Sunday, June 15, 2014

World Cup 2014

With the World Cup finally kicking off and school's starting to come to an end, I thought these resources may be beneficial and engaging for all your students. It's free to sign up so I hope you can take a look.

Forza Italia!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I found a very interesting website with a ton of math games that students can play. There are games for grades 1-8, so they can be applicable to intermediate classes. There are games for basically all of the topics that are covered, as well as many Jeopardy type review games. It has been shown that games work in the classroom, so this is a great resource that can be used for students. Hopefully students will enjoy the game so much that they will go home and play the game more on their own time. As students are having fun, they don't even realize that they are learning or "studying", but it can really help them to understand the concepts and get some practice. I always love to see when students have fun while learning, and I think this is a great resource to allow students to be able to do just that.


While looking for interesting math videos, I stumbled up this video from the TED Talks website:

I found it to be incredibly entertaining, and I think it could be awesome to show to students to get them excited about math. Basically, Arthur Benjamin completes ridiculous multiplication questions and squares numbers that seem like they would be impossible to do without a calculator. By the end, he squares a number that is 5 digits long, resulting in an answer that is 10 digits long, which most calculators can't even do. He reveals how he does the problem, as he breaks it down into smaller steps, but it is still incredibly impressive that he can complete the steps, as they are still quite difficult, and it seems like it would be very difficult to remember the answers from each step, since he doesn't write anything down.

When in my undergrad (Human Kinetics), I learned a little bit about this when talking about savants. It turns out some people have pretended to be savants by actually using strategies like this to do incredible calculations. There are many people in the world who can do such calculations, and if my memory serves me right, there are actually competitions for this sort of thing.

Another trick he did was figuring out what day of the week someone was born on by knowing the year, month, and day. This is also a math problem that he solves in his head, as there is an equation for this as well. It takes into account the leap year every 4th year, and even the years when there is an extra leap year. As long as you know the formula, and can do the math, anybody can figure out what day of the week it was on a particular day.

Another interesting thing that occurred in the video was when he used words to recall numbers. This is a strategy used by a lot of people who have incredible memories. It is difficult to remember a 6 digit number, but if you change it into a word, you only have to remember the word, which will help you recall the number. It is a bit confusing to understand, as I still don't know how exactly a 6 digit number relates to a word so that he can use them interchangeably, but it is common practice not only in remembering math problems, but in remembering anything. I believe it is called chunking, where you take large amount of data (i.e. a large number) and change it into a small amount of data (i.e. a word), so that you can recall more data at once (i.e. several words instead of several large numbers).

My TIPS4RM Experience

During teachers college, many of my professors mentioned that as teachers we can’t be called upon to “reinvent the wheel.”  That many tools were out there in the world to help us with various aspects of our job.  With Physical Education as my teachable, I was immediately introduced to the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (OHPEA) documents by my first placement teacher to help me with my lesson planning.  Although I did consult these documents, I never fully relied on them.

Fast forward a few months to my next placement.  Here I was introduced to TIPS4RM for math class.  At this particular placement, all teachers in the grade I was working with used TIPS and I was instructed that I had to use it as well.  Although it did make life easier, as I did not have to stress over what (or how) to teach my students, it did create a couple problems.  At the school I was placed, one teacher took responsibility for answering the questions on TIPS as none were provided.  On some occasions some mistakes were made, that I had I caught.  I wonder if any were taught to the students that I did not catch, or how many were taught at other times in the year. 

Although I have used both TIPS and OPHEA documents in my placement, and do see their benefits in the classroom, I do not feel they should replace our lesson planning.  Both documents are great resources for teachers to have, providing access to many activities to use in your classroom.  In my limited experience with these documents, I found that when using them as a resource only, they helped me to make my lessons better for my students.  However, when using them as my entire lesson plan, they took away the creativity in the planning process, as well as took away the entire process of lesson planning, which as new teacher is a process that I could use more practice in. 

I am aware that tools such as OPHEA, TIPS and I am sure many others, are in place to help us as teacher.  What are your experiences with them?  Do you use them?  If yes, are they strictly a resource to help you get an idea when you have a mental block, or have they replaced your lesson plans entirely?

