Using Web Based Tools to Engage Students Learning in Mathematics

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

    Learning In Mathematics.by 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.

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

    Year 5 Initial Data

    Statistics

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

    Measurement

    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

    level

    Below level < 2P

    At level 2P/ 2AAbove > 2A

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    Year 6 Initial Data

    Statistics

    45% below expected level40% at expected level

    15% above expected level

    Measurement

    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

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    Maths Blog Postings

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    Blogs,Interactive Games and Home/Scho

    Communication

    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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    ResultsWe tested children on AsTTle in Week 3 Term 4. We based the success of our reseaproject on the number of children who improved beyond the expected progress withiyear. That is that they improved more that one sub level.

    In Statistics at Year 5 level 56 % were above the expected level at the end of the ycompared to 31% at the beginning of the year. There was still a group, 26 % below

    level. They have improved moved a sub level but remain below the expected level.In Year 6 Statistics results children below the level at the beginning of the year all mov

    some by three or more sub levels. 57% of Year 6 children tested above the expected lecompared to 15% at the beginning of the year. Statistics was difficult show on the class band interactive games were limited. It was important to keep ongoing class teaching in tarea to help consolidate knowledge throughout the year.

    In measurement the children above the expected level remained constant but there wabig shift in children from below the level to at the expected level, 37% at the beginningthe year to 11% at the end of the year in Year 5. In the Year 6 children 14 shifted more ththree sublevels. The practical measuring activities included measuring the school gardens

    find area, finding perimeters, baking, reading scales and time. The children wrote bentries, played interactive games and used measurement vocabulary frequently in the tasIt was interesting to note that the children who made the biggest shifts were those wenjoyed the practical aspects of this strand.

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    Geometry was the area the children performed poorly at in the baseline testing. Year 5 h26% below the level, only 5% were below at the end of testing. 37% were above the level

    the beginning of the year, this rose to 73% at end of year testing. In Year 6 children 8were below the expected level at the beginning of the year, no children were belowexpected level at the end of the year and 81% were above the expected level. Twenty t

    children moved more than three sublevels! In geometry the Year 6 children used websion the class blog to investigate 3D shapes. They had to find out about which shapes wpolyhedron and non polyhedron. They also had to investigate platonic solids, prisms, a

    pyramids and compare the edges, vertices and faces. The children made 3D shapes athen applied Eulers theory to calculate the edges, vertices and faces. The children reaenjoyed these activities and some were set for homework. They confidently began using

    terminology when catergorising the shapes. Being able to link websites with so mrelevant information was definitely worthwhile and allowed to children share their learniwith their parents. This was possibly an area where teacher knowledge was not as high a

    the websites were informative for us as well. Grids and transformations improremarkably and the children really enjoyed the interactive games related to this aspectgeometry.

    ReflectionsThe results in all areas were very pleasing. We felt that keeping the blog up to datedefinitely worthwhile. The children were using the blog at home and at school so w

    looking at the postings whenever they went on the blog. Viewing the posts and playinggames reinforced the learning they had done at school.

    We noted the importance of the need to motivate and encourage the children to useblog.Playing a new game with the class using the data projector often inspired them to go

    and try. At times we encouraged parents or the children, via homework sheets, to lecomments on the page. It was good to hear feedback from family and friends overseas wwere keeping track of the childrens learning.

    From a teachers perspective it has been an interesting journey. Although it takes tienergy and commitment to source and upload games, and oversee blog entries itproven to be very worthwhile. The feedback from children and parents has been positive.

    has allowed us to have relevant sites for the children to use both in the class and at home.Sharing what the children have been doing at school has definitely improvedcommunication and parents have been able to encourage and support their children.

    The improvement in the childrens asTTle results and ICT knowledge has been v

    encouraging. We feel it has been a valuable exercise for children, teachers and parents.

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    References:

    Eyers, G & Young-Loveridge, J : Homeschool Partnerships In Mathematics

    Education. SET Research Information For Teachers. Number 1 2005

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

    Review 2008

    Prensky, Marc: Digital Game Based Learning, McGraw-Hill 2001

    http://room1macandrewbaymaths2009.blogspot.com/

    www.room1macandrewbay2009@blogspot.com

    http://room2macandrewbaymaths2009.blogspot.com/

    www.room2macandrewbay2009@blogspot.com