Since the start of the year I and my pupils have been getting into Tutpup. I read a blog post about it and thought I would give it a try.
Tutpup is a free website where children can play maths games (and a spelling game) against people from around the world. Owned by Mind Candy, the site is advert free and doesn't require any personal information about the children. The only thing asked for is an email address for mum or dad - unless you have set up a class, in which case the children don't even need this!
I asked on Twitter whether Tutpup is suitable for Year Six. The response was a resounding "Yes!" In fact it was recommended that all the children in the school are signed up. I think I'll sort this for the next school year. But in the mean time I set up two classes - one for each class.
The process for setting up a class as a teacher is very easy and quick. In no time at all, all the information was entered and then I just had to wait to use it with my class... In order to join my class, the children had to enter a class code which I had given them. Setting up all the children's accounts took around 10 minutes altogether. This is because it is hard to find a username that hasn't been taken yet. You have to select a colour, an animal and a number. Finding a combination of all three that hasn't been selected already can be frustrated. This one aspect of Tutpup is my only complaint.
Once logged in the children can start playing games! They can join in a game against someone else or create a game to play against another user. One of the things my children love is that you can see which country your competitor is from. "I've just beaten someone from Kenya!" was one of the early shouts from the class.
At the moment, the classes are given around 20 minutes each week in school to use Tutpup (as well as using it as often as they want at home). For the first couple of weeks the children could use it as they wished - try any game at any level. This was just to become familiar with the layout and functions of the site. After that we've been more specific.
Class teachers can print out a report of how the children are doing overall in a particular time table, or in a particular maths game. After two weeks I discovered that the children weren't doing so well at their 6, 7 and 8 times tables. So in week three they could only play these times tables. Later, I discovered that their division results weren't as good as the other operations, so the next week division games were the only ones allowed.
Then we started to push ourselves on to higher difficulty levels.
The children can win awards by using the site regularly and being successful. You can win an award by starting and winning five games, for example. You can also graduate from a level so that they can try games more appropriate to their ability. A win wall displays the names of the users you have beaten.
We have a list of usernames on display so that the children can see the usernames of their friends.
I love the fact that you can print out their results. I love the fact that the site is ad-free. I love the way the children don't need to enter personal details or an email address. I love the way you can freeze the games for five minutes in case you want to talk to the class.
I would highly recommend Tutpup to pupils of all ages.
Some comments from the children:
"I think Tutpup will help me with my 12 times table."
"It is one of the best maths websites in the world."
"It is improving my mental maths speed."
"The compeition elements is a good thing - it gives motivation." (A level 5A writer)
"It is fun going against people from other countries."
"It helps me to build confidence."
"There are loads of different maths games to go on."
"It makes you do better because you want to win."