Sunday, November 30, 2008

Awakening Possibilites

The entire event was ustreamed and there would be a live audience, with "magic koolaid" to start the conversations in the room. There was enough firepower in these presenters to make anyone present in the audience think about changing their pedagogy and working to make differences in their students lives.

A big thanks to Andy Mckiel who worked tirelessly to pull the event off. He has endless energy and a passion that separates him from his counterparts in the province. He is making a difference in his school division. I hope others follow his lead..... but I doubt that will happen. My goal of the evening was to make classrooms look like this

instead of this.
Street School 1st grade 55-56 Mrs D'Amato

In my 5 minutes I shared many different ways to take some first steps. Begin the journey down the path of creating assignments and teaching in a way that your students will respond to with enthusiasm.

Until now I have failed to mention that there were twice as many people in the ustream room than there was in the f2f room at the RRCC campus that night. And it was not just anyone in the chatroom. I was privileged to see so many influential edubloggers from my network tuning in after they had just eaten a large turkey dinner. I am honoured and thank you for joining all of us virtually at Awakening possibilities.

But why can't we get more people out to these events. What does it take to see that kids are doing and living differently now. The teaching that has sustained you for so long does not captivate the imaginations of kids and does not prepare them for work in this century. I look to the west and see the interesting intermingling of preservice teacher instruction.

Saskatchewan has the model for success. Look at Moose Jaw. Dean has this town hopping and Kathy teaches grade 1 in such a way I wish I as 6. When you look at the preservice educators in this province none of them are given courses in this technology and the powerful teaching opportunities that it gives to students. Saskatchewan has Alec. He does it right over and over again.

Manitoba wake up. You have some of the best edublogger minds yet you shun us and make us feel like we are not worth your time. The rest of the community knows that we are knowledgeable in what we are saying yet you have no idea who we are.

So to the 20 of you who were present in the room, thanks for being there. You saw the best from Saskatchewan, Dean, Kathy, Alec, one of the best in the world Jeff, and some Manitobians that make a difference, Darren, John, Clarence and me. I hope that you all tell 2 friends and they tell two friends and....

Maybe we can change the province after all.

The Great Big Book Of Algebra

Here is an assignment that I am giving my students. I hope it inspires them to learn in a different way.

In other years this would have been called a Growing Post. This year I am calling this blogging assignment The Great Big Book of Algebra. It's inspiration came from a cartoon called Stanley Tiger Tales. Here it goes. Remember only one post for this assignment. You will need to edit often to complete the assignmet.

The Great Big Book of Algebra

Warning this is a long post with lots of information. READ the whole thing before choosing anything to do!!!

This will be one post that you will create over time. You will be expected to do many things and have it published on a certain days. You can do the entire assignment in a few days or really think and do it over the entire period of time.

Blogger Labels will be

1. your blogger name
2. intpoetry
3. greatbigbook

The Great Big Book of Algebra is due on December 19th 9:00. (or at least some parts are!!)

Chapter 1 Integer Poetry.
You need to create 5 Integer poems. The poems topics are:

  • Adding Integers
  • Subtracting Integers
  • Partitive Division
  • Quotative Division
  • The "Rule for Multiplying" integers (Ron's Rule, Pratts Law, Mel's Rockpile etc)

This chapter on Integer Poetry is due on Friday. They must be published not saved in Draft. Make sure you have all the needed materials to complete this assignment.

There are many different types of poems out there. I am going to show you a few. You need to use 3 different types of poetry in your first chapter.

Haiku: Haiku is a type of Japanese poetry which combines form, content, and language in a meaningful, yet compact form. Many themes include nature, feelings, or experiences. A haiku poem is three lines in length. The first line is 5 syllables: the second is seven syllables: the third is five syllables.

Life Lesson

The fierce wind rages
And I see how trees survive -
They have learned to bend.

Homing geese, still winged,
Sliding down shafts of sunset
To join their shadows.

Another form of Japanese Poetry is called Tanka

Tanka: Tanka is another type of Japanese poetry and is almost like an extension of the haiku. The tanka is a 5 line poem.

Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
Line 4: 7 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables


Debris in the wind
Indiscriminately blinds
Eyes searching a path.
To turn one's back to the wind
Reveals but where one has been.

