And why should we care? I tried to spark interest in prime numbers today by talking about encryption codes and credit card theft, but what really mattered to the students was how to win the game “Factor Captor”. Parents, I encourage you to play this with your child at home. You might be surprised at some of your child’s strategies, and it’s fun! Students, do you think you can figure out a way to play Factor Captor with someone at home?
We occasionally use online games to support what we’re doing in math class. Rest assured, I’m picky. Only a select few meet my criteria and eventually get shared with the students, many of whom enjoy the games enough to ask for the links. I figured a blog post would be better…too easy to lose emails. And it might encourage some of our parents and other blog audience members to play! Click on the images if you’d like to put your math skills to the test.
I’ll add to this post as I discover more worth-while games, or I may make it a separate page. Suggestions for other math games are welcome. On the first one, you may be met with a “Java(TM) is out of date.” I just right-click on that and then select “run this plug-in,” then click on “building with blocks.” As much as I tried to sell the benefits of this game – the spatial reasoning, problem solving, communication (groups worked together to find solutions), etc. – they only saw one benefit: fun! (the 3rd one has a free app version)
A tale of two math classrooms today. I did the old-school lecture about finding equivalent fractions for awhile, and observations indicate that it was effective for most of the students. (Parents, feel free to put your child to the test. Ask him/her about the various names for the number one, fractions that are equivalent to 4/6, for example, and what percentage of our class is female or male). For the last twenty minutes of math class, the students used a math app called “Motion Math HD” to reinforce fraction, decimal, and percentage concepts. Most math apps, to put it simply, are not good. There are thousands, but it can be difficult to find ones that effectively teach/reinforce concepts rather than simple arithmetic skills. But Motion Math HD is the exception. I was first introduced to it by a tech teacher friend last year. My son, a 2nd grader at the time, couldn’t put it down. We literally watched him master basic fraction concepts in minutes, simply by tilting the iPad as he made his way through the game. Below, watch our class as they attempt to get through all the levels.
We continued to strengthen our understanding of angles today by ordering each other around! We have learned that angles are “a measurement of rotation,” and that directing someone using degrees and meters can get them from point A to point B.
For more practice estimating angles, try the following game (click on photo). There are also several iPad apps available.
Dear Tihomir and Dalia,
Thank you for the corrections. We realized that 15 is not a prime number, that was a mistake between us and our artist. However, we didn’t realize that 1 isn’t a prime number. So, that’s great. We will update the app and correct these things. In fact, if you’re OK with it, we’ll use your definition of prime numbers instead of ours, and we’ll credit you at the bottom of the page, thanking you for the help. How does that sound?
Very cool development this morning. The students downloaded a new app to their iPads called Factor Samurai. Within minutes, and with a little hint from me, they discovered some misinformation. “Wait! You mean apps can be wrong? Next thing you’re going to tell me is that some things I read on the internet are not true!” Yep. Sorry kids.
Can you see what’s wrong in the image below?
Several students saw a flaw in that definition of a prime number, and even more realized that “1” and “15” are NOT prime numbers. Shame on you Factor Samurai!
OK, lesson learned. Let’s play the game, have fun, and go to music class.
Dalia and Tihomir did some investigating, found contact information for the company that created this fun but flawed app, and immediately began composing an email to voice their concerns. Their email is below. We’ll let you know if they get a response.
Dear Third Rail Games,
We are 5th grade students from Zurich International School. I have downloaded your Factor Samurai and think it is a great game to play and practice our math skills.
However, being prime number experts, we have noticed a few things on your app. For example 1 and 15 are not prime numbers and we also noticed that the definition of prime numbers is not clear. The real definition of prime numbers would be: A prime number is a number that has two factors. So 1 can’t be a prime number because it only has one factor. Also the reason why 15 is not a prime number is because it can be divided by 1, 3, 5 and15, four factors! A prime has only 2 factors.
We think that it would be helpful to other people that download this app if the information is valid. Thank you!
Dalia and Tihomir
Great example of our kids writing authentically, taking action, and knowing what a prime number is (and isn’t!).
How far do you live from school? Use Google Earth to get an estimate of this distance. Leave your distance as a comment. As you review the comments (distances), think about how you could display the data. What would be the most effective way? Leave your ideas as another comment, or even better, make a graph electronically and post it to your blog.