Google Drive in Your Math Classroom

I have been a long time advocate of Google Drive use in the classroom but typically the uses of Google Drive have been more focused on what it can do for your literacy program. The way Google Drive is set up lends itself to great collaborative writing pieces but math on a computer has always been a bit tricky without the proper tools. I came across a great, publicly shared Haiku Deck presentation by Rafranz Davis that you can find here. In it it outlines some of the newer math apps that are available and how they sync directly with Google Drive. 

The nice thing about Google Drive is that many boards across Ontario have been connecting their board email addresses with a Gmail account. This means that all students have instant access to everything Google Drive has to offer without having to sign up or create new accounts. This also means that teachers can easily oversee everything that their students are doing in the drive as they have an account that grants the permission to do just that. Therefore when the notion of using Google Drive in different, math-related ways in the classroom this seems like a really great opportunity to incorporate that blended learning environment. 

In the presentation linked above the author, Davis, highlighted some of the staples that Google Drive has to offer the math classroom, like the use of Google Forms and Spreadsheets to create graphs and track data. However the real highlights are some of the additional applications that can sync seamlessly to Google Drive. These apps provide great tools for math users on the computer and can then be uploaded, saved, shared and collaborated on directly within Google Drive. Some of the key ones are as follows: 


"From the Chrome Web store, search Daum Equation Editor and add. Students can create equations and click save to drive. Within a document in Google Drive, students will press insert image, choose from drive and click their equation which will then be added to their document."


"Students can graph, create tables, plot points and create pictures. Desmos can be connected to google drive where created images can be exported and used in documents."


"In the Chrome App store, search Geogebra! Students can demonstrate the meaning of the math as it appears in their world. Geogebra is dynamic geometry software where students can create, manipulate and explore math. Using "save to drive" images can be saved and inserted into other documents and apps for presentations, reflection and study."

To read more about these applications and find out about others click the link to the presentation listed above but the connectivity of these applications really grants them something extra when it comes to their use in the classroom! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

10 Helpful Dyscalculia Resources

I came across a rather helpful website while browsing today, and I wanted to share it.

Dyscalculia is a mathematics learning disability that affects approximately 6% of the world's population. As math teachers, It is important for us to know both what it is and what we can do to help students struggling with this disability. Below is the link to a website that contains 10 useful resources about dyscalculia.

The first website on the list is maintained by Dr. Anna Wilson. The website is designed to inform parents, teachers and students of the latest information about dyscalculia. There is also a section specifically for teachers that gives general information about the disability, as well as information on the newest techniques and strategies for helping students with the disability.

The second website is all about AT (assistive technology) devices for children with dyscalculia. Knowing about the programs they might be using can make you better equipped to help them out.

The sixth and seventh sites offer more resources for helping students with dyscalculia for both parents and teachers. The rest are mostly background information (symptoms, information to better help you understand why they are struggling and how they think, etc.)

I think the first website listed is the most useful, but the rest also have some useful information. Take a peek!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remind 101

A friend of mine just introduced me to a great program called remind 101.  This program allows a teacher to set up a text message list where by composing one text message or picture, you can send reminders to a whole class of students(minimum of 5 students per text message sent).  What makes this program suitable for teachers is that the teachers and students don't know each others phone numbers as remind 101 is set up as a third party where the messages are sent through.  Furthermore, teachers can send messages to students but students can not send messages to teachers.

An application of this program could be to send students reminders about tests or homework.  My friend simply takes a picture of the homework written on the board and sends that picture to his class to ensure all students have a reminder about that nights homework.

Here is the website for the free service.

Careers in Math

Giving students an insight as to how math is applied to everyday situations is very important.  It is also important to show how many career options and jobs require math on a daily basis.  I found this link, as well as some other math career related pages to show students who uses math and why they need it.

Information like this can inspire students and hopefully give them a sense of how important math is.  If they realize the practical use and the high importance of math, I hope it would inspire them to take math classes all the way through high school


How algorithms shape our world.

This is a video from TED Global, Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. This video shows a riveting talk from TED Global, he explains how more complicated computer programs calculate: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, economics, insurance rates and architecture. He explains that this is a dangerous line to be in between, the algorithm codes that are being written are going to give us codes that we don’t truly understand. This will give us implications we would not be able to control.

It’s an interesting concept that Kevin Slavin states, however the evidence that are presented do have merits to take into consideration. It is a video that should be watched and taken into consideration.


