Category Archives: Math

Breakout EDU

My daughter turned 13 last month.  To surprise her, I invited a group of her friends to a place in San Antonio called, “The Panic Room.” The hostess set the scene of the “Museum Heist” up by telling about a museum robbery gone wrong.  The 10 girls were given the mission of finding the most valuable item in the room to save their families from the robber who had taken them hostage.  They had one hour.

The parents were able to watch the group as they worked their way through the clues, all contained in the room.  There were mysterious codes, locked boxes, and secret hiding places.

Did I mention that these were eight 13-year-olds and two 20-something-year-olds?  Oh, and they couldn’t bring their phones in with them.

For the entire hour, these 10 girls ransacked the room, collaborated over clues, celebrated when they cracked codes, and laughed.

In other words, they were engaged in the task the entire time.

“I have got to find a way to use this in my classroom,” I thought.  And then I added it to my mental list of a bazillion engaging ideas that I keep in my Index of Innovation.

Lo and behold, I clicked on a Twitter link yesterday, and found that someone else had the same idea – and they followed it through with resources for educators.

I found the link to Breakout EDU in this article by Nicholas Provenzano called, “Re-Energize Your Classroom in the New Year.”  The post has other fabulous suggestions that you should also consider.  Breakout EDU was new to me, so I followed the link to find out more.

Breakout Edu is open beta right now, which means that the project is still in development, but open to the public to test it out.  The site currently provides six games that are free (with several more to come, it looks like), but you will need to register as a beta tester to receive the password that gives you access to the games along with the clues and answers.  You will need to invest in a Breakout Edu Kit, which includes the basic equipment for any of the challenges.  To do this, you have the option of buying a kit for $99, scraping up your own materials, or individually ordering the pieces you need through the provided Amazon links.

The games that are currently on the site inform you of the target age groups and the ideal group sizes.  Some of the topics are: “The Candy Caper” (3rd-5th grades, ideal groups of 4-6 people), “Decoding the War” (14-adult with groups of 6-12 people), and “The Mad Engineer” (for ages 10-14 with groups of 5-10 people).  There is also information for creating your own Breakout EDU game.

Follow this link for information about a Breakout EDU Game Jam that will be happening this week!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to try this with my students! Fortunately, I have rather small class sizes.  For teachers with a regular, or larger, class load, you may need to get creative on how to give everyone the opportunity to try to “break out.”  Knowing the audience who reads this blog, I don’t think that will be a problem ;)

image from: Breakout EDU
image from: Breakout EDU

 

4 More Ways to Survive 4 More Days

Just in case you didn’t properly ration your Teachers’ December Survival Kit,  and you are finding yourself desperate for ways to make it through this final week before the break, here are some more activities that I’ve found from some of my favorite bloggers:

Candy Cane S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

Ugly Sweater Challenge (I love the Ugly Sweater fractions!)

Toys Go Out (scroll to the end of this post for a great book idea and a link to lesson plans!)

Quiver and Holiday Writing – augmented reality fun for the holidays

keep-calm-because-we-have-4-more-days-left

Hopscotch Snowflake Tutorial

One of the apps that I recommend frequently is Hopscotch.  This free iOS app has been one of my all-time favorite creation tools ever since we tried it a few years ago during Hour of Code.  Using block programming that is similar to Scratch, Hopscotch allows users to create works of art, games, and even presentations.  (One of my 5th graders chose to use Hopscotch to present his Genius Hour information last year – much more interesting than PowerPoint!)

Hopscotch offers many tutorials, which are a great way to introduce students to the different coding possibilities in the app.  Earlier this school year, I mentioned that the company just released lesson plans for educators.

If you want to take your students beyond this year’s Hour of Code, you might want to try a Hopscotch tutorial, and then see how they can “remix” it to make it their own.  One that is great for this time of year is the Snowflake Tutorial.  Students can learn about symmetry, angles, and many other mathematical skills while they also obtain basic programming skills.  To top it all off, they can create digital works of art, and every single one will be different.

Hopscotch is an app that my students often mention they use at home on their own, a great example of using technology to create rather than merely to consume.

I would advise walking through any Hopscotch tutorial you assign so you can familiarize yourself with the tools.  Also, beware that earlier tutorials (before 2015) may look a bit different as the app has been updated since then.

For more ideas for using using coding in the classroom, check out my Programming for Kids Pinterest Board here.

from Hopscotch Snowflake Tutorial
from Hopscotch Snowflake Tutorial

AR Basketball Math Fun

In one of the sessions I attended during this weekend’s Tech Field Day SA, Cori Coburn-Shiflett spoke about using technology games in the classroom.  As she pointed out, even sites and apps that were not designed for education can be used for learning.  AR Basketball is a good example.  Even though I posted about this app awhile ago, I did not have it listed on my AR Resources page because I felt that some teachers might question its educational value.  However, Cori directed us to a great resource from Charlotte Dolat (one of the fabulous Tech Field Day organizers) that provides free printable worksheets for math integration with this app.  By changing the activity to one that teaches mean, median, and mode, AR Basketball becomes a win/win for the teacher and the students.

Screen Shot from AR Basketball app
Screen Shot from AR Basketball app

Unneces-scary

YummyMath offers 13 Spooky October activities.  One that looks like fun to do with older students (depending on their math prowess, probably 4th-8th grades) is the “Cheap-otle” lesson.  Chipotle is apparently offering to sell $3 “Boo-ritos” to anyone who comes in after 5 PM on 10/31/15 wearing a costume with something unnecessary added.  The proceeds, up to one million dollars, will be donated to a charity.

YummyMath’s Cheap-otle lesson asks students to use math to figure out how likely it will be for Chipotle to reach that $1,000,000 mark.  A printable handout is provided.

The commercial included in the lesson is pretty fun – but definitely not appropriate for elementary students as the “H” word is used.  You can also view some “Unneces-scary” examples here.

Cheap-otle
from Chipotle’s “Unneces-scary” video

New Hopscotch Curriculum

Hopscotch has been a favorite programming app of my students ever since they tried it for the Hour of Code a couple of years ago. One of my 5th graders chose to use Hopscotch to create his entire Genius Hour presentation last year.

Hopscotch is now offering a new curriculum for educators and I had a chance to sneak preview it before yesterday’s release.  I am very impressed by the format of the lessons, which were created using the Understanding by Design framework.

There are 6 lessons, about 45 minutes each, targeted for 5th-8th grades. However,  there is a lot of flexibility that allows for modifications for younger and older students.  The lessons include ideas for differentiation and detailed suggestions to include many levels.

Math, Engineering, and Computer Science Standards are included in the lessons.  Videos links are offered for all 6 activities to either use with your class or for the teacher to watch to gain better understanding.  Hopscotch not only differentiates for the students, but also for the teachers by making the instructions very clear for even those who have never used the app before.

I am excited that Hopscotch is offering such an amazing free resource for educators.  This app encourages creativity and problem-solving while teaching logic and many math skills.  Don’t worry if you have never programmed before.  With Hopscotch, you and your students can learn together.

Hopscotch Curriculum

Makey Makey Lesson Plans – Beyond the Piano

Many of you, like me, may have found the Makey Makey to be quite fun and a great way to inspire creativity.  But where to go from there?   Makey Makey now offers a Lesson Plans section with suggestions for integrating the Makey Makey into your classroom. The current list is fairly short, but I’m guessing there will be more added as time goes by.  I like the ideas, particularly since they are way more creative than anything I would dream up.  My favorite is the Candid Camera one, which would be a great way to spark writing in the classroom.

from Makey Makey Lessons
from Makey Makey Lessons