Sunday, June 12, 2016

Twitter for Education

For some time now, I've been really into browsing Twitter for educational purposes. My experience exploring Twitter has definitely been beneficial. I was able to gain knowledge on many diverse areas of education. I had followed five sites in particular, that I believed I gained the most insight from regarding different aspects of education - all of which could be incorporated into the math classroom. A lot of the accounts I followed taught me about the various ways I can incorporate technology into the classroom. Below, I have listed my top five favourite Twitter accounts and a brief explanation of each:

the first account I decided to follow was Learn Style. Learn Style’s purpose is to revitalize education with interactive, multimedia learning opportunities for anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

the next account I decided to follow was Google for Education. Google for Education’s purpose is to transform learning for students. They consistently keep their followers updated with product announcements, industry news, and program updates. 

the next account I decided to follow was Kristen Wideen. Kristen Wideen is an Apple Distinguished Education who collaborates with other teachers using technology in the classroom. She is consistently sharing her many fantastic ideas that takes place in her school.

the next account I decided to follow was George Couros. George Couros is a division principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning of a K-9 school. He constantly updates his followers with new ways for innovative teaching. He provides many links and sites for educators to browse.

5.     PULSE.
the last account I decided to follow was Pulse. Pulse is collaborated with Learn Style LTD. This site provides students and teachers find different ways to excel using technology in the classroom. The account consistently posts new and exciting ideas for incorporating technology. 


 Using Nearpod in the Classroom

Nearpod is an interactive presentation and assessment tool that can be very beneficial in the classroom. The app allows teachers create polls, quizzes, videos, drawing boards etc. The process of using Nearpod is simple; students can access the teacher’s presentation by typing in a specific code given by the teacher. The teacher can then use his/her device to move through the presentation. Below, I have listed several ways Nearpod can be used in the classroom:

  • Presentation: Nearpod can be used to replace other presentation tools such as PowerPoint. The presentation can be streamed to every students tablet or computer in the classroom
  • Live and Formative Assessment: Teachers can use Nearpod to create quizzes that can be used for assessment. Each student types in his or her name before taking the quiz, this allows the teacher to keep track of every students understanding.
  • Ongoing Assessment: Once students complete a quiz, Nearpod automatically creates a report on the data. Teachers are then able to access this report and download it. This makes marking simple (aka, Nearpod marks for you)!
  •  Self-Assessment: Children are able to assess themselves. Teachers can create a poll with self-evaluating questions for each student to answer and submit. Once again, the results are saved for the teacher to view and download.
  • Modeling: The app has a feature called ‘Draw It’ that can be used during presentations. This app turns the students’ tablets into an interactive whiteboard. Once all of the students have completed their drawings, the drawings are all displayed on the teacher’s iPad where he or she can then share the drawings with the rest of the class (on their tablets).
  • Homework: Students can also use Nearpod on their own time. Teachers can provide a homework code that allows them to access pre-made presentations outside of school.

    The video below is a short Nearpod testimonial, enjoy!

References: 10 ways of using Nearpod in the Classroom. (2014). Retrieved June 08, 2016, from

Friday, June 10, 2016

Designing in the math classroom (Coding with Arduino)

Coding in the classroom:

After attending a PD session for Science in the US, I have a new passion to learn about arduinos (maybe raspberry pi in the future) as a tool in the classroom. I’ve hear so much about Hour of Code ( and genius hour (slightly different but the idea still stands that students need time to tinker and process their own projects). In light of this, Senior School Computer Science class held a hackfest with the middle school a few weeks ago which was a great success for all involved. With this movement of MakerSpaces and creative solutions, there is a lot of discussion of bringing coding into the mathematics classroom (or any classroom really). I am still just learning the basics of the coding world but have come across sites such as and which have project ideas and coding help (there are also a plethora of resources online through simple google searches.

In relation to math specifically: is a well known maker magazine which examined the use and potential connections for a microcontroller in the math classroom. The author of this article in particular discusses one example of using code in the math classroom and some of the successes and hiccups within the process. The article posted on by Ronnie Burt also examines the use of technology in the math classroom and how we may want to adjust the way we teach. One of his main points towards the end is that many teachers say there aren’t enough Computer Science teachers in the school but yet we have a lot of math teachers who are looking for new and innovative ways to deliver the curriculum. With some highly specific/geared PD sessions on programming, we could integrate these two disciplines and bring a new perspective to the discipline of mathematics.

