Operation Maths Digital Resources – Quick Start Guide

Operation Maths Digital Resources – Quick Start Guide

If you are a new, or relatively new, Operation Maths user, you should definitely check out this quick start guide to the extensive digital resources which accompany the scheme. And, even if you think that you are relatively familiar with the resources, it might still be worth a read, as you are likely to pick up some new tips to help you get the most out of the resources.

Edco Learning

All of the Operation Maths digital resources are accessed via Edco Learning. All new users will have to first register on the Edco Learning site and follow the instructions to verify the account. If you are not familiar with the Edco Learning site, watch the tutorial below.

After login, you are presented with a virtual book shelf of all your available books. If the Operation Maths books for your class(es) are not visible on the virtual bookshelf, click on the Contact Us link at the top of the Edco Learning home page.

HINT: If you find this virtual bookshelf is too “busy” or is taking a while to load, reduce the number of books you can see when it opens by using the drop-down filters at the top of the screen. Your selection will be remembered for the next time you login. You can amend these choices at any time. 

Operation Maths Digital Resources

As there are some small, subtle differences in the way that the resources are organised for the junior end classes and for the senior end classes, they are dealt with separately below.

Digital Resources for Infants to Second Class:

To get an overview of the digital resources available for each week/fortnight start with the Short Term Plan (STP) for that period, in the Teachers Resource Book (TRB); here the various digital activities are briefly listed (see highlighted below). The TRBs to accompany each class level of the Operation Maths schemes are available both in hard copy (free to all adopting schools) and in digital form (accessible via your bookshelf on Edco Learning).

HINT: To find out more about accessing both the Long Term Plans (LTPs) and Short Term Plans (STPs) for Operation Maths, in both hard copy and digital forms, check out this post: Planning for Operation Maths

This overview lists the digital resources available for that fortnight/week, and in each case specifies:

  • the type of digital activity that it is e.g. Create activity, Write-Hide Show video etc (to find out more information about the different types of digital activities read on here)
  • the page of the At School book to which the activity is relevant
  • a brief description of the activity

To get a more detailed description of the specific digital resources for each week, navigate towards the end of the relevant week, again in the TRB. Here, under the subheading Digital resources, each activity relevant to that week will be given again, accompanied by a detailed description of the activity, suggestions for how to use it in class and extension suggestions (see example below).

To open each specific resource, the simplest way is via the digital version of the At School book. In this digital book, navigate to the page to which the activity is relevant (e.g. in both of the two previous images they list the first create activity as being relevant to page 17 of the At School book). On the specified page, there will be a icon visible (see circled in the example below), which acts as an embedded hyperlink i.e. when you click on the icon, it will automatically open the relevant digital resource, in another tab. For instructions/suggestions on how to use this resource refer back to the detailed description in the TRB (as previously shown in the image above).

 

HINT: While there are other ways to access all of the resources and digital activities (eg via the Edco Resources pop-out tab to the right-hand-side of the screen), the way described above can often be the easiest way to open each embedded resource, as the icons are located in exactly the relevant place in the digital books and so saves the teacher time that might have been spent deciding which resource was the most appropriate.

 

Digital Resources for Third to Sixth Class:

One way to get an overview of the digital resources available for each topic is to start with the Short Term Plan (STP) for that topic, in the Teachers Resource Book (TRB); here, the various digital activities are briefly listed (see image below). The TRBs to accompany each class level of the Operation Maths schemes are available both in hard copy (free to all adopting schools) and in digital form (accessible via your bookshelf on Edco Learning).

HINT: To find out more about accessing both the Long Term Plans (LTPs) and Short Term Plans (STPs) for Operation Maths, in both hard copy and digital forms, check out this post: Planning for Operation Maths

This overview lists the digital resources available for that topic, and in each case specifies:

  • the type of digital activity that it is e.g. Create activity, Write-Hide Show video etc (to find out more information about the different types of digital activities read on here)
  • the page of the Pupil’s Book to which the activity is relevant
  • a brief description of the activity

An alternative place to view an overview of the digital resources available for each topic is on the footer of the first page of each chapter in the Pupil’s book (see opposite), as this also provides the same synopsis of the digital resources that are available to use for that chapter.

To get a more detailed description of the specific digital resources for each topic, navigate to the last section of each chapter in the TRB. Here, under the subheading Digital resources (see circled below), each activity relevant to that topic will be given again, accompanied by a detailed description of the activity, suggestions for how to use it in class and extension suggestions.

 

To open each specific digital resource, the simplest way is via the digital version of the Pupils Book. In this digital book, navigate to the page to which the activity is relevant. On the specified page, there will be a icon visible (see circled in the example opposite), which acts as an embedded hyperlink i.e. when you click on the icon, it will automatically open the relevant digital resource, in another tab. For instructions/suggestions on how to use this resource refer back to the detailed description in the TRB (as previously shown in the image above).

