Saturday, November 29, 2014

5 Great Division One Math Sites

There are so many math game websites out there to support the Alberta mathematics curriculum. Some are very specific and provide games and activities for a narrow number of concepts. Most, however, have many activities that have a wide range of great material for the division one math teacher. Here are five of my go-to websites for free online math activities in no particular order: 

OCSD Interactive Games 

Oswego City School District (New York state) has a large number of free math games as well as templates to make your own games (I have never tried these to see if they work). My favourites are:

A Maths Dictionary for Kids

I love using this website for the beginning of a new math unit. In the last few years I have started having students filling in a keywords sheet. At the beginning of the year I do this as a whole class activity. Then I move to having students doing it in partners. Eventually students work independently on creating a math glossary for themselves. LearnAlberta has a similar resource called Mathematics Glossary (you have to be logged into LearnAlberta to access this) but I do not find it as division one friendly. 

Math Under the Sea

A great resource you can access through LearnAlberta (again, you have to be logged into LearnAlberta to access this) based on the grade three Alberta curriculum but I have used pieces of it with grade twos. I like that it has short and simple yet engaging activities linked to the Alberta curriculum. Students get instant feedback on their work.

ICT Games - Numeracy

These activities are based on the English National Curriculum. Despite it being based on the English Curriculum, most of the activities support the learner outcomes of the Alberta curriculum. The activities are simple and fun and provide instant feedback to students. Perhaps the most loved ICT game each year is: Funky Mummy.

Virtual Manipulatives

I am cheating here a bit. Instead of one website, I've lumped a few virtual manipulative sites together. I still value concrete manipulatives over virtual manipulatives in grade two. However, I think providing students some experiences with virtual manipulatives is important so they can use them at home. They are also great to use at school when a school has a limited number of resources. I especially like when students get immediate feedback on how they use the manipulatives. 

  1. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives - Five years ago, this would definitely be my go to website for math manipulatives and it still is a great resource. However, now there are so many great K-3 sites for online manipulatives. 
  2. Virtual Manipulatives - Glencoe
  3. Illuminations K-2

A Note About LearnAlberta

LearnAlberta is meant to "assist kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers in Alberta locate and utilize digital learning and teaching resources produced by the Ministry of Education." Students and teachers can log in with a username and password provided by their district. For those with EPSB accounts, you can simply log into SchoolZone and then go to the resources tab and log into LearnAlberta by selecting the link there.

What are your favourite websites for math?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Get your students thinking with Into the Book!

Into The Book  Entry.png

Into the Book is a fabulous interactive reading comprehension website to teach reading strategies to students. Without exception, my students have found this site to be engaging and one that builds their confidence and success in understanding how to use reading strategies. Do they all become master readers? Not quite, but most students will start deliberately using at least two or three strategies in their reading and are quite proud of themselves that they can articulate why and how they are using it!

The strategies covered are; Using Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing, Evaluating and Synthesizing.

Into The Book  Questioning.png
Each strategy has an introductory overview that is read to the student, a short video of a teacher and students in a classroom discussing the strategy...and the best part, interactive activities that students can complete on their own to practice using the strategy. Students can save and print their work or email it to their teacher to print for them. Each activity asks students to use higher level thinking skills and to respond in different ways.

Into the Book  Teacher Area  Resources  Summarizing.png
There is a not only a teaching guide for each activity, but a wealth of teaching resources for the strategies, including watching videos of other teachers teaching, a song, a list of read aloud books to support teaching the strategy, downloadable posters and lesson plans for other activities to do with your class.

Into the Book  Student Login.png
When students go to Into the Book, they click on ‘Students’ to enter the student area. There they will be asked for their ‘Key’, which is their password. Initially, they simply enter their name in the ‘Get a Key’ box and Into the Book generates a password which will be their name with a series of numbers behind it. Once this is recorded, they will use this to enter the site, thereby saving all their work should they not complete an activity in a session.

You can skip the log in process, however, students’ work will not be saved. Teachers do not require a log in to enter the teacher area.

Each section of the interactive activities has an ‘Audio’ button, so low readers can have the information and text read to them. They can go back at any time  and revise their work, or simply start again.

I have used this site with grades two and three. I start with a read aloud from the recommended resources and discuss the strategy with my students. I then introduce the song and the poster, and we do another read aloud and work with the strategy together. Then we go to Into the Book. I have done this both as a whole class and as a centre during our Daily Five time. I have used most of the lesson plan resources and have found them engaging for students. The one drawback is that for some activities, students need to enter text on the site, and that can become an issue for low spellers. I always tell them that I am not marking spelling, but I need to know what they are saying, so to spell the word the way it sounds.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Digital Worksheets - Using Google Drawing In Math

Can't They Do The Same Thing On Paper?

I've started using Google Drawing as a math centre this year. I've been creating what I call digital worksheets. Students are given material to respond to, similar to a paper worksheet. So why not just give them a paper worksheet?
  1. Technology in and of itself is motivating - it can be in colour when worksheets are black and white.
  2. It teaches them skills that will allow tasks to be more student created later in the year.
  3. It's more environmental.
  4. The more I use this format, the more likely I'll create more transformative activities. 

My Centres

Typically I do math centres a minimum of once a week. I have three centres in a one hour block. So that is about eight students to a centre. I try to make two centres that require little teacher input and then one Google App centre that I spend most of my time at.  I give a quick overview of the centres to start and then students rotate through the centres. Each centre is about 15-18 minutes in length.

The Activities

Thinking Addition For Subtraction

Students had to drag the subtraction number sentence to the related addition sentence and use the addition sentences to solve the subtraction questions.

