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Our goal at Logical Learning is to provide quality education to all. We want Math to be a subject students are excited about. Having access to the best online resources is key in this day and age. Below we explore topics and resources that can help do just that!

  • Gamification: Making Math Fun! Gamificiation is a tool used to increase participation over any activity. Simple, right? In layman's terms it is the process of adding elements of gaming as a way to get more people to participate by incorporating the element of fun. Take this example, Volkswagen created a campaign called "The Fun Theory Initiative" with the goal of taking ordinary tasks and coaxing people to participate by making them enjoyable. For instance, we all know it is better for our health to take the stairs rather than the escalator.  Yet so often for a multitude of reasons, we chose the later. Volkswagen, transformed a Sweden staircase into a piano where each step played a different note. They found that 66% more ...
    Posted Dec 2, 2017, 1:45 PM by Shayla
  • Coding and Math: The Language of the Future. As a technology-based tutoring company, Logical Learning is always trying to be on the forefront of technological advances and how we can use them in conjunction with mathematics to help our students succeed. While coding is certainly not a new topic, recent advances have made it more accessible than ever. But what does coding have to do with mathematics? As Josh Kwon (2016) states, "I realized that coding requires many of the same skills that we use in math, such as critical thinking and problem solving." I couldn't agree more. Figuring out how to make a program do what you want it to is right along the same lines as manipulating an equation to get the desired result ...
    Posted Dec 2, 2017, 2:06 PM by Shayla
  • Why Virtual Math Tutoring? Logical Learning offers both in person and online tutoring, but with the plethora of national tutoring companies like Sylvan Learning, local companies and big-box online options such as Varsity Tutors, why pick us? Let's begin with the benefits on virtual tutoring. The greatest benefit is the ability to receive help from anywhere. No carpooling or shuffling to appointments, simply log in during your session time to get the help you need from home, the library or even your local coffee shop! However, there are many options in this field. I have worked for many of these companies. The major pitfall is while they offer a similar experience to Logical Learning, you are likely to have a different tutor ...
    Posted Dec 4, 2017, 2:49 PM by Shayla
  • Technology Tools for Success The internet is filled with resources for both students and teachers. While this is a great advancement in education, it can also be a bit daunting. Having students spend their time site-hopping takes time away from quality studying and deeper comprehension.  However, we must also consider the type of resource that best fits the situation. Is the student looking for a refresher on what their instructor covered in order to complete homework or gain a better understanding of the topic? Are they looking for how to solve a specific type of problem that maybe wasn't covered as in-depth as they needed in class? Or are they searching for additional practice to get a firm grasp on a ...
    Posted Dec 2, 2017, 1:59 PM by Shayla
Showing posts 1 - 4 of 4. View more »

Gamification: Making Math Fun!

posted Nov 18, 2017, 12:19 PM by Shayla   [ updated Dec 2, 2017, 1:45 PM ]

Gamificiation is a tool used to increase participation over any activity. Simple, right? In layman's terms it is the process of adding elements of gaming as a way to get more people to participate by incorporating the element of fun.

Take this example, Volkswagen created a campaign called "The Fun Theory Initiative" with the goal of taking ordinary tasks and coaxing people to participate by making them enjoyable. For instance, we all know it is better for our health to take the stairs rather than the escalator.  Yet so often for a multitude of reasons, we chose the later. Volkswagen, transformed a Sweden staircase into a piano where each step played a different note. They found that 66% more people used the piano stairs than the escalator (Yuan and Soman, 2013). This is an excellent example of gamification. By making the stairs more "fun" it increased participation.

This theory, while a great tool across all platforms, is uniquely suited to aid in education, particularly mathematics. Why? The first reason is because the majority of students are of a young age, where toys and games are always sure to pique their interest. Yet, even in older or college-level students, playing to learn is sure to make a lesson more intriguing and with the right set up can also help retention rates as well as understanding. Think of how many adults are addicted to phone apps like Candy Crush! This shows that humans love to play at any age. The second benefit of gaming in mathematics education is that it is easy to do and the repetitive nature of many games solidifies concepts. Let's look at an example.

