during Math class to spend their own personal time at home to download a game was astounding!  It was also very rewarding and made me realize how much fun Math has become during our Math Centres!
For you parents or fellow teachers who are looking for some good apps (these do cost a little bit, but are worth it!) here are some maybe you can get your kids to work on their numeracy skills at home on your very own iPad devices.

1. Math Run: Panda Chase

This app is a slam dunk for our top played Math App during Math Centre.  It might have something to do with the fac that it resembles Temple Run so much, but incoroporates Math.  I even had a fellow teacher walk into my classroom and almost tell some of my kids to stop playing because she thought it WAS Temple Run.

Kids have a character they pick for adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing and they have run the course (ala Temple Run) and if the Panda who is chasing them (for some reason he's angry) catches them they need to answer Math questions correctly in a certain amount of time to continue.

There are level upgrades where they can go to other continents on Earth.  It is a really good motivating game.

The kids have fun with it and since we are getting into the later stages of multiplication and division, I encourage them to make sure they don't do simple adding and subtracting all the time.  I keep an eye on their games to see if they actually are challenging themselves.

This App has been very well reviewed by many different websites and App reviewers.  Here are a few places to find reviews on it AppShopper, App Store Arcade, and AppFinder.

Find it here on the Apple App Store.

Mr. E. Rating: 4.5/5

2. & 3. Math Blaster: Hyperblast & Hyperblast 2

When I got the LITE version of these games, my kids went nuts and wanted me to get the full version ASAP.  Well now that I have the full versions, they still like the game, but there isn't that intrigue anymore.
Still, it is a challenging game in the vein of a first player shooting game but it is their player against mechanical bosses who they defeat by answering an increasingly harder level of questions as the game goes on.
It is a game that makes the kids think quick on their feet (unless they're sitting down...I'm sorry) and come up with mental math answers as quickly as possible.
 Math Blaster is available on both iPad and Android devices.  Check the game blog here.
Find Math Blaster: Hyperblast here on the Apple App Store.
Find Hyperblast 2 here on the Apple App Store.

Mr. E. Rating: 4/5

4. 10 Monkeys Multiplication

I found this app thanks to my tech-savvy father-in-law (John Evans - http://www.scoop.it/t/ipads-in-education) and I love it.  I have mostly used this app with my weakest Math student and it has been a fun way for him to improve his multiplication skills.  Instead of guessing, he can begin to memorize his multiplication facts through playing the game a few times a week.
The game's premise is there are 10 monkeys that need to be saved from their captors in Africa.  Each monkey is released when you get a certain amount of points to unlock them.  Each monkey also has a multiplication times table assigned to them that you need to answer the questions for from 2-12.
It is very engaging for my students who do play it, but it can get a little repetitive.  I would recommend it for helping those struggling or for extra practice.
Here is a review of 10 Monkeys Multiplication from Smart Apps for Kids.
Find it here on the Apple App Store.

Mr. E. Rating: 3.5/5


5. Mystery Math Town

Only recently have my kids gotten into this game.  I had one of them explain how the game works to me and I think it is more geared towards younger grades, although you can gear it towards a higher elementary grade if you want - a very flexible game.
It uses intrigue, mystery, and Math to solve problems and what is amiss in the town.  A very interesting game.
It did cost $2.99 and it was worth it.  Here are some reviews on it from Geek with Juniors and Best Apps for Kids
Find it here on the Apple App Store.

Mr. E. Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Being Patriotic in Grade Four

I love the Winter Olympics.  Not just for the hockey where Team Canada is always a threat to win, but for the sheer joy of watching my country compete and show themselves off on the international stage.

Many Canadians are known for not tooting their own horns, but in 4A this year I have really wanted the students to have an understanding of what it means to be proud to be a Canadian by watching these athletes compete every day.

Yesterday, we watched the three Canadian teams skate in the short program of the pairs figure skating.  When the team of Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers finished second after their skate, my classroom erupted.  They seem to be catching a little bit of Canadian Olympic fever.

Now, it will all really start I think when the Canadian men's hockey team takes on Norway on Thursday morning, but until then, my kids are more than willing to watch different events for the sake of the speed and skill as well as for cheering Canada on.

We are keeping track of our Canadian medal count as a school and our class is keeping track of who wins each medal with a medal tracker board outside our classroom in the hallway.

Whoever said Canadians weren't allowed to be patriotic or too shy to be patriotic?  Well, in 4A, I can see some grade fours who are just willing to not only be patriotic, but to learn how to cheer for a win, humbly take a loss, and cheer for what they believe in no matter what.

Friday, February 7, 2014

We Read Because We Care

It's a great initiative that we are doing as a class and the kids seem very motivated to do it!  We are a week into it and we have already read nine books!  The goal is to read 100 books by May 31, 2014!

If you don't know about Scholastic's Classrooms Care initiative, it is a great initiative that helps kids to love to read and also donates towards kids who are not able to access books!  My kids were pumped when they heard about the fact they can help other kids their age get books.

You can visit the website and get involved!  The website is http://scholastic.ca/clubs/classroomscare/

Another contest they are psyched for is winning an iPad!  There's no purchase or contest necessary.  Just fill in the kids names, your name as a teacher, and all the school's information.

You can also win a Hi-Tech Classroom as a teacher.

Check out Scholastic's Contest page: http://scholastic.ca/clubs/contests/

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We Love To Read!

So February is National 'I Love To Read Month' and to coincide with that, it is, of course, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  It is called 'Go For The Gold!"

Now, our school has already put together an entire month of events that have to do with the Winter Olympic theme, but our own class has put together a contest aside from the school's overall theme.

Each student keeps track of all the minutes they read both in class and at home.  At school, they keep a chart (I used the Daily Reading Log from k12reader.com) that they can keep track of their minutes when they read either when they are done their work or during Daily Five time.  They keep track of their time independently, which they should know how to do since we covered time in our very first Math unit this year.

As a class, we are keeping track on our big 4A LOVES TO READ chart.

All the kids names are at the very bottom and each 30 minutes they read, they get a ticket!

They have also given me their reading pledges for the month, telling me what they pledge to read during I Love To Read Month.  Thanks to theteacherwife.blogspot.ca/ for providing the template for them to do a 'craftivity' for them to set their goals.

They have also given me their reading pledges for the month, telling me what they pledge to read during I Love To Read Month. Thanks to theteacherwife.blogspot.ca for providing the template for them to do a 'craftivity' for them to set their goals.

They get to not only set their goals, but also colour their books and have a little fun while preparing the month goals for themselves.

It's been a quieter month (compared to earlier months) in our class as the kids really want to get that Scholastic prize.