Category Archives: Math

Using Sumdog to Improve Math Skills and Student Motivation

One of the sites that I used in my Teacher Inquiry project over the summer was one I have mentioned before: Sumdog. I happen to love the site and have been using it again this year with my current students. My results from my teacher inquiry indicate that using Math sites such as Sumdog have a positive effect on students’ attitudes toward Math and motivation to do Math. The results also indicated that regularly using a site like Sumdog can result in improvement in accuracy and speed in the skills that they practice.

I have been using Sumdog for the last four or five years and the site underwent some major changes over the summer to streamline it, making it even more user-friendly. I use the site to assign weekly homework and an assessment to my students. I am able to customize skills for students easily and get real-time results of my students’ progress. I sent out a mass email at the beginning of the year to ensure that all parents were aware of the homework I was assigning (since you need technology to complete the tasks). Students also have the option of completing their work at lunch or after school in the computer lab. So far, I have had a mostly positive response from parents and students on this homework. As a teacher, I really like that it is so easy to assign tasks, but also that the site gives me so much data on student performance. I can even see problems that students get incorrect when I give an assessment, in addition to their final score.

 

Improving Math Skills with Sumdog

If you haven’t used Sumdog with your students – check it out! I have used lots of different Math sites, but this is the one I go back to year after year. The kids enjoy it – which is the most important thing to me. Kids can play against the computer, the world or even against kids in their own class. They can earn little rewards – pets, for example – as they get more and more points. This is new this school year, but even my grade eight and nines are getting a kick out of their new pets and the tricks that they can do. As the teacher, I can assign competitions, assessments, and challenges easily and track data from each. The site is appropriate for grades 1-9, with a wide selection of skills from which to choose. Differentiation is super simple and a huge benefit of the site, as I want different students to work on different skills. Anyhow, I like to share this site each school year because it is one of my favorites! 

What are your favorite Math sites? 

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Teacher Inquiry: My Wondering (Post 2)

I spoke in my previous post about teacher inquiry as a process in which teachers use their own skills, power, and creativity to solve a problem that exists in their classroom; a problem that if solved would improve student achievement in some way. I challenged you to state a wondering of your own, as well. This wondering should be something that you’re passionate about finding an answer to!

(Click here to read the introductory post….) 

 

 

Teacher Inquiry

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My wondering for my Master’s course requirement came at the end of this past school year. I had many different wonderings floating around in my head at the time. They dealt with whole class instruction, engagement,  behavior, and other issues as well. The process of defining a wondering is key because it is this question which will drive the entire inquiry. Since it was the end of the school year and I was not going to have my students in front of me during the inquiry, I identified an inquiry that I could explore in the summer months.

As a Math teacher, one issue arises for me each September. Students come back from a summer of rest and relaxation, and I am so happy to see them! Unfortunately, I find that many students tend to regress in their skills and we spend the first couple of weeks of school bringing them back up to speed. I wish I was able to start the grade level curriculum more quickly, and so I started to wonder… I wondered if there was a way to work with students over the summer to help maintain their math skills to lessen this regression. My students and I were also participating in a technology pilot at the time, which ended up having a significant impact on how I organized my inquiry. When it came down to defining my wondering, I knew I wanted to follow my passion for Math, and try to incorporate technology and attempt to increase or at least maintain student achievement.

My wondering for my inquiry was: How can I use technology (Khan Academy, Sumdog and Google Classroom) to help my grade 7 students maintain their Math skills over the summer months? 

In upcoming posts, I will discuss where I went from here with my teacher inquiry. So, any wonderings coming to mind? Please share by commenting below! I know many are already back in classrooms, although I do not personally start back with students until September 8th. I wonder…could we ever create an online group of teacher inquirers this school year? Any interest – please let me know and we’ll see what we can do!

Teacher inquiry

Master’s Update and Math Apps!

I have been working really hard this year to try to differentiate a bit more effectively for my students. Last year I looked into Guided Math, and although I loved the way it sounded, I know that I fell short of actually following through with my well-intended plan. As part of a Master’s assignment this year, I actively started incorporating more small group time for guided practice into my classroom. Honestly, I can already feel the shift. The things that I thought would happen (a bunch of hands up in the air as I try to help those in the group) haven’t really been an issue, yet. Those who need help are with me and those who do not are able to move along and complete their work. It’s actually kind of simple. I also established some anchor activities for students to choose from when they do complete their work. I haven’t worked out all of the kinks, but knowing that I’m going to get to more students more quickly makes me feel as though I am teaching more authentically! If you don’t do much “guided practice” after your initial lesson, try it! For a week or two, try to build in more time to work with students in a small group. And keep it simple! Right now, I have it established that after my mini-lesson anyone who feels that they would like to work through a few more examples can join me at the back table. The students CHOOSE to come. What I love MOST is when the students who choose to join are the ones whom I was worried would be acting up and making it difficult for me to teach. They are CHOOSING to come back and work through examples with me. I still have a few students that I’d like to see join me at the back, however, I will give them time to decide if they need my help or not. If they should be going through more examples with me, I will ask them to join the group as well. I’m playing this part by ear, so far. What I’m also really happy about, is that my small group time has been with many different students. Initially I was scared that there may be a negative stigma attached to coming to the small group for more guided practice. However, this has not been the case. This small change to my teaching practice this year has been amazing and I’m looking forward to really harnessing the power of small group instruction.

