The links for the projects I shared at the presentation to Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School teachers can be found here: Click here. Once you've opened the files, you can choose to print or download the files to your computer. Enjoy! And thank you for the great morning. It was nice to meet you all. :)
If you've followed my blog at all, you'll know that I love working with QR Codes. To see past blog posts about how to use QR Codes in the classroom, click here: Teaching With QR Codes and here: QR Code Reflection Cubes. Today's post is all about another project that uses QR Codes. I was working with a Gr. 1/2 classroom last year after they had written their own fairy tales. The teacher then had them illustrate the main character. Here's where I came in: I had the children read their stories to me and I recorded their reading using a microphone connected to my computer. We used the website Chirbit.com. I love Chirbit! It is a website that allows up to 120 MB or about 5 minutes of recording straight to the website.
Here is one student's story: Just scan the QR Code with any QR Code scanner. My favourite scanning app is i-nigma (it's free!).
The best feature of this site is the ability to create QR Codes easily. Once the recording is completed I created a QR Code of each recording. To do so, just click on the little box in the bottom left corner (see above) and a QR Code is displayed. It's really that easy! I printed out the QR Codes and the students glued them to their illustrations. They were ready to be displayed in the hallway! Parents and other visitors to the school used i-nigma or any other QR Code scanner to hear the students recite their story. Once scanned, Chirbit opens, and the play button must be pressed to start the recording.
Chirbit is also available as an app from the iTunes store for $0.99, although I prefer to use the website. To install the app, click here: Chirbit. I believe it is available for Android as well. One word of caution, however; because the students' recordings are stored online, you must be sure to have permission from parents to have their children's work and voice on the internet.
Here's a little freebie for teachers who use Dolch words in their classroom. Using Chirbit and another website called QRvoice, I created a set of flashcards for the first two sets of Dolch words. Students read the word on each flashcard, and then scan the QR Code with an iPad to check their answer. I used Chirbit for some of the words, and qrvoice.net for others. Why did I use two websites? QRvoice is a website that allows you to type words and have the QR Code scanned to hear it aloud. You don't have to press a play button - the word is read automatically. Unfortunately, the voice is bit robotic, and I wasn't happy with the way some of the words were pronounced. I didn't use Chirbit for all of the words, because of the extra step involved in playing back the sound. Creating single words is also a lot faster with QRvoice. I'd love some feedback on these flashcards, so be sure to leave a comment if you use them!
"Mathematics is a science, a language, an art, a way of thinking. Appearing in nature, art, music, architecture, history, science, literature - its influence is present in every facet of the universe." ~ Theoni Pappas
I had the opportunity recently to attend a David McKillop workshop. The Development of Geometric Thinking really opened my eyes to the huge impact the Shape and Space strand of the math curriculum has on mathematical reasoning. I've come to the conclusion that, were I back in the classroom, this is the unit I would teach first. Too often this unit is considered one of the "fluffy" ones at the K-3 level, and left as the last unit, or something to teach in December, when the students aren't really paying that much attention anyway. Geometric thinking, however, teaches and strengthens so many important aspects:
Tangrams are an excellent resource at any age group to teach many of the outcomes of the Shape and Space unit. Originating in China during the Tang Dynasty, it has been around for over 200 years. It is a dissection puzzle. There are 7 pieces of the puzzle, called tans, and these are rearranged to form shapes. Usually all 7 pieces must be used, and the shapes must not overlap each other in any way.
Click this link to access a download of a tangram.
The puzzle includes 5 triangles, one square and one parallelogram. If you don't happen to own commercial plastic tangrams, they are easy to print onto card stock, laminate and use over and over. If your children are adept with scissors, you could also have them cut out the shapes themselves, and then they have their own copy.
Here are some great activities to do with tangrams:
1. Sort the tans into groups. How are the pieces in each group alike? How are they different?
2. Recreate the square that they came in.
3. Show a picture of a shape made with tangrams on the projector. Have the puzzle show the lines between the shapes. Ask the students to recreate using their own shapes.
4. Now show a puzzle that does not have the lines between the pieces. This ups the ante a bit. Start with small 2- or 3- piece puzzles and build up to all 7 pieces.
5. Show a puzzle that has 2-4 puzzle pieces for 6-8 seconds. Remove the image and have students recreate the shape from memory.
6. One student creates a design with 3-5 puzzle pieces and hides it from his/her partner. Using words only, the student describes the design to the partner and the partner must recreate it. This activity uses a great amount of mathematical language!