Here is an intriguing Youtube video which may spark your interest in getting your math class using the Arduino ONE (aprox. $26 +$10 for supplies) to hear what your function sounds like. And if interested, here is a course to learn about Raspberry Pi (FREE for a limited time)

Thanks for reading,

The Giant Cookie Dilemma - Gr 6 to 8 Mathematics

The Giant Cookie Dilemma: – This website does a fantastic job of breaking each step down, providing sample questions, and motivating students to complete the challenge. Three things which may be suggested for change include:
  1. Make the handouts more open  ended to deepen the discussions. The handouts provided here are too specific and may not allow the students to experience some struggle
  2.  Bring in a giant cookie (big success and gave students something to work towards.)
  3. After learning about the 3act lesson made popular by Dan Meyers, I would think that this activity lends itself very well. The hook would be the giant cookie at the front of the class with the generic questions (questions you have, question(s) to answer and highest/lowest guess) Then moving into the Work where the students are given several questions to generate further discussions (and create teahcing moments) and then the reveal will demonstrate that it is possible and the students can all enjoy the cookie!

This activity was done at my school at the Grade 8 level as a fun yearend task. It was run during a single period but could be extended into two lessons (if you so wish).
The Problem: It’s the farewell celebrations at the school but your teacher wants you to do a little math to get the reward of the cookie. How could you cut the cookie so that each student in the class gets their fair share? (Yes – the cookie is baked the night before and brought in)
Concepts being tested
  1. Finding the area of a circle 
  2. Finding radius of circles
  3. Using ratios

 In the end, the students thoroughly enjoyed the cookie and  went through some great reasoning and problem solving skills along the way.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Grade 9 Applied and Academic Curriculum and EQAO

This week I got called into emergency supply as an EA. While I was at the school I got to sit in on a grade 9 academic math class. The teacher had been going over information for EQAO and was starting to do review packets. The first thing she told the class she wanted to start with. She talked about how it wasn't in the curriculum but that it always seemed to be on the test, maybe because the ministry expected them to remember it. I thought this was strange as I had just completed an assignment for my math ABQ course and used rates and percent ratios as a grade 9 expectation. I went home and looked at the curriculum document and was surprised to see that this expectation was only in the applied curriculum. How is this fair for students who haven't seen the material on over a year? Are there other expectations that are tested on but not in both curriculums?

Nothing Wrong with a Little Humour :)

When looking for a TED talk last week, I came across this video and thought it was both hilarious and true, especially since we are coming close to the end of the course.  IF you have time, feel free to watch this, it WILL make you smile.

And since we are still in class, why not an educational tie in about the effects of Humor in the Classroom.  Enjoy!  :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Change of Heart!

Change of heart!

I have to admit, I used to get annoyed when students would arrive in my grade 8 class and still count on their fingers.  I have never disallowed my students to use their fingers but it annoyed me for some reason. I am totally pro-manipulatives in the classroom and I encourage my students to use them but the fingers got under my skin and I’m not entirely sure why.   I have many a discussion about why we no longer practice the multiplication tables in the junior grade. (I know some still do)  After reading this article by Jo Boaler

I have definitely had a change of heart!  In the article, it states that “research shows that we actually see a representation of our fingers in our brains, even when we don’t use fingers in our calculations” WOW that was amazing to me!  Brian Butterworths findings that students aren’t learning numbers through thinking about their fingers, those “numbers will never have a normal representation in the brain” shocked me!  Oh the guilt!  I knew that visual math was important but finger representation? Who knew? I actually explained a math problem to one of my students today using both of our hands and all of our fingers, and she got it immediately!  Time to let our fingers do the talking! J  

Monday, June 6, 2016

John Hattie's Golden Rules for Teachers

There is a lot of research out there indicating what's best for our students.  John Hattie sums up his research by providing his Golden Rules for Teachers in this video:

3 Act Math Tasks - Robert Kaplinsky

3 Act Math should have a place in every math classroom.  The toughest part is getting started.  Thanks to educators like Dan Meyers there are growing resources that are readily available to use.  Another educator that I would like to highlight is Robert Kaplinsky (@RobertKaplinsky). Robert has been in education since 2003 and has a very impressive resume including instructing at UCLA.  Robert has his own website where he offers a number of lessons that follow a 3 Act Math Task format.  The lessons do follow the United States math curriculum, but are easily filtered by either grade level or math strand.  Each lesson comes complete with images or videos and a script to follow.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Math with Matthew

Dr. Matthew Beyranevand is the K-12 Mathematics and Science Coordinator for the Chelmsford Public Schools. Through his website (Math with Matthew), Matthew provides visitors with podcasts, music videos, educational resources, and a video blog. Matthew is currently an active user of Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, and Instagram to get his message out to help improve student interest and engagement in mathematics.

I came across his website when looking I was looking for content to post for a previous discussion and felt that his site would be an excellent resource to share with everyone.  I originally was on his site listening to his podcasts about strategies for stronger student engagement but it doesn't end there.  There are a number of useful videos that could be used as a hook in classes ranging from elementary school to high school.  From what I've seen, he is active with his blog posts (May 18, 2016), his videos (latest April 3 2016), and is a member/supporter of the Global Math Project.  If that was not enough, Matthew is currently in his fourth season producing and hosting his public access television show "Math with Matthew" and recently completed a 16-month project for a pilot project of a "Bill Nye the Science Guy" style show featuring the Pythagorean theorem.

It's hard not to get motivated by this guy.  I hope you enjoy his stuff as much as I did!

In every mistake there is a potential for growth!

I personally am a big believer in productive failure. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to co-construct learning goals and success criteria with our students.  They need a framework in order to show them where they are going academically. Goals and criteria paint a clear picture for the students of the teacher’s intended outcome.  They provide them with clear directions and examples (or rubrics) of what is expected, thus enabling students to feel more successful in their tasks and allows them to feel more in control.

BUT…don’t most of us learn by DOING?  Everybody makes mistakes and most successful people learn from those mistakes.  When all of the criteria are laid out for students, some of them may achieve the intended outcomes but many of them may not know how they got there.  In allowing for productive failure, students may not necessarily achieve the set learning goal initially but they do gain knowledge and understanding that may allow for them to reach that goal on their next try.

I read the following article which solidifies by point exactly.

We must help our students change their mathematical mindsets. Manu Kapur, a professor of psychological studies in Hong Kong has studied productive failure for years.  He says as teachers, we must provide students with tasks they won’t be able to solve but aren’t too difficult that they give up.  During and after their struggles is where the real teaching/learning occurs.  (His lesson design is outlined in the article)

I love Kapur’s quote “No matter how engaging, entertaining or logically structured the new information is, the novice by definition is not going to see the same thing as the expert in the presentation.” In letting the students explore, question and converse with each other on mathematical problems, not only does everyone have an opportunity to participate irrespective of their mathematical ability, but the students increase their knowledge and understanding as a whole. In every mistake there is the potential for growth!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Making Math Happen Workshop

I attended a math workshop today in our district entitled Making Math Happen presented by Vera Teschow.  We had such an interesting day thanks to Vera.  I learned a lot of new ideas that I could bring into the classroom as an OT or for a longer term capacity.  Here was one of my favourite activities.

We were given an 8.5x8.5 sheet of blank paper and an instruction sheet (below).

We were asked to fold the blank piece of paper into different sized shapes, for example, make a square that is half the size of the original piece of paper.  We had to take pictures of each step along the way using our phones.  Then when we had everything finished we used an app called Flipagram and were able to post and showcase our work - take a look!

This was the first time I had used Flipagram and it was very easy and intuitive to use.  I could see this being a great activity to use as an OT because it requires little set up (instruction sheet, and photocopy paper, tablets or phones).  Students could show their work using flipagram and email it to you or post it on a Padlet.  Should the tablets or computers not be available in the class, you could still do this activity but just create booklets out of the "scrap" pieces of paper that were cut off to make the 8.5x8.5 sheets initially.  Great activity, thank you so much for sharing Vera Teschow!