We began our study of location and direction this week with positional language activities. We discussed objects around the classroom and described their position in relation to each other. For example, “The box is in the shelf”. Students took photos of objects around the room and labelled them in Skitch using positional language and arrows. We imported our photos into Explain Everything with a different picture on each page. Students then recorded themselves explaining the position of the objects. I found this Apptivity particularly successful for less confident writers. While they attempted the labelling step of the Apptivity, when they recorded their understanding verbally they were able to show a much deeper understanding of positional language. While the example below about the colour cats is difficult to interpret from the text, the student’s verbal explanation was completely accurate. This is reason why I include voice recording in most of my Apptivities. It is such a powerful tool for differentiation.
We continued our work with patterning today where students used number cards to make a 100s board as a whole class on the carpet. We practised our counting patterns together and took a photo of the hundreds board on our iPads. In Maths groups students created a book in Explain Everything and added the hundreds board photo to each page. They highlighted a different counting pattern on each page of their book with the pen tool and recorded themselves saying the counting patterns aloud. This activity provided easy opportunities for differentiation, allowing capable students to demonstrate their knowledge of more complex counting patterns and less confident students focused on simpler patterns.
I was inspired by an activity by TechChef4u while teaching patterning this week. Students looked around the classroom for examples of patterns and took photos of them in the camera app. They then highlighted the repeated elements of the patterns in Skitch. Students created a page of patterns in Pic Collage and then imported this page into Explain Everything. They recorded themselves explaining the repeated elements. The students were highly engaged in the task and especially enjoyed highlighting the patterns in the outfit I was wearing that day!
This week we further developed our knowledge of counting patterns through the use of concrete materials, the camera roll app, Skitch and Explain Everything. Students began the workflow by making bundles of ten with matchsticks. They then photographed their bundles and annotated them in Skitch. Following the annotations, students recorded themselves counting their bundles of tens. Not only is it now a concrete sample for me to see who can count and write the tens pattern, but it was a far more interesting way of practising counting compared to the ol’ chanting method. Next step: 5s, 2s…
Students in our 1:1 iPad class bring their own devices to school, loaded with a set list of apps. There are very few “drill and practice” apps, rather those that allow for creativity and true demonstration of understanding. Our maths lessons have been completely transformed with the wide array of opportunities now available with apps such as Doodle Buddy, Number Pieces, Captions and Explain Everything.
Students can manipulate an endless supply of mathematical materials and spend more time demonstrating their knowledge, whereas in the past, a fair part of the lesson would be spent handing out and collecting materials. These apps are not only a huge time saver but also engage students more. I can’t remember the last time my students built a gun or tower with their materials behind my back since the addition of iPads! Of course, there is still a place for “real” concrete materials in my classroom, but when the focus is on demonstrating knowledge an understanding, the iPad is a fantastic tool for mathematics lessons!
I am a follower of Mrs Wideen’s Blog and find myself inspired regularly by her iPad ideas. The initial inspiration for my iPad Apptivities (and I make no claim that I coined this phrase) came from her fantastic Maths stations using the Explain Everything app.
We regularly use Explain Everything in our classroom as it is a great app that encompasses features such as drawing, photographing, recording, adding text or images – all in an easy to use format for my littlies. Many of my initial Apptivities incorporated Explain Everything in the way that Mrs Wideen’s stations do, to encourage students to record and explain their thinking and make their learning more visible. My latest Apptivities include a variety of other apps as part of the workflow.
When creating Apptivities I usually generate more than one version of the task, allowing me to differentiate for a range of learners. You will notice the Apptivity cards are colour coded at the top, allowing a quick reference point for me when handing them out during group rotations.
I have also added QR voice codes to my latest Apptivities, to help students who experience difficulty reading the cards. This allows me to work with my focus group without being interrupted by requests to re-read the card.
Here are a couple of examples of Apptivities.