Monday, September 19, 2011

Monkey Math

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
Levels:  I would say Pre-school, Kindergarten and Grade 1.

I had a blast playing with this app on my iPad 2.

The fun monkey keeps you entertained while playing.  All instructions are spoken and written. They are repeated if you take too long to answer.

What happens if you make a mistake?  The monkey says "uh uh" and you try again.

What happens when you answer correctly?  Responses are repeated back.  For example, when completing a pattern, once you input the correct response it will tell you the basic pattern again.  If you added a missing number, it will read the full string of numbers.

After you get so many activities correct, you win an item for your aquarium.

Activities include:  Pop the biggest number; sets of 2; least # of item.   Fill in the missing number.  Connect the dots (numbers).  Find the shape with # sides. (Counts sides after you pick and says name of shape)   Addition time (shows qty of items as it's saying #). Subtraction time (shows qty of items and crosses off the subtraction).  Trace the #.  What comes next in the pattern.

Would I recommend this app?  Definitely!  It's well worth the $0.99.
My nieces say "Two Thumbs Up!" so I placed it in my Math Favorites folder on the iPad.

Music:  Can be turned off.
Sound:  Required for a few activities  unless students can read.  Most of the activities are pretty obvious, however.

I didn't run into any technical difficulties while running this app.

I found this features list on the Monkey Preschool website and stole it to include here.  Shhh.  Don't tell!
  • 9 interactive games that teach kids about sequencing, patterning, counting, adding and subtracting.
  • With very little interface, your child presses one button to immediately launch into uninterrupted play.
  • Uses Knack™ Technology to instinctively adjust the challenge levels to each individual player.
  • Irresistibly cute monkey guides the child through game play with animated celebrations for correct answers and gentle redirection for incorrect ones.
  • Kids collect rewards in their ANIMATED AQUARIUM.
  • Uninterrupted and unlimited play: game continues as long as the player desires.

The Review I added to the app:
What a fun and entertaining way to review math concepts!  I will definitely be recommending this to the K-2 teachers I will be working with.  I love that this app repeats back the responses for retention and prevents students from moving on until they have solved it correctly.  The aquarium is a cute addition.

IPads in the Classroom

I finally purchased an iPad 2.  I's hard to believe it took me so long.  I felt I needed to justify it to myself, make sure that it was truly a head decision instead of just a heart decision.  I watched my coworkers at meetings and sessions taking notes.  I spoke with colleagues who shared fabulous work apps that they use.  I tried hard to slow myself down.  Then, I did my first travel day in my new job.  I met with one of the administrators in a school division in my CARC area.  We drove around to meet all of the math teachers in 6 schools.  I took pen and a book for notes.  During these meetings, I frantically took notes, detailing important information.  Now, if you've ever seen my handwriting, you'll know that when writing fast, you can barely read it and my hands cramp up!  So, finally, I gave in and purchased the iPad.  It was an exciting time! 

I purchased it while out shopping with my sister, heading straight over to her place afterwards.  I brought my laptop, knowing for now, I still needed a laptop with itunes to get started.  I lovingly removed it from its sexy package.  Carefully placed it inside the case w/keyboard I purchased.  Booted up iTunes and we were off and running.  Well.  Sort of.  After syncing it, that is. 

My nieces, who had been thrilled with my iphone and have several favorite games installed on it, were blown away by this big version!  Does it have Talking Tom Cat they wondered?  What other cool games would I add to it?  Be patient!  They are downloading as we speak.

The next day, I was off again to visit more schools in this same district.  Instead of totting around pencil and paper, trying to decipher my handwriting, I was happily typing away, keeping better notes that I knew I could read later.  The keyboard was a bit tricky as there's no right hand shift and the apostrophe and quotation marks are below instead of beside the ;. 

What else could be better?  A few days later, I was contacted by a principal asking for support in early numeracy in a K-4 school.  She wants to learn about iPad apps that she can use to help struggling math students!  Wow!  What perfect timing!!!  So, off I went, looking for apps.  Mainly, I focused on the free ones, knowing schools have limited budgets but I saw many that looked amazing and were cheap.  My problem was that I didn't want to spend the money to test them knowing some of them wouldn't be worthy of sharing.  What to do?  It was simple.  I sent them an email, introducing myself and my new role.  Explaining that I will be holding workshop sessions introducing iPad apps.  Would they be interested in providing me with their product for my review?  If they were worthy, I would tell other teachers about them and let them try them on my ipad.  I have received over 40 free samples so far and more keep coming in. And that's after only 2 work days. I haven't even come close to going through all the math apps in the app store, either.

I thought I would share my favorite apps in upcoming posts.  I'll also be adding them to my delicious account as well with the tag ipad_apps.  I'll also include tags that indicate a general curricular theme as well.