 

HINT: While there are other ways to access all of the resources and digital activities (eg via the Edco Resources pop-out tab to the right-hand-side of the screen), the way described above can often be the easiest way to open each embedded resource, as the icons are located in exactly the relevant place in the digital books and so saves the teacher time that might have been spent deciding which resource was the most appropriate.

 

If you are new to Operation Maths, we recommend that you:

  • subscribe to the Operation Maths blog. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on any new post, as they will be emailed directly to you. To subscribe, just enter your email address in the box at the top right-hand side of this page. 
  • like/follow the Edco Primary Maths page on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep up-to-date on all the latest Operation Maths developments

Operation Maths – Digital Resources Overview

New or relatively new to Operation Maths? Want to know more about the various types of digital resources that are available? Read on!

Operation Maths provides an extensive range of digital resources with endless possibilities. These digital resources include:

  • Create activities (each of these is based on one of seven e-Manipulatives)
  • Ready to go activities (also based on the e-Manipulatives, but more structured than Create activities)
  • Write-hide-show videos
  • Maths Around us videos
  • Scratch activities
  • Follow-on weblinks

Create activities

Create activities are based on one of seven e-Manipulatives and can be used as very powerful online, interactive, teacher tools. The create activities are so called because the teacher can open a specific e-Manipulative and choose how to use it to best suit them, their class and the concept at hand. Therefore, teachers can use the e-Manipulatives in any way that they see fit.

Furthermore, there are numerous suggestions for create activities in the Teachers Resources Book (TRB) which show how the e-Manipulatives can be re-used in numerous ways to achieve a countless number of specific learning outcomes. The detailed suggestions for how to use the create activities, can be found under the subheading Digital resources, located towards the end of the listed activities for each relevant week/topicin the TRB.

HINT: There are not separate, individual create activities per each hyperlink in the digital Pupils or At School book; clicking on a create activity icon will bring you to the starting point of one of the e-Manipulatives. However, within each of the topics in the TRB, there will be separate and specific suggestions given each time.

The full range of Operation Maths e-Manipulatives cover key maths areas:

  • Sorting & Shop e-Manipulative
  • Place Value e-Manipulative
  • 100 Square e-Manipulative
  • Bar Modelling e-Manipulative
  • Counting Stick e-Manipulative
  • Fractions e-Manipulative
  • Clock e-Manipulative

To explore the seven e-Manipulatives in more detail, please read on here.

 

Ready to go activities

Ready to go activities are specific activities, based again on the seven e-Manipulatives, but these are all pre-set and have suggested questions inbuilt on the left-hand side of the screen, that the teacher can click to reveal and hide. This means that the teacher doesn’t have to waste valuable time looking in a separate book for the accompanying questions. These questions can be directed to specific children and/or can be answered on the children on their Operation Maths MWBs, thereby encouraging whole-class participation.

While both are based on the e-Manipulatives, there is a distinct difference between ready to go and create activities. The former are more structured than their create counterparts and, as each ready to go activity is tailored to a specific learning outcome, they will have a specific title e.g. Ready to go 3.5, Ready to go 4.6 etc

HINT: The ready to go activities can also provide the teacher with examples of how each e-Manipulative may be used. Thus, the teacher can use a previous ready to go activity to inspire a create activity or come up with a completely different activity of their own. 

 

Write-Hide-Show videos

These are videos, of the e-Manipulatives in use, that focuses on the teaching method of ‘Write – Hide – Show’ i.e. teacher plays the video and the children respond by answering on their Operation Maths mini white-boards (MWBs), thus ensuring the maximum participation of the children.

These videos provide quick, easy-to-use scenarios and set-ups that engage children and pose meaningful maths questions. They also showcase the flexibility of the e-Manipulatives and provide inspiration for teachers’ own expansions. Take a look at this sample video below:

 

Maths Around Us videos

The series of Maths Around Us videos is full of real-world examples of maths in the environment and provides numerous opportunities for discussion and engagement. Take a look at this sample video below:

 

 

HINT: An advantage of both types of Operation Maths videos is that they have been designed so that the teacher need only press play, since the questions and wait times are all built in, allowing the children to look, listen and respond on their MWBs. This means that, they not only encourage active participation, but they also allow the teacher the opportunity to informally assess the pupils via observation of their responses.

Scratch programming activities (3rd to 6th class)

Not only have these activities been written especially for Operation Maths but Operations Maths is the only maths scheme available currently in Ireland with integrated programming (coding) activities. Each activity is integrated with the Pupils’ Books, comes with step-by-step instructions for teachers and pupils and highlights the connection between maths and coding in an easy-to-follow, visual manner.
The scratch programming activities can again be downloaded via the icons in the pupils books. Teachers or children can access the Scratch software for free online (click here).

Follow-on weblinks

Encourage your pupils to practice maths ideas at home with the useful Follow-on weblinks based on recommended games. Each Follow-on weblink is author-approved and is linked to a specific topic, for a specific class level, in the Pupils’ Book. The weblinks can be printed for children to take home and have fun practicing maths with their parents or guardians. Teachers can also use the weblinks in class as a lesson starter, for consolidation and assessment or, indeed, at any time.

