Do you teach students how to measure angles? Here’s an awesome little trick to make it much easier for the kids. Analog clocks can serve as a simple measurement estimation tool. Each number on a clock represents exactly 30 degrees. Teach your kids to draw angles that approximate the hands on a clock.
For example, tell them to draw an angle that measures 120 degrees. Most students from the 4th grade and up can multiply 30’s since it’s just like multiplying by 3’s. So to draw an angle that measures 120 degrees, the student would count by 30’s (30, 60, 90, 120.) 30 times 4 is 120 so the students draw a hand pointing at an imaginary 12 and an imaginary 4 and VOILA!
I’ve been teaching kids to use protractors for years. It’s so challenging for them. When I tried the clock trick, my kids picked it up like *THAT!* Of course it takes a bit of practice. And your students will probably master it a bit quicker if they are able to see each other’s work. You may want to practice skip counting by 30’s before asking the students to draw angles.
Once the kids get good at drawing the angles, it will be much easier for them to flip it around and measure angles that are already drawn. They will first look at the angle and ask themselves how this would look on a clock.
I gave my 4th and 5th grade students the following math problem:
“Draw as many rectangles as you can that have the area of 18 square inches. You may use a calculator.”
15 minutes later all of my kids understood that there were three clear possible answers:
1 in X 18 in
2 in X 9 in
3 in X 6 in
But then something magical happened. I pushed them a bit harder and said that there were unlimited answers to this problem. “Can you find other answers besides these three? Don’t forget, you are allowed to use a calculator.”
Every student sat by her/himself and formulated an answer to the best of her/his ability. The students then met others in the back of the room to share their results and reach consensus (while the others continued to try to solve the problem near the board.) Eventually, all of the students realized that they could get answers like:
1.5 in X 12 in
4 in X 4.5 in
My students developed much better mathematical understanding and reasoning skills through this critical thinking lesson. You see, I didn’t spoon feed them the answers. I gave them a challenge and let them figure it out with the help of their peers. The problem was challenging enough for about half my kids to get some correct answers initially on their own, and the other half to at least take a stab at it. Then, by collaborating, the entire class was able to wrap their brains around the idea. This is the direction education is headed with Common Core.
Watch Alex’s engaging discussion with Tim and Scott on the latest episode of The Bedley Bros. EdChat. Alex, the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, shares ideas from his new book Teacher of the Year Handbook. Both of the Bedley Bros. also share a quick tip for teachers. Whether or not you are in the running for Teacher of the Year, educators will benefit from this lively interview with the Rappin’ Mathematician.
What makes a quality educational math game for kids?
A perfect blend of strategy and skills.
Almost every kids’ online math game involves one or the other, but rarely both. Normally, math games involve the player solving a math problem and, if they get the answer correct, they get to play a game.
I make a distinction between a game that makes you smarter and a game that teaches you math.
Angry Birds definitely can improve critical thinking skills along with other brain functions, but does it teach you to solve an actual math problem? Not really. Sudoku helps the player to learn deductive reasoning. It’s a great thinking game. It involves numbers, but doesn’t teach any actual math that will help a child in school.
Now don’t take me wrong. I think that thinking games are awesome and I encourage my students to play Flow, Little Alchemy, and several other great strategy games. There’s just something beautiful when a game-maker comes up with a strategy game that actually teaches kids math vocabulary or math skills. Calculation Nation is a math game website produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM.) All the games (with the exception of Slamball) teach basic math skills while engaging the player in addictive strategy. For example, Times Square requires the player to constantly do multiplication facts in his/her head. Players must also keep track of offensive and defensive moves to obtain 4 in a row.
Another math game website to check out is GregTangMath.com. Greg has developed some excellent thinking games that kids love. My favorite game is Kakooma.
Another aspect of math games that I desire for my kids is the ability to play another real live kid. This makes the game much more exciting. Calculation Nation offers this option.
What are your favorite digital math games?