Friday, June 18, 2010

Coin Practice in First and Second Grade

I recently had the opportunity to review AARTPACK Interactive's First Grade Interactive Curriculum. The interactive web pages are very nice. One of the ideas led me to explore the concept of coins in a way I never had before.

Why Purchase?
I am lucky in that I have an extensive computer background. I started out taking computer programming classes in college including BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, and even helped other students troubleshoot assembly language (without having taken a course it in!). In business, I created multimedia projects using templates created by a consultant in Authorware. I used PageMaker in its infancy and Gimp. So I understand the idea of layers, locking items, and labeling items to make files easier to understand by others. In all, I have a deep comfort level with creating and manipulating objects on a computer. 

I know that many teachers do not have the time and interest to do so. Another reason to make a purchase is that the activities just work. There is something to be said for giving teachers new to technologies activities that work without fail. These activities are clean, teach to an objective, and work. Creating your own project or downloading a pre-made lesson from Promethean Planet requires the teacher to have a certain comfort level with taking detours to fix or modify a flipchart. There is an amazing opportunity for growth in that process. AARTPACK can give the teachers a base of comfort to work from. They can then expand into downloaded flipcharts and finally creating their own in ActivInspire.

I will show the AARTPACK Interactive content to the teachers in my building to see if they would have an interest in asking the school to purchase the content when they end up with an interactive whiteboard in the classroom. Right now only first grade content is available with other grade levels to follow in July 2010.

A Challenge To Myself
I am working hard to learn to use ActivInspire to create my own flipcharts. I took a coin example from AARTPACK and created a version of my own in ActivInspire. As I began writing this blog post, I was concerned that I would be overstepping my terms of agreement for previewing the AARTPACK for grade one. Luckily, I am in contact with @aartpack and via a quick email conversation feel comfortable with sharing my journey through ActivInspire. I have uploaded my vision of what I liked about the AARTPACK pages to Promethean Planet.

The First Pages in the Set
I knew that I wanted to have a variety of examples for the students to try on their own, so the first thing I did was to create some static pages of coins. It was simple to search the ActivInspire resources to find images of the front and back of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. It was odd to see the coins outlined in a magenta color. I had to click on the coin, open the Miscellaneous tab and change the Transparent option to True.

I typed a cent sign (¢) on the page and included a star with the word Answer. The child can use the pen to write the answer, then the arrow to click on the star to reveal the actual answer. The chart could be used as a learning center for students and they could check their work independently.

In the lesson every child had a chance to do one of these types of problems. I used the ActiVotes with the lesson. As the student wrote the answer on the board, the rest voted A for I think the answer is correct or B for I think it is a different answer.

The Last Page in the Set
As with the AARTPACK Interactive page, the last page allowed students to drag a copy of coins on to the page. The students all had a chance to create a problem. Child one dragged three coins on the screen (the same, different, or a mixture). Child two answered the problem and cleared the screen to create the next one.

KidPix Activity Follow-Up
The following week, the first grade students returned to computer class and I had set up a KidPix page with coins. It might be too hard for first graders at the beginning of the year, but most of my students have been using Kid Pix for two years and it worked well as this is the end of their second year of computer class with me.

I had the students work in pairs. I taught them how to use the grabber hand with the scissors to drag around a coin. Next they learned to click the smile face to copy the highlighted coin and the bottle of glue to paste it. They dragged the copy to the top of the page. The partner then copied and pasted a plus sign. They took turns until they had a problem with three coins, two plus signs, and an equal sign. The child dragging the coins added them either mentally or with a pad of paper and pencil in the basket next to the computer and wrote the answer with the pencil. The child dragging the plus and equal signs verified the answer. Afterward, they switched jobs. 

They seemed to enjoy the work and worked pretty independently. I was able to keep up with the questions generated by eight pairs of workers.

Repeating the Activity in Second and Third
The activity worked so well. I did it again in second and third grade making it harder at each level. In the second grade, each student created the KidPix coins and symbols on their own. When they had three coins and symbols on the screen, they stood up at their chair. I rotated the students one computer to the left and they sat down and wrote how much change was on the screen. After they answered the problem, they stood up and I rotated them again. They chose a different color, added up the new set of coins and either wrote the same answer if they agreed or a different answer if they came up with a different total. After they answered the problem, they stood up and I rotated the students again. This time, after they chose a new color, they circled the correct answer(s) or wrote what they thought the amount was on the screen. I went around the room, verified the answers, and sent everyone back to their original seat.

In the third grade, I simply had them place four (instead of three) coins on the screen.

A New Project in the Rotation
I was really happy with the entire process overall and wanted to document it to remember it for next year. I posted the Kid Pix template on my wiki if you want to download it. I will post some samples of the work there soon.

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