These follow-on weblinks can be downloaded as word documents from Edco Learning:

  • Open the Edco Resources pop-out tab to the right-hand-side of the screen
  • From the menus select your book (eg “Operation Maths 3rd class Pupils Book”) and “Follow-on Weblinks”

And finally….

  • All the digital resources are all completely integrated with the print and eBooks; when viewing the Pupils eBook, the teacher need only click on the specific digital icon on the page to open the resource up in a new window/tab.
  • Nearly all of the digital resources can be used in conjunction with the free mini white-boards, ensuring the maximum participation of the children.
  • As there are numerous ways to use each of the e-Manipulatives, they offer unlimited opportunities for assessment for learning and whole-class participation
  • They have been specially designed to help children to focus on the maths
  • They are user-friendly and approachable with bright, clear colours and layout

Teachers can access all the Operation Maths digital resources through Edco’s dynamic online digital hub, www.edcolearning.ie.

 

If you are new to Operation Maths, we recommend that you:

  • subscribe to the Operation Maths blog. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on any new post, as they will be emailed directly to you. To subscribe, just enter your email address in the box at the top right-hand side of this page. 
  • like/follow the Edco Primary Maths page on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep up-to-date on all the latest Operation Maths developments

Operation Maths e-Manipulatives

The fully flexible, easy-to-use, online Operation Maths e-Manipulatives (interactive teacher tools and virtual manipulatives) are designed for teacher-led learning and to encourage whole-class participation. This impressive range of e-Manipulatives is optimised for use on an Interactive Whiteboard or a whiteboard with a projector so that teachers get the best results every time. They also facilitate a CPA approach to maths instruction.

The full range of e-Manipulatives cover key maths areas:

  • Sorting & Shop e-Manipulative
  • Place Value e-Manipulative
  • 100 Square e-Manipulative
  • Bar Modelling e-Manipulative
  • Counting Stick e-Manipulative
  • Fractions e-Manipulative
  • Clock e-Manipulative

Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

 

 The Sorting & Shop e-Manipulative allows the teacher to easily drag and drop shapes, animals, fruit, classroom objects, shop items, upper and lowercase letters, and numbers onto a workspace. It can be used blank or with various backgrounds, including frames, sets,  2×2, 5×5 grids etc . Of all the backgrounds, the shop background is particularly useful as it allows the teacher to create a shop scene with price tags, coins and sale tags, which can be used to explore a wide range of mathematical scenarios such as using small amounts of money in infants right up to scenarios involving percentage increase and decrease in the senior classes.

The Place Value e-Manipulative provides a wide range of place value tables which the teacher can use to demonstrate re-grouping. Each place value table contains either base-ten blocks, counters to represent the place value discs that accompany the 3rd-5th books, straws or money, and decimal values are included in a selection of the tables. Two tables may be shown on screen at the same time to facilitate comparisons between numbers. There is also the facility to display up to 5-digit whole numbers, which, in my experience, had not been possible previously as all other interactive manipulatives only extend to 4-digit numbers at most.

The 100 Square e-Manipulative is another extremely versatile tool. It can be used in numbers only, counters only or counters and numbers. You can very easily hide and reveal individual cells, whole sections of the grid or the entire grid.  I have gotten a huge amount of use of out it recently, with first and second classes, using it in numbers only mode, hiding all the numbers and just revealing one number. I then ask the children what number comes after/before this, what numbers is missing above/below etc. This is particularly good to assess the children’s ability to identify numbers around the decuples/decades (ie 30, 40, 50 etc) which are widely recognised as hurdles for many children.

This tool can also be used to model the 100 dots grid (on the inside back cover of Operation Maths 3 and 4) as a means to explore the commutative and distributive properties and the connections between various groups of facts.

The Bar Modelling e-Manipulative allows the teacher to create the bar models used in the text books quickly and easily. Bars can be dragged, dropped and resized and the teacher can change their colour. The teacher can also type and draw freehand on the workspace, making this a very useful resource for demonstrating the strategy of bar modelling

The Counting Stick e-Manipulative replicates the physical counting stick that a teacher might use in the classroom. The teacher can set the starting value and the steps value, and reveal or hide numbers along the counting stick. Decimal and negative numbers may also be shown on the Counting Stick e-Manipulative and two counting sticks can be shown at the same time, in order to compare various numbers.

The teacher can use the Fractions e-Manipulative to present fraction bars (linear models), fraction circles and pizzas (both area models). The teacher can change the fraction that is shown on screen, randomise fractions and hide or show the fraction value, decimal value and percentage value. Two fractions may be shown on screen at the same time.

Analogue and digital clocks are provided with the Clock e-Manipulative. The teacher can choose to show one analogue clock, one digital clock, two analogue clocks, two digital clocks or an analogue and a digital clock at the same time.

 

All of the e-Manipulatives can be used as Ready to go or Create activities

Ready to go activities are already set up within each e-Manipulative with pre-programmed questions that appear on screen, meaning that the teacher doesn’t have to waste time looking in a book for the accompanying questions. The questions can also be answered on the children on their MWBs, thereby encouraging whole-class participation.