As a part of this week’s assignment for my course I found a great blog post on Math Puzzle Apps and another on Incorporating Games into the Classroom . Math games and puzzles are simple options to use as anchor activities for students when they have finished the assigned work for the day. They keep the kids engaged while you can continue to work with those students who need your help.

I haven’t checked out all of the Math Apps in the article yet, but it’s on my to-do list for later this week!

Do you have any great Math Apps for middle school that don’t require internet? Please share if you do! I’m always on the lookout!

 

 

Yay! More Math!

It’s the little things that make you happy – and also make you realize confirm that you are a bit of a nerd. I get to take on more math next year, having grade 7 and 8 math classes as well as being a support person in one of those classrooms. To have this new curriculum guide and text home with me this summer just makes me smile (I will also continue to teach LA, as well).

math rocks

Math is my favorite and always has been, and so I’m very excited to think about how I may engage and teach my students – the students that I just said good-bye to in grade 7. Won’t they be surprised to see me, again! Hopefully it will be a happy surprise! What I am most excited about, is the fact that there is a new project coming into place in September for grade 7 and 8 math. It includes a “boot camp” package of materials and a lot of emphasis is put on having basic numeracy skills before getting started with the actual grade level curriculum. Every year kids come in who don’t yet know how to multiply or divide, don’t understand place value or fractions etc. This boot camp should help to fill some of those gaps with direct instruction on these skills and so I’m excited that it’s actually built in to our year plan! A pacing guide was given to us as well, and an example of one of four formative assessments that we will have access to next year to make sure that our students are grasping the foundational learnings that have been identified as most important for the grade level. It just all seems so organized and I love the sound of anything that may work better than what I did the previous year, so I’m in!

I say again, Yay! More Math!

How do you feel about your assignment for next year? Or, are you still waiting?

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5 Top Educational Apps For Middle School Teachers

We all know how important it is to integrate technology into our classrooms when we can. That’s why I’m so happy to have George Campbell, a freelance writer specializing in various topics including education, to supply me with a helpful blog post on 5 TOP apps for middle school teachers! Please be sure to add your own favourites by commenting on this post!

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1- Science Glossary (Free)

Science Glossary is an app which offers students a comprehensive glossary of scientific terms, as well as a collection of succinct biographies of famous scientists. Simply enter a scientific term and the app provides an easy to understand definition as well as additional scientific terms related to the topic which was searched. Teachers and students can also use the app to connect with the educational website; Vision Learning. The website promotes itself as a “free digital resource for teaching and learning science”, so all you need to get started is an Internet connection! This combination of the Science Glossary app and the Vision Learning website enables both teachers and students to access detailed science learning modules in order to further supplement studies and stimulate scientific curiosity!

  top educational apps for middle school teachers                     

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2- GoSkyWatch Planetarium – the astronomy star guide ($3.99)

With the GoSkyWatch app students can explore the universe from the palm of their hand! This app presents over 200 high resolution images of planets and deep sky objects in day, sidereal and time lapse animation. Students can immerse themselves within images of constellations, boundaries and star patterns as well as comprehensive information on the various planets, stars, comets, constellations, galaxies and DSO ephemeris data. This app also informs students of the current moon phase calendar as well as sunrise and sunset times, enabling them to extensively expand their knowledge of the universe.

 

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3-Mental Maths (Free)

Mental Maths is an app is created by educational agency Maths Doctor. They provide a series of educational resources which are centered around the principle that; “every leaner is an individual with their own needs, abilities, strengths and weaknesses”. Subsequently, both their website and app endeavour to offer children multiple methods through which they can enjoy expanding their mathematical knowledge. To use the Mental Maths app, students simply select a maths topic and are presented with a related question. There is no time limit whilst they work out the solution in their head, then swipe the screen to reveal the answer. If students get the answer wrong, they are able to try again as many times as they wish until they confidently understand the mathematical principle. What’s more, the app hosts a built-in percentage tracker so that teachers can monitor their students’ progress and challenge their newly developed knowledge with an end of topic test. As a result, this simple yet creative app offers a fun and interactive medium through which your students can overcome any mathematical obstacles!

 top educational apps for middle school teachers

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4-History: Maps of the World (Free)

History: Maps of the World provides a great resource for developing your students’ historical and geographical knowledge. Using the app, you can gain exclusive access to 178 historical maps from across the world, all of which display the source of each map as well as highlighting any geopolitical and geographical shifts which have occurred over time. Within the app, maps are grouped by category or era, or alternatively can be located via a keyword search. Each map is accompanied by a wealth of information which details its rich historical significance. This facilitates an innovatively visual method through which you can educate your students about major historical, social and regional changes.