Friday, December 8, 2017

Inquiry Math

As an educator, I found teaching math to students within the grades of 7-12 somewhat difficult to make engaging and interactive for the students involved; and we all know how much they emphasize making our lessons engaging and interactive during teachers college. By the end of it, our professors and associate teachers may sound like broken records.

I spent a lot of my time looking through many math resource websites, trying to find methods of teaching that spend more time engaging students in the learning process, and less time dictating notes from the board/projector. So when I started teaching full time in my first year after teachers college, and struggled to engage my students in math, I tried using Inquiry Based Learning techniques to the math concepts being taught.

From a student point-of-view, inquiry-based learning focuses on investigating an open question or problem. They must use evidence-based reasoning and creative problem-solving to reach a conclusion, which they must defend or present.

It is great tool in any classroom because most inquiry based tasks can be designed to accommodate students with learning disabilities, and students who have identified multiple intelligences. It allows students to work together/independently to draw conclusions to questions presented to them, base don their prior knowledge and understanding, and challenges them to build on what they know but making predictions or inferences regarding what they are learning. This website is a great resource that has inquiry based learning activities, prompts, assessments, lessons, and games that can be used to engage your students in the learning process, and make math class more enjoyable! 

Find the link to the website here: http://www.inquirymaths.com/

https://www.prodigygame.com/blog/inquiry-based-learning-definition-benefits-strategies/
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_InquiryBased.pdf

Cheers!

What Are The Chances?


Here is an interesting question that I found in a New York Times article. It only took a 13 yera old boy seconds to answer this question correctly:

In a barn, 100 chicks sit peacefully in a circle. Suddenly, each chick randomly pecks the chick immediately to its left or right. What is the expected number of unpecked chicks?

Comment your responses below and follow the link in the article to find out what the correct answer is!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/learning/math-problem.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FMathematics

This is a great math problem that can be applied into a class of grade 7-9 students. It ties into the curriculum expectation of both fraction and probability of an event occurring. I would definitely use this as a riddle that students would be given the chance to respond to for approximately one week, to earn bonus marks on upcoming assessments. It is a challenging question, but I think students would be able to come up with a response if they apply the concepts they have learned or are learning at the time. 

How many chicks do you expect to be unpecked? Show your work! :)

Cheers!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Technology, Use it, Don’t depend on it

I know the title to this blog post might be confusing some of you but I assure you it will make sense as you continue to read. I am a strong believer to incorporating technology into the classroom. I believe there are many pro’s for it however I also believe that there are quite a few con’s and therefore DO NOT DEPEND ON TECHNOLOGY. 
http://www.voxco.com/company/blog/technology-the-biggest-challenge-facing-research-says-grit-report/

First off on an overall note, technology is great, it allows students and teachers to remain in contact through applications like google classroom or remind. It also allows teachers to use different techniques to help students understand the content (gizmos, desmos, youtube, and etc.). In a mathematics setting I think it is helpful for students to be able to explore using geometric softwares, gizmos and watch youtube videos while completing homework to understand something that they are confused about. I also think it makes learning interesting for students. This is why I encourage the use of technology into the classroom. Now as to why is say don’t depend on it. My reasoning behind this is because first off technology can crash. I have been in many situations where I plan to use a powerpoint and it isn’t loading or the wifi is down, or google classroom isn’t working properly and therefore I need to have another option prepared in case this happens. If you depend on technology then when a situation arises you would have a back up or know what to do next and you will waste a period of student learning. Another problem for technology is that it can be distracting if not used properly and therefore constant circulation is important. Lastly, technology in certain situations takes time out of a lesson. Students turn on the laptops and one of them is dead, turns on the other and it is completing a configuration. By this point class is half way done. Therefore have option B; for example if the class is supposed to complete a gizmo print copies of the student exploration sheet so that they can start to work on it while their computer is loading if they are having difficulties with technology. Always be prepared for any situation that could arise to maximize student learning. Thus I am going to say it again, integrate technology, use technology in the classroom it is beneficial for student learning albeit, DON’T DEPEND ON IT or else you may be like this guy: 
http://www.techcrates.com/troubleshooting-tips-pc-crashing/

Cheers,

Vince 

21st Century Literacies, HOW do we accomplish this?

