This is the fifth in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous posts can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing, Part 2-Explore Difficult Concepts, Part 3-Access Materials/Added Value, Part 4- Inquiry Learning)

Virtual manipulatives can provide a new way to present a concept to student.  We know that students learn in different ways, so using an uncommon manipulative can be a way to help students understand a concept they are struggling to grasp.  Using a variety of manipulatives can also challenge the understand of advanced learners and encourage them to look at a concept in a new way.

Below are three manipulatives that help students look at concepts in a new way:

Place Value Abacus

Build numbers with a model that is uses colors to indicate value.  Compare this model to traditional base ten blocks.

http://www.wmnet.org.uk/resources/gordon/Abacus.swf

Number Line Bars

Use number line bars to explore the concept of multiplication as repeated addition.

http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_180_g_2_t_1.html?open=activities&from=category_g_2_t_1.html

Musical Patterns

Create a pattern with images and sound.

http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/pattern/pattern.html

This is the fourth in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous posts can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing, Part 2-Explore Difficult Concepts, Part 3-Access Materials/Added Value)

Virtual manipulatives help students learn through inquiry by providing teachers with easily adjustable visual tools.  Students can test their ideas, explore the effects of changing variables, and formulate theories based on results.

Below are four manipulatives that help students learn through inquiry.

Area and Perimeter Relationship

Students investigate and form theories about the relationship between area and perimeter by changing one variable and observing the resulting change in the other.

http://staff.argyll.epsb.ca/jreed/math9/strand3/area_rectangles.htm

Students explore the concept of fractions by sharing cookies equally between different numbers of students.  Both “fraction of a group” and “fraction of a whole” concepts can be explored.

Note Flight

Students create short online compositions and play back their creations to explore a variety of musical concepts including melody, harmony, and note value.

http://www.noteflight.com/demo

Color William

Students mix colors to explore what secondary colors can be created by mixing primary colors and what intermediate colors can be made by mixing primary and secondary colors.

This is the third in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous posts can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing, Part 2-Explore Difficult Concepts)

Unlike hands-on math manipulatives, virtual manipulatives are found online.  While this means students are unable to touch the manipulatives, online versions of common manipulatives can be beneficial in other ways.  Classroom budgets don’t always allow us to purchase all the tools and resources we need.  Online manipulatives are an inexpensive (and usually free) way to supplement your manipulative supplies.  So, if you can’t afford a classroom set of fraction bars or if a fellow teacher is using the school’s set when you need them, an online version can be used in its place.

Online manipulatives, when paired with an interactive whiteboard or projector, help all students in the classroom have an equal opportunity to see the manipulative without huddling around a table.

Online manipulatives also provide added value.  They often have features that can be turned on and off and have added learning opportunities that are not possible with traditional hands-on manipulatives.  The virtual clocks shared below include the ability show both digital and analog time as well as sunrise and sunset to assist in a discussion of AM and PM.

Advance the hands on the analog clock to watch the sun and moon rise and set.  Reveal and hide the digital time.

Advance the hands on the analog clock.  Reveal and hide the time in word form and the digital time.

Create three digit numbers, separate them into values, and display their representative base ten blocks.

Rotate and count the faces, edges, and vertices of the five Platonic Solids.  Watch each solid fold and unfold from its net

This is the second in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous post can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing)

Virtual manipulatives help students to understand difficult concepts.  They help to make abstract concepts more easily understandable with visual tools.  A classic example is using base ten blocks to illustrate “regrouping” in a multi-digit addition or subtraction algorithm.  Students are given a concrete visualization to hold in their minds when they are computing to understand what is really happening mathematically.

Below are three manipulatives that help students explore difficult concepts.

Practice comparing and ordering fractions, simplifying fractions, or finding equivalent fractions on a number line that adjusts instantly.  Create fractions visually and then watch them plotted on the number line.

Explore the meaning of multiplication by viewing arrays paired with the traditional algorithm.

Every time I use the term virtual manipulatives outside the education community, my gaze is met with blank stares and funny looks. Being a teacher, “education speech” comes naturally to me, and I often forget that not everyone is a member of the club. Virtual manipulatives is a term that I always stop to explain to whomever I am speaking because virtual manipulatives are an integral part of using interactive content in the classroom effectively. I refer to manipulatives as online objects that can be moved and explored to help students understand concepts. A few examples would be base ten blocks, fraction bars and multiplication arrays.

