Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Posts Tagged ‘Numeracy’

Timez Attacks

Posted by alexfinlayson on July 22, 2009

Timez Attacks

The cure for multiplication problems

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought at the beginning of this new term I would write about one of the coolest programs I have come across in a long time.TA6

Timez Attacks is developed by the people at

and is without doubt changing the way my kids view multiplication. The premise is pretty simple – kids hate multiplication and love computer games – so they’ve combined the two.

With a Doom/Quake-esque platform the gameplay is instantly recognisable and easy to pick up.

I downloaded the free version and was instantly hooked – and now so are my kids ( I will definitely be buying an upgrade but at the moment I’m broke – come on Union strikes do your thing!) There is also an option to purchase full-school licences as well (which would be better than your own pockets!)

The GameTA5

You play as this strange little green fella – I’m sure he has a name but my guys just call him ‘Squidgy’

You run around the spooky dungeon (nice little area for literacy development – see Myst lessons) until you come across a locked door – on the door you will see a sum (they start off pretty basic) with little cards next to it that represent the problem

TA4As soon as you approach the door it will fire out each of the cards and these will instantly turn into little creatures which you need to collect. Run around after the little snail-like critters until you get enough to correspond to the sum (example: 7 x 3 there will be 3 little critters and as you run over each one it will flash up the multiple, so 7, 14, 21)TA3

Once you’ve collected the right amount of critters you can throw them back at the door – this will then let you type in the answer using the keypad. After this, the door opens and the big bad ogre fella comes out…TA2

As the ogre approaches, various sums will appear on his chest you must quickly type in the correct answer.

Wrong answer – you get clubbed

Too slow – you get clubbed

As with regular computer games, the boss get progressively harder the further you play but here’s why I love this game so much – the sums are not consistent – sure, your first boss will only have the last sum you looked at – but bosses further along the track can throw any sum at you that you’ve looked at in the game – an excellent twist.TA1

Once you finish off the big fella, he spits out a key for the next part of the game… it’s great.

In Class 

The guys who developed this game ( really thought of everything and clearly understand a classroom environment – there is a simple admin program in which you can input class groups and individuals. I created a profile for every member of my class and generic ‘5F’ profile as well.

TA7The admin program keeps track of how much time has been spent on each profile and where that person is up to in the game – it’s great.

I’ve used this as a starter to Numeracy every day this week – placing the wireless mouse and keyboard on a small desk in front of the IWB and having students come up one at a time to tackle a sum – new sum=new student.

While this is going on my other guys are writing down each sum in the back of their math books and trying to figure out answers before the person using the game. I wish I could show you a video to illustrate just how enthusiastic my guys are for this game – there’s screaming and shouting and jumping up and down (if I let them!) all about multiplication! It’s amazing!

I’ll definitely upgrade when I can afford it (it’s only $40 or so but I’m broke at the moment) and I’ll be advertising it to all parents for their homes – I’ll also be pushing heavily for a school licence.

Negative points

If a kid is feeling like they don’t want to be involved – they could feel isolated (but that’s up to the teacher to sort out)

If you run it as a ‘shout-the-answer’ then the person in control may just type what they hear (but repetition will be beneficial anyway)

You won’t ever get the kids out of your room at lunchtime (seriously, I’ve eaten at my desk for 3 days straight)

I urge you to try it, Mr F


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Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

There have been many occasions during the course of this unit where cross-curricular links have been readily available – one of the most prominent being the teaching of time.


 To access our first Age – The Mechanical Age – we were required to solve a puzzle and make this clock-tower tell the time 2:40. We based our numeracy activities around the addition and subtraction of hours and minutes – I used the wheels (right of the picture) to adjust the time and the students told me how many hours/minutes we needed to add/subtract in order for the clock to read the correct time. A simple yet effective exercise.

In the dentist’s chair we are confronted with this display board. The object is to input the correct data and the screen dentists chair dialson the left will display the relevant constellation. This led to another numeracy linked lesson on the importance of AM and PM and served as an introduction to 24hour time.



We also made key observations on how the scenery changes at different times during the day – creating sunset and sunrise pictures in art and writing descriptive sentences aimed at detailing a particular time of day.