Example of Gamification in Mathematics
When I was young, car trips, even short ones could become a bit monotonous. My father introduced me to the game Buzz. It is simple to play, so the driver can participate without any risk of distraction. To play begin counting in a clockwise pattern so that each player says the next number. If upon a players turn, the next number is a multiple of 3, they must reply "Buzz" rather than saying the number. The following player continues on. If a player fails to say Buzz, they are out and game play continues until only one play remains.

Click here to see a fun animation of a typical game of Buzz.

Buzz is an easy game that can be played in a classroom setting or at home to help children learn their multiples. As students play more, they begin to notice patterns. Educators can then discuss these patterns in class, helping students to gain a deep understanding of the topic. Buzz can also be expanded to using multiples of 4 or other values or even additional topics outside multiplication!

This is one example of gamification, but this tool can be as simple or as complex as you'd like. Educators can apply this to one topic or lesson plan, or it can be an ongoing game that spans the semester. This brings us to another great aspect of gamification; it's flexible! There is no right way to add elements of gaming to a mathematics course. But, any addition is sure to pique student interest which can then trickle down into increased participation, attention, retention and topic mastery.

Gamification & Technology
We can also connect technology to gamification in math, making for a rich experience for students. The animation I created above is an excellent example. Using GoAnimate, students and educators can create videos and games connecting to the mathematics' concepts being learned. Games can also be created using block coding through the website Scratch. This is a great tool because students can learn mathematics concepts such as logic and problem solving through coding (for additional information on Coding and Math click here) while creating games based on the current mathematical topic being studied. Below is a screenshot from Scratch. You can see some of the possible commands, which are written in a clear manner to allow game making and coding easy for all.


However, many teachers have a set curriculum and activities already planned out by their school or district. Thus, it may present difficulties when trying to add these new elements. That is where Logical Learning comes in. We have a host of resources with already created games that we can connect to individual student needs. One example is the site MathGameTime.  This site offers a ton of video game style math activities by grade level that will have your student practicing essential math skills while feeling like they are just playing another video game. CoolMathGames and MathGames are other websites that offer similar play for students. However, these sites may be difficult to navigate. Having an experienced educator find the right game for the skill you are looking to practice is an important part of achieving educational goals. PBSkids is another great tool for younger students as they can play with their favorite television characters while improving mathematical fluency. 

Tips for Gamification 
If you are an educator looking to incorporate gamification, or a parent, here are a few tips on how to add elements of gaming to any lesson or math topic.
  1. Motivation. Huang and Soman state (2013), "In today's digital generation gamification has become a popular tactic to encourage specific behaviors, and increase motivation and engagement." They go on to state, "Young adults and adolescents commonly lack motivation. When another task is more interesting or the task at hand is too hard, they lose motivation to finish it." Thus, the first goal of gamification should be to create an activity that will capture the student's attention. Making a concept fun as to motivate students to complete and learn while participating should be among our first considerations when gamifying.
  2. Use what is out there! Gamification may seem daunting to parents and teachers alike. Inventing games is a talent that not everyone possess. Thankfully, there is a plethora of tools to help you along. You can use networking through sites such as Twitter to connect with other teachers who are more than willing to share games they have already created. Wednesdays at 8pm EST is when a group of educators meet using the hashtag #XPLAP to discuss gamification. Another great tool is Classcraft. It is a role playing game that teachers can personalize to fit their lesson needs.
  3. Points and Rewards. Part of the fun of gaming is winning! Adding rewards such as small gifts or coupons helps to increase motivation. Having a point system allows for teachers to keep track of student progress much like grading.  
  4. Gamification may be hard to incorporate for new topics. This is because students do not yet have a solid understanding of the concept. But don't let that dissuade you. I recommend using gamification for basic skills. For instance, suppose this week students are learning about solving quadratic equations by factoring. Rather than making a game for this topic, consider making a game based on factoring. This way, students can practice the important base skill which will in turn make solving the equation easier. 

