Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Differentiated Instruction

When I first came across and read the dialogue on the cartoon, I clearly associated it with a classroom and it made me think of the significance of Differentiated Instruction and how we need to focus on creating inclusive learning environments. Here are a few thoughts:

All students can succeed. This is the most important belief that we as educators need to adopt as it acknowledges the dignity and worth of each student that is entrusted to our care and guidance. A belief in students is one of the greatest attributes in an educator. When educators believe in their students, they provide every opportunity for their success and they never give up on them. To see the elephant, fish, frog or seal attempt to climb the tree would be quite entertaining. Of course, this task is perfect for a monkey or a cat, as they are equipped to carry on this task very easily. The bird and the snail may need an extra accommodation to the execution of the task. The sail may need some additional time and this task would be quite simple if the bird would be given permissions to simply fly to the treetop. In the end, the expectation is to climb the tree. What happens to the elephant, seal or fish? Are they failures before they even began? I guess it is just too bad for them if they are not naturally equipped with the means to accomplish this task and achieve success!

Each student has his or her own unique patterns of learning framed within the context of their social, cultural matrix. If I have never climbed a tree, I will never need to, or even if I simply do not have the ability to do so, how can I do this without support and practice? What if I am afraid of heights, or if I am forbidden to climb trees? How am I expected to be engaged with this task if there is no point of reference for me? Why am I being asked to do something that I clearly just cannot do?

Fairness is not sameness. Students with unique learning needs (e.g., special education) or cultural backgrounds (e.g. ELL) require learning material and teaching strategies that match their needs: If I am a fish, how can climbing a tree be made into a meaningful exercise for me? I am not a monkey, so the most I can achieve is an average to below average mark, possibly even a failure. What is the point of trying?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

I was recently looking at my daughter’s math worksheet from her JK class (she is 4½)   The class had to do some reasoning about the number of dogs.

      The question went a little something like this:

           Clifford sees 2 big brown dogs at the pound
              Emilie sees 4 little black dogs at the pound

      Then they had to fill in the drawing of what that represented…   Only Clifford and
      Emilie were provided on the worksheet and my daughter had drawn with the best of
      her 4 year old ability a great representation of the dogs.  And even the numbers (mind
      you they are backwards)

      And then the worksheet asked 2 questions:
           1)   Who saw more dogs?…  To which my daughter had drawn an arrow to Emilie  
               and written her name.
           2)   How many dogs were there in total?..….. and in my daughters handwriting there
               was almost a perfect #7.
Seven…?    She got it wrong…  Oh the horror…  What should I do? How could this be?  Think of what all the teachers will say if she will not be good at math.  2 brown dogs + 4 black dogs is 6 dogs… that is the only answer it could be.   The teacher had written Bravo and put stickers on it but maybe she just didn’t want my daughter to feel bad for getting the wrong answer.

All the time I was looking over the worksheet my daughter was staring at me with her big blue eyes and a smile on her face.  How could I tell her that she had done it wrong? How could I crush all the joy and pride she was feeling about her assignment?   So instead of just jumping in and telling her the mistake I took a breath and asked her to explain her worksheet to me.  She was so excited; she read through it and got to the part where she had written seven.  I still couldn’t come out and say that she had got it wrong so I figured maybe if I got her to point them out she might see her own mistake.    I asked her to point to the dogs and show me them while she counted.

Which she did…  
I read: Clifford saw 2 big brown dogs…  she pointed and started counting...  one, two…
             Lisa saw 4 little dogs…   she pointed and counted three, four, five, six….. 

Oh I couldn’t bear it…..  so I asked her why she had written a 7 on the page.  She looked at me and calmly said,  “well mommy” ,as she pointed to Clifford,  “Clifford is number seven” because Clifford is a dog too (A big red one… she had got the colour right).

