The use of Maths Learning Log/Textbook

 

 

This is the 2nd year that the school is not using any WB.  Students can no longer to their WB for revision . But, rather need to learn from the Maths Learning Log/Textbook.  I adopt a more systematic use of Maths Learning log/TB and even explicitly tell the students how to use that to review their exam.  This is based on my assessment of the learners’ profiles  as they might need explicit teaching of study skills.

Here are the things I have done:

1)  Writing of page and title

2) Better organisation of study note by starting each topic on a new page

3) In Maths log book, make sure that the question appears on the book. Why? Help to reduce unnecessary cognitive load (no need to refer to TB for question).  My kids are not that strong in their Maths and there is a need to make sure the cognitive resources  are freed up so that they can focus on the essential maths concepts.

4) Word problems  – I will type out the word problems for them and get them to paste on their learning log. Again,  this is to reduce cognitive load for them. The joke with my friends is that I am going to be a professional cutter (many thanks to the maths department , of course!) as I aim to prefect my skill of cutting papers in equal pieces!

 

So far so good. Some kids really make efforts in making neat notes. I praise them and even paste their work on the class notice board.

Assessment and Feedback with technology

I survive the first week of school!  And as the very kiasu me, I have started my teaching.  I am teaching students of two extreme ends (yes, again!) but I enjoy the challenge.  This year, I wish to spend more time using data for assessment and feedback (one of the four teaching process in the pedagogical practices in STP).

Last year, I did but I personally felt that is done at a rather superficial area.  There were perhaps too many gaps that I tried to cover all in the end , I covered nothing!  This year, I need to be more strategic. Take a look at the data and focus the fundamental weak gaps I need to close (especially for my weaker kids). There are lots of holes to cover but I will need to choose the biggest hole to tackle first. After all, time and resources are finite.

So, for my academically-challenged  students, I need to start covering their fundamental weakness in maths (e.g., place values) in the start of the year.

To start off this year, I have made use of Kahoot and  Mental Sums to have a sensing of their weakness.  Kahoot, again, has proven, to be a hit with the students. They simply enjoy it.  But , enjoyment is just not enough. They need to learn from their mistakes.

So, in using Kahoot, I check for their understanding and provide feedback(teaching process) based on their weakness. Looking at the results, there are two major weakness that I need to address .  The students are not able to :

(1) identify the tenthts

(2) convert fraction like 2/5 to decimal

So,  on the next day, I focus on these two basic concepts and give them another Kahoot quiz.  There is improvement in results definitely. For next week, I will still constantly review these 2 concepts while I embark on algebra!

 

 

 

Kahoot ! Yes again

It has been another “kahooty” week for me!

Mathematics 

Being encouraged by my students’ enthusiastic response, I am more than willing to spend sometime every night to design questions for them. These questions are definitely not “anyhowly” but questions need to cover their learning gap (for example, I repeated the questions that they did wrongly for their practice paper 1).  For this week, I feel a sense of pride when the whole class can get one or two questions all correct. I know some of you might feel that no big deal for that is just a simple question. But, for my class, there is no such thing as simple question. I need to stay positive if I were to keep myself sane! And even more, when they feel “upset” with me as I key in the answers wrongly. Glad that they are thinking and not just simply “anyhowly” clicking.

Science

For this week, I use Kahoot for the first time for my Science class in a slightly different manner.  I actually get them to submit their answers to some of the question in the practice paper. I carefully chose the questions so that they can do it within 2 minutes. Their response? Simply awesome! At least, I can see the sense of urgency and really focusing on the questions. If I simply just ask them to do the practice paper, I do not see the intense and fast thinking. Rather, they would “look here” and “look there” and apparently not focused on the work.

Just as a simple tweak to their learning experience with the use of Kahoot change their behaviour almost completely.  They are seriously deep in thought and can see some of them having intense conversation with their peers over the answers. When the answer is revealed, I get some of them share their reasoning.  It is good to hear that they are actively using elimination method to help them in their MCQ.  This helps them in getting the answer in the shortest time. I emphasize that it is not necessary to know everything in the question. The students tend to spend time on things they do not know.  Sometimes, with the use of elimination by focusing on what they know, they can get the correct option. This is something I will need to reiterate again next week.  It is an important exam technique that they must have.

With the use of practice paper,  my students are “complaining” the waste of time as they need to search for the questions. I choose the questions  based on “doability for my students” and they are not in an order. For the next round, I will “preempt” them with the questions first by giving them the question order.

