**Engage your students in the scientific process**

Ecolonization Use your knowledge of organisms to construct a bio-dome with a self-sustaining food chain.

Plant Growth Experiment View the results of an experiment to test whether water, light, and temperature affect whether seeds grow. Then answer questions about what you have discovered.

**Ask your students to make critical decisions in the shoes of a historical figure **

For Crown or Colony Become a 14 year old living in Boston when the Revolutionary War begins. What will you do?

Strike it Rich! Become a miner and see if you can strike it rich!

Who Do You Want To Be? Become an Immigrant and make your voyage to America.

**Challenge your students to use STEM thinking **

Tinker Ball Engineer a machine to complete a specific task.

Science Detectives: Training Room Escape Use scientific processes to find your way out of a dark room.

City Creator Design your own city with the city creator interactive

**Allow your students to demonstrate their knowledge in different ways**

Printing Press** **Create a newspaper, brochure, flyer, poster, or sign.

Zimmer Twins Create a movie using animations of the Zimmer Twins. Add transitions and your own text. Then press play to watch your creation. You must create an account to save your movie.

**How do you use digital content to challenge your TAG students?**

In Level 1, you could include content that uses base-ten blocks for your students who need visual support. Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Base Ten Blocks Watch this animation first.

Base Ten Blocks III Build 10 different numbers using the blocks. Record those numbers and the blocks you used in your notebook.

Place Value Chart Build 10 numbers with the cards and write them in expanded form in your notebook.

In Level 2, you could include content that moves on to place value with numbers for your students who understand the concept, yet need some extra practice. Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Value of a Number Watch this animation first.

Mystery Numbers II Can you build really big numbers? Find out!

Build a Word Try this challenge last. Write the words you have spelled in your notebook.

In Level 3, you could include content for students who understand the concept of place value and need a challenge. Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Place Value Machine Use this manipulative to help you answer this question in your notebook: How does multiplying and dividing affect a digit’s place value?

Hacker’s Number Machine Can you create a number larger than the computer’s?

Place Value Game Create the largest number possible from the digits you are given. Choose wisely! Once you place a number, you cannot move it!

Once the collections are created, you can place them in the digital backpacks of three different groups to differentiate your instruction for every student in your classroom!

]]>*Directly Taught Concept:* The more times an experiment is conducted, the closer the results will be to the theoretical probabilities.

*Student Discovery of that Concept: * Students conduct a probability experiment 10 times and 100 times and then compare the results to draw a conclusion.

*Directly Taught Concept: * All parallelograms are quadrilaterals, but not all quadrilaterals are parallelograms.

*Student Discovery of that Concept:* Students sort 2-D shapes into categories and then compare shapes in those categories to draw a conclusion.

*D**irectly Taught Concept:* We need to use a standard measuring tool for accuracy when communicating measurements to others.

*Student Discovery of that Concept: * Students use footsteps of different sizes to measure around a garden. Students use fish of different lengths to measure the length of a blue whale. In both activities, students use the information that non-standard measuring tools result in different measurements to draw a conclusion about the need for a standard measuring tool.

How do you lead students to draw conclusions in your classroom?

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**Use manipulatives as whole class teaching tools or for individual student inquiry**

There are hundreds of math manipulatives in StarrMatica’s library that can be used to help students visualize concepts. Some teachers use them for whole class demonstrations with interactive whiteboards and some have students access them on laptops and tablets.

Want something other than fraction bars? Try using Kids and Cookies to introduce fractions in the context of a problem. *How can 3 children share 4 cookies and still be friends when they are finished?*

http://www.teacherlink.org/KidsAndCookies/

Want to try a new place value manipulative? Try using this place value machine to let your students discover what happens to a number’s place value when you multiply or divide by 10.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/teachers/ks2_activities/maths/activities/thenumbersystem.swf

Are your students losing interest in your ten frame? Try using bears in a boat to catch their attention!

http://www.glencoe.com/sites/common_assets/mathematics/ebook_assets/vmf/VMF-Interface.html

**Use content to remediate for students needing extra assistance**

If you need to keep up with a pacing guide, yet several students are struggling to understand a concept, it can be difficult challenge. You can share content from StarrMatica’s library to help specific students with a previous lesson while moving on to the next lesson with the entire class. Students can access the content you have shared in their individual digital backpacks during independent work time on computers or at home with their parents.

For example, if a student is struggling with identifying angles, you might share an animated tutorial with them as a review: http://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/jams/math/geometry/classify-angles.htm

Next, they can practice what they have learned with this interactive game: http://www.childu.com/sample_act/34math_backatyou.html

**Use content to challenge students who are getting bored**

It is always difficult to meet the needs of every student in your classroom. Students are at different levels of understanding for every concept you teach, so while you are trying to help students with a lower level of understanding, those who “get it” can easily become bored. You can share content from StarrMatica’s library to challenge those students, while still engaging them in learning the same concept as the rest of the class.

For example, if you have students who know their 2D shapes, have them play a game that challenges them to identify the mystery shape by eliminating shapes that do not have the given attributes:

Use content to engage parents at home

Sometimes the way you teach a concept to students may not be the way their parents were taught the same concept. Or, their parents may not have had experience with a specific concept for a long time and may need to refresh their memories. It can be helpful to share content with parents that will allow them to understand a concept and to give them resources for helping their children to practice that concept.