Create activities are so called because the teacher can open the e-Manipulatives and choose how to use it to best suit them, their class and the concept at hand. There are suggestions for Create activities printed in the TRB which show how the tools can be re-used in infinite ways to achieve a countless number of specific learning outcomes. And the Ready to go activities themselves will also provide the teachers with examples of how each e-Manipulative may be used.

Write – Hide – Show videos

These are videos of the e-Manipulatives in use that focuses on the teaching method of ‘Write – Hide – Show’. These videos provide quick, easy-to-use scenarios and set-ups that engage children and pose meaningful maths questions. They also showcase the flexibility of the e-Manipulatives and provide inspiration for teachers’ own expansions. Take a look at this sample video below:

 

Teachers can access all of the Operation Maths e-Manipulatives and other digital resources through Edco’s dynamic online digital hub, www.edcolearning.ie.


Operation Maths Jr Inf-2nd: Managing the content

As outlined in a previous post, Operation Maths 3 – 6 provides fulsome content for the senior classes. The complaints heard about other schemes – that there is simply not enough to do in the senior class books – is definitely not one heard about Operation Maths! At the junior end of Operation Maths – which is the focus of this post – the Teacher Resource Books (TRBs) are the jewels in the crown: the most comprehensive available and jam packed with the ‘how to’ of setting up maths’ stations, differentiation, oral maths, discussion topics, early finisher activities and a comprehensive stand alone problem solving section. And, since this programme is also based on a CPA approach, the TRBs are full of suggestions on how to promote those methodologies in a classroom.

Familiarity with any new programme takes time and time is a very precious commodity for all us teachers. Therefore, in this post I will give you some tips on how to successfully implement the programme in the junior classes – what in today’s game parlance our students might call ‘cheats’!

1. Start from the Teacher Resource Book

Start with the weekly lesson suggestions in the Teachers’ Resource Book (TRB). Typically these will be laid out as follows:

  • A whole class warm-up and oral, designed to consolidate prior learning and lead logically into the lesson that follows. It is suggested that this lasts for 5-10 minutes  each day of the week, depending on content. While there are typically many suggestions here, it is not necessary to do all of them. If you find a starter that works particularly well, you could note this alongside the margin of your TRB, or in the notes section, to highlight it for future use.

The mini whiteboards are invaluable for this part of the lesson. Look out for children who lack the confidence or know how and are hesitant to write their answer or copy others. Encourage a growth mindset:
1. It’s okay to make mistakes, everyone does! We learn from them.
2. Often there is more than one correct approach; eg 17+19 can be modeled/thought of as move one to 19 to become 16 + 20, move 3 to 17 to become 20 +16, move one to 17 to become 18 + 18

  • Discussion questions that stimulate talk and discussion in a relevant and meaningful way. Again, only do as many as suits your circumstance.
  • Pair work, a book based activity to encourage co-operative learning. Modelling, especially when the concept of pair of group work is relatively new to a class, really sets the tone and promotes success. Choose a child to work with. Start the conversation:
    • I went first the last time, would you like to go first today?
    • Do you remember the first thing to do?
    • I think we roll the dice twice and add the numbers, do you agree?
    • Oh dear! Neither of us can remember what to do, will we quietly ask Tom?
    • Will you watch me while I’m taking my turn just in case I go wrong? I’ll help you too!
  • Stations: the organisation of these maths stations will depend on teaching style, the number of children, the ability level of the class and the assistance available from other staff members (SNAs, support teachers, etc.). And as with Pair Work it can take a little practice before the children approach stations successfully and productively – but it is well worth persevering! Station work promotes problem solving skills, group think and independence.The suggested stations can adapted in a number of ways:
    • use with similar ability groups or mixed ability
    • set up the activities at designated maths stations (tables or areas) which the class can rotate around eg 4 groups with 7 or 8 children per group; each group does two stations for 15 mins each for one class (30 mins total) and does the other two stations on the following day.
    • Each group does a station for one class, with each group working at each station over the course of the week.
    • Use the stations as a whole class activity e.g. on Monday all the class do the activities for station 1, on Tuesday do the activities for stations 2 etc. This does depend on there being enough of the required materials for the whole class to use them at the same time.
  • Books: Bearing in mind that Operation Maths is based on a CPA approach, it is envisaged that the child would engage in all the concrete and pictorial activities for the topic before doing the pages in their At School and At Home books. Furthermore, sometimes it is envisaged that the concrete activities for the topic at hand will take place during one week, followed by the book activities in the subsequent week (this will be explained in a paragraph under the Activities heading in the weekly plan in the TRB). If you are teaching in a multi-class situation, it would be better to stagger/alternate these weeks among the classes eg Week 1, first class do the concrete activities while second class are mainly book based; week 2, second class do the concrete activities while first class are mainly book based.