Another way in which I use Kahoot for my class is to get them to recall the scientific concepts. I am quite taken about that they have forgotten about their properties of matter (Solid, liquid and gas).  The whole class simply cannot answer this question : “Which of the following cannot be compressed?” They absolutely have no idea that I am asking for gas. This is something that I need to work on next week.

 

 

 

Kahooting Week!

I finally manage to clear the syllabus for Mathematics and can now start on the revision. For this week, I decide to use Kahoot to gamify my Mathematics lessons. In the Kahoot Quiz, the questions are typically the 1-marks questions found in Paper 1.  I give a timing for each question (ranging for 30s to 90s). This will help them to train for speed and accuracy.

What are my students’ responses? They practically love it and ask for more.  But, I need also need to remind them this is for learning and they cannot “anyhowly”  key in answers.  I like the instant feedback on the responses so that I can address their learning gap.

What is important for me to do now is to analyse their responses and try to come up withe more questions to address their learning gap.  I am giving myself a challenge for the use of kahoot quiz. It is not just enough to see my students engage. I need to make use of the data to move my students forward.

 

3 weeks has gone for my P6 Maths Class

Well, it has been 3 weeks since Term 3 has started. So, what have I done so far for my beloved rascals of my maths class?

A mixture of teaching new content and revising basics. Since the school has subscribed to Koobits, I have used that extensively for my students to practice the basic questions. I am reasonably pleased that my students seems motivated to these questions even I have given them 20 or 30 questions.  I will continue doing that for their revision for the basics. Progressively, I will get them to slightly more demanding questions (e.g, questions that requires formula like volume, speed etc).

As for learning of new content, I am getting the kids to articulate their mathematical reasoning for the speed word problems. In the beginning, they seem to be “anyhowly” just putting the numbers without thinking. Again, I need to remind them to read the questions and apply the DST-triangle accordingly. This seems to be their Achilles’ heels . They are not thinking about their problem and simply adopt “just-whack” number mentality.

With the completion of the content,  I will now focus on the cluster of problems in preparation of their upcoming Prelim. This is just another more diplomatic way of describing “spotting questions”.

(1)Simple Ratio questions

(2) Simple word problems involving fraction of the set and fraction as a whole

(3) Geometry

(4) Area/Volume problems (I realize that the students are not remembering the formula for circles)

 

Bringing my students in their final lap in PSLE.

This is my third year taking the tail-end graduating Mathematics class. I think teaching such class can really break or make a teacher. One has to be highly resilient to be able to accept whatever results the students have!

My students has just completed their mid year exams and the results  are fairly disappointing to say the least. It makes me interrogate myself. Have I done enough for my students? Am I too lenient with them ? What can I do  to make them have in-dept understanding of the content ?

Yes, I have to admit the results to get me feel a bit down but I only allow myself to whine/get emo  only over this weekend. That is what I always I do when I am feeling down. Let myself wallow in self-pity and then I will be back!

Yes, I will bounce back and lead them to their final lap to PSLE. At this point, I am slowly getting my energy level back and all ready to help/guide/coax/threaten/entertain/motivate/scold/nag them in their final lap.

If I am going to throw in the towel now, it is definitely going to be gone case for them and there is NO WAY I will do that. I am their P6 Maths teacher and I have a duty to lead them in their final lap to PSLE.

Here are some of the initial ideas that I have :

  • Give them a pep talk despite their disappointing results. I have already written a short note on their exam paper
  • It seems that their fundamentals are very weak. They seem to have have issues with Paper 1 as they still have problem with multiplication facts. Getting them to do practice after practice during Jun Hols. Will need their parents to supervise them on that
    • Get them to self-explain a question to me daily. At least , I know that they are learning.

 

 

 

Making Maths Learning Fun with Scorative Race

This it the first time I am using Space Race in Socrative for my students. In the Space Race , the kids are assigned to different teams. They will get points for their teams if they answer their questions correctly.

I have put up simple Paper 1 questions and get them to do it. During the race, they are deeply engrossed in their work. For those who are done, I encourage them to teach their team-mates (and not just to give them the answer). It is good to see them enjoying themshelves and learning at the same time. The best part is that even my always-reluctant students are attempting the sums.

I am very motivated by their responses and would definitely do more for the students!

