Friday, 30 August 2013

Maths Freebie - Consolidate Place Value

Sorting out Place Value Houses can be really tricky for kiddies. Here is an activity we used at the start of this year. Download yourself a copy for free from the end of this post.

Here are some pictures of my students using them.
Students got to take turns to throw the dice. They had to make the largest or smallest number in the group by thinking about where to place the digit that they threw. I would say that the number had to be decimals only, or between ten thousand and hundredths, maybe it could only contain 2 zeros (where would they place these and why). We played several games of this. It was great to see students adjust their thinking based on experience.
Fold the grey section over and cut into flaps then glue into maths book. Work with the flaps open for the first few turns, then close them to challenge yourself as you learn where the houses are located.
Students need to put in the decimal point as needed, for each of their numbers.

Download your FREE copy here

Thank you for visiting,

Dragon Art - For Boys

How To Grow Your Dragon

One challenge that we face when teaching art is to engage boys with this subject, without losing the girls. One particular theme I found quite successful these last couple of years has been that of dragons.

The cool thing about this unit is that it has links to maths through number, measurement, coordinates and enlargement.

You can also link it to a literacy unit on Fantasy.
Here is a link to our class blog where one of my students reviewed one of these novels

 Here are some images of my Y4 class (8-9 year olds) drawing away. One pair of students continued drawing and researching dragons for the rest of the year.

These sketches were cut out and mounted on backgrounds like so - one year we had sunsets and the next year we had moon-rises:

If you would like to get the step-by-step lesson for How To Grow Your Dragon,  to teach your students, you can get it at my TPT and TNB stores. In New Zealand you can visit

The links are below.

Thank you for visiting,

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Insert a signature into your Blog posts

Today I had a play with signatures, here is how it went :)

Firstly I stumbled across a site called My Live Signature

Here is how I created my signature:
1) Click Start Now and select Using the signature creation wizard

2) Now enter the name you wish to appear in your signature - there is a limit of 25 characters.

 3) In Step 2 - 5 you can select the font, size, colour and slope of your text. Leave the background transparent and click the text colour box to bring up the colour chart.

3) Once you get to this page...
...scroll down until you see this....
...and click on the last one - 'Want to use this signature'

4) You will be taken to this page where you select the HTML option.

5) You will be given 2 options - to generate the code for your signature, or to generate a combined code for signature and information as well. I chose the 2nd option as I wanted to include my social media links and stores with my signature. All fields are optional and I played around with them to fit in what I wanted. Its not perfect but will do for now.

6) The window beneath the fields will show a preview and the code will generate beneath that. Once you are happy, copy the code.

7) Head over to your blog and go to Settings - Post and  comments, paste the code into the box beside Post Template. Save changes.

8) The next time you go to create a post, your signature will appear instantly on your page. You just add your post above it.

I liked this because I did not need a 3rd party site to create the code, however, I wish all my information could be links and also there is a character limit. If you know of a better, easier way, I would love to hear from you :)

Thank you for visiting,

Blog Recommendation

Great blog to follow -

The next time you have IT or eLearning wanderings, pay this website a visit. Great ideas, information and explanations for educators pushing the modern learning envelope. Highly recommended.

Glad you stopped by :)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Modern Learning Spaces

Hello friends,

Don't you just love this picture!

Only one thing missing - my lovely students using it :)

I have the opportunity to rethink the learning space of my classroom with a new Y6 block planned to be erected at our school next year.
I have browsed the net and Pinterest and have found some cool ideas. Would love to hear from anyone that has had the recent opportunity to do the same. Images most welcome.
Here is a link to what I have found so far, on my Pinterest board on this theme

I've been reflecting about how the space could be better used and would love a more homely feel with open plan working / lounging spaces to suit a variety of learning styles. Comfort is first priority (just spent today chasing up on the lack of heating etc yet again for my classroom). I also need to consider fixed computers, portable devices (some student owned), projector screen, Mimio, small group/large group meeting and teaching spaces, and a teacher storage area.

I guess we can only dream. Would be very grateful to hear your thoughts / experiences and any visual resources you could point me toward :)

Ta :)

Maths - trying the fishbowl technique

Hello friends,

I am currently working through the tips and tricks for learning your times tables with my students. This week we gave the 'Fish Bowl' a go (see this previous post) and it worked brilliantly :)
Your classroom culture MUST be established though as it is a 'risk-taking' exercise for the students to share their thinking and feel comfortable about being vulnerable with with this.

 We all used different materials at our table groups and also rotated around between activities so that the kiddies got to experience a variety of ways to model their  thinking.

Prior to this, we had looked at multiplying with 0,1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. Now we were moving to 4 and 6. These 2 numbers are special in that they have factors that we have already covered.

I asked the students if they could create a number story they could model, that showed this idea (factorisation). I didn't call it that - I wanted them to discover the concept for themselves. They were very inventive with the way that they used colour to demarcate for place value where needed (including for decimals). I found it very revealing and the kiddies all learnt heaps about misconceptions and factors. Here is the first video showing a common misconception. This students was modeling 6 x 23 or 6 groups of 23 with coloured sticks. He used colour to demarcate the ones and tens and the groups into their sets as well. He self corrected just after this video snippet when he realised that his total as explained did not match the workings in his book.