I found myself reflecting back on this example last month in class when a student got an answer to a problem, but did it in a way completely foreign to me.  As he explained it, I could see where his thought processes were going.  He logically went through the problem.  To me his method seemed wrong, but it was just foreign.  I tried to show the student my method for solving the problem because honestly I thought it would save him time because it was more streamlined, and he just got confused.   In this instance I agreed that he could do the work his way (because it made sense to him) and after he explained his process to me I could see where he was coming from.  He completed the rest of the questions and got prefect. 

To many times my students have confided in me that their previous math teachers “didn’t get how they did their math”, or marked them wrong just because it wasn’t written in the format that they teacher desired.  I feel sometimes as a math teacher that we are too fast to jump to the solution and not look at how the students get to the answer.  If a student does not respond to a question in the way we were expecting them to, we should not tell them that they are wrong and try to teach them the “right way”.  Who’s to say our way of thinking isn’t wrong?   We should not be penalizing our students for thinking outside the box or coming up with creative solutions.  After all, isn’t the ultimate goal that we want from our students, is for them to be good problem solvers.   Research has taught us that we need to encourage differentiated instruction because we know that students learn from a variety of ways.  So why is it that some teachers still think that there is only one way for a student to solve a problem?   

We need to remind ourselves as math teachers that it is this kind of thinking that we want from our students and it should be encouraged, not corralled, or forced into compliance.  Whenever I come across students who do not follow the norm, I try now to pause and take a breath.  Then I have the student explain how they were able to come up with the answer.  This not only helps them verbalize their ideas (there’s your communication mark), but more times than not, it teaches me a new way of tackling an old problem.   I can then keep that in my arsenal for teaching future students who have problems “getting” my original methods of explanation.

And the next time I see my daughters JK teacher I need to thank her for, not only seeing that my daughter was correct in her thinking process, but most importantly for showing me that I need to pause and reflect a little more over my own teaching.

by Melissa Krausse

Multiple Intelligences and Math

When I started teaching, I was competely overwhelmed by having to meet the expectations in the curriculum documents and making sure I touched upon every strand for reporting purposes.  The pressure was on! I had been "thrown" into a classroom the day before school started to cover an LTO for the year.  At least in the beginning it felt that way.  When I reflect back to my teaching style, I can definitely see a change.  I can honestly say that due to the overwhelming feeling and all the pressures, deadlines, and time restraints, my lessons were structured around the idea of "one-size fits all".  I definitely focused on the class as a whole as opposed to recognizing individual difference. With experience, I began to recognize that while meeting expectations was important, student learning was more important.  As I realized this, I began to get to know my students more.  I realized that each and every one of them were unique and all had diverse preferences, needs and interests. 

I was introduced to Multiple Intelligences, the work of Howard Gardner and his theory that intelligence shouldn't be conceptualized as one overall measure of cognitive ability, rather a variety of relatively separate and independent intelligences. 
I began to use various teaching tactics to meet the various intelligences in my classroom.  The following is a list of some examples on how to incorporate multiple intelligences into the mathematics classroom:

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence
Chanting of math facts and using rhythmic activities such as using tunes from songs.

Visual/Spatial Intelligence
Using visual aids such as pictorial representations of concepts (mindmap, drawing, chart) and manipulatives.

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence
Using manipulatives; movement to represent a concept, for example, representing a circle and its parts (diamter, circumference, radius) by using the students.

Naturalist Intelligence
Recognizing patterns in natural objects: lines, shapes, repetitions, or cycles.  Graphing these patterns using various graphs (i.e. histogram, bar graph etc.) 

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence
maintaining a journal of problem solving approaches or to raise questions about what they don't understand, giving presentations to classmates.

Intrapersonal Intelligence
Independent projects, providing options. 

Interprsonal Intelligence
Working collaboratively, in pairs or in groups on math investigations, peer editing to practice critiquing another students solution to learn how to give and receive feedback.

Students can plan various strategies to solve problems, analyzing data, using organizers(webs, mind maps, flow charts) to enhance thinking.