As teachers begin to use interactive content in the classroom, I encourage them to use content that has already been created as a starting point for designing interactive lessons rather than starting from scratch to create their own content. I suggest this for three reasons:

1. It helps both tech-savvy and non-tech savvy-teachers begin to use interactive technologies right out of the box without having to spend time learning to use new content-creation software.

2. It increases teacher planning time by allowing them to focus on designing an effective lesson around the content rather than spending time with design elements of the content. ie: Teachers should be figuring out what questions to ask their students to guide their exploration of a manipulative rather than worrying about text size and finding appropriate graphics.

3. Teachers cannot create manipulatives with the same graphics and interactivity programmers can.  They simply don’t have the same tools and skill set.  And, manipulatives with those elements are an essential part of using interactive technologies effectively. (These points will be well evidenced throughout this series of posts.)

StarrMatica has curated one of the largest collections of virtual manipulatives available because of the reasons above, the research associated with the use of virtual manipulatives, and the reasons I will be sharing with you in subsequent posts, I believe virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the math classroom.

This is the first in a series of seven posts sharing why I believe so strongly in virtual manipulatives along with specific examples that exemplify each reason.

Virtual Manipulatives Help Students Visualize Concepts

Virtual manipulatives help students visualize abstract concepts. Using manipulatives for this purpose allows students to learn through inquiry and to explore a concept in a way that is not possible without the manipulative.

An obvious math example is base-ten blocks. These virtual manipulatives allow students to visualize the “sizes” of numbers indicated by their places in our number system. Below are three additional manipulatives that help students visualize concepts.

Mega Penny Project

Students explore images in this manipulative to help them visualize the size of large numbers using groups of pennies in relation to other objects.

Visualizing Percentages

Students visualize the size of percentages by viewing different objects.

Alphabet Symmetry

Students explore line symmetry by folding letters and symbols vertically and horizontally.

Teachers with classroom management accounts have the ability to create collections of content and share those collections with their entire class or with individual students.  Students can then access content their teacher has shared in their digital backpack of collections found on their student member home page.  You can use student digital backpacks to differentiate Instruction, share relevant content with the entire class, maintain content consistency across a grade level, keep parents informed, and keep students’ minds sharp over the summer.

In our April newsletter we shared with our members that we had launched a new feature to organize our student digital backpacks.  We also shared these eight ideas for using digital backpacks with your students:

1.  Teachers who share the same student can use the Student Title to let

students know which teacher has shared each collection. For example:

Addition from Mrs. Nelson or Mr. Arp’s Place Value.

2. Remember, your students are seeing these titles, so have fun with

them. Wouldn’t your students like to explore a collection called Top

Secret: Inference Detectives Only! or Fourth Grade Fractions Fun.

3. Create a passport for your students to get stamped throughout the

year. Students achieve a stamp by completing the activities in a given

collection. For example, in math you may have the Island of Algebra,

The State of Subtraction, and The Country of Comparing.

4. Be proactive about preventing summer learning loss and create

collections for each month of the summer filled with interactive activities

students, or coordinate with the teacher of your incoming class to use

her account to share collections with your new students.

5. Create backpacks to differentiate your instruction. Choose content

from the library on the same topic but at different ability levels or

choose content for different styles of learning.

6. Create backpacks for remediation or enrichment for students to

complete independently. This is one way you can individualize

7. Create backpacks of interactive content for students to complete at

home. This is a great way to create a school-to-home connection by

providing resources for parents to address their child’s specific needs.

8. Use the public collections feature to share collections between

classrooms within the same building. This ensures content in

backpacks is consistent across classrooms in the same grade level.

This is the final in a series of six posts dedicated to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills with Interactive Online Content. Five previous posts on remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, and evaluating  can be viewed hereherehere, here, and here.

Level Six: Create

This level includes the skills of constructing, designing, developing, and formulating. Students are asked to create, invent, and produce new products from original ideas.

