Tag Archives: critical thinking

Integrate Mathematics and Technology

Money Management and TechnoBudget

With essential curriculum to teach in addition to computer skills, teachers have to be creative and resourceful to ‘get it all done’. Then to ensure that students are engaged and interested adds another level of challenge!

TechnoBudget is a new release by TechnoKids Inc. created to meet all three objectives:

  • Teach fundamental mathematics expectations
  • Build spreadsheet skills
  • Hook students with meaningful, real world learning experiences

The activities in TechnoBudget develop financial literacy using a scenario that is understandable for young people. The project begins with students receiving an unexpected windfall for which they must create a budget. The budget must fall within specific restrictions. A pie graph is made to graphically depict the budget. Next, students go on a shopping spree using online resources. They organize, calculate, and graph the shopping plan. Finally, they write a report to justify their financial choices and share insights about money management.

Teach Fundamental Mathematics Expectations

  1. Problem Solving
    TechnoBudget follows a problem solving model. As they make their budgets and spending plans, students must apply critical thinking to organize their ideas, research purchasing options, compare choices, reflect upon their plan, and defend their reasoning. The report they write to justify their financial choices is the final communication step that reviews and explains how the solution was reached.
  2. Graphing
    Data management and probability is a core strand in the Mathematics curriculum. Students learn about gathering, organizing, and displaying data. When these learning expectations are applied to a real-life situation such as budgeting, shopping, and making a spending plan, students are much more likely to acquire the skills and understand their relevance.
  3. Money Management and Financial Literacy
    Children are consumers long before we teach them to be thoughtful, wise, and discriminating consumers. Giving them the skills to make good decisions about their spending and saving is essential. The math curriculum should include learning how to manage money responsibly. TechnoBudget begins with an activity where students gain insight into their own values and spending practices. They rate their habits to find out “Are you a spender or a saver?” As they design their own budget, following required restrictions, they build skills to make educated financial decisions. Optional extension activities include comparison shopping, consumer awareness, using a spreadsheet to calculate interest payments, and more.

Build Spreadsheet Skills
As students create the budget, spending plan, and write their financial report, they develop fundamental spreadsheet skills, including:

  • create and manage workbooks
  • insert, select, and format cells, rows, columns, and ranges
  • use Auto Fill to fill cells with a data series
  • produce, format, and label a pie and bar graph
  • use formulas and functions

Hook students with meaningful, real world learning experiences
Designing a budget is a real world experience, not to mention an essential life skill. Receiving an unexpected windfall of money appeals to anyone and engages students. And getting to plan a shopping spree in TechnoBudget will hook even the most reluctant learner!

Integrate mathematics and computer skills

Integrate mathematics and technology

Critical Thinking and Picture Formatting

Your students will apply a picture style because it looks “cool” or fancy. Very little consideration is given to how the shape, border, or effects enhance the message in a publication. It is a good idea to encourage your students to think critically about how the options they select convey information to the viewer.

Today, I was working with a class of Grade 7 students on TechnoWonderland. We are working on Assignment 3 finishing up the poster activity. In case you have been following the blog, you might be thinking, “What! Are you still working on THAT?” Yes, we are. This is our FOURTH class. The first class had the students practice their login procedures and plan their amusement park. The next class had students add text to their poster. The third class was VERY SHORT because the morning assembly ran too late. And today’s class continued with the insertion and formatting of pictures, clip art, and shapes. The plan is to have the poster completed next week. It is important to accept that creating technology-based projects takes time.

UPDATE 3/27/2018: TechnoKids has updated TechnoWonderland for the LATEST version of Microsoft Office.

I studied my students’ screens at the beginning of class to determine their progress. I was once again reminded about how much students like “razzle dazzle“. They want to apply as many effects as possible to their pictures. Let’s face it; it is fun to make a picture glow with a bright green color. When your students are learning a technology skill it is important to celebrate the fact that they can achieve a particular task such as add a border, apply a shadow, or change the shape of an image. However, at some point, your expectation should shift to having students apply formatting techniques that enhance the message.

Picture Styles Group in Microsoft Word

Use commands from the Picture Styles group to format a picture.

At the start of class, I took five minutes for a direct instruction lesson about picture styles and formatting decision making. It was a “click and point” task. In other words, I demonstrated the feature on the screen and then students applied the technique to their own picture.

You may want to do this task with your students. Throughout each step, I explained when the option would be effective and provided examples. Students offered their suggestions on what type of school assignments they could apply these features such as illustrating a story, report writing, designing a title page, or giving a presentation.

This type of activity does not take long to complete and it will help your students critically think about the message pictures convey in their school work. Try it!

Insert Picture STEP ONE: Insert a picture or clip art.
Picture Border STEP TWO: Have your students set the color, weight, and dash style of the border.
Explain that a solid line often frames an image better than a dash style. Demonstrate the difference.
Picture Effects STEP THREE: Have your students apply a shadow, reflection, glow, soft edges, bevel, and 3D rotation. As they experiment with each option demonstrate how to create an attractive image that enhances the message.

  • Shadow, reflection, and bevel are three effects that will make ANY image look great.
  • Glow tends to look the best if printing in color. However, the colors provided are not very flattering. Demonstrate how to pick a custom glow color, by selecting More Glow Colors from the gallery.
  • Soft Edges often creates a disappointing effect. Very few pictures look good with a point size larger than 5 applied. Demonstrate how 25 Point and 50 Point make an image almost invisible.
  • 3D Rotation should be used sparingly. The styles that look the best keep the image upright, whereas often the picture is difficult to view if it is rotated to look as if it is lying down.
Picture Shape STEP FOUR: Office 2007 users can change the shape of a picture EASILY.
Encourage your students to select a shape that enhances the message. For example, place an image of a flag inside a Wave Banner or use an Arrow shape to draw attention to text.
Picture Shape Office 2010 users will need to use the Crop to Shape option from Crop in the Size group.
Encourage your students to select a shape that enhances the message. For example, place an image of a factory inside a Teardrop if making a report about water pollution or acid rain.