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Quick Start Guide for the Tablet Activities: Wise Owl Maths


You can get you children up and running and buzzing with excitement after a one hour lesson! Here is what to do - step by step.

Before the lesson:

1. Arrange to beg borrow and steal enough tablets so your children can have one each

If you do not have enough in the school for this you will have to compromise but 1-1 is ideal for the first few lessons.

2. Set up logins

You need to set up classes or groups for your children before you create individual logins. For speed, just put them all in one whole-class group to start with and create others later if you want to differentiate.

Do it now!

(More Info)

Each teacher will need a login. If it is just you using it, you can use the admin login that you got when you registered. Remember to allocate yourself to your class(es), so you can monitor pupil progress.

Do it now!

(More Info)

Each child will need a username and password that are easy to remember. You can choose your own, as long as no-one has already chosen them.

Do it now!

(More Info)

3. Gather Equipment

To get the most effective learning for your pupils, practical equipment is highly recommended. Much of what you need should already be in your classroom.

You will need a good supply of counters and some individual whiteboards for your first lesson.

Find out More

The first lesson (1 hour):

1. Organise the resources and the children

Switch on your big screen and load up your web browser. Make counters available on each table. Hand out tablets and login cards. Then either turn tablets over or gather the children round the board so they are not distracted by the tablets while you are explaining things.

2. Introduce the web site and show how to find the main child page

Discuss with the children what Maths Investigations means - finding out about Maths - so it is all about thinking!

Show them how to find the web site by Googling for Maths Investigations (point out the s on the end of each word) and how to navigate to the main pupil page.

Send them all to do it. (Those that manage quickly can help others.)

Pdf guide

3. Show how to create a web shortcut and log in

Creating a web shortcut on a tablet makes a little icon like an app. It takes moments to do and means that the children can find the site again easilly. If you show them all how to do this, then they can do the same at home. Either watch this video with the childen or gather them round one tablet and demo yourself how it works.

Video guide

Send them off to do it and then to log in with their individual usernames and passwords. (Again, those that manage quickly can help others.)

4. Introduce the owls and show how to do an investigation

Show how to click on the Owl button and talk through the first 5 owls, explaining briefly what each is for.

If you are working with young children (age 6-8), agree that today you will begin with the first owl, Bod. Go into Bod, and look for the activity with the duck, Numbers that Add to make Ten.

If your group is older (8+), you may wish to begin one of the other owls, eg Mully, and try (eg) the blue fish - Multiplying with Rectangles and Squares.

Video Guide

(More Info)

Whatever you choose, make sure it is well within the capability level of your least capable children. Your first lesson is not about learning new Maths but about learning the web site. There will be plenty time for harder Marhs later!

Talk the children through the first few pages, making sure you explain:
- the page numbers
- the WHAT YOU NEED page showing the equipment you need (eg counters)
- how to put in an answer and check it
- how to correct a mistake - just click the number and it disappears
- the importance of clicking check AFTER EACH QUESTION when there are several questions on a page (this gives you more points)
- how to move to the next page - the arrow appears after check is pressed
Send the children off to do it.

Video Guide

(More Info)

Stop every so often to point things out as they crop up, eg:
- how to put in 2 missing numbers, click each question mark to make it red
- the little gold key under the key pad - this switches you to keyboard entry if you are using a computer - just click the key again to get the key pad back

Video Guide

5. Explain the Traffic Lights and the Quiz

When the first child reaches the traffic light page at the end of the investigation, ask them to come out and log on to the main computer so you can see their page on the screen. Stop everyone else and show them how the traffic lights work (green - very confident; amber - I need more practice; red - help!).

Video Guide

Click to show the first question in the quiz and get the child to fill in the answer and press Check. Show how to get to question 2 using the Next Question button. Point out the difference in the coloured borders:
- investigations are green/purple/orange - you can get lots of help with these
- quizzes are red a blue - no help allowed.

Video Guide

(More Info)

Switch back to the activities page and show how the duck activity has now changed colour. The first coloured circle shows how you felt about the investigation and the score is your hard work score - 25 or more is a champion investigator. The second coloured circle and score shows how you did in the quiz.

Tell the children that, if they finish the investigation and the quiz, then they can do any of the other activities in Bod.

