Posts Tagged ‘maths’

It’s been a while since my last post, so my fingers are itching now, especially because what I am going to write about had virtually no input from me. My four boys have been completely immersed in Minecraft for quite a few months now. In particular, they love playing together on two iPads and an iPhone, so they can cooperate, send messages to each other and they’ve even made three beds in each of the houses they built, so they can sleep together in any house they find themselves in when it gets dark (and for those who are not familiar with Minecraft you better go to sleep when it gets dark, or zombies and creepers will come to get you).

A self organised geography lesson

One day my six year old invited the other two, four and eight respectively (the two year old can use the iPad very well, but on Minecraft he tends to destroy stuff, so it’s better to leave him out of a creative session ūüėČ ), to join him in his Olympic Games. So, they set off to build flags for each country (well, just a few actually, but I was pleased they added Italy). They found out what colours the flags for the countries they wanted to add were and made them out of Minecraft blocks. You can see the results below.

Italy

Japan

Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of Literacy

Then, they created various games. There was a ring for sword fighting, a hurdle race track and even target shooting. The boys also placed some signs with some basic rules for the games, as you can see below.

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And finally a bit of numeracy

Now it was time to mark out the difficulty of the target shooting game, so they added some signs to show how far from the target the archers should stand for an easy, medium and hard shooting session. This shows how you can develop “using number and measuring skills” through a video game that kids find incredibly engaging. So engaging, in fact, that they set off to create what became (in my opinion) a great learning journey completely independently. I believe this is a really nice example of a SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment) that Sugata Mitra talks about and that the nature of the game, the intuitiveness of iPads and the ability to collaborate in real time from different devices facilitated this process many folds.

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The power of technology

I’ve always been fascinated by the way very young learners interact with new technologies, and it was observing my nephew searching the internet when he was ten that prompted me to start this Blog, but I have never seen anything as powerful as an iPad in allowing children to create their own learning journeys. I watch my two year old who can get in and out of the apps he wants, build helicopters in the Lego app and fly them, call my mum with FaceTime (it’s true! It happened several times), etc… Then, I see my four year old who since he was three could create amazing buildings and objects in Minecraft at a speed that makes me feel dizzy, or my six and eight year old boys who use iPads to search for information they are interested in, find video tutorials on YouTube that show them how to create portals in Minecraft that take them to other worlds, etc… and I see so much that I am proud of. But I also see a fantastic tool that empowers them to learn through play. If they can learn things by themselves using these amazing technologies, think about how much more could be done in the classroom with them!

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No. 1 – I found a pearl in Excel 2007, or the Share Workbook feature

You can share a workbook with multiple users over a network! Just go to the “Review” Ribbon and click on “Share Workbook” and tick the “Allow changes…” box. It’s as easy as that!

Sharing in Excel

I have used it to create real time polls in my classes and for other collaborative projects. To see the changes made by other users the individual user has to save the work repeatedly, which is not as good as spreadsheets in Google Docs. You also have the disadvantage, unlike Google Docs, that you cannot share the workbook over the Internet, but just on a local network. However,  for schools this feature is just AWESOME, because it lets you share a workbook with entire classes and you retain all the really amazing features of Excel 2007, features like Smart Arts and the new graphing tools that make look Google Docs spreadsheets like primitive cave drawings in comparison!

No. 2 – Triggers in PowerPoint

Triggers in PowerPoint allow you to start animation effects of objects on your slides at the click of other objects, so you can get things to move, change, appear and disappear by clicking on existing objects, or even “invisible” buttons that you have created. The possibilities are limitless. I have seen Blockbuster games designed with triggers and I have made multiple teams games, where from the same slide two teams can play and affect changes on the side of their team. I have also created drop down menus to navigate around your presentation (this is very effective and looks very professional) and spelling and Numeracy games. Have fun with triggers, you will find them in the Timing tool for each animation you create in PowerPoint!

The Timing tool in PPT

The Timing tool in PPT

Download my Innovid on Triggers here.

No. 3 – Ink for Office 2007

Ink has actually been around for a long time in PowerPoint, but Office 2007 has extended it to Word and Excel too, which is a great asset, if you are using an interactive whiteboard, or a Tablet PC. Well the name says it all, with Ink you can use your interactive pen to hand write directly on you PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and even Excel workbooks. I will produce an Innovid on Ink very soon, so I’ll let you know when you can access this one! Meanwhile, if you want to have a go at inking, you’ll find this tool in the Review ribbons. Have fun with it!

Ink

No. 4 – PowerPoint Plex

PPTplex is an amazing plug-in for PowerPoint 2007 that allows you to display all your slides as if they were on a canvas! You can then zoom in and out of each section of your canvas and enjoy the looks of amazement of your audience. You can also look at the PPTplex blog to get your Wiimote to act as the mouse and control your presentation using a Nintento Wii remote control. This is quite amazing!

In Education you can use PPTplex to create amazing mind maps with your classes and to create timelines that really come to life in History, etc…

Have a look at my Innovid on the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network

No. 5 – Maths Add-in for Word 2007

The Maths Add-in enhances the already very good Equation Editor in Word 2007 and lets you solve simple and simultaneous equations. You can also plot 2-D and 3-D graphs directly in Word and trace the curve, or rotate around the axis of your choice!

This is very useful and if you this Maths is the only thing you can use it for think again, because I used it (under suggestion of Stuart Ball, Microsoft) to get my Yr 12 pupils to create a Poem to describe the Photoelectric Effect

Math Add-in

I have made an Innovid about this Add-in, so take a look at it and have fun with it!

Well, these are my top five features in Office 2007. What are yours? Please comment!!!