Saturday, November 22, 2014

Number stories

Earlier this week we spent some time learning about addition and subtraction word problems. Students have been learning about subtraction language (flew away, broke, got eaten, etc). I really do love the way our new math program introduces subtraction to students. The seem to have a better grasp of it and it doesn't seem to send them away screaming like it did in the past. Well maybe not screaming, but crying definitely showed its ugly head on occasion.

Student creating visual representation of the
pirate problem above
One thing that I have found helps students internalize subtraction language is having concrete examples. We started earlier in the week with these types of examples and then began to work into visual representations. Students were given a word problem and together with a partner had to determine how they were going to solve the problem. Was the language telling them to use addition strategies or subtraction strategies. Once students decided on how they wanted to tackle the problem they worked together to visually represent the problem using Doodlecast Pro. I chose this app as I wanted them to have audio capability to record their thinking once we were done. Thinking about the SAMR model, the beginning of this lesson was just substitution, but the engagement factor of using the iPads definitely helped to keep the learning at the forefront.

As we continued on, students were then asked to record the math sentence that matched their thinking. As they finished, they used the record function of Doodlecast Pro to explain their thinking. This is a fantastic way to delve into the thinking of your students, especially your out-of-the-box thinkers, as it gives you new perspective into the thought processes they are using. I encourage you to give this a try. It has definitely opened new doors for me into how my students are tackling problem, something that I am not always able to discern in a whole group conversation. In the case above, I thought students would make the 9 muffins and then cross of 3 to find out how many muffins were blueberry but instead they used the addition strategy of counting on which they explained in their audio.

In addition to sharing their doodlecasts with me, we also used Air Server to project some of our projects and to share our thinking with the class. For students who are shy this has been a phenomenal way for them to share as they are often comfortable enough to create their audio with a buddy but are uncomfortable in front of the whole group. When we Air Serve they are able to play back their Doodlecast without the pressure of having to be on the spot in front of the group.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pic Collage for assessment

Yikes, pics uploaded last night, too tired to write the post... better get it up as it's been favorited already. LOL

Over the past few days we have been learning about capacity in math. We've done several hands-on explorations and learned a whole body representation of full, almost full, half full, almost empty, and empty~think head shoulders, knees, and toes with a stop at the hips for half full. The kids loved it and the representations definitely seemed to help them, although half full is still throwing a handful of my kiddos for some reason when having to identify it in real life examples or in their journal. How do I know this you ask, well, for starters, we did an collaborative, real world assessment of these concepts using the app Pic Collage. 

Here's how it all shook down (sorry for the not so pretty Smart board resource on the first image)...
When the kiddos came in on Wednesday I had the Smartboard on with the word capacity and an image of the PicCollage app icon displayed. We had a quick discussion of what capacity was and then I told them they were going to work with a partner to take 5-8 pictures of items around the room that had capacity. After taking their pics, they were to work collaboratively to create a Pic Collage to represent their findings and label the items they found. Seeing as we are first graders, we quickly wrote our capacity words so that teams had a resource to refer to. With the exception of that bit of information, teams were sent on their way to begin the task. It was great to see them talk about the items they were finding and discussing if the object truly had capacity. 

Once their pics were done, they headed to a cozy spot and began working together to create their collages. Again, the conversations were rich with vocabulary and "tech talk". Students began grouping and arranging their pictures, discussing and labeling their examples and of course, putting their creativity to work in designing their piece. 

On a modification side note:
I have one student who is visually impaired and utilized braille as his primary form of writing and reading. Even with his visual limitations, he and his partner were able to complete this activity to the benefit of both. They worked together to find the objects, felt them to check for capacity and when it came time to create on the iPad, my little gal every so gently guided him to move images around using descriptive language such as "Slide it more to the right". Our VI (Visually impaired) specialist also brailled the capacity words which my student used to discuss the items they photographed and when it came time to label on their collage, they took pics of the braille words to use as their labels. It was a great team effort for this group and was a true testament to the fact that kiddos can be supportive of each other no matter their abilities. Both learned from each other in this instance, and learned so much more than just math concepts!

