Monday, February 16, 2009

My 200th Post

Wow Time flies. 200 posts. Who would of thought it would take this long:-) for me to post 200 entries.

I am re-posting from the Mathzone an assignment I will test drive on Monday. I will also be writing reports and doing eportfolios all at the same time.

Tell me what you think.

Re-post begins

I was supposed to start a new unit with your this week. I had a tragic accident on the ice yesterday. I slipped and bumped my head. I do not remember what I was supposed to teach you. Although I do remember my name, where I live and who all of you are (aliens I think!!)

All I have left are a few artifacts in my backpack and these movies had put into a blog post. Help me out. Can you figure out what I was going to teach you and teach me before I regain my memory.

The Artifacts


Some important vocabulary was left on a piece of paper too.
  • legs
  • hypotenuse
  • R.A.T
  • Greek
  • theorem

Your Assignment

  1. Create a blog post that explains how these artifacts are linked.
  2. How can you use the vocabulary to help explain the artifacts?
  3. You must explain what the shapes are, what is that formula, and who is that guy and why do I care in Grade 8 Math.
  4. You need to label your post with the mystery man's name.
  5. You will need to embed a video that explains all of your work after you have figured out what you will be doing.
  6. You will need to answer a word problem by Thursday. It will be posted on Wednesday night.
  7. This is all due by the end of your math class on Friday.

Here are some videos that might help you understand your topic.

The Movies

What else did Pythagoras do?


The Theorem

Don't try this at home!!

In 60 Seconds?

Can you remake this video and make it better or easier to understand?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Welcome Back Sir Ken

Sir Ken Robinson is back on the web giving an awesome talk about his new book The Element. It is a wonderful 40 minute watch. Ewan does a much better job going into detail about his book but here are some of his quotes at the end of the presentation that were amazing.
"The problem with human beings is not that we aim to high and fail but that we aim to low and succeed."
"Finding your passion does change everything"
"Creativity is the process of not an event.... Not random acts of inspiration .....but a body of work."
"Back to basics view ... people default to what they think is common sense...most things that seem obvious end up being untrue..."
"Adults default to the education they had. It did not do me any harm...
"Ministers come and ministers go...we need to work with governments... but it is equally as important to work at the ground level... empower the teachers and workers.."
"..people are only transformed when they are engaged..."
"...nothing is inherently boring..."
"Getting back to basics requires great teachers. A great teacher knows how to engage their audience..."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lesson Plan

For many of you being evaluated is part of being a teacher. This year I am being evaluated. For regular readers of this blog you know that I work in a very special place. I love my job and love my school. I work in a building where people look after each other, respect each other and work harder than the average Joe. We do this because we respect the two women who run the ship. My principal and vice principal are amazing. They are energetic, ontop of current trends and rarely say no to my crazy ideas. Instead of handing in a "formal" lesson plan for this evaluation I am composing this post with a bit of interactive fun to show what happened in the class ......
When I was evaluated!!

Sargent Park is lucky enough to have over 140 grade 8 students. I teach all of them math. I also dabble my toes into teaching the students Media Literacy and weave technology into my classes.

The Grade 8 students this year are working on a project called 2 Minutes to Make a Difference. Each student can be in a group of 4 and will create a 2 minute movie on a topic that is important to them. The project started off with the grade 8 leadership students creating presentations for the rest of the school during the pre-Christmas season. All students created posters and pamphlets for the school and a few leadership students created presentations to be used at assemblies. These students were taught how to make a powerpoint (or google presentation) and to use pictures instead of text to weave a story. It was very successful. The students raised more charitable donations than usual.

Following their return to school in January the students chose groups to work in for their 2 Minutes to Make a Difference. A website was created to give them access to different topic that they might choose. The students were then given a google form to fill in to show the assisting teacher their groups and topics.

This now brings us to the lesson that was used for my assessment. Imagine if you will a room filled with 70 students watching the smartboard. All students have a piece of looseleaf and a sheet that describe Debono's 6 Thinking Hat strategy for creative thinking . To set this up I created a google presentation that described the different types of questions and the "different hat" thinking that would be needed.

First Day's Activity (Thursday February 5)

Second Day's Activity (Monday February 9)

The great thing about using google is that I was able to harness the power of the student's google accounts. All students had an account. Before the afternoon sessions I got all the students to become collaborators with these presentations. Following the movie the students were then able to simultaniously enter their data on these presentations using the lab at the back of my room. For those students who were unable to get access to a computer they could work at home or write their questions on chart paper.

