Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Skills Students may need in the Future

I thought this was pretty interesting so I thought I'd share it: 

The graphic below lists the skills industry leaders valued in 2015, as well as the skills they will be looking for in 2020.

It's sourced from the Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum, and you can see the top three are, Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking and Creativity. You can see the direct link these three skills lend to mathematics and need to encourage problem solving and inquiry-based learning in the classroom. Other skills listed on the 2020 list and not on the 2015 are: Emotional Intelligence and Cognitive Flexibility, I found this interesting too, could you incorporate these ideas in a Math lesson?   

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ontario Math Ed Resources

As educators, it is important that we know where to look when we need resources or to have a "bank" of resources to refer to when teaching any subject. The following website is designed specifically for Mathematics; it provides educators with a wide array of resources such as teaching tools and guides, links to activities for students, and mathematical strategies and supports as well. The website provides many links to external websites that are related to mathematics that would benefit students, teachers, and parents.

I have used this website during my placements when I had to teach math. I was able use various resources to aid me during my lessons and to also enhance them. I also had students use some of the links provided for additional support in school and at home.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Quizizz makes it super-easy to create great quizzes in no time!! A teacher friend showed me this and I was so impressed at how user friendly it was. I had added it to my TO DO list, and now I will finally spend the time to get into it!!

At a quick glance, I see it recently added a bunch of new features including "Google Integration". I'm going to create an account and keep adding to this post to give you more details and let you know what I think. Check out this link to get an idea of what it can do, or stay tuned...

Bell Ringers and Tickets out the Door

Throughout my year in teachers college my advisor and biology teachable professor always told me the importance of bell ringers and tickets out the door to start the lesson off right and end it on a good note as well.

Ticket out the doors and other formative assessments at the end of the period were always my strong point.  Even though the ones I did were always related to science I can still see this being a helpful tool for math students.

With ticket out the doors, students can answer a certain question or two that relates to the lesson they did that day.  When they hand that in as they leave it allows the teacher to see how they understood the lesson, where they went wrong, and provide formative feedback.  When students receive this formative feedback on where they went right and wrong they will be able to fix their mistakes before a quiz or type of assessment that gave marks.  I also loved doing Kahoots at the end of a group of lessons that were all related.  Students love doing Kahoots as they are fun game like times and it also allows them to see right away if they know the answer or if they don't.  These are all super fun and easy ways to test knowledge of students in a formative manner before they leave your class for the day.

Bell ringers/minds on, on the other hand, were always my weak point.  I would always just put up a question from the night before and have students answer to ensure they learned the previous days material.  This is similar to a ticket out the door so it was always a bit repetitive.  This is something that I will need to work on because math is not always the fun subject but if I can make it fun then students will be more engaged.  I know a fun video or gizmo about the topic may be a good way to start off the lesson.

What are some ways you do a minds on or bell ringer?
What about some of your ended ways?

Lets all share so that everyone can increase their resources and pick up some awesome ideas!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

EdTech Camp 2017 & Kevin Brookhouser

My first EdTech Camp experience started with inspirational stories from Kevin Brookhouser, the keynote speaker of EdTech Camp 2017

His emphasis on motivating students to become ‘wicked’ problem solvers – because today’s most dire problems won’t be solved with algorithmic approaches - have made him start the 20% project. When he told his students that they could spend 20% of their time for whatever they would like to work on, surprisingly students were not happy because they were not used to autonomy. It was so hard to make them even begin brainstorming, so he started ‘Bad Idea Factory’ and students got really motivated and produced tons of ‘bad’ ideas while having lots of fun. In fact, many of those were not bad ideas at all e.g. someone trying a wheelchair for a whole day inspired them to become advocates and finally ramps were built.

