Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics

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  • 8/14/2019 Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics


    FUN The Great Motivator.Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students

    Learning In Judy Hawker & Andrew Mitchell

    Macandrew Bay SchoolIntended outcome: We hope that the childrens use of web based interactive

    activities will encourage them to be actively engaged in mathematical learningoutside the classroom. Through engagement we believe they will achieve moresuccessful outcomes. In particular we would like to see an improvement in the

    areas of Statistics, Measurement and Geometry.

    Background:We feel our major focus has been in teaching Numeracy and this

    year we would like to raise achievement in the other math strands. In the past wehave used some interactive activities to raise achievement in basic facts throughclass blogs. As this was successful we thought his year we would broaden theactivities to focus specifically on strand maths.

    Implementation of Action Plan: At the end of 2008 we as a staff identified a

    need to improve childrens strand maths.

    We administered an AsTTle test based on Statistics, Measurement andGeometry strands and the results clearly indicated that there was room for

    improvement. We changed our teaching approach to include block teaching andongoing strand maths one day per week. We also decided to include strandMaths in homework activities.As class blogs were up and running successfully thought this would be a good

    way to engage children in school and at home. This would allow children toaccess a range of specific mathematical activities that meet the childrens learningneeds in a fun interactive way.

    We encouraged children to write up the learning intentions and take digitalevidence to document their learning in many of the learning tasks. They were

    encouraged to write about the photos and what they were learning, especially inthe practical tasks associated with the measurement and geometry strands.Interactive games were also put on the Maths Blog page. Children reflected ontheir learning at the end of each topic.

  • 8/14/2019 Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics


    Baseline DataWe administered an AsTTle test on all Year 5&6 students on March 2009

    Year 5 Initial Data


    26% below the expected level42% at the expected level31% above the expected level


    37% below the expected level26% at the expected level37% above the expected level

    Geometric Knowledge22% below expected level

    39% at expected level39%above expected level

    Expected beginningyear levels for Year 5


    Below level < 2P

    At level 2P/ 2AAbove > 2A

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    Year 6 Initial Data


    45% below expected level40% at expected level

    15% above expected level


    30% below the expected level

    60% at the expected level15% above the expected level

    Geometric Knowledge

    80% below the expected level

    10% at the expected level10% above the expected level

    Expected beginning

    year levels for Year 6

    levelBelow level < 3B

    At level 3B/ 3P

    Above > 3P

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    Literature ReviewEllison and WU (2008)1 discussed several benefits of using blogs in education.They suggested that blogs can potentially enhance analytical and critical thinkingskills.Blogging allows enhanced learning and is a good way to motivate students and

    allow for collaboration among learners. The students are no longer passive

    learners as online interactive activities challenges and stimulate the students toimprove. Interactive activities are visually and orally stimulating to students.They can give instant feedback and reward correct answers.Richarson (2006)2 commented that the blogging process is closer to the way welearn outside of school, suggesting that it teaches them how to learn for the 21 st

    century. He suggests blogging synthesises the learning experiences and helpsstudents understand the relationship and relevance of their learning. Reflectingon what they are writing allows them to think more critically.Blogging helps to develop home- school partnerships. It allows parents to know

    what their children are learning at school. Research has that children who have positive mathematical experiences outsideshown school have a headstart in theirnumeracy development 3

    Parents own attitudes towards maths can make home mathematics difficult for

    some children. Blogging is a positive and non threatening way for children toshare their learning with their family.Linking interactive maths websites onto class blogs allows children to directlyaccess appropriate Maths sites. Marc Prensky suggests there is a relationshipbetween fun and learning. Interactive games are relaxing and allow the learner totake things in more easily, they are motivating so children put in the effort.Interactive games often have a win/ lose outcome. Prensky suggests this provides

    strong emotional and ego gratification implications, which is a big part of the attraction of

    the games.4

    Winning and losing gives feedback in a game, and this is where the learning takesplace. The child gets rewarded for mastering or losing and they have to try again

    or get help until they can do it. Feedback can be dramatic or amusing. E.g.Explosions, cheers, tricks, clapping.

    Interactive games provide competition. Many children thrive on a challenge andturn games into competitions. Game designer Eric Goldberg suggests, The peoplethat naturally gravitate towards games tend to be competitive.5

    Interactive games can also provide interaction between people from around theworld, so there can be a social aspect to them.Another aspect of interactive games with children is that they are physically

    doing something. Online graphics, oral sounds and fast moving actions keep thechildren motivated and on task.

    Research suggests that online interactive activities have a powerful role that can

    give pleasure, structure, motivation, challenge, feedback and hands oninvolvement. All of these characteristics ensure learning in a fun environment.

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    1. Wang Hong : Exploring Educational Blogs in US Education , US-China Education Review2008

    2. Richardson, W Bolgs, Wikis, Podcasts and other powerful web tools for classrooms. ThousandsOaks, CA: Corwin Press

    3. Merttens, R (1999) Family Numeracy: Issues in Teaching Numeracy in Primary Schools . OpenUniversity Press

    4. Prensky, Marc : Digital Game Based Learning, McGraw-Hill 20015.

    Prensky, Marc : Digital Game Based Learning, McGraw-Hill 2001, Chapter 5 - Pg 14

  • 8/14/2019 Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics


    Maths Blog Postings

  • 8/14/2019 Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics


    Blogs,Interactive Games and Home/Scho


    The children regularly took photos of Maths activities. They took turns at beiphotographer, reporter and collating information for the blog postings.

    It was great to see the children, parents and grandparents commenting on the work twere doing . Beside the blog postings were interactive games related to the topic they wdoing. These games were often homework activities for the week. They stayed onwebsite after the topic was finished and were useful for maintenance activities.

    The advantages of the Maths blog were that it allowed children to access their learnifrom home. Parents were able to see what the children were doing at school.Some disadvantages were that not all children had access to computers and that it was v

    slow if they were not on broadband. These children were encouraged to use computersschool.

    Parents comments were positive about the interactive games and some commented tthey really enjoyed playing them with the children. They also appreciated that the childrwere doing something education and related to school and that the children were enjoyiit at the same time.

    As our blogs are linked to our school website people looking at enrolling at our school hbeen able to see what was happening in the classrooms. We also had positive commefrom people attending our school reunion who had looked at the website.

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    Interactive Games on Class Blogs

    What the Children Say!

    The children were generally positive about using the interactive games at home but lanything if the parents were interested and encouraging, the children used it more often.Most comments were positive although some complained about the time that the gatook to load if they did not have broadband.

    Motivation increased if the teachers did a big drive at school, using the data projectorshow the games or getting a child to teach the game to another child. This needed to

    ongoing. If the blog was referred to frequently and new games and blog postings addedchildren were really motivated. It became less popular if student teachers or relievers win the class.Some children felt there were not enough prizes or rewards to be earned! Some childrused the blog for interactive games throughout the year and others more when itreferred to in home learning sheets.

    The interactive games with the catchy tunes were popular with all children.

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