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Practice, more practice in elementary math

As a professional math teacher, I can not emphasize enough the importance of persistent practice. The thing is, when you repeat something numerous times, it eventually becomes an automated skill. When we have an automated skill, we don’t have to think about it. Sounds simple, right? 

People have a limited working memory. If it becomes too crowded, something falls out of the other end. This isn’t the precise word from psychology, but the idea is clear. So, if you would have to do a complex equation in your head without practice, it would be impossible because your working memory couldn’t handle all the details.

But now, if you have completed some parts of the task automatically, without thinking about it, there will be more space available in your working memory for steps that really need creative thinking. This way, the students with higher level automation can complete higher level tasks in maths!

I teach mostly in middle school but I’ve also prepared some worksheets for elementary students to level up their automation in basic operations. 

The larger set works as a backup for third or fourth grade teachers. You can always draw a fresh, seasonally themed worksheet from the pile. There are also bit different difficulty levels starting from three terms and no brackets to four terms and brackets. The worksheets of this theme back can also be purchased separately. 

The pictures of the themed worksheet pack are made by Prettygrafik

Before this pack, I made a worksheet that has the same structure but isn’t season themed. It is actually the best selling product in my store at the moment. For this, I made graphics myself.

Did I mention that even if there are lots of tasks, they are all unique? Happy practicing!

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What’s new in Scratch 2019?

I was suprised when I opened Scratch recently because the whole look had changed. It turned out that new version was released on January 2, 2019. It’s called Scratch 3.0.

The new look itself doesn’t affect much on functionality, but there are some completely new features. First of all, I’d like to notify plugins.

Plugins

You can access plugins form left down corner of browser window. Click this icon and new window with selection of plugins will appear:

Text to Speech

You can make your program speek with Text to Speech. There are around 10 major languages and some minor, like Icelandic. There are two human-like voices (alto and tenor), two more altered (squeack and giant) and one joke (kitten).

Translate

To test translate tool, you must put translation block inside some other block. For example say (Hello) for (2) seconds -block under Looks is good for testing. I tried this and translated English sentences to Finnish and I was surprised how well it worked.

Micro:bit

Micro:bit is simple, small device designed by BBC. It has 5×5 LED display, buttons and motion sensors. In comparison to famous Rasperry Pi 3, micro:bit is simpler. With Scratch, you can for example make texts show letter by letter in micro:bit’s display.


Lego Mindstorms EV3

Lego Mindstorm EV3 is more high-end product for building robots from bricks, and it also works with Scratch now.

Old things, new locations

One thing worth noting is that you can set your character’s initial position, direction and size straight away under your game window. This is quick and easy if you want for example to make you sprite certain size. However, if you want to set starting position to object that will move during the game, you must still use go to block at the beginning of your code.

New backdrops and sprites

Of course, there are some new backdrops and sprites and also an option to set suprise sprite or backdrop. That will certainly give some new and refreshing ideas!

Phones

You can now play projects on phones but editing has to be done with a computer. (In fact, I managed to make couple lines of code on mobile but it was extremely unpractical.)

Other

There are new editors for painting and sounds. Internet Explorer is not supported. You can set drag mode (whether your sprite can be dragged with mouse or not.)