Many teachers question using Multiple Intelligences because of the fact that student interests and strengths at the intermediate level continue to form and change. Thus, they may think that multiple intelligences may still be too soon to use because students may not have any real idea of who they are or how they learn best. In addition, intermediate teachers may also feel that instead of focusing on student strengths, attention should be given to student weaknesses because intermediate students are still at the age where they are still learning.  What do you think?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Math SAVES the day!

This weekend there was a Criminal Minds marathon on, and I was glued to the television. I did take some time to enjoy the warm weather, but otherwise I was in front of my television with my computer on my lap working away at different tasks I had to complete and needed to work on. All the characters on the show are fascinating, but the most fascinating is Reid who has an eidetic memory and is a great asset to the FBI team who profiles serial killers in order to find them. 

The episode in particular that caught my attention was one that included the reference of the Fibonacci sequence. Back in my undergrad, I worked for a leadership spring camp at Brock University (called Youth University). We did many things with students in grades 5-8 for the 2 ½ days they were visiting with us, including high ropes, rock climbing, leadership games/activities, nature walks, etc. One thing in particular that I recall doing (6-8 weeks in a row, 2 camp sessions per week) was making a necklace on our nature walk (usually on the first or second day) representing the Fibonacci sequence through the colours we chose to put on. (For example, there would be one blue bead, then one red bead, then two yellow beads, then three purple beads, then five green beads, etc. to make up the Fibonacci sequence).

What is the Fibonacci sequence you ask? Well, if you don’t know, the Fibonacci sequence is a set of numbers that starts at 1, with each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.

So, we start at 1, and the number before it is 0. Creating the sum 0+1=1 to get the next number; so the first two numbers are 1,1. Then you add, 1+1 to get 2; and if we add 2 the sequence you get: 1,1,2. Then you add, 1+2=3 so we add 3 to the sequence to get 1,1,2,3. Add 2+3=5 to get 1,1,2,3,5; and add 3+5=8 to get 1,1,2,3,5,8 …etc.

Here’s the sequence with no words and you might get it a bit better (if you don’t already):

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…(I think you get the point now…)

Anyway, the point of this whole blog, is the fact that something that we teach in middle or high school CAN really be used in real life. Even something as abstract as the Fibonacci sequence and that it can show up in the simplest of things (sitting and watching a television show, for example). Even if your mind isn’t doing the mathematical equations while watching television, you are aware of it and able to connect with the content that much more. (I even posted a picture of Pascal's Hex (or triangle) which has elements of the Fibonacci sequence in it during my last blog post and didn’t even notice it – although recognized the ‘pattern’ as I called it – because I haven’t reviewed the concept in a long time!)
I think students need to see the relevance of what they learn as an incentive to learn. I know that I sometimes have a hard time sitting in a class where I don’t find relevance to it, so I know the importance of providing students with that incentive to learn – and answering that “why are we learning this” question…and not by answering with the simple answer of “because you have to” or “because I’m told to teach this”. Everything has a purpose!

To close this off, I wanted to let you know that because of Reid’s discovery and use of the Fibonacci sequence, the FIB team were able to crack the case and save some people’s lives (as well as their own)!! Yay for math that saves the day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Math CAMPPP 2011

In the summer of 2011 I had the privilege of attending Math CAMPPP at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, Ontario. This was an all-expenses paid professional development workshop running from August 15th through to August 19th. I was immersed into an invigorating week of math. Now, for some this may seem like a strange way to spend a week of summer vacation and I can understand why, but this week turned out to be fantastic. Arriving on August 15th with a very good friend of mine to a lovely resort started the week off on the right foot.

We spent a portion of everyday in plenary sessions (all campers) where we had the following guest speakers: Marian Small, Amy Lin, Ruth Beatty, and Cathy Bruce. The other portion of the day was spent working in breakout groups that were split by grade level: K-4, 3-6, 5-8, 7-10, and 9-12. I was in the grade 9-12 breakout sessions because at that time I had been teaching secondary more than anything else. During the breakout sessions we had the opportunity to meet teachers from all over Ontario, learn from them and their ideas, as well as, build new friendships. It was nice to work with other teachers teaching the same grade levels and sharing our ideas.
Breakout Group
This was a great experience and even though it was a long week the amount of resources and knowledge I gained was unlike any other professional development I have been a part of.