Overall, gamification is a great tool for educators. But its possibilities in mathematics are enumerous. Particularly, because mathematics is a subject where students often have difficultly getting motivated or lack mastery of introductory knowledge that is vital for understanding new concepts. Playing games can help to master these basic topics while creating a fun environment where students do not feel like they are learning or practicing something they may view as mundane. Jump in! Try gamification at home or in the classroom today. Sign up for Logical Learning and we can help find the right resources for needed skill development using gamification!

Resources:

Hsin-Yuan Huang, W., & Soman, D. A practitioner's guide to gamification of education. Toronto, ON, Canada: Rotman school of management; 2013.



Coding and Math: The Language of the Future.

posted Nov 18, 2017, 12:19 PM by Shayla   [ updated Dec 2, 2017, 2:06 PM ]

As a technology-based tutoring company, Logical Learning is always trying to be on the forefront of technological advances and how we can use them in conjunction with mathematics to help our students succeed. While coding is certainly not a new topic, recent advances have made it more accessible than ever.

But what does coding have to do with mathematics? As Josh Kwon (2016) states, "I realized that coding requires many of the same skills that we use in math, such as critical thinking and problem solving." I couldn't agree more. Figuring out how to make a program do what you want it to is right along the same lines as manipulating an equation to get the desired result. Teaching coding early to children can help develop these skills naturally which will then translate into improved performance in mathematics. Also, coding can be great fun! Making math an enjoyable activity is a great way to increase participation, motivation and retention. (For more on gamification and mathematics click here.)

However, the sparked interest in coding has led to the creation of what I would call "psedocode". I am referring to the drag-and-drop type of coding that many students use today. This is the method of Khan Academy's coding activities as well as the website Scratch. I would recommend both as ways to introduce students to the concepts of coding. In addition, code.org has some great activities and tutorials. Connecting the concept of gaming and coding can also be experienced through the Minecraft Educational Edition. Below is a video from code.org, it is a coding lesson that doesn't use computers! It is a great activity to connect the overlapping skills of coding and mathematics in a fun way. In addition, they offer projects for all skill levels and ages so take some time to explore!


The problem with all of the above resources is that at its basic level, the code has essentially already be created for you. When completing activities students are doing little more than arranging desired outcomes. True coding is a language that must be studied and understood to combat syntax errors and so forth. Also, the above programs limit the ability to create as students are provided with a finite number of options.

Hence, drag and drop coding is a great starting point. As stated, I believe that all elementary-aged students should be exposed to at least one of the above resources. Mathematically, it will allow them to problem solve which is a crucial skill. However, the mathematical implementations of coding far surpasses this method. I currently teach a college level course that is focused on computational methods. The real-world applications of these skills are endless. Part of the course is coding in VBA (an extension of Excel). Here, using actual coding language, we teach students to create complex programs to help in vast calculations. They are able to take this knowledge and apply it to many situations, such as actuary science, interpolating or extrapolating data and more. I am constantly explaining to students that in order to be able to code a program to calculate for us, we must first understand how to calculate by hand. Now expand this to all subjects of mathematics. If a student can code a program to solve an equation, by correlation, they must have the understanding to solve it themselves.

Below are two screenshots, one from the drag and drop coding program scratch, and the other from VBA. While the programs themselves have very different outcomes, you can easily see the difference in the interface which represents the process involved in learning these two types of coding. We can see how scratch provides a much more kid-friendly platform making it great for beginners, while VBA is a more powerful and professional platform that can be integrated into an advanced curriculum.


Learning coding languages can allow students to create any type of program to complete any number of tasks. This is why drag and drop coding should be expanded. Coding is much like learning a foreign language, but this language is universal and with technology playing such a prevalent role in our lives it is a skill that all can find useful in the years to come. As discussed in my gamification post, motivating students is one of the most difficult hurdles mathematics teachers face. Kwon (2016) states, "coding may also help students improve their attitude towards problem solving. Just like completing any challenging math problem or finishing a difficult puzzle, the final product [should leave] a satisfying impression. I felt proud of my accomplishments and hungered for a much more challenging project. In fact, this is what “learning” should feel like."