What worked well: the simplicity of the activity.

What I would change: I made the font too small. My students use netbooks and while it worked okay, I think less questions with a larger font would be better. 

I have made a revised template for use next year. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy

Make Them Equal - Make Them Unequal

Students had to drag the dots to the scales to either make the picture look equal or not equal. Students then had to fill in the number sentence - I had provided the symbols.

What worked well: students were able to do the task independently and they enjoyed the activity. Some were disappointed that the scales did not react to their choices ("Why doesn't the scale move up or down?").

What I would change: Sometimes students would drop a shape where they did not want it and in attempting to move it, would move the scale instead. I would like to find a pan balance image that would eliminate that issue. I try to always use images in my class that are free to use and I was not able to find a two pan balance/scale that was free to use that did not have a middle stem. I also required students to use all the objects for each picture. I do not think I would set that restriction next time.

Here is a template. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy

Math Equality Journals

Students had to drag the images to show two equal sets and two not equal sets. Students then had to type a sentence for each symbol to explain what it means. My student who did not know how to spell equal was able to grab his duotang and use it to spell it for his work. 

What worked well: All students completed all parts of the task. 

What I would change: Nothing at the moment. I kept in mind the issues I had in the previous two activities and I was really pleased how it worked this time. Third time is the charm they say?

Here is a template. To use it yourself, open the file and Make A Copy

For these and other division one Google App templates, check out Division One Collaboration Site For Educational Technology. Click on the activity you like and make a copy!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Have You Heard Of Kahoot?

David's recent post on Plickers reminded me of another classroom response system I recently heard about. Unlike Plickers students will need access to technology to participate.

At the last three professional development events I've gone to this year someone (usually a K-3 teacher)  has enthusiastically asked "have you heard of Kahoot." As well, this question has been asked on a few of the Google+ communities I follow. So... have YOU heard of Kahoot? If not, read on. If so, share your best Kahoot in the comments!

What Is Kahoot?

Kahoot is a classroom response system set up in a game-based style where the teacher creates quizzes, surveys or discussions. It is free to sign up and very simple to use for both the creator and the participants.

Why Do Teachers Like It?

User Friendly

Kahoot is simple to use for everyone. The set up side for teachers is user friendly. The interface for students is division one friendly.

Pictures and Videos

It is a way to give a quiz with pictures and videos! I like that you can have a video playing while students enter their information. That way there is something for students to attend to if they are finished early.


It is gamification of quizzes/worksheets. So students are more engaged. There can be a competition/points element. After I gave my first Kahoot I had students regularly ask me if we could do Kahoot today.

Immediate Feedback

Students get immediate feedback if their answer is correct or not. 


You can make your Kahoots public. Therefore you can access and modify pre-made Kahoots. You can easily share Kahoots with your grade level partners.  

Colette's Tips

Have A Few Kahoots Ready

Depending on your technology situation, you may not want to fire up your laptops for just a 10 question Kahoot. I suggest having a few Kahoots on file for upcoming topics so that when you have your laptops/chromebooks out you can do a Kahoot.


Have students get into the habit of using their own first names.  That way the data you gather (even if it just formative) is easy for you to use. 


In younger grades, consider not always using points.


In younger grades, consider not always using points. I suggest trying the preview option if you have never used Kahoot before. It allows you to see the teacher side and the student side together.

First Kahoot

Keep your first Kahoot short and simple with younger students. 

How Does It Work?

Teacher Side

I'm going to make a new Kahoot quiz about insulation, as that is our current focus in science, as I write this post.

1. Log-in/Create an account.

2. Select the Create a new K button.

3. You'll be asked which type of Kahoot you want.

4. You'll be prompted to give your quiz a name.

5. Next you will create your questions. You have a limit of 95 characters for each question. You can upload images or videos (this is currently "experimental"). You can assign each question to have points or no points. You can also decide how long each question should take to answer (5 seconds to 120 seconds). Then you provide two to four answers for students to select and you identify which answer is correct.

6. It took me some time to figure out how to add a new question when making my first Kahoot. To add another question, look at the bottom and you will have four choices. Continue to add questions until you are done your quiz.

7. Once you press save and continue, you'll be given the chance to reorder any of your questions. Then you will have the opportunity to set your Kahoot as private or public, add a description, set the audience, set the difficulty level and add tags.

8. Finally you can give your quiz a cover image.* You can also use their experimental feature embedding "a YouTube video to be displayed in the background of the lobby screen as players join the game!"

*I used my own images or images that had permission for reuse. I haven't found a good way to give attribution however. I tried the description box but there is a limited number of characters.

9. Your Kahoot is ready to play! Press the Play Now button to get a pin to give to your students.

10. After the activity is over, you will have an option to download the results. You will get a spreadsheet with each "nickname" and their answers. 

I suggest trying the preview option if you have never used Kahoot before. It allows you to see the teacher side and the student side together.

How Does It Work - Student Side?

The teacher logs in to Kahoot using one url

1. The users/students log in using a different url: There they enter a game "pin" number provided to them by their teacher. 

2. Then they are prompted to enter a "nickname". Once all students are in the activity can start.

3. The Smartboard* will show a question and possible answers. On the students' devices will be four colours. The students select the colour/shape that matches the correct answer. 

4. Students are then told on their devices if they got it correct or not. The Smartbord will show the correct answer and a graph of how many got the answer correct. 

5. Then the teacher can select "next" to go onto the next question. A scoreboard will show the top scores if you chose to have points. 

6. The students can rate the activity after the quiz is over. 

*There needs to be some way for the teacher to share the questions. I have used the Smartboard but you could use a TV, projector, etc.