Following The first lesson:

1. Encourage Home Use

Suggest that the children work on some of the activities in Bod (or the owl you have chosen) at home between now and the next lesson. Tell them not to go further than that at this point - you do not want an owl collecting competition developing at this point!

Point out the parent section in the web site and the parent guide to the tablet activities and suggest that they show their parents how it works.

Parent guide

2. Familiarise Yourself with the Class Progress Record

Maths Investigations allows you to keep track of how the children are progressing. Log into with your own teacher username and password and navigate to the main child page. You will notice that it looks different to the child view.

Click at the top where it says Progress Records and you will see the class grid. Make sure that:
- your class is selected in the first drop down
- the owl your children have been working on is selected in the second drop down

You will now see how they are progressing through the owl activities.

More info

3. Give Group Working Time in Class

Give the children an opportunity to work further on the activities in small groups during regular Maths time. Give special encouragement to those who have not yet finished the first investigation and quiz and give them time to complete these. This will ensure that everyone has some medals when you explain these in the second lesson.

The second whole-class lesson (a week or more after the first lesson):

1. Remind about using practical equipment

Before you talk about the web site again with the children, gather them round a table and recap on the practical strategies you expect them to be using as they work on the various activities.

Remind the children of the importance of reading and discussing or thinking about the THINK and TALK pages and mention again that it is those that work carefully and take time to think and talk that will discover the jewels.

Pdf Guide to the Wise Owls (with suggestions for practical activities)

2. Explain colours and stars

Have a look at the progress record for the owl you have been working on and choose a child to log on to the main class computer who has completed several investigations and quizzes and is maybe well on the way to collecting the first owl.

On the big screen, look at the activity page for Bod and highlight the following:

- the scores under the investigations and quizzes
- the coloured circles
- how to get stars
- the words under the characters

Video Guide

3. Explain owl collecting

Explain that if you work hard on all the activities you can collect the owl. For some, this might take several weeks of hard work, others might get there quite quickly.

Emphasise that Maths Investigations is not a competition or a race. It is about working slowly and carefully. Everyone will be working at different speeds. What is important is that you are working on activities at the right level for you and you are learning things. If you are finding activities more difficult you can do them over and over as many times as you like and keep collecting points and characters.

Send the children off to continue working on whatever their characters are telling them to work on.

Video Guide

4. Engage with individuals and groups

Check your progress record page and note any children who have not yet completed the first investigation and quiz. Spend some time with them to make sure they are on track.

Next check in with any children who have put red for any activities and then the ones who have flagged things as amber.

Next gather together any children who are well ahead of the others, set limits on their explorations - eg only work on the first 2 (or 4, or 6) owls - and remind them that Maths Investigations is not a competition. Encourage them to repeat some of the activities they have done already to increase their scores and set them the target of collecting four mini eggs for each tournament before moving on to anything more challenging.

Important: It is strongly recommended that you set clear boundaries, especially with younger pupils, as to which owls your most capable children are allowed to work up to. Otherwise you will have children trying to guess at more advanced concepts before you have taught them in order to collect the owls. The exact level will depend on your school curriculum and the capabilities of the children, but here is a rough guide:

Appropriate levels for your most capable children:
Y1/P2: Bod, Teeny, Didgie, Mully, Honey, Divvy
Y2/P3: As above plus Sticky, Fizzy, Addisub, Quarty
Y3/P4: As above plus Toodie, Dessy, Fracto, Multeena, Trihexnonny, Doquadrocty
Y4/P5: As above plus Equi, Decipercy, Decimully, Fraperof
Y5/P6: As above plus Fradespequi, Mulperindi, Neggy
Y6/P7: Further consolidation

Your least capable will, of course, be working well below this! Differentiation is essential.

More Info

5. Explain tournaments, triangles and eggs

After the chidlren have worked independently for a while, gather them together again and show them how the owls and tournaments work. Highlight the following:

- if you are kaking good progress with an owl you can try the tournament - this gives you a mixture of questions from all the quizzes in the tournament
- if you get them all right you get a mini golden egg - if you make any mistakes then you will get red triangles on any activities that you need to do more practice on - you can then follow the triangles to fill the holes in your learning
- if you wait a day after doing a tournamnet you can do it again
- each time you get full marks on a tournament you will get another mini egg - you can get up to four eggs for each tournament

Video Guide

(More Info)