2. You don’t have to do it all!

In the junior end TRBs,  the plans are laid out in fortnights which then break-down into weekly suggested activities. The important word here is “suggested”; you are not expected to do everything, so pick and choose the activities that are most suitable for you, your children, the physical limitations of your class and/or equipment, the availability of support personnel. For example there are Aistear-linked themes and activities in the infant TRBs, but if these don’t appeal to you, or are not practical in your specific situation, ignore them.

As explained earlier, there are regular suggestions for stations in the first and second TRBs and in places in the infant TRBs, but again if you don’t have available colleagues (eg L/S Resource teachers, SNAs etc) to help with the running of these stations, then they probably are not for you. However, you could take one or two of the station activities and instead do it with the whole class as the same time. The choice is up to you.

3. MWBs! MWBs! MWBs!

I can’t stress how fabulously adaptable are the free mini-whiteboards or how they can make getting through content so much easier. I was using them for many years before the inception of Operation Maths and found them to be an invaluable tool in the classroom. Some of the ways in which they can be used:

Give Doodle Time! The temptation to doodle is overwhelming so spare a couple of minutes for a quick doodle or two! Signal the end of doodle time with a fun rhyme such as “Rub, a dub, dub! Give your whiteboard a scrub!”

Display the ebook on your IWB for Write-Hide-Show: This works very well as the children are not looking down at their own books, only up at the board, so it’s easier for teacher to check that they are focused on the task. Highlight a specific calculation on the ebook eg 16 + 5 and ask the children to write the answer on their MWBs, hide it (place it face down on the desk, or hold it face in, to their chest) while the other pupils are afforded thinking time and finally on a specific signal (eg aon, dó, trí, taispeán dom) all the answers are revealed simultaneously. Thus, the teacher can quickly assess the accuracy of the answers and allow this feedback to inform whether the class are ready to move on, or need more reinforcement.

“Show your thinking” The children can use quick jottings to explain how they arrived at a certain answer. The MWBs are less structured and easier to use than maths copies and easier to change if you want to amend your ideas. Interesting responses or approaches could easily be brought up to the top of the class for further discussion and display. Again, encourage the growth mindset; mistakes and multiple correct answers are opportunities to learn more.

More maths done in less time. Rooting in bags, finding their book, pencil, rubber… this all leads to a delay in actually getting down to the maths at hand. Whereas, just writing on the MWBs is much quicker and gets more done. And don’t worry if the associated page in the pupils book is not completed; remember the teacher’s aim should be to enable the children to achieve a certain objective/learning outcome and however that is achieved still counts, book or otherwise.

Step-by-step to show algorithms: if you are teaching some of the standard algorithms (eg column method addition or subtraction in first and second class) the MWBs can be handy to allow the teacher and class to do it together, step-by-step, with the children holding up their MWBs at every suitable juncture to check what they have done to that point. This way, potential mistakes may be picked up quicker and addressed before they begin to occur repeatedly.

4. Reduce your preparation

The plans are all done for you, the stations are all explained, the ideas are all there! This should significantly reduce the amount of time you were spending on maths preparation. However, it is still recommended to take the time at the beginning of each fortnight to go through the TRB and familiarise yourself with the content and the activities; this is time well spend that will translate into smooth running maths classes during the fortnight. But also be flexible, and don’t stick rigidly to everything.

One of the sections in the TRB where flexibility is advantageous is the photocopiables. There is a fantastic suite of resources here with great ideas, but don’t feel that if you don’t have 30 copies done in advance that you can’t use them. One example of this are the Yahtzee photocopiables in the TRB of Operation Maths 1. The children could simply write the target numbers ( eg 2-10, 2-20 or 0-5) on their whiteboards and cross them off when rolled. This also allows the game to be played repeatedly without needing other photocopies.

The one set of photocopies to have ready in advance are the Early Finishers and the Problem-Solving photocopiables. Initially, at the beginning of the school year, try to gauge how many copies you will need;you will probably not require 1 per child. As time goes on the number of copies of each can be adjusted, as necessary. These can then be kept near at hand to distribute to children in need of a more challenging or stimulating task.

5. Go digital!

The excellent suite of  digital resources available on Edco Learning can also aid efficient progress through content. The resources are very visual and help the child grasp a solid understanding of the concepts at hand quicker than might have occurred  otherwise. The resources can all be accessed directly via the hyperlinks in the digital books and it can be beneficial to have these tabs open in advance so as to save time during maths class. For more information on the extensive range of digital resources read on here

Teaching 3rd to 6th class? Read on to find out how to manage the content for those classes. 


Operation Maths 3-6: Managing the content

It can be very difficult to strike the correct balance of content in a maths programme;  a more able class might fly through the activities and conversely a less able group of children may work through content at a much slower pace. In a multi-class situation, the teacher may prefer to have more, rather than less, content so that one or more groups in the room can be kept occupied while the teacher is instructing a different group. Therefore, the volume of content required varies greatly from class to class and from school to school.