Cinquain: Cinquain poems are five lines in length. There are two main forms.
Line 1: One word topic (noun)
Line 2: Two describing words (adjectives)
Line 3: Three action words (verbs)
Line 4: A four-word phrase
Line 5: A synonym or equivalent for the topic

Growling, feeding, razing
Predator from the ancient past

Line 1: Topic (2-syllable word or words)
Line 2: 4 syllables describing topic
Line 3: 6 syllables expressing action
Line 4: 8 syllables expressing feeling
Line 5: 2 syllables - a synonym for the topic

I touch
Two curving things
The barrel of this pen,
The slow uncertain winding of
This verse.

Free Verse Poetry

Free verse poetry is free from the normal rules of poetry. The poet may choose to include some rhyming words but the poem does not have to rhyme. A free verse poem may be just a sentence that is artistically laid out on the page or it can be pages of words. Some forms of free verse separate, or split, phrases and words between lines. Punctuation may be absent or it may be used to place greater emphasis on specific words. The main object of free verse is to use colorful words, punctuation, and word placement to convey meaning to the reader

Heroes Are
courageous collaborators,
originators of opportunities,
champions of coincidence or circumstance.
heroes act through intelligence
and at other times
through ignorance.

Picture: A picture poem, is a poem made of letters or words which create an actual picture or form on the page.


I were a
kite on high
I could fly up to the sky
Up to the blue sky
High a cloud
I wish I were
A kite

Diamante: Diamante is the Italian word for diamond. The poetic form takes the shape of a diamond when it is completed. A diamante is a seven line poem.
There are two patterns to choose from. Pattern one develops one topic. Pattern two starts out with one theme and in the middle begins to move toward an opposite theme.
Line 1: Choose a topic (noun)
Line 2: Use two describing words (adjectives)
Line 3: Use three action words (verbs)
Line 4: Use a four-word phrase capturing some feeling about the topic
Line 5: Use three action words (verbs)
Line 6: Use two describing words (adjectives)
Line 7: Use a synonym for an ending word (noun)

Example 1: This poem expresses one theme about a pop singing star.

Famous, successful
Singing, dancing, shouting
Mesmerizing the adoring audience
Performing, working, reaching
Frenzied, dazzling

Line 1: Choose a noun as your title and an opposite word (an antonym) for the ending word of your poem
Line 2: Use two adjectives (describing words) for the title (line 1)
Line 3: Use three verbs (action words or "ing" words for the title
Line 4: Use two words to express the title noun - then two words to express the opposite ending noun. The theme changes in this line.
Line 5: Choose three action words for the ending noun
Line 6: Use two words to describe the ending noun
Line 7: Use one word - the antonym (opposite) you decided upon in line one

Frisky, buoyant
Warming, sparkling, reveling
Nonsense, comedy -- witchery, absurdity
Haunting, piercing, confusing
Doubtful, lonely

This will stretch your creative thinking. It is OK to do the picture poem on a piece of paper and hand post a picture of your work.

This ends Chapter one. Good luck and happy poetry writing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Awakening Possibilites

This Thursday everyone needs to attend in person or virtually Awakening Possibilities. It is a chance to see:

This even follows the very successful Edubloggercon from last year. We hope to see many people out this year.

The presenters will follow Chris Lehmann's 5 minute, 20 slide 15 seconds per slide style of presentation. It will be interesting to see the presentations and what everyone has to say. I am looking forward to the virtual audience and the F2F audience. I hope that if you live in Winnipeg or are coming into town for SAG that you take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that will be presenting on Thursday evening.

The new RRCC campus on Princess is worth the price of admission alone. It is a marvel of architecture and a beautiful place to hang out and network. So bring your laptop and join the online and F2F crowd as we Awaken Possibilities.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is next..

New assignment for the wee lads and lasses of Sargent Park Math. I am going to get them to create a....

no wait that was in Norwegian. I will try that again

They have been doing some extensive integer training to prepare them for algebra. With this in mind they will create a GREAT BIG BOOK OF EVERYTHING that they know about Algebra. It will start out with the integers and lead into the concepts being taught before Christmas break.

Students will have to create 5 different types of poems to add to their book. I appreciated their integer stories so I am going to continue with this cross curricular side trip that I am taking. They will be free to express their knowledge in as may ways as possible.

