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Math Mission in-class session: ActivTable and IWB to support math communication Buchanan P.S spotlight

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Math Mission in-class session: ActivTable and IWB to support math communication Buchanan P.S spotlight

At Buchanan Public School, special education teacher Natalie Hatt wanted to see how the ActivTable could be incorporated into her classroom for a Math lesson for her grade 4 students. So as part of the Math Mission project's job-embedded professional learning session, Ms. Hatt co-planned a three-part lesson with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu that would have her students estimating and actively measuring objects. The lesson incorporated both the Junior Autism ISP classroom's Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and the classroom's ActivTable.

One of the main goals of the Math Mission is for special education teachers to incorporate assistive technology software tools and peripherals as accommodations in order promote Math talk between students when they are solving Math problems in the classroom.

Minds On
To start, the students used the Promethean ActivExpressions to text in answers to the following questions: "What can you measure?" and "What tools would you use to measure?" Students discussed and compared each others' answers. Ms. Hatt also had students provide further examples about the kind of measuring they can do in the school environment.

Once Ms. Hatt 's students responded, their answers were "word-seeded" and pasted onto the flipchart. Students discussed and compared each others' answers. An image of Buchanan Public School was used  for the Minds On. Students are able to generate ideas about measurement in a familiar context.

Students transitioned to the ActivTable where they estimated and then measured the length of various familiar objects found in the classroom. Using the Windows side of the ActivTable, the ActivInspire software was used for these measurement activities. The ActiveInspire flipchart had elements placed on the page in an orientation to allow all participating students to have access to the activities.

As for tool use, students were able to choose the pen tool and use their fingers to write in their estimate of the objects lengths. After they used the ruler to measure the object, they wrote in their actual result. Ms. Hatt also provided students with real-life objects and rulers to help them complete the tasks. 

Communication between the teacher and students, and talk between students were natural results of the lesson. Students discussed and compared both their estimations and actual measurements to determine if their answers were accurate. Students had to talk and come to consensus about pen and colour use. And since only one tool can be used by all students at one time, if one student needed to use the eraser, he would ask the group to switch to that tool. Another student would pick that tool and then choose the pen tool again when that student was finished.

The Windows side of the ActivTable allows teachers to use ActivInspire software. The ActivTable page is designed so that each student has his/her own working space around the table. 

Students use the eraser to reveal the criteria about the object they need to find in the class.
A view of the differentiated activity page. Students erased below their names (replaced by "Student" in this screenshot) and were given specific measurement criteria for an object to find. Differentiating tasks are simple to do on the ActivTable since each student has a separate working space. 

A student completes his assignment "find an object between 20 cm - 30 cm". He has drawn a book which measures 26 cm. (left) Another student has chosen scissors as an object he thinks meets his criteria. (right)


To consolidate the lesson, Ms. Hatt's students returned to the IWB. By examining a corner of their classroom, they used the ActivExpressions again to share their ideas about "What can you measure?" and "What tools can you use?"

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