In addition, the food was amazing, we had a bon fire, played beach volleyball, were able to enjoy the resorts pool and hot tub, and I am sure if either my friend or I were golfers we could have enjoyed a round of golf as well. In some ways it felt like a mini vacation!

If you would like to join in the summer fun for 2012 here's the link:  You don't want to miss it! :)

Where's Waldo?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Transition to 9

This past summer, I tutored students who had just graduated from grade 8 and were preparing to go to grade 9 math classes. I tutored in a one-on-one environment, so we could really hone in on their own difficulties (note that at the same time, a colleague of mine was running a "Transition to 9" camp, where she would do the same thing, just in a small group setting).

To prepare myself for this, I grabbed a grade 9 textbook and looked at what topics might be covered. To no surprise, linear functions came up quite frequently and was definitely the "big idea" of grade 9 math. So, I really wanted to focus on linear functions (you know, the good ol' y = mx + b) to make sure my students understood how these functions worked but more importantly, why they were so important.

We started with figure out slope. Really, this is just to figure out if change is constant over time (which it always was, since quadratic functions aren't introduced until grade 10). To make this information relevant, we talked about human growth. We took milestones throughout life (with the help of some research of course) and just graphed them and quickly noticed that this was a non-linear function. Then, we looked at selling chocolates (something they had done as part of a school fundraiser). We graphed the relationship between the number sold and the cost and found that this was a linear relationship. Then we worked with calculating slope (rise/run).  We used geoboards to create linear functions and used this information to figure out slope. They quickly got the hang of it.

When we started working on using our slope and a point to create our final equation, they asked "why do we even need to do all this work?" The answer was simple enough: it's easier to give an equation to someone as opposed to giving them a set of points.

Once I knew they understood the concepts, I wanted to ensure they got enough practice working with creating equations given two points or given a graph and then to make a graph based on the equation. We spent weeks just practicing these skills (mind you, they only came in once a week for an hour). We graphed whatever information they found interesting, including comparing revenues of two business models (these kids were really interested in how they could make the most money doing the least amount of work).

By the time September came around, these students felt comfortable with their math skills. When they started learning about linear equations, they were pros and could do it without any difficulties. One of my students had a 60% in grade 8 math, but they ended up with an 86% in grade 9 math. I feel as though I had done my job as a teacher and this student's confidence level was surprising, even to his parents.

The only thing left to worry about, though, was EQAO.


During my grade 5 placement, I was introduced to the concept of BANSHO, but I never really got to experiment with it as I was in an open-concept school and the resources were limited. So, on my grade 2 placement, I got to try it out and I must say, it was a huge success!

For those who don't know, BANSHO is a Japanese teaching technique where students are provided a problem and are allowed to solve it using whatever strategies they chose. After, their answers are grouped according to strategies chosen and are put on display so they can see the various ways of solving the same problem. It's a great teaching tool and I highly recommend trying it out!

I was teaching grade 2 measurement, so students were just introduced to the concept of perimeter being the "total distance around an object." I read "Jim and the Beanstalk" by Raymond Briggs (a continuation of "Jack and the Beanstalk"), where the giant enlists Jim's help to get a new wig, some dentures, and some glasses. The pictures show Jim measuring the giant. Next, I showed students the problem: The giant wants to remodel his garden just like Jim helped "remodel" him. He needed to find the total amount of fencing for his new gardens. I provided pictures of the gardens and measurements of each straight side and had students trying to figure out the total perimeter. They were allowed to use whatever math manipulatives they wanted.

Walking around the class, I was able to make anecdotal notes of what the students were doing -- I made notes of tools being used (snap cubes, hundreds charts, counters, standard algorithm, base ten blocks) and if students were comfortable using that tool (were they using it correctly?).