Once we finished our assessment, we got back together as a group and students used Air Server to project their collages onto the SMARTboard. Yes, my students Air Serve independently! (For those not familiar with AirServer, this allows you to mirror whatever is on your iPad through a projector. This has been a fantastic tool for us to share our works with the whole group in a format large enough for all to see. It's also wonderful when introducing apps to students, but more on that another time)
Once their collage was up, groups came up and shared their pics and what they knew about capacity. One of my students even made the connection that iPads have capacity as well. This was an interesting discussion as most first graders need more concrete examples to see how something would be filled and obviously "seeing the iPad fill" is very abstract. To put it lightly, I was simply amazed!! I truly believe that many times we underestimate what our younger learners understand.

Some add'l learning came out of this project as well in regards to presentation as a couple of groups figured out how to add backgrounds from the web and chose Minecraft images to enhance their projects. The kids LOVED them and all wanted to know how to do it, but we found out quickly that the learning was overshadowed by the cool backgrounds. We talked about when a Minecraft background might be more appropriate and what the focus of our collages was. It was a fantastic authentic way to show this without me having to be the bad guy to say, "you can't use ___ or ___ for your backgrounds". The power of this conversation was in the fact that they all experienced it firsthand. Once students know the basic functionality of an app, I try very hard not to micromanage their creativity but rather let the little things like this guide our discussions and learning. Don't get me wrong, students still need to be shown how to use the apps appropriately as "they don't know, what they don't know" but I prefer to be the guide on the side once we have the basics down. It is amazing what I have learned from my students over the years that I wouldn't have learned had I limited them solely to my standards.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day

To all who have or are serving- 
Thank you and Happy Veteran's Day!!

Our class has been learning about Veteran's Day and what a veteran is. We sent an email out to our staff as well as to our parents to find out if anyone was a veteran and what branch they served in. My class has been very interested in this topic and we are excited to find out if anyone we know is a veteran. If you are reading this and are a veteran, please feel free to leave us a comment and tell us what branch you served in.

Depending on the information that we get back, I plan to have my class graph our results regarding how many people served in each branch.
This isn't a tech heavy project obviously, but as simple as it was, it enabled us to reach out beyond our classroom to learn more about a topic that for many kiddos is very foreign.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pumpkin Seed Project and Twitter integration

On Thursday of this week we took part in a Projects By Jen online project in which we had to find the number of seeds in a pumpkin. We took part in this project along with our buddy class in Oshawa, Canada via Twitter. 
We started our adventure by tweeting pictures of our pumpkins and our predictions to each other. As we began to open our pumpkins up, we again tweeted a picture of the insides of our pumpkins to each other in the event that we would need to or want to update our predictions based on what we saw.

After we scooped all of the seeds out of the pumpkins, to the delight of most, but groans and ewwww's from others, we began to talk about how we would go about counting all of the seeds. We had some great discussion, and in the end, decided that it would be best and easiest if we put our seeds into piles of 10s to start with. This was a great strategy as it is exactly what we have been focusing on in math. As the teams went to work counting out piles of 10s, we again tweeted a picture to Mrs. Drapers' class to see if they could figure out what counting strategy we were using. The groups then began to work collaboratively to count their seed piles. 
After passing the 100 mark some found it difficult to go on, so we discussed what happens when you get 10 piles of 10 and how many that is. We were then able to combine more of our piles into groups of 100 which made the counting even easier. In the end, one of our pumpkins had 3 piles of a hundred, 4 piles of 10 and 7 extra ones. Using this information, we were able to quickly figure out that the pumpkin had 347 seeds.
When we were done, we tweeted a final picture to Mrs. Draper's class to show them the final count so they could compare their predictions to the actual number of seeds. It was a great collaborative activity in our classroom as well as via Twitter with Mrs. Draper's class. It was also fantastic way for us to work on problem solving skills, predicting, counting by 10s and 1s, and our writing skills all while using technology to enhance our learning.

You can check out our Twitter feed here.