For example, parents could watch this animated tutorial about adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators: http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/mec/flash/redirector.swf?url=data/3/b/a3b2.swf

Then they could play pizza parlor fractions to practice what they have reviewed together:

http://kevinmuma.com/software/pizza/Instructions.swf

**Use content as center activities or extra practice for your entire class**

Often, students may need more practice than what is provided with your textbook. Or, they may need practice in a different format than what your core curriculum provides because of the learning styles and interests of your particular group of students. Content can be shared with your whole class via their individual digital backpacks that can be accessed on computers and tablets for additional practice.

Try having your students practice finding factors in this game versus the computer or a friend:

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=4134

Try having your students group cows to practice counting by 5’s and 10’s or to practice adding and subtracting with a partner:

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=3526

**How did these ideas work for you? How do you use our library of content to supplement your math textbook? Please share below!**

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of: CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 *Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).*

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives. Activities can be developed that help students to visualize a number decomposed in different ways and to try to create all of the different ways a number can be decomposed. * ( A lesson plan with four activities to use with this resource is available for StarrMatica members.)*

You could also use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chrombooks. This manipulative moves your students from using objects to represent decomposition to using numbers. Students could be challenged to find several ways to balance the scale for a given number.

You could use this animation to review how a number can be created in many different ways. It includes a manipulative that allows students to separate blocks into two groups and record their decompositions. *(You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)*

You could use this simple activity with students to practice and record number combinations that equal ten.

You could use this resource to check for student understanding. The game challenges students to find all of the number sentences that name the given number.

]]>Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of Common Core Math Standard 5.NBT.B.7: *Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.*

Subtracting Decimals with Base Ten Blocks

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives and spend time using the base ten blocks to develop the concept of regrouping to add and subtract decimals.

Subtracting Decimals on a Number Line

You could give your students decimals to add and subtract via mental math and use the number line to demonstrate counting up and counting back strategies as the students share them.

You could use this activity as a center activity because it requires the students to use their number sense and strategies to determine what decimals will yield the greatest difference.

You could use this animation to review the traditional algorithm after the students had come up with it on their own, but I wouldn’t have them just sit and watch the animation. I would use it on my SMART Board and pause at points and question the students. Why do you have to line up the decimal points? Why is it important to have numbers in the correct place values? What is the relationship between a number and the number to its right and left? I would have the kids evaluate if the steps given are a good method or if they would add steps or remove steps. * (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)*

At some point, I would use the open response test as formative assessment to see which students are able to add and subtract decimals and which need more assistance. * (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)*

Students can create their own trailers. It takes a lot of prior planning for students to convey their intended message in only 30 seconds. Trailers can be focused on fostering interest in a book, conveying the main idea of a book, or even sharing the story elements of a book (characters, setting, problem, solution).

Copyright free images for your trailers can be found by using Google’s Advanced Image Search. http://www.google.com/advanced_image_search Make sure SafeSearch is set to *Filter explicit results*, and depending on your school’s filter, you may want to supervise a student’s search. Under usage rights choose *free to use or share *to include only copyright free images in your search.

Please share your Animoto book trailers with us below!

]]>In StarrMatica, students can practice their individualized facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

- Students first take a benchmark test which records the facts they know and the facts they don’t know in classroom management.
- Students can then practice their individualized facts in StarrMatica’s facts practice sections.
- Practice progress is recorded in classroom management.
- Teachers can view class fact progress or individual student progress.
- Students and their parents can also view which facts they are working on.

For more specific information on our basic facts program, check out our basic facts overview video: http://www.vidmeup.com/vid/4f871f8461589

]]>We know that engaged students learn more, so let’s face it—a large amount of our planning time is spent figuring out ways to interest and engage students in learning. With that in mind, one of the reasons for using virtual manipulatives is simply to gain student attention. Some students get excited about using technology and will buy into an activity simply because it is displayed on an interactive whiteboard or computer screen.

Below are four manipulatives that can be used to gain student interest.

Shoot letters and word parts into the air. Then, create words in the sky with what you have chosen.

http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/kentict/content/games/foamPhonemes_v10.html

Count the bubbles!

http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/kentict/content/games/bubble_trouble_v3.html

Create a pattern on the deck chair. Then, check to see if it is symmetrical.

http://www.iboard.co.uk/iwb/Deck-Chairs-737

Splat this number grid to show factors and multiples.

http://www.primarygames.co.uk/pg2/splat/splatsq100.html

All of the activities shared in this seven part series could fall under several of the reasons we have explained because there are many simultaneous benefits to using virtual manipulatives in your classroom.

Please let us know how these posts have contributed to your thinking about virtual manipulatives in the comments below!

]]>Virtual manipulatives are often thought of as teaching tools, but they can also be tools for students to use to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. Watching the way in which a student utilizes a manipulative can tell a teacher the depth of his understanding, the source of a mis-conception, or whether or not a student can apply his knowledge of a concept. For students, using a manipulative for assessment can be a more interesting and authentic experience than paper/pencil tests. Using manipulatives for assessments can also provide additional support for exceptional students who need modified testing accommodations.

Below are three manipulatives that can help students demonstrate their understanding of a concept.

Students can use this interactive balance to demonstrate their ability to balance equations and finding missing digits and operations.

http://www.crickweb.co.uk/assets/activities/nbKS2.swf

Students can demonstrate their ability to find a fraction of a whole and to explain equivalent fractions using halves, fourths, eighths, and sixteenths.

http://resources.oswego.org/games/FractionPaint/fpaint16.html

Students can use their own data to create a bar graph, line graph, area graph, pie graph, or XY graph.

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