Buddy iPad Math: A First Grade & Fifth Grade Collaboration

Our 5th grade and 1st grade buddies returned to the media center today for another round of media center collaboration on math standards.  Now the 1st graders are working on fractions.  The 5th graders worked with their own teacher ahead of time to view the 1st grade fraction standards and familiarize themselves with what was expected of 1st graders.  Their teacher encouraged them to stretch the 1st graders thinking within reason.

Today, we started on the carpet in the media center.  I used the document camera to display the book Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy.  I only showed pieces of the book at a time because I paused and allowed the students to work with their buddies to draw representations of the various fractions from the book on the iPad.  They used any of the drawing apps that were installed.  Once they drew their representation, students closed iPads and we looked at the representations in the book before moving to another fraction.  We looked at 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 in the book.

Next, the groups split.  Half of the students used a pizza fraction app on the iPads while the other half went to the computer lab and used several fraction websites that were compiled by the teachers.  I stayed with the students on the iPads and had conversations with them about the fraction app.  When they reached a point where they were getting bored with the app, we moved to other math apps to practice basic 1st grade math facts.

We plan to continue the fraction lesson on another day by incorporating some fractions that move beyond the 1st grade fractions.

Math Buddies Project

Today I had a wonderful time collaborating with Mrs. Mullins, Mrs. Maher, and their 5th grade/1st grade buddy partners.  The first grade teachers has noted that the 1st graders are being challenged by math word problems, particularly those that they write themselves.  Most of the students get the basic information of the problem down, but they forget to ask a question at the end and are often unsure of how to answer the problem.  The 5th grade buddies have been supporting the 1st grade students in this challenge.

Today, all of the buddies came to the library.  We began on the carpet where I read aloud the book Elevator Magic by Stuart J. Murphy.  When each subtraction scenario appeared in the story, I paused and the 5th grade buddies worked with the 1st grade buddies to figure out the problem.  We pinpointed the information that was provided, identified the question that was being asked, and vocalized our strategies for getting the answer.

Next, Mrs. Mullins demonstrated some math word problems on the smart board using the names of the first grade buddies.  Once again 5th graders and 1st graders worked together to find a solution.

Finally, buddies went to tables to craft their own word problems using any numbers and objects they wanted.  They were asked to jazz up their word problems as much as they wanted.

Mrs. Mullins, Mrs. Maher, and I all visited with buddies as they worked and listened to the many strategies that they were using.  They crafted a whole variety of problems that ranged from single digit problems to problems dealing with thousands.  Now, Mrs. Mullins plans to type up these problems and share them with the 1st grade teachers for use in class.

The buddies will return to the media center in January for another math experience with fractions.

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Book Choice Champions Begins

Surveying students using iPad and Google forms

Once again, I’ve set out on a journey with a group of students to make decisions on what books are purchased for the library in a project called Book Choice Champions.  This year, I set aside $1500 in book fair profits for a budget that is completely decided on by students.  Once again, our school is doing enrichment clusters on Wednesdays, so from 9-10AM I have a group of 11 students in grades 2nd-5th that come to the library to work on this project until late November.  The students self-selected which enrichment cluster they would be in based on their interest in the cluster topic.  The surprising part of this is that the group of students I’m working with is all boys.

On day 1, the boys immediately noticed that no girls were in the group and they saw this as a problem.  How would they buy books that were supposed to be for the whole school without having girl representation in the group?  They decided to survey students from the whole school and felt that it was important to know how many boys and how many girls answered the survey.  They also wanted to know what grades students were in so that all grades were represented in the decisions.  Two students in the group were in a similar group last year and they talked about the problems that we had with surveying, especially using blank paper and simply asking people what they liked to read.  For this reason, they decided to develop a Google survey that could be done on laptops, desktops, smartboards, and iPads.  They felt it was important to ask about various categories of books such as animals/sports/fairies/etc, kinds of books such as chapter/picture/informational/etc, and to give students a chance to request specific books or series.

The next problem was when would students take the survey.  We knew we didn’t want to interrupt instruction, so we thought of the least disruptive process we could.  They came up with several idea that they are now trying:

  • Ask their teachers when they could come get an iPad from the media center to survey their own classes
  • Ask 3rd-5th grades to take surveys on the iPads and desktop computers in the media center during morning arrival time before going to homerooms.
  • Ask K-2nd grades to take the surveys on iPads in the art room during morning arrival time before going to class.
  • See which grade levels seem to be missing from the survey results and ask specific teachers if there is a time to come into their room to do surveys
  • If needed, email the survey to teachers to use on their smartboards
Today, we asked PreK teachers permission to pull students to survey.  Members of the book choice champions read the survey to them and filled in the results on the iPad.  Also today, several students have come to the media center throughout the day to borrow an iPad to take to their classroom and to recess to do more surveys.  At the beginning of today, we only had 14 results and by the writing of this post 85 students out of 500 have been surveyed.  That’s pretty impressive for a group of 11 students.
Our next steps will be to look at this data and make decisions about where we will focus our time.  I’m so excited by the energy and passion that this group has.  All 11 boys truly want to be a part of the process and they’re stepping up to offer ideas and make decisions.

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