Is There Math in Building Robots?

It seems building robots is frivolous…an extra activity….not really necessary…just for fun, BUT I recently had the privilege to attend a 5- day robotics summer camp, which opened my eyes to the skills involved in learning robotics.  Elementary students in grades 2-5 worked with VEX IQ robotics in teams of 2-3.

1.The first day they built the robots from the kit directions.

2.The second day they practiced having the robots drive to certain points on a floor mat.

3.The third day they programmed the robot to go to certain points on the mat.

4.The fourth day they learned to drive the robot with a controller.

5. The fifth day they put all they had learned into practice and competed.

The day they competed was my favorite day because I got too see the students excel with all they had learned.

Here are the major skills I observed kids learning during the process of building robots:

1. learning interpersonal skills by working in teams to accomplish a goal
2. learning and communicating in angle measures because they had to program their robot to turn
3. learning the difference in mm and inches as they had to program their robot to move a certain distance.
4. estimating distances as they had to program their robot to stop at a certain point
5. exercising perseverance when a part of their robot didn’t quite connect correctly or behave correctly when programmed

Below you will see some photos showing the first mat students used in learning to drive their robots.  On this mat students programed  their robot to turn and learned about distances.  Their task was to program their robot to drive from home (the orange sign) to their friends house (the green sign) to the movie theater (the pink sign).  Then they were to program their robot to drive their friend back home and return to home themselves.  This task was way more challenging than it appears.

For your students who are unmotivated, what better way to create motivation than to have them do a culminating project of building robots after they learn measurement or as they learn measurement skills.

So I am going to fumble through learning this with my students this year.  I will be a novice robotics coach learning along side the kids.  🙂

Try this New Free Math Website!

Earlier, I showed you a video about how to set up an account with iKnowit.com.  iKnowIt is a fabulous new math website that gives students a variety of practice problems to solve through a fun and interactive new platform.  Now, I am going to show you what a student sees when they experience iKnowIt.  Remember iKnowIt is absolutely FREE until August 2018.  Give it a try!  Happy Viewing!

Did I mention I love the chipmunks! (wink, wink)

How to Set Up an IKnowIt Account (free)!

Guess what?!  Have you heard about this great new math website?!  There are math lessons set up for kindergarten through 5th grade.  Students are given a score for problems they get right so that you could potentially use this for a quick grade. Winning!  Right now you can set up an account for your class absolutely free–until August 2018 that is!  In the following video, I show you how to set up your free account and how to assign lessons to your students.

Use This Free Resource if You are Teaching Fractions

Have you seen this great new website tool for teaching and assessing mathematics for elementary students?  On iknowit There are multiple lessons included about various math topics all from the makers of Super Teacher Worksheets!  One of my favorite lessons is the one about 3rd grade fractions.  What I like about the fraction lesson/assessment is that it focuses on equal parts.  This gives children the chance to really think about what equal parts look like.  Sometimes the idea that fractions are equal parts can become a misconception to students.

There are also different types of general fraction questions such as what fraction is shaded or what fraction was taken etc.

There are questions using the written words halves and quarters instead of only the numbers.  These are words that students struggle with seeing and using.

I also like that the program gives students automatic feedback to let them know if they were correct or incorrect.  If students are incorrect, the program gives students an explanation to tell them why they were incorrect. The little robot is animated and jumps around each time students get a question correct.  He has a different animation for each question.

You can even take a quick grade with this program because the program shows students their total score when they complete an assessment.  Teachers can easily use the score for their grade book.

The best part is that it is free!  FREE! Yes, absolutely FREE!  (At the time of the writing, the website is free, but eventually this website will charge for membership.)

Try it out and enjoy!

Tell everyone you know about this great new free animated website iknowit.com that helps elementary kids practice math skills by playing games.  This site will remain FREE for at least the next year while improvements and more lessons are added.  Iknowit was built by the makers of Super Teacher Worksheets and Modern Chalkboard, a SMART board lesson site.

The lessons give children immediate feedback so that they know if they have answered each question correctly or incorrectly.  There are drill lessons for basic math facts–addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  These lessons are timed.   Then there are lessons based on progress in which students answer a certain amount of questions.  Right now the lesson topics include addition, multiplication, division, time, money, fractions, and there are many more to come!

In the future as a teacher, you can log in and set up a class roster.  You will be able to assign lessons, monitor student scores, and track their progress.  You will also be able to adjust the number of hints children are allowed to have on each problem.  Teachers will be able to set the amount of time students practice drills and set the number of questions a student must answer for a lesson.

Because this small business was set up by teachers, they value teacher’s and student’s constructive feedback as they venture forward with improvements to this site.  You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to give your input.  Just imagine a website built with your feedback in mind

Did You Know this about Super Teacher Worksheets?

In case you are a Super Teacher Worksheets fan, you may like to know this little secret.  On top of the fact that they have eleventy billion fabulous sheets at your fingertips at the click of a button (no losing your files here), they also have a new site for Smart Board lessons!  This new site is called Modern Chalkboard.    Their Smart Board lessons also are compatible with Smart TVs.  It gets better, their Smart Board lessons are also aligned with Common Core Standards!  WOW!  Imagine saving yourself so much time throughout the school year to have these lessons readily available to you.  Here are some of my favorite samples…

If you are willing to pay \$5 for all of these resources per month, which in my opinion is totally worth it, then you could invest \$50 for all of their high quality Smart Board lessons for \$50 a year.  I wouldn’t tell you they were high quality if they weren’t, so you might as well get a head start and buy a membership at the beginning of the year so you can have more time for your family ;)!  Here are a few free lessons to sample!

Use This New, Free, Quick, and Easy Classroom Management Tool

If you haven’t already heard of Class Dojo, a cutting edge classroom management tool, let me fill you in.

Our fourth and fifth grade teachers are using it and they absolutely L-O-V-E it!!  Class Dojo is a website which allows you to load all of your students and keep up with their behaviors, positive or negative, based on a point system.  You can upload the behaviors you want that match your classroom rules and expectations.  For example, you can include behaviors such as “off task”, “participating”, “showing respect” etc.  The entire system is on a website and/or it can be used as an app on an ipad or iphone (and android).

The marvelous thing about this is there is no walking over to a behavior chart to change a card or clip etc.  You can carry the ipad around with you and immediately respond to behaviors.  Then when you want to reward or use a consequence, you simply click/touch the child’s name.  Each child has a cute colorful avatar beside their name.

They also have a little red bubble that shows their points accumulated.  Students  avatars can be projected onto a screen or smart board so that they can see their avatars and points.  A whole classroom can be given a point at one time too–say for example all of the students walked quietly in the hall or all students were working hard on an assignment.  I also really like the “random” button.  You can push the random button and different names will flash on the screen until the program finally lands on one name.  Then when it stops on that one name, you can look to see if that student is using appropriate behavior and record his/her point accordingly.  This especially keeps the kids sitting up straight if the names are projected on a screen.

What’s even better is that there can be instant parent communication.  Parents can have a code to view their child’s behavior and see how they are behaving.  Students can even change and decorate their avatar to look like they want it to.  The best part about Class Dojo–it is totally FREE!!