Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby steps?

On Friday John Evans and I walked 9 colleagues through an inservice on Twitter, Diigo and other aspects of social networking.

Here is the wiki we created for the day.

They got the message.  Great things happened, all participants loved wordle, they really saw the great parts of social bookmarking.... and perhaps twitter might sink in too. It was interesting as the day progressed how many looks of amazement kept on coming.  They were really into learning the tools and figuring out how to integrate them into their lessons and with their team members.

What was different this time? The first thing was all participants were keen to learn.  Different from other sessions I have done. Secondly John and I gave them small ideas that can be used instead of hitting them hard with How to use Wiki's, blogging in your classroom.  This might be what I have been doing wrong up until now...

When you start with these little steps you are able to start the process.  Show how easy some of the technology and applications are to make a simple lesson brilliant.  Wordle.net a simple application has to many lesson possibilities to count.  Start with this instant success, now push participants into a social aspect of the Read Write Web.  We introduced Diigo.  Here you bookmark, and save to a group. This bonds the group together and shows the power of collaboration.

You see where this is going.  Once you have them making a few baby steps, they see the results then......... you go to the big dogs!! You introduce them to wikis blogs, and other pedagogical changing tools.

Enough already it was a great day.  Thank you John. Thank you Sargent Park Staff.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rethinking old tools

A few things are different at the blog this year.  Kids are into doing homework .... assignments on the blog and wanting to do them more frequently.  I am accomidating them right now because they can get what they want.  Are there negative aspects of kids writing more at the blog? I am not sure yet.  Will quality of work suffer because they are doing more assignments.

cc licensed flickr photo by CarbonNYC: http://flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/2281515041/

One of the beautiful things about the blog was that scribeposts were to be done only once every 35 classes which meant that kids only scribed 4 times a year.  My students have already in 6 weeks created 6 posts.  Twice as many as usual.  So once again I ask has the quality of work suffered.

No.  Work has not suffered.  In fact kids do great are doing even better, good kids are doing great and some just are doing math.  Instead of hitting it out of the park on a few posts kids are getting doubles and triples but still scoring the same amount of runs(do you like my baseball analogy?).

A new beast has emerged in this new class set up.  Commenting.  Kids are commenting so frequently I am amazed by their ability to be an audience.  Between the chat room

cc licensed flickr photo by merezha: http://flickr.com/photos/merezha/2668654829/

20 Oct 09, 20:10
laura: yes, because it has 3 parts, but it is still a 2 TERM ratio :)
20 Oct 09, 20:08
abby: but if theres a comma is that still considered as 3 part ratio??
20 Oct 09, 20:01
laura: and then you just use the last number of the ratio as the denomonator
20 Oct 09, 20:00
laura: but if you add the 2 numbers that have a comma, that becomes the numerator.
20 Oct 09, 19:55
Harvey: laura that isn't a fraction. You can only make 2 term ratios
20 Oct 09, 19:53
laura: ABBY: Unless there is a comma between 2 of those numbers, (4,5:12) you can't
20 Oct 09, 19:39
abby: does anyone know to make a fraction on 3 part ratio??
20 Oct 09, 19:33
Eric.P 8-73: Guys gotta comment on those australian blogs

and leaving 100's of comments every few nights they have got the whole community of learners thing figured out.

So where do I go next.  One mainstay of the blogging program over the past few years have been BOB's. These Blogging on Blogging assignments are meant as reviews before a test.  Last year they were simply a reflection of a few sentences.  This year the assignment was changed.  I have included a commenting component.  The students will do the BOB and then ask a series of questions as a built in study guide for their fellow students.  The other students then will answer the questions in the comments and this will be the studying needed for the test the next day.

Here is their first BOB.

Here are the instructions to complete your BOB on ratios.  Remember this is a way of preparing for a test.  Please take time to do a good job on understanding your ratio unit.

