We finished up lines and angles a while back, and I’ve been meaning to share my student’s awesome final quiz. We had already located angle types in the classroom and taken photos of them. To reverse the students’ thinking, I gave them a photo and they had to identify examples of the four angle types (right, obtuse, acute, and straight) as well as the three line types (parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting). I could have done this using a basic worksheet, but instead we went paperless.

Using the Educam app and my Ken-A-Vision Document Camera, I placed a photo of a roller coaster track under the camera and sent it to my students’ iPads. Their task was to use the pen and text tools to find, trace, and label an example of each of the above items within the one picture. Some even discovered the arrow tool and used it to be more precise with their labels. They loved it! After finishing up the quiz, students saved their photos and uploaded them to Dropbox. It was fun, engaging, and totally paperless.

With the introduction of Common Core this year, many of our math standards have changed. My fourth grade students have spent weeks working with fractions. (Seriously – weeks. I’ve just come back from maternity leave and they are STILL working on fractions!) In order to augment the classroom instruction, my students did some iLesson work with equivalent fractions.

To begin with, we used several apps on the iPods to independently practice identifying equivalent fractions. McGraw Hill makes a great app called Equivalent Fractions. It is a paid app, though McGraw Hill is known to make its apps free a few times a year. The gameplay is a cross between a solitaire game and a matching game. Players match cards with images of equivalent fractions and draw from the pile when they can’t make a match. I like that the students had pictorial images to compare, especially as we were beginning instruction on equivalencies.

Another app we used was Squeebles Fractions. This one is a little bit more fun as it involves cake. Students have to feed the Squeebles pieces of cake based on fractions. The catch is that students have to know equivalent fractions to be able to divide the cake correctly. The app does a nice job of making student apply their knowledge to feed the Squeebles.

The students’ favorite activity however involved candy bars. I always use food as an example when talking about fractions. Who wouldn’t want 4/5 of a candy bar instead of 2/10? However, on my teacher salary, I can’t afford to buy the amount of candy I would have needed to let everyone cut candy bars into pieces. Instead we used our Ken-a-Vision Flexcam and the Educam app to split candy bars into equivalent fractions virtually.

After sending an image of three Snickers bars to the iPads, students were asked to choose a simple fraction, split the candy bar into the correct amount of pieces, and label the fraction. Students then had to figure out two equivalent fractions (open ended – students could find any equivalency they wanted), split the candy bar into pieces, color in the part they were going to eat, and label the fractions. Students uploaded their images to Dropbox and I used this as a performance assessment to show whether or not the kids could find equivalent fractions.

I also used this lesson with a group of students working on modified standards. We took the same idea, but used two Kit Kat bars. With this group, I required them to show me the math calculations they did to find the equivalent fractions. Using both the pen and typing tools in the app, students split, calculated, colored, and labeled their candy bars. I used this group’s uploaded images as an assessment as well.

I loved the engagement level of this assessment, and the mastery that kids were showing when they applied their knowledge. However, I’m sure that the students will tell you that the best part of the equivalent fractions was when I let them eat their math lesson.

The week or so before the holidays is always a little… most teachers can fill in this blank with any number of words! Because of this chaos, I typically try to do something highly engaging and honestly, something not too terribly hard. This year we worked on coordinate grids. Of course, I tried to include as much tech as I could, to hold both the students’ and my own attention.

We started the mini-unit with a note-making activity. Students watched a video segment from DiscoveryEducation.com called Rectangular Coordinate System. (Searchable with the tags: coordinate grid, grades 3-5 – it is a video segment lasting 11:34). The video segment does a great job of showing the parts of a coordinate grid and giving examples of how to find ordered pairs on the grid. The purpose of the note-making activity was to define the vocabulary words: x-axis, y-axis, coordinate grid, and ordered pair. They also had to tell how to find an ordered pair on the grid.

After some instruction and practice in our interactive notebooks, it was time for a little bit of independent work. Of course, there’s an app for that! I used the app Butterfly Brunch as our independent practice app. (This app is also available as part of a set of apps in Maths Attack Vol. 2.) Students must move a butterfly to a given ordered pair to feed him his snack. It’s a simple game that allows for students to correct wrong answers. It is best used in a small group where the teacher can monitor the accuracy of the butterfly feedings.

Our performance assessment featured my new favorite classroom tool, the Ken-a-vision document camera and Educam app. I posted before the holiday craziness about getting to test out this great device (see here). Lucky for me – I get to keep using it! With this unit I put a blank coordinate grid under the document camera and and sent the image to the students’ iPads. I worked with students to begin identifying ordered pairs. The students were given a list of ordered pairs to plot on the coordinate grid using the pen tool, and then uploaded their saved images to our Dropbox folder. The assessment itself was to simply plot the points. The fun part of the activity was after uploading the completed grid, students had to go back and connect the dots, in the order that they were plotted. They loved the finished product! And it of course lent itself to the season.

We did have one other, completely not techy, activity that the students loved. We played a game called Candy Grab – using a blank coordinate grid, students placed M&Ms on each of the intersections in the grid. Working in pairs, they took turns rolling dice. The red die was the X-axis coordinate, the green die was the Y-axis coordinate. Students had to find the ordered pair and if there was candy at the point, they got to grab it. There was candy involved, I’m sure you can guess how well this game went over! We do recommend using plain M&Ms though – turns out the peanut ones roll unpredictably!

Overall, the unit went great and was a nice way to round out our math instruction before the holiday. It kept the students focused, well behaved, and addressing standards – all difficult tasks the week before the holiday break!