Zoom Academy Webinar: Moving Math from the Classroom to the Living Room

In this recorded session from the Zoom Academy, Bridges educators Kimberly Kelly and Mary Duden shared strategies, activities, and technologies for engaging elementary students in synchronous learning. The Bridges in Mathematics curriculum was designed for hands-on learning and student discourse. Moving that approach online required creative use of technology, modified materials, and professional development.

With over 2,000 attendees at the July 30, 2020 webinar, we were unable to answer all of the questions in the Q&A and chat. Below, we’ve compiled the most common questions along with our answers.

Q: During online learning, what games did students play in breakout rooms?

A:  At Math Learning Center’s  Math at Home site, we offer many Family Games. Those games are variations on math games that appear in our curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics, that have been adapted for home use. Mary works in a district that has adopted Bridges, and she used the games from the curriculum. Recently, digital versions of many of the games were released for student use at home; Bridges educators can access those games and share links with students from the Bridges Educator Site (login required).

Q: How do you supervise the breakout rooms?

A:  Depending on the online communications app that you’re using, it should be possible for the host to visit the breakout rooms. As with classroom groups, visiting each group is the best way to ensure students are on-task. In addition, many teachers meet with a subset of their students instead of the entire class at the same time. This makes it possible to organize a manageable number of breakout rooms. 

Q: Are the resources provided at  Math at Home free for the general public?

A:  Yes, all of the games and math activities are completely free. As a nonprofit organization, distributing these materials helps to fulfill our mission.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for real-time online collaboration tools if we do not have access to Google Classrooms?

A:  We believe that Seesaw is a good alternative. Many districts have also mentioned their use of FlipGrid, and they generally have good things to say about it.

Q: How do students take a screenshot and mark up their work?

A:  This can be accomplished while working synchronously in Zoom by using the whiteboard tool from Screen Share, or it can be handled via Seesaw, FlipGrid, or another student sharing site. In the Google Suite of tools, students can complete their work on paper, then use Insert > Image > Camera to share a picture of their work using the device’s built-in camera.

Q: Who provided the "real objects" that students used at home, who was responsible for getting them to the students, and how often did you provide materials to students?

A:  Many of the “real objects” are things that would already be found in most homes — paper clips or pennies to use as counters, or dice for playing games. Other objects might include a homemade spinner made from a pencil, paper clip, and a piece of paper. When schools are closed, other manipulatives can be provided to students by the same means that other materials are distributed. One common option is to schedule times for students to come to the school to pick up packets of materials and manipulatives. Many districts couple the distribution of school supplies with the delivery of meals for students. To ensure students have the materials they need, the Math Learning Center is currently offering individual student kits at a greatly reduced price.

Q: Are there paper math manipulatives for a “tool kit” to send home for young students to use?

A:  Yes, the Math Learning Center is currently offering individual student kits that include cardstock manipulatives for home use.

Q: Are there suggestions for playing the Bridges Work Place games with partners?

A:   Digital Work Places make it possible for students to play Work Place games at home. Using an online communications app, such as Zoom or Google Meet, students can play any turn-based game online.

Q: Will the Tech-Enhanced Activities and Math at Home activities be translated into Spanish or other languages?

A:  All of the Tech-Enhanced Activities (login required) and Math at Home activities will be available in Spanish in late 2020. MLC currently has no plans to translate these activities into other languages. 

Q: What are your recommendations for balancing synchronous and asynchronous learning?

A:  Students will have difficulty maintaining focus if asked to remain online for extended periods. Instead, provide asynchronous work for students to complete on their own, and then use brief online meetings for instruction or to review the work that they completed. Of course, the exact proportion of each will depend on district guidelines regarding the amount of time that students are allowed and expected to be online. 

Q: When you screenshot student work to display for a synchronous discussion, are students working on a collaborative slide or some other shared document?

A:  It could be either. Sometimes, students will work on a collaborative file; other times, students are provided a copy on which they will work individually. (Making a copy is easy with Google; when providing a link to a file from the Google suite, replace \edit with \copy at the end, and students will be forced to make a copy in their Google drive. Of course, if using Google Classroom, there is the direct option so that every student receives their own copy without having to make one themselves.)

Q: How do students show their math work on a keyboard?

A:  For simple expressions and equations, such as 2 + 3 = 5, a standard keyboard will be fine. For advanced work and drawings, however, the keyboard will be insufficient. Recently, MLC released a Whiteboard app that allows students to share their thinking with text and drawings, including math expressions and equations. Students can then share their work with a share code, which is described in the video on  the MLC apps page. Another option is to allow students to work on paper and either upload an image or take a picture directly from their device. (In Google Slides, for instance, students can select Insert > Image > Camera, hold their work up to the device’s built-in camera, and then tap the spacebar to take a picture of their work.)

Q: Will students be able to access the online manipulatives and games that teachers can use for the Bridges lessons?

A:  Mostly. All of our math apps are freely available and can be used by any teacher, whether they use the Bridges curriculum or not. The Digital Work Places provide access to a subset of the Work Places and can be accessed via the Bridges Educator Site (login required). 

Q: Are the Math at Home activities linked to the scope and sequence for those of us who already teach Bridges?

A:  Yes. The sets of activities released in Math at Home are aligned to the Bridges units: Set 1 aligns to Unit 1, Set 2 to Unit 2, etc. As more sets are released, they will continue to be aligned to the units.