Here are four examples of online activities for creating:

K-2 – Note Composer

Drag the notes and rests to the staff to create a melody you can playback.

K-2 – Teacher Tool:  Art Supplies (StarrMatica Member Content)

Create collages and design your own works of art with this open ended art palate.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 – Cause and Effect Flip Book

Use the flip book template to create a printable book of causes and effects.

3-6 – Design a Cell Phone

Use your engineering skills to design a cell phone for senior citizens using research and testing.

To learn about more activities for remembering and to discover resources for understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, sign up for StarrMatica’s free Webinars: Bloom’s Taxonomy for K-2 and Bloom’s Taxonomy for 3-6: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

This is the fifth in a series of six posts dedicated to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills with Interactive Online Content. Four previous posts on remembering, understanding, applying, and analyzing can be viewed here, here, here, and here.

Level Five: Evaluate

This level includes the skills of assessing, recommending, choosing, justifying and rating. Students are asked to critique, to judge, to make recommendations and to justify those recommendations.

Here are four examples of online activities for evaluating:

K-2 – Floppy and the Puppies

Evaluate the sentence and picture.  Then choose the correct word to complete the sentence.

K-2 – Choose A Measuring Tool

Choose the correct measuring tool for each task that is described.

3-6 – Summarizing Match-Up (StarrMatica Member Content)

Read a short story.  Then choose the best summary from three possibilities.  Choosing the best summary earns bonus points toward achieving the highest score.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 – Persuasion Map

Map out your argument for a persuasive essay or debate.

To learn about more activities for remembering and to discover resources for understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, sign up for StarrMatica’s free Webinars: Bloom’s Taxonomy for K-2 and Bloom’s Taxonomy for 3-6: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

This is the fourth in a series of six posts dedicated to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills with Interactive Online Content. Three previous posts on remembering, understanding and applying can be viewed here, here and here.

Level Four: Analyze

This level includes the skills of examining, investigating, and comparing. Students are asked to explain patterns and meaning and to examine information for details and main ideas.

Here are four examples of digital content for analyzing:

K-2 — Shifting 2-D Shapes

Students analyze a portion of a shape and consider its characteristics to determine its name.

K-2 — Venn Diagram Shapes Sorting  (StarrMatica Member Content)

Students determine which circle each object in a set will stick in.  Then they analyze each group for common characteristics to determine how each set is being classified.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 — Haunted Library  (StarrMatica Member Content)

Students analyze texts to determine if they are informative, persuasive, or entertaining to help Miss Morris find her way out of the Haunted Library by midnight.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 — Experimental Results  (StarrMatica Member Content)

Students conduct probability experiments and analyze their results to draw a conclusion about the relationship between theoretical probability and experimental probability.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

To learn about more activities for remembering and to discover resources for understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, sign up for StarrMatica’s free Webinars: Bloom’s Taxonomy for K-2 and Bloom’s Taxonomy for 3-6: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

This is the third in a series of six posts dedicated to Bloom’s Taxonomy: Teaching Higher Order Thinking Skills with Interactive Online Content. Two previous posts on remembering and understanding can be viewed here and here.

Level Three: Apply

This level includes the skills of solving, illustrating, showing, classifying and completing. These activities require students to use their knowledge in a new situation. Students move beyond basic identification or comprehension and apply their knowledge of one or more concepts to answer more complex questions.

Here are four examples of digital content for applying:

K-2 — Foam Phonemes

Students select foam letters and letter combinations to shoot into the air where they can join their selections to create words.

K-2 — Classifying Lost Animals (StarrMatica Member Content)

Students sort animals into the correct rooms according to named characteristics.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

3-6 —  Symmetry Grid

Students apply their knowledge of symmetry to finish symmetrical patterns or to create their own symmetrical drawings.

3-6 — Main Idea Enrichment II (StarrMatica Member Content)

Students read short newspaper articles and apply their knowledge of main idea to write appropriate headlines which can then be compared with the editor’s title.  (You must be logged in to StarrMatica to access this content.)

To learn about more activities for remembering and to discover resources for understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, sign up for StarrMatica’s free Webinars: Bloom’s Taxonomy for K-2 and Bloom’s Taxonomy for 3-6: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER