Today I want to tell you about a web based app that would be great to use during On Your Own or Memorize. It is called Front Row. If you haven't heard of it, it's a (mostly) free app that has a lot of possibility. If you have heard of it, but haven't had a chance to check it out, I'll lay it out for you.
Front Row is a web based app that is easy to use for teachers and is very kid friendly. It actually offers other subjects besides math, but today we will focus on math . . . because you know, math.
What you need to know:
From the Student Perspective
When students login, they see their home screen. For On Your Own, students would choose Math. For Memorize, students would choose Fact Practice.
How cute is that pig??
From there, the students choose the domain they are working in. Each domain has them take a pre-test which decides where they start working in each standard. The questions are kid friendly and have a read aloud option. For ZONES, I would assign the students to the domain we are currently working in. This screen is very cutsey, which is great for early el. Other domains that are more applicable to the higher grades are less cute.
....back to that cute pig. As students work, they earn coins which they use to buy clothes for their piggy. (My pig only has shorts.) They can only enter the store after they have worked for so long and the store is timed - they cannot spend forever dressing their pig!
There is also an easily accessed assignment page where students can go to for any assignments you've given them.
From the Teacher Perspective
In the free version, you can assign one standard at a time. As you teach each standard, you could use Front Row to gauge their understanding. Once that assignment has been completed, you can assign others.
Front Row seems pretty great, right? I definitely encourage you to check it out. It has a lot of potential to make your ZONES time engaging for students and it would allow you to work smarter, not harder.
-Meghan, 1st Grade
Has this ever been you?
Um, yes. Me too. There are so many times when I want to get inside a student's head to figure out exactly what he/she is thinking.
It's GOOD for students to explain their thinking. It helps solidify their ideas and their learning, as well as help them clear up misconceptions on their own.
In order to develop our students' verbal reasoning, I looked for a way to frame their thinking and become independent in their explanations.
I started looking in to Visible Thinking - and I love it!
Visible Thinking has routines that help students frame their ideas and discuss their thinking. These can be done verbally, in writing, or both!
In 5th grade, we started comparing decimals with a class discussion. Students had to compare 2.587 and 2.98. Of course, they picked 2.587 as the greatest, because 2.587 was longer. This started a great discussion about the value of each digit. At the end of the class period, we wanted to see how students' thinking had changed through the discussion. We used the routine "I used to think___ but now I think____". Students completed this on their whiteboard, and it was very interesting to see what they came up with.
In 4th grade, we used the "See, Think, Wonder" routine to explore rounding numbers to different places. I wrote on the board a series of numbers, such as:
527 --> 530
642 --> 640
987 --> 990
Students first discussed what they saw. This is simply surface-level observations. Then, they discussed what they thought about what they saw. This gets a little deeper into what is happening with these numbers, what the pattern is, or what the "math" behind the numbers is. Then they discussed what they wondered, which gave me a good gauge as to what they knew about rounding and what gaps they had. Students first thought about their response, then discussed with a partner, and then shared with the class. This kept all students engaged in the routine.
I love using the Visible Thinking routines because it's like opening up a student's brain and seeing what is going on inside. These routines also develop ELL's language in math, especially at the discourse level. It also helps students have a clearer understanding of their own thinking.
Check it out for yourself, and leave your experience in the comments!
Guided Math seems like the one of the largest buzz words in mathematics instruction as of late. Just do a Google Search or a Twitter hashtag search, and you can find numerous resources, examples, and professional conversations regarding the Framework.
We (the creators of ZONES Math) have researched the text Guided Math by Laney Sammons and agree with many of the strategies and structures Ms. Sammons suggests. We also encountered the same struggles in our math instruction as Ms. Sammons. The reflection that our whole group math instruction was not reaching all students was also the reason that we created our Framework. However, ZONES Math does go a few steps further than the typical Guided Math classroom. Here is a chart that compares the components of both ZONES Math Framework and a Guided Math Framework.
ZONES Math includes all of the components of a Guided Math Framework. However, there are several areas where ZONES Math exceeds the basic Guided Math Framework outlined in the book.
We have gotten such positive feedback from all of the teachers who have implemented ZONES Math. Real teachers understand what really works in a classroom. They understand the essential components that are necessary in math instruction and appreciate the detailed instructions ZONES Math includes. We have received such excitement over the ZONES Math Framework and how it includes all of the best practices in a model that is realistic to implement.
Do you need any more reasons to start ZONES Math right now? You should try it, you will love it too!
Today we get to feature a GUEST post - how exciting!! Sarah Wood is the technology and media specialist at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools. Her current passion is designing and implementing curriculum-based BreakoutEDU games for the classroom. This week she is presenting in Kansas at Podstock about the benefits of doing Breakouts in a classroom setting. Recently, she came and ran a fractions game for our 5th grade class. Check it out!
If you haven't heard of Breakout EDU yet, you are missing out! In a simplified description, Breakout EDU is a way to create an "escape room" for your classroom. Instead of trying to escape your way out of a locked room, you are trying to break out of a box that has multiple locks. There is a fascination with wanting to unlock all of the locks to see what is hidden inside the large box. Students can't resist!
Recently, I had the awesome opportunity of working with Olivia and Christi in designing and implementing a fractions game to use with their 5th grade ZONES group. I was super excited to see the game in action, as they had shared so much about their students with me and I was curious how the game would play out in the classroom. As soon as the students saw the Breakout boxes sitting out, they knew something fun and different was in store for class that day!
Before playing the game, Olivia and Christi had been working with their students on adding, simplifying, and comparing fractions. So, the students already had prior knowledge of how to work through problems using fractions. Adding the element of the Breakout box allowed the teachers to work in the "now what" part of learning...what do you do once you solve a problem? For some, the higher-level thinking is really challenging and mentally draining, but others thrive on it! Sometimes those students that you think would do really well end up having a difficult time, and those who you think might really struggle end up having a time to shine.
For me, watching and facilitating Breakout games never gets old because it is always a new experience each time. I have co-facilitated one particular game over five times so far, and each group always approaches the critical thinking, communication, and collaboration aspects of the game a little differently. For this particular game, there were three boxes/games going on simultaneously in the classroom. The classroom was divided into thirds and groups were assigned a color. All clues were hidden in the students' respective third of a classroom (to avoid checking out what other groups were doing). This allowed for smaller groups and more students to have an opportunity to have a voice in the game.
As a bystander, it is always fascinating to see how the students work with each other and interact with the game components. For example, one of the clues was to use a Google Form containing some questions regarding vocabulary. Students had no problem accessing the form, but struggled with the "what next" part. In solving the the questions on the form, students would be directed to the next part of the clue. As a result, they were stumped for a bit and a couple of groups needed hint cards to help them through the clue.
As part of the class debrief, it is always interesting to hear what students have to say about their experience. Many said that unlocking the first lock made them feel excited and happy, but on the same note, were quick to admit that it was difficult at times in getting to the point where they could unlock a lock. As a first time for most students participating in a Breakout EDU game, I think it was a success and the students overwhelmingly agreed that they would like to do another game.
If you want to see a brief video about how our district has been using Breakout EDU, please watch the video below!
Are you only reaching the average students when teaching math?
Do you find it difficult to fit in all the pieces to good math instruction effectively?
Have you enjoyed the success of a workshop or balanced approach for literacy?
If you answered YES to any of those questions,
let us introduce you to ZONES Math!
PS - We've done all the work for you...
Save you math class TODAY with our ZONES Math Starter Pack!
We're glad you're here!
Rescue your math class with ZONES:
How can we help?