Friday, May 11, 2012

back in the saddle again

I know we have been gone for a while but we recently got the Wii back in the classroom.  Our PE teachers had taken it to do some lessons with Dance Dance games - so hopefully there will be a new lesson at the website soon!  But for now we are back talking about Math using Wii Sports to bowl!

One of the students ready to get a strike!
Nicole used the Wii Bowling game to discuss fractions and simplification.  We started off the class with a pre-test.  When the 4th graders came in, she had 5 problems on the board, and asked the students to simply the fractions.  None of them were able to do it.  We had some that subtracted the numerator from the denominator, some that divided the denominator by the numerator, and 1 that drew pictures of the blocks to show each fraction (which is the experience that they have had with fractions before).  Then Nicole did a lesson on fractions and explained how they can be simplified when both the top number (the numerator) and the bottom number (denominator) have a common factor.  She went through the 5 examples on the board and answered questions.  Then we pulled out the Wii.
All of the students have played Wii bowling before so no explanation of the game or controller position was necessary.  We began by having the students fold their paper in half (long wise) and write pins knocked down on one side and pins left on the other side of the fold.  The plan at the beginning was to have them write down the total number of pins for each frame (so for both balls).  The first student threw the ball while students at their seats wrote down how many pins he knocked down.  The first throw was a strike so the students wrote down 10/10 on the left side and 0/10 on the right side of the fold.  Then they looked at 10/10 and simplified it down to its simplest form of 1.  The next student knocked down 9 and then 0.  The next three or 4 students also hit down a total of 9 pins (no simplifying necessary), so Nicole decided to change the fractions from the frame total to each throw total.  This produced more results!  The next student knocked down 6/10 on the first throw and then 2 more on the second throw. So, our first set of numbers were 6/10 (reduced to 3/5) knocked down and 4/10 (reduced to 2/5) left over.  The second set of numbers were 2/4 (reduced to ½) knocked down and 2/4 (also reduced to ½) left over.  Nicole explained that since there were only 4 pins left with the 2nd throw then you would have to change the denominator to accurately represent the problem.  We continued this way having each student get two throws and writing down and reducing each fraction as we worked our way around the class.
We got many ohhs and ahhs from the students as good shots were thrown, and even when some bad ones were thrown, and at one point I heard one of the students say, “Throw a strike so the math is easy for us!”  We didn’t finish all the students in the class so the plan will be to play again tomorrow and let the rest of the class bowl.  Then next week, we will give a post test and see how many of the students understood and retained the concept of reducing fractions!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New place to find the Wii

So I spent the last few days at the annual FETC (Florida Education Technology Conference) like I do most years. As I was walking the exhibit hall floor I came across a neat find from the textbook company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They have teamed up with Nintendo Wii to bring back the Carmen Sandiego games! They are (for now at least) available only in Wiiware (the wireless area from the Wii console). They are 600 points (about 6 bucks) and are aligned to the common core standards. The content is Math based, but if you are following the new standards you know that there are other concepts involved in each subject. You can find more information at Check it out and tell me what you think!

And, if anybody from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is reading this post, let's talk about other games that can be used in the classroom!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Wii Game - never before used

So last week Nicole and I tried a new game.  Shown here, it is called Winter Sports, the Ultimate Challenge.  Nicole actually found a used copy for only a few bucks at a popular chain store.  We had been talking about being able to do ski jumping to work on the formula R=TxD (rate = time times distance).  We were discussing using the Wii Fit board because there is a game that allows you to ski jump; but, we decided that one would be more difficult (more about that later) and would require the extra equipment so we thought we would try this one.  It worked great!  Basically the students have to go down the hill, pull up on the controllers and keep balance while you stick the landing - or not!

  Because this was the first time we played this game the students were much more concerned with how to play the game and less concerned about what they were doing when it came to the Math.  After the first jump I heard one of the students in the room say "What the heck does any of this have to do with Math?!"  "Well, I am so excited that you asked!!" we answered.  Nicole led the Math lesson at the front of the room.  The student jumped 81.1 meters at a top speed of 83.07kph. The first thing we did was make our formula - 81.1m = T x 83.07kph.  The next thing was to convert the meters to kilometers.  So, 81.1 meters becomes .0811km.  From there we divide both sides by 83.07 (which BTW we had the students complete by hand - no calculators for this class).  Move your decimals and begin division.  We rounded at .001 or 1 thousandths of an hour.  Now, that is our answer, but really, how long is that?  So we figured out that if we multiply by 3600 we can figure out how many seconds is .001 of an hour.  Why do we multiply by 3600?  Because there are 60 minutes in 1 hour and 60 seconds in 1 minute.  And, after all that math we get to a total of 3.6 seconds.  So, if we traveled a distance of 81.1 meters at a speed of 83.07 kph, we were in the air for 3.6 seconds (and our landing was ugly!).
One thing that we didn't do (at least this first time we played) that could increase the level of difficulty was cross multiplication.  When we had our answer of .001 seconds we could have put it into a problem of 1/1000 times 3600/1.  Then have the students do the cross multiplication to get 3600/1000 which can be reduced to 18/5 or 3.6 seconds!
We were able to use the game to introduce a new concept and complete 5 different standards.  Now, I don't have the complete standard numbers here (or even the correct wording), but the different standards covered here include:
1.  conversion - we have to convert the kilometers per hours to meters because the distance jumped is in meters.  As a quick aside, this is why we chose to play this game instead of the Wii Fit game.  In that game your speed is measured in miles per hour but your distance is still presented in meters.  So, if you wanted to add another conversion from English to metric, you may want to try that ski jumping.
2.  use formulas (the already mentioned rate = time x distance)
3.  solve 1 step problems using decimals in division
4. converting decimals into fractions
5. solving proportions and ratios
Here is the math from one of the students so you can see the results as well as the work involved in the problems that we completed during class.  All in all Nicole and I were very excited.  We will continue this work when we get back from break and try for another class of ski jumping for sure!