  1. Title Must include BOB and RATIO.
  2. labels, displayname, bob, ratio
  3. You must include one of the pictures from today's lesson.  The easiest way to include it is to use its location address.  Click the picture link provided, right click the picture, copy location.  Once you have copied the location add image to the blog but use add url not browse my computer.  Paste the url into the window and click ok.  Your picture should be there.  (Just get the picture on the post)
  4. Once the picture is at your blog you must create the following.  3 part to part ratios, 2 part to total ratios and 2 three part ratios.  Please for each have a word ratio and ratio notation.
  5. Choose one ratio that you have done and show how to write that ratio in ratio notation, fraction, decimal and percent form.
  6. Choose one ratio that you have written and show how to create equivalent ratios.
  7. Finally create 3 questions that you want people to answer in the comments. Do not make them to hard or too easy. 
  8. Answer your questions in the comment section of your post.  
  9. Go and answer as many questions as you can about ratio at other posts in your room and the other rooms in grade 8.
  10. Look for cheats in comments.  I will post helping hints and questions in comments around the blogs.  

 Now if you have read this far.  CONGRATULATIONS!! Here are 2 examples of the BOB's on Ratio.

Bob 1 Bob 2 Bob 3 Bob 4

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Coin Problem

Today was my first attempt at playing with one of Dan Meyer's lessons. I put up the image that Dan had provided on his blog. 

I then had the students brainstorm questions about the jar of coins.  We sorted them into questions that could be solved using 4math and those that required different ways of solving.  Next I gave them some information about the jar.  I told them that it was all American coin.  This then had them think about the differences between the jars of coins from American Currency to Canadian Currency.  We then brainstormed questions knowing that there was $100 in the jar.

Students had to go home and answer 2 questions over the weekend.  Some got it right away and created wonderful answers to the questions posed in class. This was a cool attempt. Most just did a simple explanation and did not answer the question correctly.

No matter what if a kid posted online over a long weekend a victory was won.  On Tuesday we will go over the questions and posts in class and use ratio tables to help students understand the depth of the questions they created.  Sometimes students need a first draft before they understand the depth of a question.  

Slow and steady wins the race and when money is concerned... all are hooked instantly.

Thanks Dan for a great lesson Idea.

Coin Ratio
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nothing like jumping in the pool with cement shoes on!

Well September is over and October begins.  With a new month begins new challenges.  3 to be precise.

Ready Fire Aim

Elluminate with Pennsylvania
On Monday the ever popular 4 fours will playout again in my classroom.
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This time we are going to talk to Stacey Clark's Grade 8 Room.  We will get together in my first period and connect through an Eluminate Vroom.

Thankfully it is not blocked by the school division (skype, slideshare, blogger are:( )
The students will listen to the story of the 4 fours and then work out solutions on our linked smartboards.  Hey you just have to try and let the kids have fun.

Sister class in Australia

I have known Russel Montgomery for a few years on twitter, and K12online.  What he did the other night was mindblowing.  He commented on 50 blogs and got my students totally stoked about commenting on blogs.  The day after the comments were posted my students started commenting like sharks around a chum bucket.  That night I received 60 comments.  I pointed out this act of community learning to them the next day and they stepped up again and commented over 90 times that night.  Russell started something in this years students that hasn't stopped yet.

We got to talking and decided to pair up our classes.  He now has access to all of my blogs and I have access to his blog portal.  My students will cross post to his site and his will cross post to mine.  Due to the lovely 13 hour time difference (they already know what is happening tomorrow!) synchronous meetings might not be possible.  But through the power of posting, commenting, and video we should give this a go.

Cross hemispherical collaboration has been a dream of mine for many years.  His students are going into term 4 and almost at the end of Grade 8.  Mine are at the beginning of the journey.  We will be able to help each other.  His are veteran bloggers with a knowledge of most of the math we have not yet learned.  Mine will be able to help his new students out next year after their "Christmas Summer Break".

This is going to be a great experience.

Doing math the Dan Meyer way.
If you missed the presentation the other day please watch it here.

Dan is one of the few math teachers in the world who gets it.  He knows how to make kids figure out answers and ask better questions.

Dan walks a fine line between using a textbook and tweeking images to get kids thinking.  Once they start thinking mathematically they understand the knowledge more.  As I start into this second unit of rate, ration and proportion I will attempt to do what Dan does in his class.

WWDMD (what would Dan Meyer do) is my new mantra and will say it at least one day a week. Use image and video to stimulate questions in students and push them to learn math.

It is going to be a busy week but at least cross country wraps up!! That will gime me more time to fill up with other stuff.  Now what else is on my bucket list!