Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Basic Facts

I have been inquiring this year into accelerating the achievement of my learners in Mathematics, targeting specifically those working below the national standard.

I have been developing some hypotheses about how I can best do this,  and one theory has come to light after discovering some of my learners were struggling with their maths knowledge. I first noticed they were struggling with new strategies but soon realised it was their lack of knowledge that forced them to revert to lower stage strategies.

I have been doing lots of new Basic facts work in class, but it got me thinking about what basic facts actually are, and whether worksheet-esk activities were the best way to learn them (which is what I had been doing).

I found this great PD Resource for basic facts on the NZ Maths website. It has a really clear way of explaining basic facts, and ideas for helping learners both to understand them and value them.
Check it out here

Examples of Definitions

I really like the idea of explicitly teaching the inverse relationships of basic facts. i.e. if you know "this" then you know "that" sort of thinking. 

Credit @NZMaths

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Basic Facts Practice

I shared a post earlier on this blog about the types of basic facts practice I was doing with my learners. I received some really useful feedback here on my blog, and one of the ideas that was sent to me has worked out really well.

Prototec Basic Facts Practice - Link to website here
This is an online worksheet generator. It is aligned to the New Zealand standards, which means it can generate a worksheet at the right level instantly for your learners. It also has two times table options if that is your current focus.

When they complete the test they are given their scores instantly, as well as the correct answers. I think this is great because the children who want to challenge themselves again and again to get 100% can do so, and it allows them to instantly see 'where they went wrong' and learn from it.

There is another option that allows the learners to generate a certificate. This is less useful for me as the teacher, because it does not give me any of the information. i.e. Addition 100%, Subtraction 90% etc. However the 100% certificate has proven to be a great motivator for my learners, something to strive for.

While I think Prototec is a great resource, particularly a time saving one for me. It has limited use beyond quick practice, or a quick snapshot of where the learners are at with Basic Facts. However in the case of my inquiry it is perfect for doing just that.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

April Holiday Blogging Challenge

Following on from the success of the Woolf Fisher Summer Blogging Journey in the Christmas holidays, I thought it would be cool to try and replicate the programme on a smaller scale for my learners over the April School Holidays.  I pitched it as a "Blogging Challenge" and said there would be prizes for the Top 5 bloggers over the holidays. There were prizes for various categories including Quality of posts, Most posts, Creativity, and Audience appeal.

They could post about anything they wanted, but were encouraged to post about activities they were doing in their holidays, or things that they had decided to research on their own. I also created a small number of learning tasks that the kids could work on and blog about if they chose to.

Overall it was a great success and a huge number of our learners engaged with blogging over the holidays.  Kids were posting often twice a day, and about all sorts of things. We even saw kids teaming up and working collaboratively on blog posts, as well as promoting friends work on their own blogs.

Quick facts:

  • Top blogger posted 43 times over the holidays.
  • Top 10 bloggers combined posted 208 over the 2 week break.
  • Learners commented back and forth via blogger, 100+ comments were posted.
  • Learners worked collaboratively and communicated via email and chat.
  • Teacher created tasks were worked on completed by a number of students, others picked and chose which ones appealed.

What I learned from the experience was that hands on activities like the paper planes, and the floating/ sinking experience were more entertaining and engaging for the kids. I would try to think of more challenges like this in the future. Next holidays the Woolf Fisher Winter Learning Journey will kick off again, but I will definitely be running another blogging challenge in the Term 3 holidays.