This website is a great way for students to interact by going to The website has numerous ways for students to learn algebra by reviewing videos to going on to games that allow them to have an entertaining experience at the same time learn.

Considering that youths today have grown with technology from birth, there is evidence that they have become obsessed with devices. Going on-line, playing video games, is the norm; is capable to give these students that interaction stimulation that can be learned by playing video games and watching videos. These skills and techniques that students can learn on would give them learning life skills, and math strategies. Critical thinking is achieved by practicing through repetition by have a fun interaction through websites such as student will achieve life survival skills that are needed today in society

Posted May 13/ 2014 by dan Dor

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Celebrate Pi Day

Here is a website that I came across for teachers on how they can incorporate fun and engaging lessons to celebrate Pi Day with their students.

Students Assessing Their Assessment

I came across this sheet for student evaluation of their own assessment. I think it is important to bring students in on their assessment because it gives them the opportunity to think about their learning, to think about their strengths, and think about their mistakes and what they can do to improve.  This is an excellent tool to use in the classroom in order to enhance the ability of students to improve their metacognitive skills.  It would be important for teachers to model this with their students so that it is done correctly.

Math Trick

Although rare, occasionally on my personal Facebook, someone will post something that is both fun AND educational.  I have always been a fan of fun math type tricks.  As a child, I always loved it when one of my teachers would show the class a math trick that was easy to do.  The first time a teacher showed my class the "birthday problem" I learned that 2 other students in a class of roughly 30 students shared a birthday with me.
Back to Facebook.  A few months ago a friend had shared the following video on my wall:

It is simple, easy and effective to help students of all ages with their multiplication.  Although it could result in a lot of diagrams drawn on work and assignments, I am surprised that I have never seen this before.

Oh, and if you have never heard of the birthday problem, read up friends:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Math in Nature

Wait...There's Math in Baseball?

I'm a big fan of applying math to everyday situations.  I'm also a big fan of baseball.  So naturally, I thought this PowerPoint slide would be a great way to show students how math influences baseball.  Baseball is a game of numbers.  The stats in baseball are very telling about how a game should go.  Everywhere you look in baseball, math can be used to determine stats, probability, percentages, and many more.  You can use a math formula to determine anything in the game, from a pitcher's Earned Run Average (ERA) - "Innings pitched/ (earned runs/9) and
Slugging percentage "Singles + (doubles x 2) + (triples x 3) + (HR x 4) / At Bats

Check out this link for more baseball math!

Kids Play & Science

I found this great TED Talk that I would like to share with everyone!
What do science and play have in common?

Beau Lotto & Amy O'Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included!

The answer, according to neuroscientist Beau Lotto, is” that play helps us navigate uncertain environments, and that the discovery, cooperation, and motivation that inspire play also inspire science”.
I believe this is a very interesting and unique view of Science.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Science Fair Anyone?

I remember DREADING science fair when I was younger.  All the kids had to do a project, I could never think of a topic I liked, I didn't really understand what to do, and my dad got WAY too involved for it to be enjoyable (I think everyone knew I was being helped when I came to school with a project on Electromagnetism ha ha).  Doing an OAC independent study in Chemistry brought that anxiety back.  Biology was more enjoyable though...

So what about the other sciences??  Isn't Math a science too?  Why do Math students only get to write Math contests to compete for prestigious spots to be the engineering elite (for example)?

Check out the Canadian Mathematical Society's Math Projects for Science Fairs

A message from the society's president (late 90's) has this message:

This message is the prologue to several pages with the topics such as Numbers, Scheduling, Games, etc.  You may want to mention this in your math classes next time Science Fair rolls around.  It could get an award just for being unique!

Why is it always x?

During one of our assignments, I came across a short TED talk by Terry Moore called "Why is 'x' the unknown?" During this 4 minute video, he explains how x actually originated in the Arabic word for "the unknown thing" that couldn't be directly translating into any European language, since there was no equivalent character to represent it. To solve this problem, they use the Greek letter chi ( χ ), and I'm sure you can guess the rest from there. I have often heard students ask why we always seem to use x, and I remember wondering that myself when I was in high school. Usually, teachers would answer something like, who knows? or they just really liked that letter. Well, now you can tell your students the real answer!