Making their thinking visible through video

It is just after exams and I decide to let the students to make their thinking visible through video. I am quite pleasantly surprised by what they have given me just within 30 minutes. This is their first try. Yes, some of you may argue that these are easy problems but I am still very proud that they can explain it clearly

Actually, I had this crazy idea last year for this as I wanted the students to explain their questions in practice paper. I did not really get around doing that as I was  afraid that the students can’t produce “audioable” video and they have difficultly articulating their steps.

I am glad that I am proven wrong. They can do it if they know what they are doing.  The students have been watching quite a fair bit of youtube videos and they are trying to model after the You Tubers. Thus, creating a decent audioable video is not much of a issue for them.

As I watch their videos, I can hear snippets of “me” in the explanation especially in algebra and geometry problems. I am of course happy with that. I always celebrate small success as this is the only way to keep sane! Trust me, you need to be very positive and “Ah Q” when you are teaching academically challenging class. Perhaps, they just need to connect the dots together and have a breakthrough in their Mathematics!

What should I do next? Continue doing this but take note of the following:

(1) Set the success criteria

[Update] After going through the students’ videos, here are the things that I want the students to look out for when they are solving word problems:

  • Read the questions
  • Highlight the mathematical information (e.g., numbers and mathematical terms)
  • Explain the mathematical information in your own words
  • Explain each step clearly. Do not just say the number statement. Know why

 

(2) Give them doable problems.

(3) Model the problem solving process.

(4) Allow them the freedom of expression but emphasize the need for mathematical content accuracy.

Taking stock of Maths ICT-enabled activities

It has been almost 1.5 month and I would now list down the list of ICT-enabled activities I had planned for my students.

(1) Use of Nearpod/Socrative  for Formative Assessment

Like what I did for the past two years, I continue to use Nearpod/Socrative for my Maths lessons for formative assessment . This allows me to know what they have learned. Basically, the students submit their answers (with working) for Nearpod or answer a short-response or MCQ in Socrative. These answers would be instantly be available on my laptop which is of course connected to the project. Thus, the students’ answers are shown on the screen almost instantaneously. This is very much similar to a worksheet but their answers were shown on the white screen immediately. As the facilitator of the learning experiences, I need to think fast, build on the responses given and identify the possible learning gap.  I would discuss the answers and at times, get the students to articulate why some answers are wrong.

Just like my students last year, the students were petty excited. They were more motivated to get the right answer and would want to change the answer if their answers were wrong.  I ask my students why they were so energized by the Nearpod but not the worksheet. One boy replied, “All my friends can see my response on the screen”.  This was the way technology enabled learning as now their work is viewed by others rather than just the teacher. Without technology, clearly, this was impossible.

(2) Use of Seesaw for screencasting

I have just tried screencasting with my Maths students this week. This is my attempt to make their thinking visible. They had no problem in learning the platform and they can screencast within a 30 minute lesson. They are petty excited over it and would like to do more.

Of course, screencasting is only made possible by technology and this falls under technology-enabled activities. The students have no issue with the technical aspects but the challenging part is making their thinking visible. They have difficulty in articulating their rationale for the steps in the problem solving. This could possibly indicate that they do not really have a deep understanding of the problem. So, what can I do ? Guess I need to model more and perhaps give them some helping phrase.

 

Shallow understanding of mathematics

Today I try this journal prompt with my students. Write a word problem with the answer as 5x.

As this is the first time the students are doing it, I try to give them an example with the algebraic expressing (x+5). Explain to them now we are “doing the opposite”. Usually, you are to solve the problem. Now , you are to create a problem with the answers provided.

Sensing that the students are at a loss as to what to do, I decide to provide them with scaffolding by giving them some key words to use. They can either use “each” or “as much as”.  I would have though that these keywords are a “give away” but I am proven very wrong.

Looking at their journal entries, only about half of them seem to know how to create word problem. From their entries,  it seems that they do not have a deep understanding the use of “each” and “as much as”.  They may seem able to solve the word problem but they might be just doing mechanically without any real understanding (e.g., see “each” and “as many as”, just times …)

I can see their shallow understanding in solving geometry word problems. In getting them to articulate the property used, they would just say “angles in a straight line” when they see 180.

From these various episodes, it appears that my students are simply “hatuming” .  They are not thinking deep enough. How to make them think “deep deep”? Here are some of the activities that I can think of :

(1) Get them to look at their friend problem and identify the mistake

(2) Modelling the problem-solving process. I need to show them how I try to understand the word problem through a series of questioning.

(3) Make them verbalize their problem solving process (e.g., using screencasting)

There is lots of work to be done but I will continue to strive on. Why? Because they are my students and I would always do what I can for them.