During the research and development phase of Operation Maths, the message from teachers was very clear: they wanted a maths programme with sufficient content and ideas, with no need to have to go sourcing extra material. Because of this feedback, the Operation Maths authors decided to err on the side of more, rather than less, content and designed a comprehensive maths programme that has considered everything a teacher may require, while also being able to be pared back to suits the needs of students and classes where a slower pace is preferable.

And not only is the Operation Maths programme highly adaptable to each unique teaching and learning situation, it is also based on the current, most forward-thinking approaches to maths education.

This post will provide some tips on how to best manage the programme in the senior classes, from third to sixth.

1. Start from the Teacher Resource Book

As always, when taking on any new programme it can sometimes take a while to discover the best ways to utilise it in order to maximise on its full potential for both you, as the teacher, and the children. Furthermore, since Operation Maths is based on many, very new and different approaches to the teaching of maths, this may leave teachers feeling a bit adrift initially.
That is why we recommend that those using Operation Maths for the first time should always start with the daily lesson suggestions in the Teachers Resource Book (TRB).  Typically, these will be laid out as follows:

  • A recommended oral and mental starter, designed to consolidate prior learning and lead logically into the lesson that follows. It is suggested that this lasts for 5-10 minutes.
  • The objective/learning  outcome for that day. This will also be given in the pupil book and/or discovery book
  • Discuss and teach is the most important section. This will give suggestions on how to achieve the objective learning outcome. The suggestions will differ depending on the specific learning outcome(s); for example there may be probing questions given or suggestions for a concrete, pictorial or digital activity which may lead the children to deduce the new learning outcome(s) for themselves. It may involve reading and discussing a teaching panel (yellow panel) in the pupils’ book.
  • Pupils’ book and/or discovery book: This gives the details for the location of the specific questions that reinforce and consolidate the learning outcome(s) covered in the discuss and teach section. It is not expected that all questions would be completed by all children and this is the main place where the teacher needs to decide what question activities are a priority for his/her pupils. Typically, the question sets are arranged to start with easier tasks and then graduate towards more difficult ones. There is often a section towards the end entitled “Work it Out” (blue panels in the pupils’ book) which contain the most difficult tasks and might be most suitable for the higher attainers (HAs) in the class.
  • Digital Resources will list any relevant digital activities that can be used from the comprehensive suite on edcolearning.ie . These are given in the Pupils’ books as well and may also have been referenced previously in the discuss and teach section.
  • Extra exploration: this is typically a suggestion of a game from the games bank that could be played by early finishers to reinforce the learning outcome of the day.

2. You don’t have to do it all!

As explained above, in the senior end TRBs , each topic is broken down into day-by-day plans which have a specific objective(s)/learning outcome(s) eg 5th class, Division, “I am learning to divide using chunking” or 3rd class, place value, “I am learning to identify the value of each digit in a number”. The discuss and teach sections lay out how to explore and teach each specific concept and what activities, either concrete, pictorial, digital or book-based can be used to reinforce the understanding.

However, it is not necessary that the class would do every single book-based exercise before they can move on. Rather, the teacher can select which ones they think most suitable for the ability level of their class. As explained previously, the initial question sets in each “day” are easier and then they progress in difficulty, often culminating in a  “Work it Out!” section. There are many different ways that a teacher could direct a class to answer these questions so as to facilitate differentiation:

  • The children progress through the questions themselves at their own pace, as individuals or as pairs perhaps, for support.
  • The children do a certain number in each question set eg first three in each; every second question etc
  • The teacher could allow the children to choose what questions to answer eg ” I want you to do five questions, you pick which ones” or “I want you to select two questions out of each set, you choose”. The children could discuss at the end the reasoning behind their choices thus providing a great insight into their understanding of a topic and their concept of themselves as learners.
  • The teacher could assign a number of incomplete questions as homework for that evening.

At the end of that “day”s maths lesson, it is likely that the children will have achieved the learning outcome, albeit to a variety of different depths, eg the child can identify the value of a digit in a number, even if not with 100% success rate. Irrespective of the content covered that day, in the next maths class, the teaching should move on to focus on the the next “day” and the next learning outcome(s), as envisaged in the day-by-day plans, thus ensuring that the children get a broad and balanced experience of the maths curriculum.

3. MWBs! MWBs! MWBs!

The free mini-whiteboards (MWBs) that accompany the Operation Maths programme are very adaptable  and can make covering content, in a meaningful way, so much more efficient. Some of the ways in which they can be used:

  • Display  the ebook on your IWB (this is often preferable to the children looking at their own books  as they are looking straight up at the board, and therefore easier to check that the children are focused on the teacher and the task). Then, using  a selection of suitable questions from the book, you can use the MWBs for some fast-paced answering. This can be a great way to get through all/most of that day’s content, while also revealing any problematic questions/misconceptions that can then be focused on again as part of class-based reinforcement or practiced as part of homework.
  • “Show your thinking”. The children can use quick jottings to explain how they arrived at a certain answer. The MWBs are less structured and easier to use than maths copies and are quicker and easier to change if you want to amend your ideas. Interesting responses or approaches could easily be brought up to the top of the class for further discussion and display.
  • More maths done in less time. Rooting in bags, finding a copy, ruler, pencil, pen…ruling the copy, asking what date it is….this all leads to a delay in actually getting down to the maths at hand. Whereas, just writing on the MWBs is much quicker and gets more done.
  • Bar models: This is one of the key problem-solving strategies used in Singapore Maths and a key strategy also in Operation Maths. If your pupils are not very familiar or comfortable with bar model drawing (for example if the children are using an Operation Maths book and didn’t have Operation Maths the previous year) it can be a great idea to draw the bar models step-by-step with the children i.e. the teacher draws on the classroom board and the children draw on their MWBs. Alternatively, the teacher can use the Bar Modelling eManipulative, available on Edco Learning to model the problems on the main IWB.
  • Quick fire estimations: estimating should be quick responses and not take as long to produce as a full calculation would; otherwise they are not efficient (see this post for more on this). To practice these quick fire responses, you could quickly display a calculation on the class board from the Operation Maths ebook and then hide the calculation (eg use the no-show button on your projector remote) while the children quickly jot down estimated answers. These should then be compared and discussed, with reasons given as to why some estimates are more reasonable than others, before then agreeing on the most reasonable estimate(s).
  • Step-by-step to show algorithms: if you are teaching some of the standard algorithms (eg the long division or long multiplication method) the MWBs can be handy to allow the teacher and class to do it together, step-by-step, with the children holding up their MWBs at every suitable juncture to check what they have done to that point. This way potential mistakes may be picked up quicker and addressed before they begin to occur repeatedly.

For other ideas on how you can use your Operation Maths MWBs across the curriculum, read on here.

4. Bar model drawing

As mentioned above, bar model drawing can be a difficult concept for both teachers and children to grasp when they’ve never come across them before. That said, they are an invaluable strategy and worth the investment; already feedback from teachers using the programme for the first time have revealed that topics the children previously found very problematic (eg fractions in all classes, cost price and selling price in 6th class), have now become so much easier and clearer, thanks to the structure of the bar models.

A way to make your collective introduction to bar models much easier, is to display the Thinking Blocks site on the class IWB and to get the children to respond by drawing the bar models and/or giving answers on their MWBs. Such an activity would also work well as an oral and mental starter that could be used regularly throughout the year.

5. Go digital!

The excellent suite of  digital resources available on Edco Learning can also aid efficient progress through content. The resources are very visual and help the child grasp a solid understanding of the concepts at hand quicker than might have occurred  otherwise. The resources can all be accessed directly via the hyperlinks in the digital books and it can be beneficial to have these tabs open in advance so as to save time during maths class. For more information on the extensive range of digital resources read on here

Teaching Junior Infants to 2nd class? Read on to find out how to manage the content for those classes. 

 


Operation Maths Digital – a completely integrated print and digital package!

Operation Maths provides an extensive range of digital resources with endless possibilities. In this post, I will discuss the various types of digital resources that are available and how they can be used in the classroom.

Overview

The Operation Maths digital resources include:

  • e-Manipulatives which can be used  as Ready to go activities and Create activities
  • Maths Around us videos
  • Write-hide-show videos
  • Scratch activities
  • Follow-on weblinks

 

e-Manipulatives

The fully flexible, easy-to-use, online e-Manipulatives are designed for teacher-led learning and to encourage whole-class participation. This impressive range of e-Manipulatives is optimised for use on an Interactive Whiteboard or a whiteboard with a projector so that teachers get the best results every time. They also facilitate a CPA approach to maths instruction.

The full range covers key maths areas:

  • Sorting & Shop e-Manipulative
  • Place Value e-Manipulative
  • 100 Square e-Manipulative
  • Bar Modelling e-Manipulative
  • Counting Stick e-Manipulative
  • Fractions e-Manipulative
  • Clock e-Manipulative

 

 

Lets look at each of these in more detail:

 The Sorting & Shop e-Manipulative allows the teacher to easily drag and drop shapes, animals, fruit, classroom objects, shop items, upper and lowercase letters, and numbers onto a workspace. It can be used blank or with various backgrounds, including frames, sets,  2×2, 5×5 grids etc . Of all the backgrounds, the shop background is particularly useful as it allows the teacher to create a shop scene with price tags, coins and sale tags, which can be used to explore a wide range of mathematical scenarios such as using small amounts of money in infants right up to scenarios involving percentage increase and decrease in the senior classes.

The Place Value e-Manipulative provides a wide range of place value tables which the teacher can use to demonstrate re-grouping. Each place value table contains either base-ten blocks, counters to represent the place value discs that accompany the 3rd-5th books, straws or money, and decimal values are included in a selection of the tables. Two tables may be shown on screen at the same time to facilitate comparisons between numbers. There is also the facility to display up to 5-digit whole numbers, which, in my experience, had not been possible previously as all other interactive manipulatives only extend to 4-digit numbers at most.