6. Explain the learning wall

If some of the children are ready for it, you can introduce the learning wall. Highlight the following:
- if you click on Learning Wall you can see how you are doing in the tournaments
- red triangles show you the holes in your learning - click on them to find the activities you need to work on to fill them
- if you do a tournament several times and get full marks each time you can change the colour of that row of bricks from red to green to bronze to silver to gold to rainbow
- the wall is for biulding slowly over several years - at the moment you should only be working on the bottom few rows
- NO HELP ALLOWED with any of the questions in the tournaments
- the link at the bottom of the learning wall shows your parents exactly what they can do to help you at home

More Info

Other things to do early on:

1. Find out properly yourself how it works!

If you have got the pupils up and running, they will already be asking questions that you cannot answer! So you will want to make some time to explore everything yourself. This guide will get you started.

Watch Video and Read

2. Introduce posters and help videos

The main set of posters shows you the different things you can do in Maths Investigations, and the videos explain how to do them: how the investigations works, how to collect characters, how you get medals etc. The owl posters show what each owl is about. Print and laminate the posters and display them in your classroom. You may also wish to watch some of the videos together, or simply point out where they are and let the pupils explore them on their own. The pupils can get to the videos from the red News and Help section on the main page.

Main Posters

Owl Posters

Help Videos

3. Repeat tips for maximising points and characters

Children can get demoralised if some children are winning more than they are. Points (and characters) in Maths Investigations are awarded for effort as well as success. These simple tips will make sure that evveryone is making the most of the effort they put in.


4. Read the wise owl guide

The children will benefit most from Maths Investigations if they have some teaching input from you before they work on a set of activities and have practical materials to support them in their thinking. The wise owl guide (written for parents - so it is easy to follow!) is a good place for you to start exploring this, before you plan your subsequent lessons.

Wise Owl Guide

5. Try using specific activities within taught lessons

As well as being a fun resource which your pupils can use on their own to consolidate prior learning, the online activities are designed to be used to support group or class teaching sessions where you introduce new skills and concepts. The way you use them will depend on the technology you have available, but the key things are:
(1) to use PRACTICAL EQUIPMENT to support the children's understanding of number, and
(2) to challenge the children to THINK, to TALK about their ideas, to EXPLORE patterns and to EXPLAIN their understanding.
These guides will give you ideas to get you started.

Setting Up Activities

Teaching Approaches

6. Get parents on board

Your children will make greatest progress in Maths if they are practising their skills at home as well as in school. The parent section of the web site has lots of helpful information.

An information evening for parents early on would be a good idea. Also, meetings with individual children with their parents can be particularly helpful. Sit together round one table and talk through the owls, explain the learning wall and demonstrate the various practical strategies that the parents can use at home to reinforce what you are doing in school.

Parent Guides

Embedding Maths Investigations across the school:

1. Reference it in your programmes of study

To fully embed the use of Maths Investigations across the school and ensure it has the greatest impact, it is recommended that you add references to specific activities to your programmes of study. As well as the Guide to the Wise owls, there is a comprehensive curriculum guide which will help with this. (Health warning - This has 50+ pages - so take it in bite-sized chunks!) An easier read, to whet your appetite, would be the guide on how to teach fractions successfully.

Curriculum Guides

Teaching Fractions

2. Arrange professional learning

If you and your pupils and parents are enjoying using Maths Investigations, I would be delighted to discuss options with you for supporting the professional learning of your teaching staff. Depending on geography (I am in Edinburgh, Scotland), I might be able to come to your school and run either a development session for staff, or, ideally, a development day with staff and pupils learning together, where I model classroom teaching approaches. It would also be possible for you to arrange to come and visit us! Give me a ring and we can discuss options.

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How it Works

Teacher Guide
  (tablet activities)



Quick Start Guide

How it Works

What you Need

Logging In

Getting the 'App'

The Owls



Your First Lesson

Colours and Stars

Tournaments, Triangles, Eggs

Curriculum Guides



Learning Ladder



Skill Checks

Pattern Builders

Pair Games

Our Activities

Points & Characters



Admin & Teacher Options

Creating Classes

Teacher Logins

Pupil Logins

Editing Class Lists

Setting up Activities

Monitoring Progress



General Guidance

Info for Parents

Teaching Approaches

Self-differentiating Homework

Maths Investigations - Challenging Children to Think about Maths