Two things I learned: 
1. Students can become a lot more capable when opportunities are given
2. Project based learning can facilitate student autonomy and build innovative thinkers

The EdTech video of his talk today is not available but here is his talk at TEDxMonterey:

Exchange Rate

Student’s even teachers can’t wait until winter break, spring break, and most importantly summer break. During these times, people tend to go on vacations and visit places that they haven’t been to before. Speaking for myself, I try to go to a different country every 2 years. When going to a different country, the first thing we do when we get there is to exchange money for the trip. Not to forget that we are a boarder city, so our city does deal a lot with currency exchange. So I think it is really important for our students to learn how to deal with converting money. It is also part of the curriculum for the students to solve problems by using proportional reasoning in a variety of meaningful contexts. The specific expectation is to identify and describe real-life situations involving two quantities that are directly proportional. This is directly taken out of the grade 8 math curriculum. I am going to compare the Canadian to the American currency. For every $1.00 Canadian, the exchange rate is $0.80 American today. The reason why I brought up vacations at the beginning was to have students write all the countries they have been to and research what is the exchange rate between the Canadian currency and that countries currency today. If the students haven’t been to other countries, then they can pick places that they would want to visit in the future and to find the currency exchange rate. We can extend such lesson and ask the students to use their findings of the exchange rate to find the difference of prices in each country of five different groceries.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Morning Routine with Math

This is a bit different than some of the other posts in this blog, and it might not be for everyone! My usual routine in the morning is to drink my coffee (of course), read articles and do some KenKen on the NY Times website. For those of you who have never done a KenKen puzzle, it's a puzzle that calls on your skills with the basic operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Numbers cannot repeat in rows or columns, and you must complete whatever arithmetic lies in the bolded boxes.

Anyway, I thought one day that it'd be a good idea to share part of the routine with my students. To some, it was boring and they didn't care much for it. One morning I would teach the class how to complete a KenKen puzzle, and as they walk in to class every day I would have printed copies of a daily KenKen puzzle printed from the NY Times website. It wasn't mandatory, but students knew that if they sat down they should have something to work on or read. It got more and more popular and students would end up racing each other (and me, foolishly..ha). I feel this is a good way to keep the mind sharp and wakes people up in the morning. I've done this routine with Science classes as well! It pushes students to practice their basic operations and can really challenge them if they choose to do a 6x6 medium or hard puzzle. I recommend it to anyone who's never done it! The link is in the first paragraph. Cheers!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Math and Problem Solving

Okay I know, we should be teaching mathematical topics through real-life, problem-solving contexts and enquiry-oriented environments. But, honestly, how do I do it? Just put students in groups, hand them some chart paper, and put a problem up on the board from the textbook? Kay kids, when the big hand gets to the nine we'll take it up! Right? 

Here's why I like this video, already popular in the Math world, math teacher Dan Meyer, talks about changing the way we teach problem solving in math. Although he is American, I believe many of the issues are the same. I realized as I watched how textbooks teach students what to expect, or excel at what he calls, "paint by numbers" classwork. Instead, students should be learning to stop, think and even formulate the problems themselves. 

Definite "auh-ha" moment for me. I like how he asks students to come up with the problems themselves or takes a reverse approach, to where the students have to work backwards, find all the missing information and then solve the problem. It's very neat how he uses real-life examples too, even going as far as doing the experiments himself or taking actual pictures and videos of the objects students need to examine and solve for. Does anyone else have any other tips or ideas for problem solving? 

Here’s a link just in case too

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Mini White boards for math?

I am the type of teacher that can’t move on to a new topic unless I know for sure everyone understands what I am teaching. During my first year teaching, I would use the method of raise your hand if you agree and use some tricks to make students doubt their answers. I taught at an elementary level, but I will use an example of what I would have done if I was in grade 7-10 math class.
For example, Solve:  20-10(5-3) = ?
     a)      0
     b)      2
     c)      4
     d)   6
     e)      None of the above
During this period, as educators, we know which students are doing well in class and which students are struggling. Using my strategy of raise your hand if you think (a) is the right answer, students that have no idea will raise their hands with the majority of the class. That doesn’t help me as a teacher know who actually understands. To doubt that students I would say “but 20-10= 10 and 5-3=2. 10(2)=20. I think the answer is none of the above, would anybody agree with me.” Then we would start a classroom discussion.