And stay tuned, Chris (yes, I am still in touch with her and she continues to work on the Wii without me) has found another new game which she is going to be trying with her class when we come back from Christmas break.  I say "new" because it is actually a game that has been around for many, many years in one format or another.  The creators must be getting royalties for a lifetime!  You will have to check back to see which game we are talking about!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1 to 1 ideas

We are beginning to look at tablets (or laptops, or BYOD, or netbooks, or etc) for our students and the many, many, many aspects that are involved with that. 97 of them to be exact! I am working on completing a 12 page document which has 97 questions involving a 1 to 1 initiative. The first question, and probably the most important, is "why is your school interested in implementing a 1 to 1 initiative at your school". Can you answer that question? If you can answer that one, I have a few more. Is your network ready for 1 to 1? Are you teachers ready for 1 to 1? Is your budget ready for 1 to 1? Alright, 4 down, 93 to go! If anybody has some insights and wants to comment, by all means feel free!

image from Flickr search using Creative Commons

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a little teaser

Nicole and I have been talking about some new games to use with the Wii. We have two new games planed with the 6th grades and one different game (new game but same math practice) with the 4th grades. You will have to check back with me next week to see how it goes! I will give you a hint - swish, swish, swish (and it's not basketball)! See you next week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Playing Wii with the 6th grade

Nicole and I meet after each class to discuss how things went. We have been excited and impressed with the students work and how smoothly the whole process has been. So, with our discussions, we decided to open the Wii up to the 6th graders as well. Nicole wanted to play Brain Age with these students so we could review negative and positive integers.
Before class started I came in and created an account for the 6th grade. I also went through all the opening screens (there are a few with this game) and went to the correct spot- Practice, Compute, Balloon Pop, and Hard Level (so there would be negative numbers). During the game numbers come up on the screen (between 5 and 6 of them). The balloons are all different shapes, sizes, colors and they move (revolve and shake) around the screen. The task is simple, pop the balloons in order from lowest to highest. In the practice level you get 10 balloons to pop and see how fast you can accomplish the task. It is not all about just speed though, you have to get the correct order also! Nicole had each student do 5 balloons and then pause the game. We would then switch with the next student who would finish up that round. All of the students at their desks had to write down the smallest and the largest numbers only (and even that was difficult if somebody hit the wrong balloon too early). The students at their seats had to concentrate and pay attention to the screens to try and get the numbers. I also wrote down the numbers so Nicole would have something to compare the papers to (and even I have to say that I missed a few numbers). After the 2 students (and 10 chances) went by the game would give a brain score. Once a row was finished, Nicole took all of those scores and got an average for the row. Each row competed against each other for highest average score. Again, the students seemed to enjoy themselves and reviewed negative numbers quickly. I heard comments like "This is fun" and "This is hard" from different students during game play. Also got cheers as the students did well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Decimal subtraction and yards to feet conversion

So, since our first day of Wii game play on Halloween Nicole has given the students a couple of lessons on subtracting decimals and on converting between yards and feet. Both of these are important to our game play because you can do both of these things while playing Wii Golf. If you have read past blog posts you know that these two issues made it more difficult to play with the 4th grade the first time we tried. So, Nicole gave the students a quick lesson about lining up the decimal points and doing straight subtraction. Then she discussed with them about how many feet were in a yard and how to go about figuring out multiples of that conversion. This made our second attempt at playing Wii Golf much more fluid.

According to Nicole, the class began the same way, with the students all getting out paper and pencils. Nicole again ran the room from the front. However, I wasn't able to be there at the beginning of class (I was working on a computer issue in another room with a guest speaker). Much to my enjoyment (and maybe a little surprise), Nicole had gotten started without me and really was rolling right along! When I got in the classroom (about 10 minutes late), the students were coming up and swinging then doing the math at their seats. When we got to a conversion problem (45 yards till the green became 17.5 feet) Nicole led the class. First, she rounded the 17.5 feet up to 18 feet (a multiple of 3). Then we figured out how many yards was in 18 feet and then did the subtraction. (Yes, you could go the other way and figure out how many feet were in 45 yards and then do the subtraction, teacher choice there). Soon there after we were able to also practice subtraction with decimals. We went from 17.5 feet to the hole to 6.8 feet. The students lined up their decimals and proceeded to subtract. As Nicole asked for the answer it took a couple of times for the students to get the correct vocabulary (10 feet and 7 tenths). I am sure that this will get better with practice.
The students were again excited to play and we still kept them involved in the process for the whole class period. I again heard several "this is cool", and "good hits" during the games. All in all, another successful day of game play in the classroom.