Tuesday Teacher Tips: Using Webcams in Classroom Learning

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

I was recently talking to a good friend, Dana, who teaches 1st grade. She was excited about the authentic learning that was happening in her classroom this winter and spring. This year her class has been faithfully watching the Lily and Hope den cam on the North American Bear Center’s website. The Bear Center is an educational outreach center located in Ely, Minnesota.

Lily and Hope are mother and daughter black bears being studied by the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely. This winter Dana’s 1st graders, as well as viewers from around the world, watched the den cam and were able to “meet” two newborn cubs (Jason and Faith) as they came into the world in January.

Everyday this winter Dana’s students faithfully watched the web cam and discussed their observations. Dana integrated the following real-life math activities around bears; the students were motivated and excited to learn everything they could about the topic.

Charting temperature—each day the class charted the temperature in their area and compared it to the temperature in Ely, Minnesota.

Calculating ages—using the family tree information on the Bear Center’s website, Dana’s class calculated the ages of each bear.

Comparing Weights—Dana used the weight of each bear to compare and order numbers, teach number line concepts, as well as introduce mathematical vocabulary such as greater than and less than.

Graphing Data—each time the students had a sighting or heard the bears, the class recorded the information on a graph.

Problem Solving—Dana’s class was so captured by the bears that they held a class read-a-thon to raise money to buy bags of nuts to feed the resident bears at the Bear Center. The class discussed how much money was needed to buy one bag of feed and how many minutes they had to read to buy that bag. On a daily basis they recorded their reading minutes and used a graph to display the information.

How do you integrate the outside world into authentic math experiences for your students? Email us and let us know. We love to hear all of the great things that teachers are doing to involve their students in real-life math experiences!

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