Consolidation at the carpet
 I gave students about 30 minutes to do whatever they could. Some still didn't finish while others were showing their answer in multiple ways. Next, we did the consolidation at the carpet. I made stand-up signs of each strategy (as the children described what they did). Then, if students solved using, say, base ten blocks, they put their work in that column. We discussed and reviewed each addition strategy. After school, I posted these strategies on our math learning wall, which students referred to throughout our work with perimeter.

Our BANSHO wall
BANSHO is definitely an amazing teaching strategy that can easily be adapted into any classroom, regardless of the grade level. I am hoping that I will get to observe and create BANSHO lessons at the intermediate and senior levels.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How math is like going to the Dentist.

It feels like almost every student that enters math class does it like they are being forced to under the threat of death or disembodiment.  Most have one thing in common…they all believe that they cannot do math before they even give it a go.  If I had a dollar for every student who said “Oh I can’t do math I suck at it,” I wouldn’t still be teaching.
I can’t seem to get my head around why students hate math.  I’ve always loved math and looked forward to being on the math team… (By the way I know that I am a bit of geek and I’m fine with that).  The only way that I can seem to get my geeky brain around the concept of people hating something is to relate it to something I am more familiar with…so here it goes….

At the beginning of the school year, I feel like coming to my math room is akin to being forced to go to the dreaded dentist.  You know, the one where they are going to drill your teeth because you haven’t flossed like you promised them you would the last time that you were in the dentist chair.  You know the chair… the big padded one where they might as well be strapping you in while the dentist is interrogating you with the bright light in your face, all the while holding the large giant metal hook instrument.   Now before I go on I would like to make one thing clear…  I am not standing at the front of my class holding a sharp instrument while teaching, but I am sure that those of my students who have never had success before in math may see my math textbook and protractor in the same way. 

I get it a bit because, like keeping up on flossing, you have to keep up on your math work to understand the next concept.  There is no quick fix the day or two before your dental visit that can make up for your lack of effort before going to the dentist and the same goes for a math test.  That is one of the problems that we are now facing in today’s society. The Quick fix…Most of our students can get instantaneous answers through their smart phones which come equipped, not only with calculators, but any conceivable app and gadget that they can think of.     

Just as we have to teach ourselves not to fear the dentist, we have to teach our students not to fear being wrong in math class.   The best way that we learn is through trial and error.  If you don’t brush well…. you will get a cavity, which leads to pains when the dentist drills your teeth.  The same goes for math problems.   We need students to go through the process of how to solve problems so that they can continue to solve problems later on in life.  It’s not about having the right answer but on how they got the answer.  Anyone can look up a problem on the internet, but determining how to solve it and applying that knowledge is the key.  What they don’t realise is that math requires them to use their brains to solve problems.  Not just what 1 + 1 is but actual problems about how should I attempt to answer something...or what information is needed and how do I go about to get the information.     

It is no use if you just give in and accept that there will be pain and on that note I have to go floss and brush my teeth now….(Appointment is at 3:45 tomorrow so wish me luck).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Patterns, Patterns, Patterns!

I LOVE patterns. I love how they are evident in almost everything and anything that we look at each day. Many patterns that we see today are physical patterns, whether it's your patio stones and the way they interlock together to make a pattern, or an embroidered pattern on some fabric, or the pattern the windows in a high rise building create.

Growing up as a kid, I loved being creative. At summer camp, my favourite activity was arts and crafts, because I got to create patterns of my own through friendship bracelets, mirrored images, stamps, and more. I got to create the patterns myself and explore what it meant to me.

This is where my love for patterns started, with the physical patterns, but patterns have always continued to excite me when it came to numbers as well. Number patterns are a different "breed" compared to physical patterns. Number patterns are so delicately put together and have so much depth to them. Hm, this isn't that easy to explain...let me provide you with an example.