I am also setting a few choice but keen students on an side trip to attempt to make a video like this.

Think about all the possibilities one could have with the common mistakes students have in math. Going to be a great 4 weeks. Grab on the speed is increasing.

I have great students

It has been a fun and fast filled first term at Sargent Park. The students are really taking to the blog and now it is time to turn up the heat. I was amazed at first seeing the amount of page views the class blogs were getting. It is already the third month and some classes are experiencing over 5000 page views. The students also seem to be tuning into the sargentparkmathzone to see the days lesson from ustream.

The best part of the year is the commenting that students are doing. My email is flooded every night with comments left behind from students. I appreciate all the work that they are doing. The comments started off light and fluffy. Good Job :-) but now they are more appropriate and give the students a sense of audience.

With this frenzy of activity around the blog my team members are getting interested in starting projects of their own. First steps being shown by many people in the building gives me hope for a future.

Love my job!! Now I am going to turn up the heat on these students and set them loose on a new adventure. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How open are you

My good friend Darren Kuropatwa who got me blogging in the first place introduced me to the power of the smartboard. He would create these great lessons and then upload them to slideshare. This was a great way to use the technology in the class to keep the doors open 24 hours a day. Here the students could see what happened in class. Darren also experimented with digitally recording his voice and podcasting each class. This was alot of work. Enter Camtwist and Ustream.
816 Mult Int Part 1
View SlideShare document or Upload your own. (tags: spmath multiplying)

Last year I tried to broadcast my lessons on ustream using camtwist to capture the desktop aka the smartboard and my voice (no kids faces on tv... nice for the censors). My mac mini only had half a meg of ram and the smartboard and the ustream were constantly competing or the small amount of ram that I had. The experiment was finished when they removed my smartboard last year to be used in a different class.
Live Streaming by Ustream.TV
This year I got my smartboard back and some more ram for the mac mini. Everything is going smoothly now and a weeks worth of lessons are archieved at ustream. This is an easy way to keep your lessons and for student to access work when they are not at school. I am loving this. You might want to try it too.

The Peace Quilt

A few weeks ago some teachers at my school asked me to help them create a project. They wanted to publish some artwork online and make a quilt. This sounded great. First of all they wanted help and second of all those baby steps were being taken. I created a wiki and showed the teacher how to create pages and work within the wiki. I also showed the teachers flickr. I am so excited to see other professionals in my building start down this path. It has been a long 4 years but finally something is happening.

The Peace Quilt. The idea was spawned around the topic of Remembrance Day. This is the eleventh day of the eleventh month. WW I was ended on this day and it is a national day of Remembrance in Canada. The grade 4 teacher got their student to draw pictures about remembrance, war, veterans and peace.

Together the students and teachers uploaded their pictures to flickr. Here they made sure that they had the appropriate tags and titles. The teachers were very excited. To make the mosaic or quilt I used FD Flickr toys mosaic maker.
All of these ideas were floating around when When Night Falls was taking place. In the lulls of conversation I happened to mention to the other participants and low and behold a little project became a large global collaborative project. I was blessed to have participants for Australia, and the US wanting to participate. I also had other classes across Canada participating.

A full list of participants can be found at The Peace Quilt and more are still completing their pictures. The goal of this project was to have students connect with one another and communicate about peace. I also needed the teachers in my building to take first steps and become literate with the tools an applications that my network is so familiar with. Both are occurring.

As the project continues the students will leave flickr notes on other students work, leave comments behind at the wiki and at flickr and keep the conversation alive. This was my first attempt at being a collaborative project coordinator. I suppose I have done alright. It has been fun and I want to thank my network and those that made the project great.

The quilts will continue to be built this week. There are still more images out there needing to be sewn into this collaborative project.

Man I love this stuff.

Google Video Chat

Just tried out It was a blast. Easy to do and good quality. You have a full screen option that is different than skype. The quality of the video tonight as also quite good. Wonder were this leaves the whole collaboration piece. This is a powerful tool.

A couple of hiccups tonight. Some people did not get the video and audio feed properly. When they switched over to Safari on their Mac's then the system worked properly. Hope you have success and hey Call me I have a camera in the school. Look forward to talking to you in the future.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


This is so cool. Lookybook is a site to see free picture books. Sort of a Last.Fm of the picture book market.