The following year, I used the strategy of the mini white board and had students write down their answer on it and raise it up for me to take a look. I noticed a big difference in answers and I had a better idea of who understands the lessons and who needs help. I would fix the problem right there by reviewing the lesson and using different strategies.   

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Class Summary

I have to be completely honest and say that what I learned in this course is more that I learned during Teacher's College. We looked at resources, practices, pedagogy, teaching strategies, assessment methods and more which were all geared towards the math curriculum, but most certainly does not limit us to the math curriculum. There is nothing we won't be able to use in our careers as teachers that we didn't learn in this course. I have never bookmarked so many pages in my Chrome browser as I have over the last 2 months. Everything we covered is transferable throughout the subjects and I am so grateful for that. I am excited to use the information I learned in this course in my science teachables and I am looking forward to the next course I take!

Friday, August 11, 2017


I saw this awhile back and thought it was quite relevant to this course and teaching. Millennials do get a bad rep and whether that is fair or not is up for debate. Simon brings up a lot of interesting points about this generation and why they act like they do. I have to admit that even though I am not technically considered a millennial I can be guilty of some of the things he talks about on occasion. As teachers it is important to understand our students, and since we will be teaching this generation we may as well educate ourselves more! Let me know what you guys think.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mental Math

I work part time in retail during the year and I'm always finding new ways to calculate math in my head. It's a shame that students have resorted to using calculators all the time rather than challenging themselves to do simple math in their heads. I don't know about the rest of the world, but I certainly do believe that simple mental math needs to be a requirement in our schools. It's not very often that people in everyday jobs need to bust out their scientific calculator to do a calculation. The basic mathematical operations are really all we need to know for most jobs. If mental math becomes part of the curriculum again I know students will be far better off in their first jobs.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Collaboration in High School

I write this Blog as a question to my fellow educators asking for your knowledge on how much collaborating occurs in the average high school math class. But first, a bit of background information.

In the school I have spent my brief teaching career in thus far the teachers and principal love the idea of collaborating. This occurs as an entire school community, through team teaching, and in the individual class itself. I have grown to love this concept and have fully embraced it. For example, I love throwing in random problems of the week and have my students work in pairs to solve them. I love incorporating real world tasks for my students to solve, as I believe this will be beneficial in the workforce.

For those who enjoy throwing problems at their students in order to see teamwork and cooperation, here is the link to the university of waterloo's POW.

However, I recently heard one of my colleagues saying that we should put our intermediate students back into rows as this is how classrooms are set-up in high school. He also mentioned how high school is much more independent than elementary school (this was one of our resource teachers by the way). Because I don't teach high school and can't really recall accurately how we learned on a  day to day basis I was hoping to hear some feedback from any of the high school teachers associated with this AQ

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Asking Effective Questions and Problem Solving

Blog Post Two:
Asking Effective Questions and Problem Solving

In my experience teaching Grade 7/8 homeroom math this year, it was a constant challenge to have my students become effective problem solvers. I found the reasoning for this to be two fold. Many of my students lacked the decoding strategies that were necessary to deconstruct multi-step and comprehensive mathematical problems. In spite of obvious connections made to a specific skill or unit, and an considerable knowledge and understanding of mathematical processes, many students did not know how to determine what they were looking for and accordingly had to be walked through the process of determining what information was important to parse out from the task.

I was deeply committed to helping my students build these skills because I could empathaize with the frustration and confusion they were feeling when they were trying to solve a nuanced mathematical problem. Growth mindset is something that is extremely important to me and my relationship with math was far from ideal throughout high school. Only later in my involvement in education did I realize how FUN math can be.

Rich tasks allow students to ask rich questions and use an inquiry based model to develop mathematical strategies. One of the best tools that I have found to help students learn to approach problems with confidence is one that is question focused rather than problem focused. When students have the opportunity to develop their line of mathematical inquiry and through guided teaching, determine the  type of questions that should be asked, they are not only more engaged with the material, but are more aware of the process that they need to determine the most accurate answer.  Three Act Math actively encourages students to become conversant with mathematical questioning.  It uses positive reinforcement to help the students learn the types of questions that should be asked, how to communicate their mathematical thinking and how to achieve the desirable end result. This type of instruction brings real world problems to the forefront of math learning and encourages students to approach new tasks with a positive attitude and a questioning mind.