Pascal's Hex has always been a neat pattern for myself. The way it forms itself by adding two numbers together to get the number below it (for example, in row 2: 1+1 = 2, which becomes row 3). As the rows continue, the numbers get larger and "more complex", but the pattern and the steps toward each row is exactly the same.

Being primarily a primary/junior teacher myself, patterns begin fairly mundane and easy. Square, traingle, circle, square, triangle, ( circle ). Students get to draw in that the next answer is square (because obviously, the question was in 2D shapes, not words like I use). Advancing into intermediate levels of mathematics, I have noticed in the curriculum that it becomes much more than shapes and an understanding of order/repetition, but it becomes about applying the knowledge and being able to create their own patterns (more complex patterns) and being able to describe them using variables and in algebraic terms. Patterning in the older grades is about compounding the way you describe a pattern (the curriculum provides this example, take the number patterns 3,5,7,9...the general term is the algebraic expression 2n+1; evaluating this expressiong when n=12 tells you that the 12th term is 2(12)=1, which equals 25). Instead of simply saying, each number goes up by 2, they create an expression that helps them determine the 12th, 24th, etc. term without having to write out 12 or 24 numbers themselves. Oooooh how it all works and is beautiful!

Patterns are a beautiful thing, and something that students can relate to if you present it in the right way for them. It's less complicated then can sometimes be described (and I admit, I don't think I did a great job of explaining it here...SORRY!). Let the kids explore, give them an example and let them off their leashes to try it themselves and see how much success and fun they have with patterns!!

As I like to sign off with...Happy Math Teaching!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I love Sudoku! In fact you could say I am addicted to Sudoku.   When the Globe and Mail arrives at my house every day I make sure to get to it first to get my hands on the Sudoku puzzles.

Where does this math game come from? How long has it been around? I have been an avid fan for many years, but have wondered where this addicting game originated? I decided to do some research.

As it turns out, Sudoku is the name the world has come to know of this puzzle in its present form. The puzzle game’s true beginning is not Japanese despite how it sounds.   Depending on how rigid you define what really constitutes a Sudoku puzzle, you can in fact trace its evolution through a long string of paper and pencil puzzles in history. The first shape of Sudoku can be seen from the magic squares appearing in China around 1000 BC or earlier if you go along this route.
As we know it today, Sudoku has a much more recent history.  Although its roots may be from China, the name Sudoku originated from Japan. It is made up of two Japanese words Su’ meaning digit or number and Doku’ meaning single or alone. So in English, Sudoku means "single digit," or "a number by itself."   Who knew?
In the late 19th century, number puzzles based on the magic squares started to appear in French newspapers. Such weekly puzzles became a feature of the French newspapers until about the time of the First World War.
According to the prestigious and ubiquitous source “Google” The first recognizable Sudoku puzzle was published in May 1979 by Dell Magazines in their Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games known as "Number Place" in those days. The game was thought to be designed by Howards Garns. Garns was a retired American architect and a freelance puzzle creator born in Indiana. Number Place became popular in the mid-1980s in Japan after being picked up and renamed Sudoku by the Japanese Nikoli company. Then in 2005, Sudoku became an international hit after The Times of London started printing it in November 2004. Howards Garns, the inventor who made the first modern Sudoku, however didn't live to see the day as he died in October 1989 at the age of 84.
Today, Sudoku appears in many daily newspapers worldwide, there are also numerous websites that allow the game to play at varying levels of difficulty. The appeal of Sudoku can be attributed to both its exceptionally simple rules for beginners and various sophisticated techniques to sustain the interests of the more experienced players.
Could Sudoku be incorporated into the Classroom…Why not?
In a world where children are spending more and more time watching mindless television and/or playing video games all the time why not have them learn to think critically in the classroom? It just might transfer to outside the classroom as well. With millions and millions of Sudoku puzzles available at different difficulty levels students could become hooked no matter how old they are. In fact, one of the beautiful features of Sudoku is that it can be easily adapted to varying degrees of difficulty from grade 1 to University level.  To me it is a no brainer to use this to teach arithmetic, strategy, and persistence. 
Possible ways of integrating Sudoku in your classroom:

  • As a whole class activity, with a white board or projector at the front of the class
  • As a time filler for odd moments during the day
  • As a “reward” when a child finishes work early
  • At the beginning of the day, placed on the desk for children to do when they come into the classroom and settle down
  • As a weekend activity or fun homework 
  • As a daily challenge
Research states that, “children as young as 5 years old can enjoy the puzzles while at the same time developing their logical thinking, extending their concentration, and building their confidence.” The educational role of Sudoku has been confirmed in a variety of academic studies in recent literature.

There is just one caveat for Sudoku though “May be habit forming,” should be included in Sudoku puzzles, but as habits go this would be a good one to have.


Links to puzzles:

Friday, May 11, 2012



Do YOU enjoy new and exciting ways to teach Math?

Tired of all your standard poster assignments? Then you'll love this new and interactive online poster creation site called Glogster.

Check out their site now -

      I believe I did mention this interactive online program during one of my earlier posts in the course, so I figured why not discuss this innovative creation here. I know it is hard to come up with new, exciting and engaging ways to teach math, or to observe what students have learned. Last year, I made the discovery of this little gem.

       Basically the site allows you to make a poster. "Oh fantastic, another poster project..." That's right I can read your mind! However, this is not true! Like I said glogster is an interactive poster experience!
Students can not only add images and text to their poster but interactive media too! Students can add animated pictures, videos and music to their posters in order to create something unique, individual and fun! 

    Of course there is a fee for the educational version of this online software. However, once mentioned to my administrators there was no problem paying the minimal fee. (It is approx. 99$ for a year with 200 accounts or 30$ for 50 accounts) 

     The program does have it's own bank of educational videos and images that could helps students, not only in math, but in all subject matters. This bank can be used to create the poster or if the students are unsatisfied they can also upload their own material (photos and videos) if need be.

     Here, I have included a few screenshots of an assignment I have given my students in the past. I had asked my grade 7 and 8 intermediate students (remember I teach in French) to explain the principles of positive and negative integers as well as explain adding and subtracting fractions. (on two different glogster posters - screenshots are of these projects) I was pleasantly surprised by the results and they made for a good formative assignment to make sure everyone understood the concepts! 

     There is also a regular everyday version of the site for those who wish to exploit other hobbies or habits. (Sort of like pinterest)

    I hope this is useful and if you have any questions about glogster I could certainly try to help.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creative Education

Ultimately any content that we teach our students, the required material/content that is covered, can and likely will be forgotten, at least to some degree by them at some point at a future date.  We obviously need to cover this material, but the best part of the curriculum, and result of any education is developing the student’s ability to solve problems, think for him/her self and to simply gain the ability to be able to be a self-directed learner.  During the past decade we have seen a huge push from inculcation to problem solving pedagogy.  Most of us, if not all of us who completed our elementary and secondary education over ten years ago know how we sat in our chairs, were told how to do something, and were expected to reproduce, step by step what we saw.  Granted this did work for some of us, but if it wasn’t us who struggled, we had some close friends who struggled, and despite the fact that they were absolutely brilliant it was not their learning style and they, or we struggled immensely as a result of this style of teaching.

During the past two years, we have seen an even greater exodus from the old methods, to promotion of creative thinking skills and problem solving strategies.  What better place for this kind of skill development than in the confines of our mathematics classrooms?  Carefully crafted questions can force our students to be able to push themselves beyond the days of “here is how you do it,” to “these are some things that I can try until I figure it out.”

If we truly believe in student success, we know that success in life transcends success in the classroom; it is success in life for our students that we are ultimately shooting for.  When they leave our classrooms, they are heading into the world equipped with some content, yes, but the rapid changing world dictates that the content needed tomorrow, does not even exist today and that problem solving skills and the ability to learn will make all the difference.  So, let’s multiply our efforts in assisting our students in becoming strong problem solvers and creative thinkers.