This video shows a students who had the correct understanding and could even interchange the factors. His story was 6 x 5 or 6 groups of 5. He demonstrates 2 x 3 x 5 and 3 x 2 x 5:

Finally this student used coloured jelly beans to demonstrate multiplying decimals. His equation is 6  x 8.4 or 6 groups of 8 wholes and 4 tenths. He also uses colour to demarcate wholes from tenths. Please note that this concept was devised originally by the first student with the misconception and adapted by this student after the first one shared.  

This little resource is great with helping to remember the times tables tricks for both teacher and student. You can print them into little foldable booklets for student mathsbooks or homework books too. They have been grouped into the sets that tables are usually learnt.

I quickly added these images from our maths books. We are just up to the 4 and 6 times:

Available internationally from:

Available in New Zealand from
How do you teach multiplication tables to your students?

Thank you for visiting. Come again soon.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

20 iPhone Tips & Tricks

Here is a video from SimplyZesty on Youtube with tips for your iPhone. Hope you find it useful too :)

17 iPad Tips & Tricks

Here are a few iPad tips and shortcuts from the SimplyZesty channel on Youtube, to help you with your classroom iPads :)

Friday, 16 August 2013

IB - How We Express Ourselves

Hi friends,

When I last taught a How We Express Ourselves Unit  with the Central Idea:
People use many different forms of expression to convey their uniqueness as human beings,
As a class, we took the Learner Profile Attributes and looked at them through the Visual Arts lens.
This is the result of our discussions. We found this activity a really useful way of coming to grips with the transdisciplinary nature of these attributes. I hope you enjoy them too.

In this image I printed the palette A3 and the coloured paint discs at a ratio of 1:9 (there are 10) some have USA / UK versions where needed) 

I also included plain discs with the titles only, should you wish to use the exemplars to write your own artist attributes with your students. This resource is now available from the link below. Enjoy :)


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Flipped Classrooms - Maths

Hello friends,
Recently I had the privilege of attending the annual Maths Symposium at Waipuna Lodge. Many talented maths leaders and teachers gathered to present and host workshops for teachers from around New Zealand.

My first workshop suggested ways to teach number strategies through strand (Geometry, Statistics and Measurement). Teaching Y6 this year where weighting of time spent on Number vs Strand swings in favour of strand, I found this workshop encouraging. Providing students with 'rich' and relevant investigations where they need to be creative and engage problem solving strategies, is key. Cooperative skills really come into play and recall is no longer the big divide.

Later I found this video on Youtube from the Edutopia channel:

It was filmed in Chris Opitz' classroom at Bowman Elementary, USA. I think you'll agree that there were some really cool ideas raised and modeled in this video. Thank you Chris for sharing.

My second workshop was centered around teaching decimal concepts in a variety of ways. It again kept referring to investigative problem solving so that students formulate their own understandings as opposed to being TOLD the form and function of a math concept. One message that stuck with me was the verbalising of digits in decimal places. Say you write 2.345 on the board, when naming it, say: 2 wholes, 3 tenths, 4 hundredths and 5 thousandths instead of 2 point 345. This really emphasizes what parts of wholes the numbers represent  and leads to less confusion during number operations. I made a place value resource around this principle. You can view the video for it below.

This resource has Place Value boards and cards for playing dice games like first to 100, first to 1000 and first to a whole. It also has bingo games for whole numbers as well as decimal numbers. The bingo cards depict 3 ways for referring to a number. I have listed this resource on all my stores. The links are at the bottom of this post if you are interested in getting your own copy.

My final workshop was probably the most inspiring. Recently I had stumbled across the concept of flipped classrooms. Here is a video I watched.

This last workshop was presented by a young and enthusiastic junior high teacher who shared her journey with us. Judging by the audiences reactions - many tired and overworked teachers - it was not a concept that was going to fly but I was hooked. This was an idea I had been toying with too and had been using Educreate on our classroom iPads in order to record concepts that we were learning with the students in small group. I would then post these on our classroom GoogleSITE at the end of each day for the kiddies to refer to, revise and to share with Mum and Dad. The principle behind flipped classrooms is that you post videos of content that students need to familiarise with, prior to meeting with you for a lesson. This way the lesson can go deeper and further because the basic stuff is out of the way.

I hunted around a bit and came across LearnZillion, a treasure trove of video lessons compiled by teachers across America. Some are great and I have set them for students to watch. However, they are Common Core aligned, while this is great for our American colleagues, not so much for us and it can takes ages to hunt out the suitable material.

I have started making my own. Its early days still...and feels really awkward listening to my own 'teacher voice' talking back at me through youtube, especially when my family are floating around and tease me about it. But...I am proud of the few that I have finished. I would love some feedback if you have the time. Please visit my channel and watch a couple. I have started with multiplication concepts as that is what my class is looking at this term. Here is one of them. The rest can be found through this link.  See store links below.

The first video (below) can me downloaded in high resolution from TPT for free. Just click here to be taken straight to the free video.
All the videos I make will be viewable on Youtube on a lower resolution (due to upload speed)

Now for the links to my stores:

New Zealand

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All the best