As displayed in the image above there are many aspects to 21st century literacies. 21st century literacies were introduced into education in order to prepare students to develop into young adults and face the real world that we live in today. One thing that I have come to notice within the 21st century literacies and incorporating them into a mathematics classroom is that for the most part you can integrate each of these into examples and activity topics as real world scenarios to target student interests as well as prepare them for becoming an adult in society.  Literacies like financial literacy, technology literacy, environmental literacy, global literacy and multicultural literacy can be integrated into the mathematics classroom easier than the  others because they are great topics to use for examples, activities or question topics. Media literacy can be integrated as well by talking about medias portrayal of sales, and consumerism, advertisements integrating this then into financial literacy and mathematics. Mental health literacy and moral literacy are a little more challenging for me however these might be brought into play with classroom rules and expectations as well as living skills within the mathematics classroom. If anyone has other ideas for incorporating these into the math class please leave a comment on this blog as I would love to hear them.

Cheers,

Vince

Treating everyone with Equity Dignity and Respect!

Here is a blog post I created not too long ago that I thought would be very knowledgeable for us as we are entering the mathematics classroom. Please let me know your input on it. When I started my University degree under the Concurrent Education program, I never actually thought about the importance of and need for integrating multicultural learning into all subjects (i.e. Math, Physical Education) as opposed to only subjects like the Social Studies and English's. I knew the importance of understanding the diverse cultures of the students within your classroom in order to gain a positive relationship with them but never considered the importance of teaching about and to these cultures in specific.  Banks and Tucker discusses how a math teacher said to banks after his Multicultural Education presentation that "What you said is fine for social studies, but it has nothing to do with me." He then discusses how teachers within the subjects of the maths and sciences must think that multicultural education was simply content integration and therefore he developed the

5 DIMENSIONS OF MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION

Retrieved from https://luutru360.com/diendan/156/
According to Banks and Tucker the First Dimension is where it all started. By putting African Americans in the curriculum, then Mexican Americans in the curriculum, and then Asian Americans in the curriculum we began with the content integration. Content integration is important for multicultural education however Banks states "with content integration, language arts and social studies teachers can do more than the physics teacher" and that a physics teacher may be able to create a poster with famous female physicists or a minority physicists however this is not what we are trying to teach through Multicultural Education. Therefore the first dimension of content integration is important however you will notice that as I discuss the other 4 dimensions discussed by Banks and Tucker they allow for more teachers like the math and science teachers to get involved and be a part of multicultural education. 




Retrieved from http://constructingmodernknowledge.com/?page_id=2177
The Second dimension focuses on Knowledge construction. Within this dimension Banks and Tucker discusses that the teacher should guide the students learning in order to help them "understand, investigate and determine the implicit cultural assumptions and frames of reference and perspectives of the discipline they're teaching" and therefore help kids with the learning process. It is knowledge construction that helps students become critical thinkers and readers and therefore causes students to think about the content that they are reading about and writing about in order to better understand the content. 

Teachers are to change their teaching methods in order to provide students from diverse racial groups and of any gender with a positive learning environment to achieve. Changing these methods for the diverse racial groups and different genders is known as equity pedagogy and is the third dimension discussed by Banks and Tucker. As Discussed above Content integration is when a physics teachers creates a poster of famous female or minority physicists and therefore equity pedagogy would be a physics teacher changing his or her way of teaching in order to provide an environment for the female student and the African American student to learn physics more effectively. Therefore equity pedagogy focuses on providing different teaching methods within the classroom to meet the needs of the diverse students and allowing them to succeed. 