We can also easily connect coding to mathematics even at the drag and drop level. While coding itself implores similar brain exercises as mathematics, utilizing coding to create math games and projects can work twofold. It allows the student creative expression, it represents the deepest level of understanding via Bloom's revised taxonomy, and it increases student attention and understanding. Students can use the mentioned resources to create mathematics games building on both their problem solving skills as well as maturing their comprehension of the given topic.

Kwon (2016) presents three projects that cover the entire year as a examples of ways to integrate coding into the mathematics classroom, " First, my students will create artwork using the Code.org platform. Second, I want students to draw connections to math concepts learned in their Algebra classes with their projects in coding. Lastly (if time allows), I want kids to create their own game using the ScratchED platform, present their final product, and share it with their peers." These are some great ideas for educators to bridge the world of computers with mathematics.

Finally, while Logical Learning can provide tutoring in coding, most are interested in a direct teaching method that increases skill level of a particular topic. However, as the resources provided are free and fun, I encourage both parents and educators to introduce their students to coding. Children will feel like it is a part of normal screen time as they enjoy themselves while they are also learning key skills. If you or your child or student is interested in learning more about coding, contact us!  We are happy to provide courses in these skills as they may be missing from their traditional school environment. Giving a student with the ability to code is setting them up for a successful future in the world of technology, it allows them to increase basic skills key to mathematics, and provides them a platform to create anything they can imagine!

Do you have thoughts on drag and drop coding? How do you see coding and mathematics working together? Leave a comment! We would love to hear your thoughts.

References:
Kwon, J. (2016, February 25). Here's why I am going to teach my math students to code. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/02/25/coding-math-gbt/



Why Virtual Math Tutoring?

posted Nov 18, 2017, 12:18 PM by Shayla   [ updated Dec 4, 2017, 2:49 PM ]

Logical Learning offers both in person and online tutoring, but with the plethora of national tutoring companies like Sylvan Learning, local companies and big-box online options such as Varsity Tutors, why pick us?

Let's begin with the benefits on virtual tutoring. The greatest benefit is the ability to receive help from anywhere. No carpooling or shuffling to appointments, simply log in during your session time to get the help you need from home, the library or even your local coffee shop! However, there are many options in this field. I have worked for many of these companies. The major pitfall is while they offer a similar experience to Logical Learning, you are likely to have a different tutor every time. This means that there is no personal experience. At Logical Learning, you will have the same tutor who will build your own personalized lessons. Topics can stretch over multiple sessions, so there is no catching up on what is or isn't understood. This creates a similar relationship as a classroom teacher, the tutor is able to help you to grow over the semester and step in at exactly the right place for your own individual needs.

Technology plays a great role in our tutoring program. The use of an interactive whiteboard allows for both parties to write, sparking a collaborative effort that builds both confidence and understanding. Our sessions are also taped, meaning they can be saved and reviewed at anytime, even outside of a session time! It is easy to upload files, so homework assignments appear on the shared screen for tutor and student to work through together. In addition, communication is available through video, text chat and audio making it easy to ask and answer questions in the method preferred by the student.


Virtual tutoring has great benefits regarding technology as well. We use a variety of tools, allowing the student to become familiar with other online interventions that can aid them outside of sessions. Some examples include gaming sites. We can guide you to the best online resources and have memberships to many so that you don't have to pay additional fees. In doing this, Logical Learning connects you to the exact game that will help develop your mathematical skills while having a blast! Below is a screen shot of one such site. This was picked specifically for a second grader who is struggling to remember their addition tables. The student loves the game and it has helped her to immensely sharpen her skills while having fun. Then, when in session, we are able to expand on these concepts because of her advancement outside of tutoring.


We also like to use a variety of telecommunication options. With Skype, the student and tutor are able to see each other and speak just as they would with an in person tutoring session. It also allows for screen sharing, giving the tutor the ability to walk through problems and then save the screen for future reference or for the student to use will working on problems on their own.