On that note,

From Patterns to Algebra

Back in April I was lucky enough to attend a professional development session on algebra skills through the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. The workshop surrounded Dr. Ruth Beatty's book From Patterns to Algebra (a sampler can be found here) which seeks to use patterning development and different algebra tools to help bridge the math gaps between grades 8 and 9. Her emphasis is on approaching the development of an algebra skill set through specific pattern problem solving and manipulative use.

The book itself gives great examples of activities, lessons and creative tools that can be used to serve this purpose. A lot of what she emphasized was the way we get students to start thinking about algebra in terms of its organic structure. Why do we set up our algebra questions in this way, what makes this method work and will it always work? Beatty's book sets up activities and lessons that will get students thinking about algebra in a new light and one that will hopefully foster a better understanding of underlining meanings of algebra and less of the rote learning associate with it.

The nice thing about the activities in this book were how simple they were to tailor to the classroom. Many of the activities, in a similar vein to Van de Walle, were relatively short and could be developed and edited easily to fit the needs of your students. They also provided a lot of nice guiding prompts to help students get into a good discussion and to make sure that you were asking the right questions, at certain points, to really have students think about what it is they are doing when we ask them to engage with algebra. Beatty as well is a strong supporter of the use of proper manipulatives and gave great instructions on how to work with algebra tiles in a different way to help frame how an actual equation would look in physical terms.

The information in From Patterns to Algebra is definitely useful in developing a more intuitive and reflective algebra classroom and is worth getting you hands on!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Math Teachers Beyond the Classroom

Although high school was a while ago, I vividly remember my math teachers, not only because of their teaching styles and skills, but rather their commitment to students outside of the classroom.  On every school team I was a part of in school, every year, every semester at least 1 math teacher was present on the coaching staff.  Furthermore, every math teacher I had was a coach on some sports team at my high school.  It was a math teacher, who when I was in grade 9, offered to drive me home every night after practice so I could play rugby for the school team.  It was this commitment to me that showed me how to go that extra mile for my students.  This may also by why I enjoy being in the math classroom.  I do not know where I would be today if not for the actions of this particular math teacher.  Rugby has been the stepping stone for my entire educational and even professional career.  It is a game I still play and coach to this day.  My math teacher/coaches would always bring the classroom to the field and the field to the classroom.  They would ask us math questions between plays to see if we were still thinking clearly and relate math to sports in the class to make it easier for us “jocks” to understand.  I remember going to away games and coaches tutoring players in their seats, as well as going to Europe and 3 of my rugby coaches having a tutoring session with over half the team in various math courses so we wouldn't fall behind in our studies. I don’t know what it was about the math teachers at my school to want to be involved with sports.  Maybe it is the crossover between sports and mathematics, maybe they are avid sports fans, maybe it is something else altogether. I still keep in contact with most of them to this day, and every one of them continues to coach numerous sports.

Do any of you have any similar experiences regarding your math teachers?

Pretty good website

I found this website as I was researching some questions for one of our assignments and I just thought I would pass it along to the group. I found that it could be very helpful for both teachers and students as it has a lessons section and a worksheet section. The lessons portion is mainly quick several point lesson but it could be used by students who just need to some reminding when it comes to concepts. Also, like any math website, the worksheet can be manipulated to fit your classroom needs or as practice for students who need a little bit extra help. Hope this helps...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Math Jokes or Thoughts of the Day

I know many teacher's who put up little riddles, brainteasers or thoughts of the day to engage their students when they walk into the classroom.  Here's a great site that could give us a lot of material to do this in a math classroom.

This is my favourite one:

Top ten excuses for not doing homework:
  • I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
  • Isaac Newton's birthday.
  • I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook. I couldn't actually reach it.
  • I have the proof, but there isn't room to write it in this margin.
  • I was watching the World Series and got tied up trying to prove that it converged.
  • I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy.
  • I locked the paper in my trunk but a four-dimensional dog got in and ate it.
  • I couldn't figure out whether i am the square of negative one or i is the square root of negative one.
  • I took time out to snack on a doughnut and a cup of coffee.
  • I spent the rest of the night trying to figure which one to dunk.
  • I could have sworn I put the homework inside a Klein bottle, but this morning I couldn't find it.
    • Warning! It is against the rule to use these excuses in my classes! A. Ch.