iPad Math Journals in Kindergarten

When I was growing up, I always knew I’d be in the top of my class in math, and that gave me a lot of self-confidence. -Sergey Brin

Math confidence is something I did not have in school. While I am super proud of surviving doctoral stats, I feel the pain of my students when they struggle with math concepts.

This week we are working on 2 dimensional shapes. We have found them in our environment and discussed the sides and number of vertices. We have a couple of apps that have helped us as we work with shapes. We add our work to our math journals that were created in Book Creator app.

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Using the Geoboard app,  the kids made different shapes. Their first inclination is to use a different rubber band for each side. I challenged them to create the shape using just one rubber band. Then, they used the drawing tool to write the number of vertices inside. We had a discussion about why you can’t make a circle using this app.

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We also used the Pattern Shapes app. Students made patterns using shapes and colors.

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Again, using the drawing tool, they numbered the vertices. In addition to the shape and color pattern, they noticed there is also a number pattern.

To reinforce these iPad skills, we have pattern blocks in our math center and real geoboards. During our math talks, we talk about the attributes of these shapes. By bringing in both virtual practice and hands-on activities and putting them in our math journal, we are making connections and developing confidence. During these activities, it became more evident that I have some students with fixed mindsets. While we actively work on having a growth mindset, those who tend to struggle are the ones that give up easily. By providing multiple modalities of learning, engaging in math talks, and reinforcing learning with hands on, the aim is to encourage that growth mindset, even if it means a bit of productive struggle. For many, productive struggle is difficult because the grown- ups in their lives tend to rescue them from it. We work diligently to create independent thinkers and problem solvers.

 

 

 

 

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The Power of the iPad in Kindergarten

Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who don’t teach with technology will be replaced. -unknown

Last week, our school iPads were replaced.  We were very excited to exchange our iPad 2’s for the new iPad Air.  Our old iPads served us well but were suffering from frequent app crashes. The replacement took about a week…no small feat when you are talking about over 800 iPads. The excitement over the idea of new iPads was suddenly replaced with the knowledge that we would be without iPads for a few days. My kids quickly realized this and asked, “Um, how will we do our work with no iPads?”  I responded, “I’m not sure…maybe we will do some worksheets.” Puzzled, the kids responded with, “What are worksheets?” You see, they had never completed one before.

It was definitely like going back in time and I’m certain I don’t ever want to teach again without having those devices. My students were used to having choices about their day and about demonstrating their learning. I was used to personalizing their learning and serving as a facilitator while they directed themselves. Student-centered and student-directed learning is one of the keys to educational change.

So, now we have our beautiful new devices and the kids immediately went to work. Their work. We have been working on number stories in their math journals. Even though I’m providing the number stories, there is still choice. For example, Sam had 7 buttons.  Some were blue and some were yellow.  How many of each were there?

Here are a couple of samples from my kids:IMG_0004

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One was being a wise-guy, but still got the right number of buttons. By making these number stories open-ended, students have the ability to use multiple pathways to get to the answer. Another student and a partner, worked together to create what we call an “incredible equation”. One of the students was stronger in math (clearly, as he is able to multiply and divide at age 5) and the other was working on grade level. Together they made this:

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By letting my students work where they are, and not where a worksheet forces them to be, the sky is the limit. The iPads give my students the freedom to move on, to move up, and to be in charge of their learning.

So, yes, I am thrilled to have our iPads back. We saw first hand the power of the iPad in our classroom. Even though we have only 22 school days remaining, we are going strong to the end!

Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!