The 100 Square e-Manipulative is another extremely versatile tool. It can be used in numbers only, counters only or counters and numbers. You can very easily hide and reveal individual cells, whole sections of the grid or the entire grid.  I have gotten a huge amount of use of out it recently, with first and second classes, using it in numbers only mode, hiding all the numbers and just revealing one number. I then ask the children what number comes after/before this, what numbers is missing above/below etc. This is particularly good to assess the children’s ability to identify numbers around the decuples/decades (ie 30, 40, 50 etc) which are widely recognised as hurdles for many children.

This tool can also be used to model the 100 dots grid (on the inside back cover of Operation Maths 3 and 4) as a means to explore the commutative and distributive properties and the connections between various groups of facts.

The Bar Modelling e-Manipulative allows the teacher to create the bar models used in the text books quickly and easily. Bars can be dragged, dropped and resized and the teacher can change their colour. The teacher can also type and draw freehand on the workspace, making this a very useful resource for demonstrating the strategy of bar modelling

The Counting Stick e-Manipulative replicates the physical counting stick that a teacher might use in the classroom. The teacher can set the starting value and the steps value, and reveal or hide numbers along the counting stick. Decimal and negative numbers may also be shown on the Counting Stick e-Manipulative and two counting sticks can be shown at the same time, in order to compare various numbers.

The teacher can use the Fractions e-Manipulative to present fraction bars (linear models), fraction circles and pizzas (both area models). The teacher can change the fraction that is shown on screen, randomise fractions and hide or show the fraction
value, decimal value and percentage value. Two fractions may be shown on screen at the same time.

Analogue and digital clocks are provided with the Clock e-Manipulative. The teacher can choose to show one analogue clock, one digital clock, two analogue clocks, two digital clocks or an analogue and a digital clock at the same time.

 

All of the e-Manipulatives can be used as Ready to go or Create activities

Ready to go activities are already set up within each e-Manipulative with pre-programmed questions that appear on screen, meaning that the teacher doesn’t have to waste time looking in a book for the accompanying questions. The questions can also be answered on the children on their MWBs, thereby encouraging whole-class participation.

Create activities are so called because the teacher can open the e-Manipulatives and choose how to use it to best suit them, their class and the concept at hand. There are suggestions for Create activities printed in the TRB which show how the tools can be re-used in infinite ways to achieve a countless number of specific learning outcomes. And the Ready to go activities themselves will also provide the teachers with examples of how each e-Manipulative may be used.

Operation Maths videos

There are two types of videos; Maths Around Us videos and Write – Hide – Show videos. These videos have the advantage that they were custom-built to align with content in the children books and the commentator’s voice is noticeably Irish, which make them stand out from those video series that have been imported from other countries.

Another advantage of these is that they have been designed so the teacher only needs to press play and the questions and wait times are all built in, allowing the children to look, listen and responses on their MWBs. This means that they not only encourage active participation but they allow the teacher the opportunity to informally assess the pupils via their responses.

Maths Around Us videos

The series of Maths Around Us videos is full of real-world examples of maths in the environment and provides numerous opportunities for discussion and engagement. Take a look at this sample video below:

 

Write – Hide – Show videos

These are videos of the e-Manipulatives in use that focuses on the teaching method of ‘Write – Hide – Show’. These videos provide quick, easy-to-use scenarios and set-ups that engage children and pose meaningful maths questions. They also showcase the flexibility of the e-Manipulatives and provide inspiration for teachers’ own expansions. Take a look at this sample video below:

 

Scratch programming activities (3rd to 6th class)

Not only have these activities been written especially for Operation Maths but Operations Maths is only the only maths scheme available currently in Ireland with integrated programming (coding) activities. Each activity is integrated with the Pupils’ Books, comes with step-by-step instructions for teachers and pupils and highlights the connection between maths and coding in an easy-to-follow, visual manner.
Teachers or children can access the Scratch software for free online (click here).

Follow-on weblinks

Encourage your pupils to practice maths ideas at home with the useful Follow-on weblinks based on recommended games. Each Follow-on weblink is author-approved and is linked to a specific topic, for a specific class level, in the Pupils’ Book. The weblinks can be printed for children to take home and have fun practicing maths with their parents or guardians. Teachers can also use the weblinks in class as a lesson starter, for consolidation and assessment or, indeed, at any time.

And finally….

  • All the digital resources are all completely integrated with the print and eBooks; when viewing the eBook, the teacher need only click on the specific digital icon on the page to open the resource up in a new window/tab (ensure that pop-ups for the Edco Learning site are enabled)
  • Nearly all of the digital resources can be used in conjunction with the free mini white-boards, ensuring the maximum participation of the children.
  • As there are numerous ways to use each of the e-Manipulatives, they offer unlimited opportunities for assessment for learning and whole-class participation
  • They have been specially designed to help children to focus on the maths
  • They are user-friendly and approachable with bright, clear colours and layout

Teachers can access all the Operation Maths digital resources through Edco’s dynamic online digital hub, www.edcolearning.ie.


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