Finally, one of the greatest benefits of virtual tutoring is the ability to use various formats for learning. Everyone has their own unique learning method. For some it may be visual, while others are auditory and many are a mixture. With online tutoring we can present information in a variety of ways easily and quickly. Combine this with our developed toolbox, Logical Learning can connect students to the resources, videos, games and lessons perfect for their learning type and level of understanding! Our whiteboard has the ability to draw, type, add photos, shapes and colors. This provides a clean, visual experience that helps to clarify mathematical ideas in a linear fashion. Below is an example of a lesson with both student and tutor collaboration.


In total, virtual tutoring offers an expert in the subject available from anywhere at a great price and convenience. Logical learning takes it a step further with a personalized educational plan, the same tutor every time to ensure continuity, a wealth of resources for use both in and out of sessions, and affordable plans with access to paid sites. This amalgam ensures the best learning experience and guaranteed improvement on any mathematical topic! Contact us today to receive your free consultation!


Technology Tools for Success

posted Nov 18, 2017, 12:17 PM by Shayla   [ updated Dec 2, 2017, 1:59 PM ]

The internet is filled with resources for both students and teachers. While this is a great advancement in education, it can also be a bit daunting. Having students spend their time site-hopping takes time away from quality studying and deeper comprehension. 

However, we must also consider the type of resource that best fits the situation. Is the student looking for a refresher on what their instructor covered in order to complete homework or gain a better understanding of the topic? Are they looking for how to solve a specific type of problem that maybe wasn't covered as in-depth as they needed in class? Or are they searching for additional practice to get a firm grasp on a topic? Below we will look at resources for each of these situations plus a few more.

1. Online Calculators
While calculators have become a powerful tool. I do not recommend them for struggling students. This is because getting the "answer" is not the primary goal in mathematics instruction. This may seem contradictory. One of the reasons I enjoy math so much is because there is a set answer that is correct verses subjects like English that are more open to interpretation. However, in mathematics instruction our goal is to provide students with the tools and knowledge they need to solve not only higher level classroom problems, but applications in the real-world. Consider the following example:

A teacher asks their students to solve 3x+16=64 for the variable x. The student uses an online equation solver to find x=16.

Learning how to manipulate this equation is essential for subsequent topics. But, if a student goes onto an online mathematics calculator website they will have found the correct answer, without gaining any insight into the process. Then, when faced with a real world problem they are unable to re-create the above equation into a form that can be entered into such an application. For instance:

A homework problem asks, "Mary wants to make sure she drinks 64 ounces of water a day. She normally drinks 16 ounces or 1 bottle of water after her soccer practice. How much water should she drink at each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to meet her goal?"

For this problem, we would have the same equation. However, without the skills and knowledge to set it up, an online calculator would be useless. Thus, I recommend the use of this resource for checking or verifying work already completed. This can be a good gauge of your understanding of the material and can help you get back on the right track if you find your answer to be incorrect.

I prefer Symbolab. This website offers a multitude of resources for students including a step-by-step calculator. Seeing the actual steps, rather than just the answer is a valuable tool to understanding the method of solution. In addition, the site offers solutions to advanced mathematics questions including integration and differentiation making it a site that one can use for almost any math problem, if able to set it up correctly. They also have a practice section where students can work on problems and quiz themselves in a variety of mathematics topics.


This brings us to our next topic:

2. Additional Practice
Completing practice problems outside of homework or assigned work can be a valuable tool for math students. Often teachers only have time to go over one or two examples in class and try to give the student homework questions that mirror this format. However, math problems come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most important mathematical skills is the ability to manipulate an equation into a form you are familiar with. This will also aid in understanding subsequent, more difficult problems and how they relate to what we have previously learned.

There are a ton of great websites that allow for this. As a homeschool teacher, I use these a lot because purchasing materials can get expensive. Also, I find that children and students of all ages find additional enjoyment completing work in a new manner. Incorporating technology into a mathematical concept is a great way to increase interest.

I use Tenmarks and Matific. Tenmarks offers a variety of mathematical topics up to Algebra and Geometry. In addition, there are helpful videos if you are stuck on a topic as well as hints and the ability to try again. It also uses games and rewards to add elements of gamification (read more about gamification and mathematics here) making it fun and rewarding to complete additional practice. Matific has a service charge, however it is great particularly for younger children. With videos, games and fun assignments with rewards, it creates a safe environments for kids to play and learn. Below is a screenshot for an example of a second grade Matific game.