The movie was excellent. The students did an excellent job in watching the video and trying to understand why 300 million children world wide are forced to work instead of going to school or being a child.

During the movie when some important information would be discussed I would stop the video, reexplain the message and allow for students to discuss with one another. With the movie being 83 minutes long the students needed a chance to stretch their vocal chords and refocus their attention.

During these breaks the students would start to look at their notes and create questions that would fit into Debono's Thinking Hat Strategy.

This brings us to where we are going next. The timeline for the project has been mapped out for the next few weeks. Students will be working or questioning and essay work.

Following the movie the students are expected to fill in this google form. It will display their topics and questions. In the weeks that follow students will continue to work on their google presentation and start to gather first hand evidence to make their movie spectacular.

So I was evaluated. In reflecting on what happened in class the 2 days that the students participated I can say that they were great. They listened, collaborated and helped each other out. My lab had some problems but we overcame the technical glitches by allowing the students to do work at home. In April when the movies are done they will be wonderful expressions of student intrinsically motivated learning. A true inquiry based project!!

I love my job. Thanks for bringing me into the Sargent Park Team.

GBBOA is coming to a close

Few the Great Big Book of Algebra is over. Students learned how to embed videos and pictures, write poetry and create xtranormal videos. Now they are going to self assess and peer assess each others work. I am using a google form. I am really liking these tools. Create the form, student fill them in and you get a spreadsheet to work from.

Here is the GBBOA posts from the mathzone

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Here is the form that I am using...

If I was to do this project again I would make it shorter. The process got to drawn out and the kids lost interest. When they start there next project I will make it much shorter and more exciting. What is this next project!!!!
Wait and see but you could grab a sneek peek here!!!! This project is just starting to rev up!!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Go where the kids are!

If you need to get your message out go to where the people are. Most of my students are using facebook at one time of the night or another. I usually leave a few clues about my tests in comments at the blog. I always post in the chat room or leave a variety of comments at different posts. Today I took the clues into facebook. Lets see how their network spreads the news. I hope most of them find what I left for them.

It is interesting this facebook generation. I have students contacting me when they are not coming to school on facebook. Interesting because my email is all over the blog. It is the contact that I view as important. They will contact me in anyform and I am thankful that they do. I have great kids!!
I love experiments.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Communication is Amazing

I showed a movie in class last week. Mankind is no Island. It was created by Jason VanGenderen and won the NYC Tropfest Competition. This movie is so powerful because it was created on a cellphone. I loved showing it to the students because Jason used powerful music and images of words on street signs interwoven with action shots to talk about problems in NYC and Sydney. I went to show the video to one of my classes and saw that it had been made private. After a bit of searching and a frantic email to Jason he responded (almost immediately).

He had entered the movie into another competition and needed to make it private. The video will be made public again soon. He did offer to send me a copy of the video. He sent a link to a site and I was able to download a copy to my laptop. Not only was this video great... it was of higher quality when showing it on the smartboard.

I love it when people share. Thank you Jason for allowing me to use your wonderful film with my students.

Sargent Park Inquiry Continues

This will be a long rambling post about what has transpired so far in the wonderful 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Project so far this year.

It all started off with Paying it Forward. A chance for students to make a difference before and during their Christmas.

Since then many things have happened. I have discovered Google Forms. The students are using the forms to keep in contact with me and for accountability purposes. To keep the students on track they will fill in a new form every 2 weeks. It will give them a chance to make sure that they have completed all of the necessary work given to them on the timeline for completion.

The students also watched a video "Stolen Childhood" about child labour.

During the video they students were using DeBono's Thinking Hats to create rich questions that might be used in their inquiry project.

Following the movie the 70 students then went into the computer lab and added their questions to a Google Presentation I started that morning. All students were invited in to the presentation and they were able to add personal content to the presentation.

Next the students are creating the questions for their movie/presentation and starting to research each of the 4 questions they have made. The students will continue to use the timeline to stay on task and complete the project on time.

The other 70 students will be viewing the "Stolen Childhoods" movie on Monday. They will complete their own Google Presentation and I will embed it here when completed. I was pleasantly surprised in how easy it was to get all 70 kids hooked up to the presentation. They just typed in their email addresses and I clicked invite. All students were able to contribute. Sometimes it is easier to add information in the anonymity of the google presentation instead of the openness of the chart paper.

And the project continues until April. I will keep you posted.