Little Ones Learning Math Using Technology

From the Virginia Council for Teachers of Mathematics conference in Roanoke, Virginia on March 9, 2012

Tools I use in my classroom:
  • Computers (desktops and netbooks)
  • SmartBoard
  • Document camera
  • Digital cameras and flip video cameras
One of the first pieces of technology we use is our class blog. At the start of the year I post pictures and write about our learning. By the middle of the year I turn over some of this responsibility to the students. They choose the pictures and dictate to me what they want to share about their work and learning. In this way we can share what is happening at school with families and process our learning.

We do use our computers for the basic use of playing games on the internet. I am very picky about what we play because I want it to be meaningful and truly supportive of the students' learning and mathematical growth. I have a delicious site for my students which allows us to easily find the sites we want while in the computer lab, on the computers in our classroom, or for them when they are at home or elsewhere. It also means I don't forget or lose the sites I find.

We have a SmartBoard in our classroom which we use frequently. It is often a work station for the students to use in a small group.

One of my favorite, free pieces of software is turtle art. It is fabulous for all ages but my first graders love it. It uses logo to create art. The student programs the turtle (through drag and drop directions) to move and draw. The default is that the turtle walks 100. The student has to use number sense to determine how far to move the turtle to create what they want. The turtle turns based on degrees. In spite of the fact that much of the math is completely new to my students they experiment and learn to create amazing art.(If you go to turtle art's website you can email the creators and they will send you a link to download the software.)

We also have a document camera in my classroom. I use it to model activities and games with small pieces so that I am sure all the students can see. Students will also use it during share to demonstrate things they learned or discovered during their work stations. (Here we were looking at measuring with nonstandard materials.)

VoiceThread is one of my favorite websites. For young students who are still emerging as readers and writers, VoiceThread allows them to share their thinking and to hear each others' thoughts. It is a lot like blogging would be for older students. I create the VoiceThread and students add comments.

Geometry Thoughts

Addition Stories
I love making movies with first graders. Every year we make a movie for the 100th day of school. We begin within the first month and it takes us all the way to the 100th day to finish it. The students gather the correct number of objects (from 1 all the way to 100 and all the numbers in between) and then take a picture of it. We put them all into MovieMaker or PhotoStory and then record the narration. This year we recorded the numbers in English and in Spanish.

Helping young students understand number stories is a challenge. We made a movie of them telling number stories using manipulatives to show what is happening. This way they practice with the storytelling and numbers and can then watch the movie to see theirs and their friends and think more about it.

During our geometry unit we make another movie. This one really makes the students focus their learning about shapes and they take our cameras around the school to take pictures of rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles. We then gather those pictures and dump them into MovieMaker at which point the students sort them so that all the squares are together, all the triangles are together, etc. Then we record narration teaching about each shape. The students then have a movie that is a product of their learning.

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