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Session Two

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

So yesterday we were on strike (bring on equal pay!) and the students had a day to themselves. I had asked on the Monday for my guys to create a diary entry of their first experience on Myst Island. I was expecting some good work from some areas and sadly a distinct lack of effort from others… what I was not expecting was the enthusiasm with which most of my guys took to this task. Many were waiting at the classroom door in the morning eager to show me their new-look journals.

Many of which had dramatically aged over the course of 24hours through the liberal use of fire, vinegar and tea-bags (and gods-of-risk-assessment-be-good; permission) which was great but some of the entries were simply astounding.

In fact, I was so impressed with some of their work that I’m going to set up another folder on the website with the express intention of displaying some scanned pages from their journals – a good way to celebrate their work I think!

Anyway, on with the lesson – enthusiasm was high again. In fact, the class were so excitable that I had to take them out of the Myst Room and back into the classroom to calm things down – once thoroughly prepped on appropriate mechbehaviour; we began again.

This time we jumped straight into the linking book and entered The Mechanical Age – we used the same process as before to describe what we could see but this time we addressed more senses – what could we hear? What could we smell? What could we taste?

We created another Wordle document for our display wall and then, because they had performed exceptionally well throughout the day (with a brief talking-to) we played the game for the last 10 minutes – using my prior knowledge (ah, walkthroughs) and the kids directions we found the blue and red pages (the goal of the game – apparently) and then argued well after the 3 o’clock bell about which one to take back with us.

 NB There are two books in the library on Myst Island – one red, one blue – inside each is a trapped brother begging for you to find more colour-coded pages to free them.

The students are currently split as to which brother they would prefer to be helping – one page was found in a room full of vicious weapons and evil-looking devices (scared some girls, thrilled some boys) and the other in a room in a room filled with luxurious items but also a note describing the incredible greed of the owner… The students are torn – greed or viciousness? For homework they are making their decision and backing it up… mech map

Numeracy/Geography LinkThe main puzzle in The Mechanical Age requires a knowledge of the compass points – we drew a complete compass in our Myst Journals and referred to it to help us solve the problem – a great extra that I did not envisage in planning – this proves the benefit to Tim Ryland’s notion of ‘leaving space in the plans for children to fill’ We left the day with homework to write another journal entry and to analyse the Wordle pictures (gave each student a print-out) with the question in mind’ ‘which words can be improved?’… Tomorrow we will use VisuWords to help us write better description…

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Sesson One

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

The first session in our new setting was very interesting. The children were bubbling over with excitement at their new room and the cinema-like setting of the lesson.

I gave them no background to the game before we started; all I asked was that they try to put themselves into the shoes of the main character. They must pretend like they were in the game.

 Myst Intro


We stood on the docks for a long time throwing around ideas, words and phrases about where we were and what we could see. I have a mixed ability class, top-heavy towards weaker students and a lot of the phrases they were initially coming out with were nothing special (but the aim of the project is to help remedy this)



We took a lot of their ideas and entered them into a Wiki – at first I had the intention of letting each student type in their own work but due to slow typing speeds and a limited number of available computers I changed this – the students stood at the front of the room and read out their descriptions of the island, which I transcribed into the Wiki for them (I was very careful to avoid the temptation of correcting their grammar, this way it serves as a more accurate record)

We then copied the final document into Wordle so we could analyse the key words used by the group. I also printed the Wordle document and placed it on the Myst Island display board (we will refer to it later)







As part of the unit I asked the students to purchase a plain-paged journal which they could use to work in.

The individual work for this session was to create a diary entry based on their initial exploration of the island.

 We were confronted with a tricky puzzle just as we were running out of time. 

 mech lnk puzz

 The object was to get the mechanism to read 2 – 2 – 1 by pulling the left and right levers – the problem being each lever moved two cogs – a great numeracy link for problem-solving and number patterns.

 The students took over from me and took turns until they eventually solved the problem – it was great to see the amount of encouragement they gave each other and the congratulations the successful student received.

 This opened another area of the game for us and I decided to leave it as we were stood in front of a linking book that showed a snippet to a new Age – the students’ reactions were excellent…

 “Why did you stop?!”mech link

“Keep going!”

“Can we stay behind?”

“Argh! Mr F, you always stop before the good bits!”

 NB Playing the game thoroughly before using it in class is essential for knowledge but also gives the added touch of being able to orchestrate and build suspense – slightly mean but great fun

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