If you know of a great math app that I should check out or would like to give me a promo code for your own math app, just send me a quick email!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Teaching Math without Words

This video really made me think about the way we, as teachers, present our materials.  Looking back at my own teaching, I wonder how many students were overwhelmed by the number of words that were contained in my lessons, activities and assessments.

I can see using the games integrated into my classroom to introduce concepts.  I couldn't get a big enough feel for it based on the sample games I played.  However, I must agree that the games I experienced were very intuitive.

It would be interesting to see if and how people have implemented a similar approach within their classrooms.  What kind of activities do you use?  What pros and cons do you see?  Please, share even if it's not exactly as described in the video (which would be very difficult to do)!

You can find out more about their program on their website:  MIND Research Institute.

I saw this video on Great Maths Teaching Idea.   I had to request more information about the program and it's price because I couldn't find a ton on the internet.  I was a bit worried because I couldn't even put in a Canadian postal code.  (Got around that by placing it in the province section and adding 99999 for the zip code.  We'll see if it works.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Open Ended Questions

At the end of June, I had the fortune to meet Marian Small while participating in High School Math Institute in Red Deer, AB.  I absolutely love her approach to Mathematics which focuses on creating open ended questions and parallel tasks.  Today, I'm going to focus on creating open ended questions.

I had a few samples of her open-ended questions from the session but wanted more so I went to her website in order to check out her other workshop presentations. (She uploads all over her presentations).  I received one of her books because I video taped my class for presentation as part of the High School Math Institute.  However, this book is tucked away at home so I was unable to use it today.

Today, I was busy creating a Junior High Math Pedagogy presentation so was looking for and creating questions for Grade 7-9. 

A little background on Marian Small's style...Create questions that allow for students to answer at their own level.  This means that the questions have to be specific enough for you to tell if they understand the big idea but general enough that everyone can complete it. 

Some examples:
  • Original question:  3x + 5 = 11.  You might rework it to "An expression has a solution of 11 when p=2.  What are at least two possibilities for the expression?
  • Original question:  A cylinder has a radius of 5 cm, height of 8 cm.  What is the volume?  You might rework it to be:  A cylinder has a volume of 200 cm squared.  What could the dimensions be?
  • You put some counters in a bag.  You want the probability of choosing a red to be 0.4.  What might you put in the bag?
These are just a few samples of the questions I have added to my presentation.  I will add the final list once I am done my presentation.

My challenge to you:  Look at the curriculum you are working with.  Find one big idea you want to focus on.  Take a typical question and turn it into an open-ended question. 

I would love to see what you've done!  Share the grade level, original question and your new open-ended question below in the comments!

Also, if you know of any great websites where there's already a bunch of questions made, please feel free to share those links as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Math 11 Cohort

Today was a day well spent sharing the benefits of google calendar with a colleague and helping him set it up on his computer and iphones.  I don't know how I would survive without google calendar!

Don't worry.  That's not how I spent my entire day.  On Monday, September 26, I will be hosting a "Math 11 Cohort" Part 1 of 3.  I've never run a cohort before and I want it to be successful so I am carefully devising my agenda, gathering resources and prepping my presentation.  The question becomes "How much is too much?" to share on the first day?  I'm thinking of the following for an agenda...and I would appreciate constructive criticism on it.

9:00 - 9:15 Welcome, Introductions and Housekeeping  (The obvious stuff plus I will show them the moodle website where we will post all resources, etc).
9:15 - 10:00 Let's Get Philosophical (This will be an opportunity to explore the philosophy and pedagogy of the new program of studies as grade 11 math has a new curriculum this year)
10:00 - 10:15 Break
10:15 - 12:00 Dig in to Resources (I will share some activities and resources I have created and found.  We'll probably explore some activities done by Marian Small regarding assessment)
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch (probably shortened to end day earlier)
1:00 - 3:30 Getting down to business (They will divide themselves into course groups and begin creating resources)

So, have I packed too much information into one day?  Will they be overwhelmed?  What do you think?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Today, I spent a fair amount of time creating a Delicious account (that part was quick) and then copying over all of my personal math links into the new carc_math account.  I didn't get everything done.  I made sure to go through each website to ensure that the link was still good and worthwhile.  This is a time consuming process!  Hopefully, people will find it useful as Delicious is a fabulous program for sharing websites!  I don't know what I would do with out it.  I would have lost so many websites over the years if I had relied on memory or computers.  I've switched to too many computers to have kept everything.

So, if anyone knows of any great websites that I should add to the account, feel free to post in the comment section, email me or send it through Delicious!

I also spent some time working on the new CARC Middle School Math Moodle.  Basically, I focused on the layout.  There is basically nothing for content.  It'll get there, though.  Eventually.

This post will be short today.  It's still cold in my office even though we turned up the heat and my fingers just aren't typing properly.