Retrieved from http://www.scc.losrios.edu/src/2016/02/29/professional-development-activities-spring-2016-february-29-march-6/
According to Banks and Tucker the fourth dimension of their multicultural education is prejudice reduction. The third and fourth dimension is where all the teachers no matter the subject are able to be involved. Within this dimension teachers are to work within their classroom in order to reduce prejudice in the classroom. "All educators should use methods to help kids develop more positive racial attitudes (Banks and Tucker). 




Retrieved from http://prejudicereduction.co.uk/about-us/


Retrieved from http://www.reachedsolutions.com/inschoolservice

The fifth dimension goes outside of individual classrooms within the school and focuses on school wide culture and social structure. The goal within this dimension is to make the entire school culture more equitable and knowledgeable. It is about take the four other dimensions and growing them school wide. Within this dimension Banks and Tucker look at student groupings, teacher groupings, participation on sports teams and many other aspects of the school structure. Therefore the fifth dimension is about empowering school culture and social structure in order to allow every student and staff member to feel included and welcomed. 

As I discussed at the beginning of this post, I always considered learning about the students cultures within my classroom in order to gain a better relationship within them and ultimately promoting a more comfortable and inviting learning environment. However, after reading this article and learning about multicultural education into more detail I have learnt that it is more than this, it involved meeting all 5 dimensions that will ultimately provide each and every student with the opportunity to succeed. 

References

Banks, James A. and Michelle Tucker. “Multiculturalism’s Five Dimensions.” NEA Today Online. Retrieved from: https://lms.brocku.ca/access/content/group/EDUC8P02D01FW2016LEC001/Week%201/Multiculturalism%205%20dimentions%20_Banks_.pdf 

Cheers,

Vince

Friday, December 1, 2017

Math isn't hard, it's a language!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6yixyiJcos

This is a great TedTalk that talks about improving the amount of high school graduating students who are proficient in math. It talks about how math is actually a language, but we teach it in the most dehumanized manner, within many of our curriculums. It is a great video that shows us how we can teach math in a way, where students will understand the concepts and more importantly, what the question is asking of them. Using real world examples and relating math to the knowledge of their real life is one of the major keys to helping students become more proficient in mathematics. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Broken EQAO Record

Good evening all,

Now that I have this Blog thing figured out, I am able to fire out some work that I have head sitting in wait. The title might seem fitting to my next blog as again, it is about the EQAO.

Recently, I read about the Peel Board's decision to suspend EQAO testing due to catastrophic math results (CBC). It would seem as though the board has "no confidence" in the test, reasoning a "strong discrepancy" when comparing EQAO and report card results. The PDSB Chair, Janet McDougald, is suggesting that because the Ontario government is reviewing the test, that there is a "problem with the test and curriculum". I find this rhetoric to be short-sighted and self-serving.

The EQAO is an external organization, specializing in the assessment of curricular expectations. Their job is to "assesses how well Ontario’s public education system is developing students’ reading, writing and math skills. EQAO provides reliable and useful information that is used to help improve student achievement and ensure the accountability of school boards." (EQAO Website) What I find comical is that the very organization that is keeping our school system accountable is now under attack for producing an assessment that rigorously assesses and accurately portrays student abilities. The EQAO gets nothing out of having low or high results, but it does put scrutiny on the individual boards with low results. Ask yourself this, would there be a heavy-handed push back if the test results showed a majority of passing students? I believe the boards would work in opposite to what we are seeing now, and try to protect the EQAO, in a self-serving agenda. The results, coming out of years of continual review and revision of these tests, show a trend to be more than a problematic test and the Peel Board's push to suspend EQAO testing is nothing short of putting the cart, before the horse. Maybe I watch too much HBO and Netflix TV series, but the more I watch, the more I agree that Art is an Imitation of Life: Swing first, put them on the defense.

Don Henley got it right, Dirty Laundry.

Peel Board CBC Article
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/pdsb-eqao-suspension-1.4351445

EQAO
http://www.eqao.com/en