Blog Post One: Math Talks

Math Talks

Math talks help students actively develop new ways of thinking about numbers. Math talks encourage students to use their prior knowledge about math, make meaningful connections to mathematical problems and communicate their mathematical understanding in a clear and concise way.

Math talks are extremely accessible, help develop growth mindset, and allow for the participation of learners of all ability levels. One of my favourite Number Talk websites was developed by educator and mathematician, Mary Bourassa. The number talks she, and other collaborators have developed ask students to use their knowledge of number sense to determine which of four numbers does not belong.  What is amazing about this exercise is that ALL students, regardless and ability can engage in this type of rich and open discussion. Answers can be incredibly simple or more comprehensive and nuanced.

These talks are a great way of determining a students level of comfort with different curriculum strands, encourages class discussion and helps a teacher determine a students depth of mathematical understanding.

My "go-to" websites for Gr 7/8 Math

My "go-to" websites

This year, I have relied on a few amazing websites that help me to teach math in a more meaningful and interesting way. I thought I would share these sites with you! - If you haven't heard of this website already, you are missing out! This is a great place for teachers because they make math lessons that apply to real life! They supply you with lesson plans, iPad apps, book reviews and more! - This website provides you with virtual math manipulatives. Again, it is nicely organized by Grade and Topic, so it is easy for you to find what you are looking for. If you students are hesitant to use manipulatives, you can try using these virtual manipulatives! We know that students are always more engaged when technology is involved! - This website is great because it is organized by Grade and Topic. Your students can visit this website and practice a specific skill you are working on in class.

Youtube channels

Youtube channels for the 7/8 Math class

Today I would like to share a few Youtube channels that I have found to be useful in Grade 7 and 8 Math classes. I incorporate videos into my math lessons a lot and my students love them! Some of them are a bit cheesy but the kids really respond to them and the ideas in the videos stick with them! 

Check out the following channels:

If there are some other channels that you love, please let me know! 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Illuminations and Inquiry Maths

As we've already discovered throughout the course, there are many different websites that are very beneficial in the math classroom. When browsing the Internet, I cam across a website called Illuminations that offers many different math resources to teachers. There is library of virtual manipulatives : and these are resources that can be used in the classroom or for individual student purposes depending on the student's needs. This resources spans from kindergarten to grade 12 and there are many fantastic lessons, brain teasers (which provide great warm ups and hooks for math lessons), and many different games offered to each different curriculum big idea. 

Inquiry Maths is also another site that is perfect when teaching math in high school The site contains different question prompts that allow students to think critically and use their higher order thinking skills with mathematical concepts. The different prompts stem from Number prompts, algebra prompts, geometry prompts and statistic prompts. Teachers can also create their own prompts and use the assessment framework to guide their evaluation process. Ultimately, students are able to explore diverse paths related to mathematical concepts and the students takes responsibility of their learning. 

Math Drills!

Hi Everyone,

Here’s another great resource that can be integrated into the classroom:

This website contains lessons, worksheets and other useful tools all presented with a clean layout that is easy to navigate. What I like most about it is how organized the content is. Apart from each topic and unit of study being neatly divided, it also has a variety of extras that are incredibly useful in the classroom.

The Interactive Math section provides utilities such as flash cards, games and converters that can prove useful in the classroom. They also have a sections for accommodations such as the large print worksheets to help students who are visually impaired. What is also fun is they have a holiday section with worksheets that have various holiday themes for those festive times of year.

I hope everyone finds it helpful!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Mathematical Quotes

I'm a big believer in quotes helping to inspire students to always do their best. Sometimes students need that positive reinforcement or that extra "push", especially if they start to daydream in math class or get frustrated with their performance. Here are some quotes that I cam across that are some awesome math quotes that allow students to think about math in a different light or mathematical concepts in real life applications.

