The Circuit Breaker period has been a stressful period for all teachers. As a Maths teacher, I fretted over how my students and I would cope with the transition to online learning. I was so used to being able to meet my students in a face-to-face setting and having my physical manipulatives and resources within walking distance from me at the learning centre. Now all these seem like a dream.

I felt like I was tossed back to the time when I was just starting out as a Maths teacher. Like my other colleagues, I have to re-learn what I know and re-define the way I teach. Our physical lessons moved online and there were new challenges that we have to face and manage. One major challenge of online Math lessons was how I was going to help my students to visualize the concepts with the absence of physical manipulatives. One solution was to turn to virtual manipulatives, the electronic form of physical manipulatives. While these were helpful for teachers to demonstrate concepts to students, they also limited students from having the experience of physically interacting with the manipulatives with the teacher’s guidance. You see, virtual manipulatives were created for each user to have their own experience with the objects and the only way teachers could monitor what students were doing as if they shared their screens with the teacher. This is tricky since virtual meeting platforms often only allow one user to share their screen at any one time. Additionally, screen sharing was a new function that was unfamiliar to students. Therefore, more time would have to be utilized if the teacher were to ask each student to share their screen one after another.

This difficulty also extends to monitoring my students’ working and thinking processes as they go through problem-solving. Mathematics is a subject where both the end goal (the answer) and the journey (the process of arriving at the answer) are important. Teachers need to be able to understand the students’ thought processes on how they arrive at an answer to monitor whether the answer is valid and makes sense. However, in an online setting, monitoring students’ work individually by toggling several browser tabs can be time-consuming and tiring. One of the suggestions given to me by my more tech-savvy colleagues at the DAS during the trying weeks of Term 2 was Classkick, which eventually proved to be my lifesaver!

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What is Classkick?

Classkick is a free app that works like PowerPoint but does much more! This student engagement platform allows teachers to create instructional slides and student activities all in one place. Students are able to write their answers using the pen mode or type in their answers using the fill in the blanks feature. Students are also able to engage in simple manipulative activities by dragging and dropping teacher-created objects into places specified by the teacher. How cool is that!

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Example of student’s work using the pen mode.

 

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Example of student’s work using the Fill in the Blank feature.

 

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Example of student’s work with gummy bear manipulatives and a Fill in the Blanks feature.

After using Classkick, I found that my students were more engaged, and I was able to differentiate my lessons better. Students who managed to understand the lesson were able to complete their tasks independently, allowing me the freedom to work with other students who required my assistance. Interestingly, my students with attentional issues were also more focused because their worksheets are now more colourful and engaging. Not only could I insert borders to make their work more interesting, but I was also able to insert YouTube video links into the slides so that students can view them for revision and watch them at their own time. Parents were also happy with the use of Classkick because it means that they no longer have to print worksheets for their children at home, except for when they are working on Fractions (because Classkick has yet to include a function where students can automatically insert mathematical structures).

How can teachers get started on Classkick?

To get started on Classkick, teachers first need to create a teacher account at www.classkick.com. You can choose to log in using Google, which will automatically link your Gmail address with Classkick or create a teacher account directly with Classkick.

Next, you would need to create an assignment by clicking the green “plus” button on the top right corner. You can choose to create a blank assignment or import your PDF worksheets into Classkick by clicking “create from file”. The first option allows your creativity in designing the appearance of your student activities. However, do note that you would not be able to change the font type. The “Create a (Classkick) assignment from file” option allows you to transform your PDF worksheets into the background of a Classkick slide that students can work on using the Pen mode or the Fill in the Blanks feature. This option is recommended for teachers who would like to use their previously created worksheets without making any changes.

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Creating worksheet activities in Classkick

To create a student worksheet activity from scratch, teachers can type their questions using the Text function. The teacher can also choose to upload the PDF version of a worksheet that has been created previously and import it as a background on a blank slide. The teacher can also choose to snip parts of the created worksheet and paste it as a picture in the slide. The teacher would then need to create blanks for the students to type in their answers.

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One amazing thing about the Fill in the Blank feature is automatic marking. This means that when a student types in his or her answer, the student will know automatically if the answer is correct or not by seeing if the box turns green (correct response) or red (incorrect response). To activate this, the teacher needs to input all acceptable responses for each blank and allocate points for the correct answer. This allows teachers to have more time to attend to other students who may need assistance.

Creating manipulative activities in Classkick

What? You mean I can now do manipulative activities with my students online? Yes, that is right! One of the major challenges of teaching Maths online is that students do not have access to physical manipulatives. This means that they lose out on the experience of moving the objects around to develop understanding. Even if students have access to virtual manipulatives, they have to grapple with knowing how to share screen via platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, which adds another layer of stress. Furthermore, I do not know of any platform that allows multiple students to be using the same virtual manipulative in the same place, at the same time. Therefore, if teachers want to assess students’ conceptual understanding, the best solution so far is for the teacher to screen share the virtual manipulative and get students to guide the teacher verbally on how the objects should be moved. The teacher then moves the manipulative accordingly to the students’ instructions.

However, Classkick allows students to do simple movements with virtual objects independently, thus returning part of the learning experience with manipulatives to them. The teacher just needs to create their own manipulatives for students using pictures and provide students with instructions on what to do with the pictures. For example, I created an activity for my students to assess how well they are able to demonstrate their understanding of multiplicative compare phrases like “twice as many”. 

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This gives the teacher more accurate feedback on how well each student understands what has been taught.  

The different views in Classkick

Finally, let me reveal my biggest reason for loving Classkick. Classkick has three different ways for teachers to view an assignment: Edit, Assign, View Work

These views allow teachers to have a master view of an assignment (the Edit view) and to look at all the students’ work (View Work view) all in one place. The teacher can toggle these views based on the teacher’s needs. Personally, I found this to be an exceptionally useful feature as it allows me to monitor whether my students are on the same page as me when I am teaching, as well as all their movements while they are in the presentation. I am able to quickly access the page that my students are at and guide them further after I have assigned independent work.

Ultimately, the usefulness of a tool can only be uncovered through its use and practice. I hope my sharing has helped to enlighten you and show you the potential of this tool for your lessons. Of course, Classkick was not created just for Math lessons, so if you teach other subjects, do take the time to explore how Classkick can also be of assistance to your teaching. All the best!   

This article was written by Rebecca Yeo, a Lead Educational Therapist at Chua Chu Kang Learning Centre. Rebecca is also the Programme Manager for the Maths Programme at the DAS. She is passionate about helping her students arrive at their own Eureka moments while learning Maths.