There are lots of tangram puzzle shapes available online if you Google "tangram puzzle." There are also lots of books that use tangrams. Some of my favourite ones are Grandfather Tang's Story, Then and Now on Old MacDonald's Farm and Three Pigs, One Wolf and Seven Magic Shapes. I highly recommend using actual tangram pieces that students can manipulate, but there are also some good iPad apps out there that use tangrams. They are:
Hands-On Math Tangrams, $2.99
TanZen Lite, free
I love QR Codes! I mostly love how easy they are to make. I wrote about it last year (click here) but I'll recap.
There are so many QR Code generating websites out there - most of them free - but my favourite one is goQR.me. To create a text QR Code (a code that, when scanned, reveals a text message), here's how you do it.
1. Go to goqr.me.
2. Click the icon that looks like a page with the corner turned down.
3. In the text box (labelled "2. Contents") type the message you want the scanner to reveal.
4. The QR Code is displayed at the right of the screen.
5. You may choose to down load the code to your computer, or merely right click the image and copy it, then paste it into a document.
To create a QR Code that links to a website, the steps are almost the same.
1. Go to the website you wish the scanner to link to. Right click and copy the website address.
2. Go to goqr.me.
3. Click the icon that looks like the earth.
4. In the url box (labelled "2. Contents") right click and paste the website address.
5. The QR Code is displayed at the right of the screen.
There are other types of QR Codes that you can make by using this site, including a phone number, an email, a location and more!
So now you know how I made the QR Math Reflection Cubes in the image above. And, you ask, "What exactly is a QR Math Reflection Cube?" I made six cubes, each with six sides and a QR Code on each side. When scanned, a prompt for reflecting on that day's math lesson is revealed. I would use it with middle or senior years students. There are six cubes, because each cube is related to a different level of Bloom's Taxonomy. I thought I would copy each one onto a different colour card stock so that I could tell them apart.
It's true that I could have just printed the message on each side instead of pasting a QR Code. However, scanning the code offers some element of surprise, and it's fun (aka engaging!)!
I'm sharing! The download for the QR Math Reflection Cubes is below. If you use them in class, I'd love some feedback!
Many teachers struggle with assessing their students' knowledge of the basic facts, also known as fact fluency. The teaching of the facts through strategies is (hopefully) standard practice now, so students have learned why the answers are correct, and not just memorizing facts. It's so much easier to remember eight-ten strategies as opposed to 100+ random facts. However, all too often we assess fact knowledge with the dreaded "mad minute," or some sort of timed drill.
So, what's wrong with the notion of timed tests? Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, wrote an excellent article for the NCTM's Teaching Children Mathematics journal (April 2014). I agree with her in that I believe that these tests are used with the very best of intentions, but research has shown that timed tests are one of the main causes of early onset math anxiety for students across the achievement range. This means that even students who may know their facts are stressed by the thought of these drill assessments. The reasons that I believe timed tests are still in use today are:
1. They are efficient in that the entire class can be assessed in a minute or less.
2. It's the way we were taught when we went to school, and hey, we learned the facts.
3. We don't know of any other way to do it.
Here are my arguments against these reasons:
1. The tests are not efficient (and not fair for sure!) if they do not give accurate results. Many students who know their facts may be so stressed over the thought of a timed test that they freeze up. We teach students the facts by using strategies, and then don't allow them time to use the strategies when we assess! Brutal.
2. There are many things that have changed since the time that we went to school. We have learned so much more about how the brain works, and teaching strategies have evolved, as our society has.
3. I know how to do it!!!!
The best and most authentic assessment to test fact fluency is 1:1. And it does not have to be time consuming at all. While your students are working on practicing their facts (worksheets, centres, games, etc) simply crouch beside one at a time and ask them 5 questions. (For example, in Grade 3: What's 4+4? 6+7? 9+1? 5+9? 8+5?) Keep track on a checklist, sticky note, or whatever system you use. This tells you whether or not the student knows the doubles facts, doubles plus one, one more than, making ten and using a known fact (if I know that 5+9=14, then I should be able to figure out that 8+5=13, which is one less than the previous fact). Do the same thing the next day with different facts. This can be done with subtraction, multiplication and division.
Another assessment that takes a little longer but is extremely valid is this: have about 12-15 flashcards of facts representing the strategies you have taught. Ask the student (one at a time) to spread out the flashcards and sort them according to the strategy they could use to solve the fact. Then ask them to name the strategies and then give the answer. Judge automaticity if they can come up with the answer in 3 seconds or less (don't set a timer :)) This assessment takes a little longer, but is a very clear measurement of which facts a students knows, as well as which strategies.
In Manitoba, we are required to assess mental math and estimation three times for the provincial report card. We have to remember that the "basic facts" are just one part of this section of the report card. Computing mentally (what is 45 + 88?) and estimation skills are to be included as well. More on this in the next blog.
Travelling Curriculum Support Teacher