Grade 12 - Advanced Functions Connection (with limits)

Mathematics and Relationships

The Relationship with Math and other subjects (ex. science)

Positive and Open Mindsets in Math

Using humour in math

I am a huge fan of puns and jokes, I also believe humour is a great way to make connections with your students. I will see different math jokes pop up on Twitter, Instagram,
and Facebook and it got me thinking...

Image result for math humor

First it would be a fun Minds On activity to show them and ask them to explain the humour. Another activity that could be effective would be having students try to create their own jokes or puns based on learning in the classroom. Anyway here are a couple of my favourites and let me know if you think this idea would work!

Image result for math humorImage result for math humorImage result for math humor

Monday, May 29, 2017

Riddles to Start Your Day!

Hi Everyone,

Here’s a fun little website that can come in handy as a great starter to a class lesson:

The Math Riddle Section of the Math Warehouse provides a good selection of riddles that can be used in a class to kick start your students’ thinking. Riddle are always fun and are really helpful in getting all of your students focused, thinking and collaborating in class. Hope everyone enjoys the link and is able to integrate it into their lessons!



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Explain Everything the app

I came across this app when I was teaching a grade 1/2 split. We were using Educreations but it  just seemed limited in it could do. Here's a brief tutorial video of how to use Explain Everything:

Here is a video of it being used in a math classroom:

What I find amazing about his app is that often times they can be a struggle to explain mathematical thinking using a pencil and paper. This apps allows students to do this orally and use visuals as well. In terms of assessment this app is great because you can watch the videos later and even show the class someones thinking. But what really clinched it for me is student engagement. One of my grade 1s wasn't always engaged in learning activities blew my mind. We were studying 3D solids and their attributes, he took a picture of a square based pyramid and went on to describe the faces, vertices, and edges (including those hidden from view). When I showed the class his video his smile was so rewarding, he was so proud of what he did. Anyway if you haven't tried this app, give it a shot and let me know what you think of it.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Another Great Math Game!

HI Everyone,

Here is another one of my favourite games that helps to encourage algebraic thinking:

This is a simple game that is a Windows staple that I have always really enjoyed. When you click on a square it will display a number underneath telling you how many mines that square is touching. Using the process of elimination, you are able to identify which spaces are mines and right-click on them to flag them. Continue doing this until the board is clear and you’ll win. Having the students go through this game is a great jump start to any class as it will encourage a way of thinking that is conducive with mathematics.

Hope you all enjoy it!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Showing the Importance of Math to our Students

As educators of math I think it’s very important to show our students daily the usefulness and purpose of math. Many of our students ask us, “Why do I need to know math? How will this ever help me in my future?” These questions are super important and demand a full explanation to our students rather than “because it’s important.” We need to give our students the answers to these questions and these can be done through multiple ways.  For example, we can get guest speakers to come in and talk to our students about the role math plays in their lives and job, we can stress the importance of every new concept before teaching it and the different cases the students will encounter this in their future. Another way is to show students TED talks and math clips!

As we know, math is only mandatory until grade 11. Afterwards, students have the choice if they are going to pursue it again. This is a video that I would show students in grade 11 in order to emphasize the importance math has in the world as they start to decide if this is something they are going to pursue next year.

Students need to know that the world is changing and mathematics has an important role in the changing world.  Math gives you the basis to do new things, make new discoveries and allows you to open yourself up to many different jobs such as a video game developer, research analyst, investment banker, physicist, foreign exchange trader, electrical engineer… Lots of companies want math majors because math provides a foundation for many sciences and other subjects. Therefore, as students are watching the clip they are able to see real people with real jobs and how they use math in their daily lives. Furthermore, the people talk about the realities of math and that math is hard! However, we shouldn’t shy away from the difficulties but rather approach them with an open mindset.

This is also another video that I like that highlights some of the fears and struggles of students in the math class. With Math I Can:

Students learn that math is everywhere and is a basic life skill and with hard work and the right mindset, they can grow and change the world.

Therefore, it is important to know that as educators, we will help form the impressions students have towards math. The best way is to promote the daily real-life applications of math, the opportunities it holds in our twenty-first century world and the success stories of individuals who have used their math to help others and themselves.