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A Fantastic Math Website

There are two versions of Balloon Pop: Multiplication and Addition. Each game has 4 levels.

I love math, but I find it challenging to find a great math website. Here are some things I look for when deciding whether a math website will actually help students.

  • Does the math site look like it is from the 80’s? If it does, it usually doesn’t appeal to kids!
  • Does the math site offer differentiation? (Ex: Do the games, activities come in more than one level?)
  • Does the math site offer games and activities that support more than one area of content?
  • Does the website allow students to move on if they have an incorrect answer?
It is difficult to find websites that meet all of the above criteria but here is one that has helped a lot of my students! Sheppardsoftware.com does a great job of offering students engaging games that offer built in differentiation. I have used it in the past primarily as a tool for reviewing skills and improving automaticity of basic facts. It has also helped many of my students with switching between operations since you can play many of the same game with different operations. Just remember, this is a tool for review and practice, not teaching!
Here are some screenshots of my favorite games:

There are two versions of Balloon Pop: Multiplication and Addition. Each game has 4 levels.

Math Man has games for all four operations and includes multiple levels that you can pass through.

Fruit Shoot has games for all four operations and you can choose your own level or range of numbers.

Have your child play one or two of these games for 15 minutes a night, and watch their automaticity with basic math facts improve!

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Classroom Response Systems…or Clickers!

Clickers

Last year I met an amazing math teacher named Skeeter. He is one of those teachers who has a strategy for everything. One of the million amazing things about him is that he is a truly amazing listener, which helps him stay in tune with his learners. Skeeter used a neat tech tool to support him in figuring out where his students were functioning in the classroom. The tool is usually referred to as a “Student Response System” but Skeeter called them “Clickers” and that always stuck for me. Today, there are quite a few different companies making Clickers. Here are a few!

A Clicker is something that looks like this:

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B0018RRSOU&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B0018RRSOU[/amazon-product] [amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B004OALMLS&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B004OALMLS[/amazon-product]  [amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B003Z1S5KS&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B003Z1S5KS[/amazon-product]

Some companies are even coming out with web-based mobile versions that have the capability to turn any computer into a classroom response system. These versions allow students to use laptops, computers, phones, etc. as response devices. Check this out!

Here is a first-hand account of how Skeeter uses Clickers to support the learning in his classroom!

Description

I use the [amazon-product text=”CPSPULSE CPS PULSE RESPONSE PAD by eINSTRUCTION” type=”text”]1881483819[/amazon-product] because they have a variety of functions. They have a multiple-choice function, short answer function, numeric function, true/false function, texting function and cold call function. I can even think of questions on the spot and ask the students with the clickers!

Expectations

The expectation in my class when we use Clickers or any other kind of technology is “we use technology we don’t let technology use us.” I want my students to understand that the Clicker is a tool not a crutch. I always like to keep in mind that I should be able to teach any class without clickers and the lesson should be just as informative and smooth.

Clicker Rules for the Classroom

1. Students must keep Clickers either in their hands or in the bucket on their desk

2. If a student answers a problem incorrectly, they may not move on until they understand their error and can answer the question correctly

These simple rules teach students how to be self-sufficient and to check their work.

Why We Use Them

As I mentioned earlier, the use of Clickers should be a tool not a crutch. I use them to help students become self-sufficient when solving problems and to instill the importance of not rushing. I do not want my students to move ahead before they are ready. They definitely impact my instruction as well. For example, I can create “Do Nows” that are based on how students did on the previous days’ activity. This will allow me to see in real time if they understood the objective or if I need to repeat any instruction. Most importantly they breakdown data and results in many different ways. My personal favorites are student percentage, question responses, and wrong answer responses. With this data I can correct mistakes in real time and see a trend of wrong responses so I can help with common misconceptions.

-Skeeter

You might not believe this but there is an entire blog dedicated to student response systems and if you are interested in learning more about them you should absolutely check it out.

As always, if you have further questions, feel free to

submit them on the Parent-Teacher Conference page!

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“Show not Tell” – Using math manipulatives at home.

Sterns

“Show not Tell” – This idea is easier said than done! Teachers use this phrase all the time…it refers to the idea of modeling a concept for a child, rather than explaining it to them. This phrase reminds us that all individuals learn differently. Some children learn by watching and doing, rather than listening so in order to reach all children, we must present ideas in a variety of modalities.

What is a math manipulative? A math manipulative is an object that helps students develop an understanding around ideas in math. Teachers use manipulatives to support student understanding by using a “hands-on” approach to math. There are tons of different manipulatives available to support a wide range of math content such as: number sense, patterning, basic operations, time, money, fractions…and the list goes on.

Here is a visual of some different styles of manipulatives that are being used in classrooms today.

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B000G3LR9Y&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B000G3LR9Y[/amazon-product]

 

Snap Cubes

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B0007PC9CK&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B0007PC9CK[/amazon-product]

 

Unifix Cubes

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B000F8T9HW&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B000F8T9HW[/amazon-product]

 

Cuisinaire Rods

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=1564514498&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]1564514498[/amazon-product]

 

Base Ten Blocks

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B0006PKZBI&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B0006PKZBI[/amazon-product]

 

Teddy Bear Counters

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B0007OF234&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B0007OF234[/amazon-product]

 

Money Play Set

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B00000JH41&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B00000JH41[/amazon-product]

 

Student Clocks

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B0008JIL72&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B0008JIL72[/amazon-product]

 

Fraction Pizza

 

In many classrooms, you will see something like this:

[amazon-product image=”http://ws.assoc-amazon.com/widgets/q?_encoding=UTF8&Format=_SL160_&ASIN=B00272MOIK&MarketPlace=US&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&tag=edg0b-20&ServiceVersion=20070822″ type=”image”]B00272MOIK[/amazon-product]

You do not need to build this large of a set at home, but it always helps to have some of the pieces available so that when your child doesn’t quite grasp a concept, you can turn to the math manipulatives for help. Use math manipulatives at home to give a concrete example of a mathematical concept to help your child develop his/her mathematical understanding. In other words…use manipulatives to “show, rather than tell.”

In the coming weeks I will be focusing on specific manipulatives, games, websites and strategies that can improve number sense and support your child in solidifying their understanding of mathematical concepts. I will also be identifying literature that can be used to support mathematical learning, so stay tuned!

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Create a Poster…or a few

One common question that often pops up at a parent-teacher conference is “Where does the student do their homework?” Teachers will often encourage families to create a designated workspace for their child somewhere in the home. This does not need to be a large space at all, in fact for some families it might be at the kitchen table before or after dinner. For others it might be a small nook or corner. One way to personalize a child’s workspace in a productive way is to create a poster…or a few that will support them with their homework. See below for a few ideas (As always, available for download):

Publishing checklist made in Microsoft Word using the forms toolbar for checkboxes

Download Template as Microsoft Word Document

Download Template as PDF

Coin Chart created in Microsoft Word document using the table function

Download Template as Microsoft Word Document

Download Template as PDF

100's Chart created in Microsoft Word Document using table function

Download Template as Microsoft Word Document

Download Template as PDF

Poster created on picnik.com

Download Poster

Think of posters as tools that your child can use while doing his or her homework. This is a trick that teachers use all the time. Imagine that you have 30 students in your class and all of them have the question “How much is a quarter worth?” Instead of answering this question 30 times, just refer the class to the chart for any questions they might have. You can apply this same principle at home. Do not enable your child to lean on you for support when you could be fostering independence by encouraging them to use helpful resources on their own!

Looking for a poster about a specific topic? Submit your question on the Parent-Teacher Conference Page of EdGeeks.com and I will get back to you with some ideas!

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