3. Topic Refresher
Sometimes the limited class time is not enough for a student to fully comprehend a subject. While individual tutoring can be great for this (sign up for a consultation today here!), there are also a plethora of online resources that may help to clarify an idea for a student that just needs to hear it again.

One great place for this is YouTube. However, there are millions of videos and finding the right one can be a challenge. I have begun creating mathematics videos which you can find here. I am constantly adding and perfecting content. If you have a topic that you would like to see, make a recommendation here. Below is one of my YouTube videos on how to solve equations that involve absolute value.


Another great place to look is Khan Academy. These videos are sure to be well developed, contain reliable information and offer a great insight to the topic of your choice. However, there are limitations. I have often found that when looking for an answer to a particular question even after watching a full video I am still unsure. This is why having an individual tutor can be such a great asset. You can get an answer to your specific questions with confidence that afterwards you will have a much greater understanding.   

Lastly, I enjoy BrainPop. However, while they have some free videos, in order to access the full content a subscription is required. However, their animated videos are fun to watch and well produced able to easily capture a students attention.

4. What do I do?
This question is probably the biggest issue in math. Students see a problem and just don't know where to start. While practice makes perfect, students must first understand the steps to solution before they can practice them to gain full understanding. As Bloom's revised technology states, we wish to take students through the following levels of understanding (I have used alternate terminology that applies best to mathematics):
  1. Memorize (formulas, methods, steps)
  2. Translate (change everyday English into Mathematics)
  3. Solve (understand how to find the "answer" being asked)
  4. Examine (harder problems that are not as typical)
  5. Justify the path to solution
  6. Develop real world connections

We often see the first 3 steps in classrooms and homework assignments. However, for a student to really master and understand a subject, preparing them for subsequent mathematics topics and course, they must also work through the second half of the taxonomy. Even if they did the first 3 steps in class, they might struggle trying to recreate on the homework. This is where tutoring can play a big part. Having one on one guidance that doesn't tell you how to solve a problem, but steps in when a student gets lost can be a great confidence booster as well as an aide for mastery of the topic.

However, there are some online tools that can be great to nudge this along. Often students get stuck in the second step above, turning English or everyday problems into mathematics. Using manipulatives, such as GeoGebra, can help students to visualize the problem making it easier to solve. MathPlayground is another great tool for younger students (though 6th grade) as it provides games that connect concepts students are more familiar with to new math topics. It also incorporates gamification which is a great tool for success (for more on gamification click here).

I would also like to add, that for educators, I would recommend that if possible, assigning students to create a PiktoChart, or creating one on your own as a handout for the class. Infographics are great tools particularly for this problem. Students have different ways of remembering information, and while some or even all may take notes during the class, it is rare they will be able to pick up on all the key information and record it in a productive way. This website offers easy to use format and you can write out each important step for students to quickly reference at home. This does not need to be in place of note taking, as it is an important skill to be developed. But, especially for tricky topics, providing one at the end of the lesson or even having students create their own as an assignment can be a great asset to mastery of a topic. 

Overall, the web is full of great resources to help students excel in mathematics. Finding the right one greatly depends on the issue the student is having and what they wish to accomplish. In addition, with so many resources it is often hard to narrow down. Referrals from educators is often the best choice. Tutoring can be a great tool for all of the above issues and as Logical Learning provides virtual tutoring, we are able to screen share and visit or introduce students to some of these great resources during our sessions (for more on the benefits of virtual tutoring click here). Also, tutoring provides a one-on-one catered plan to ensure you or your student is getting the correct information and focusing on mastery without a lot of wasted time as with activities not catered to the needs of the individual.

I would love to hear from you! What are some of the online resources you love? Have an experience with one of the resources listed you would like to share? What are your thoughts on online resources verses tutoring, is one enough? Or is a combination the best choice? Comment below!

To set up your free consultation and personalized tutoring plan with Logical Learning click here.

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