Friday, 20 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 7

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 7 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
education resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 5 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 7 Giveaway!
- Grade 10 Math Resources -
    
      Today I've created the following Symbaloo that includes over 40 awesome math resources that align with the Manitoba Grade 10 Essential Math curriculum! Not from Manitoba? Don't teach Grade 10? No worries! All of the resources can be utilized with various age groups depending on the level of depth you would like to get into.
 
     The Grade 10 Essential Math course, formally called Consumer Math, covers basic math skills that are utilized in a daily setting. These resources can be used:
- as large-group activities on your SMART Board
- as web-quests
- as activity plans if you have a substitute
- as individual options for students who are done early
- as review options before assessment
- etc

     The resources are colour coded by unit of study for easy searching:
Green     = Payroll & Tax Deductions
Black      = Metric & Imperial Measurement Systems
Pink        = 2D Geometry
Blue        = Trigonometry
- Brown    = Consumer Decisions


Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 5 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

 

Celebrate the holiday season by linking up and sharing some of your favourite resources!





(Submissions close in 4d 15h 50m)
Link tool by inlinkz.com

Thursday, 19 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 6

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 6 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
education resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 6 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 6 Giveaway!
- Grade 8 Math Resources -
     
     On Day 2 I featured an 84-page PowerPoint Presentation created for the Grade 8 Math unit on Rational Numbers. Today I've created the following Symbaloo that includes over 50 awesome math resources that align with the Manitoba Grade 8 Math curriculum! Not from Manitoba? Don't teach Grade 8? No worries! All of the resources can be utilized with various age groups depending on the level of depth you would like to get into. These resources can be used:
- as large-group activities on your SMART Board
- as web-quests
- as activity plans if you have a substitute
- as individual options for students who are done early
- as review options before assessment
- etc

     The resources are colour coded by unit of study for easy searching:
Red        = Rational Numbers
White     = Percent, Ratio, & Rate
- Blue        = Square Roots
Green     = Pythagorean Theorem
 


Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 6 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

 

Celebrate the holiday season by linking up and sharing some of your favourite resources!




(Submissions close in 4d 15h 50m)
Link tool by inlinkz.com

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas! Day 5

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 5 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
education resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 7 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 5 Giveaway!
- Grade 8 Science Cells & Systems Unit Plan -
 
        On Day 3 I shared over 70 awesome science resources aligned with the Grade 8 science curriculum. Today I am sharing my FULL unit plan: Cells & Systems. While originally created for the Grade 8 Manitoba Science curriculum, I believe that it features a lot of ideas and resources that can be utilized at other grade levels too.
 
     This 21 page file features:
-  Backwards By Design Planning Draft
- Assessment For, As, & Of Learning
- Cross-Curricular Ties
- Resources
- Calendar Outline
- Differentiation Checklist
 grade 8 science curriculum Manitoba, grade 8 science, teaching about cells, teaching about body systems, cells and systems resources, grade 8 science resources
 
     This file is  available via Dropbox.

 Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 7 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

  
Celebrate the holiday season by linking up and sharing some of your favourite resources!



(Submissions close in 6d 16h 3m)
Link tool by inlinkz.com

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 4

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
education resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 8 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 4 Giveaway!
- Grade 7 Science Ecosystems Unit Plan -
 
        On Day 1 I shared over 50 awesome science resources aligned with the Grade 7 science curriculum. Today I am sharing my FULL unit plan: Interactions With Ecosystems. While originally created for the Grade 7 Manitoba Science curriculum, I believe that it features a lot of ideas and resources that can be utilized at other grade levels too.
 
     This 23 page file features:
-  Backwards By Design Planning Draft
- Assessment For, As, & Of Learning
- Cross-Curricular Ties
- Resources
- Calendar Outline
- Differentiation Checklist
 
ecosystem resources, ecosystem classroom resources, ecosystems for kids
I Spy an Ecosystem. (Accessed 2013). Uploaded by ASU Ask a Biologist. Available online at: http://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/i-spy-ecosystem
 
     This file is  available via Dropbox.

 Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 7 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

 
Celebrate the holiday season by linking up and sharing some of your favourite resources!



(Submissions close in 6d 16h 3m)
Link tool by inlinkz.com

Monday, 16 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 3

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 3 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
education resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 9 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 3 Giveaway!
- Grade 8 Science Resources -
 
        I've created the following Symbaloo that includes over 70 awesome science resources that align with the Manitoba Grade 8 Science curriculum. Not from Manitoba? Don't teach Grade 8? No worries! All of the resources can be utilized with various age groups depending on the level of depth you would like to get into. These resources can be used:
- as large-group activities on your SMART Board
- as web-quests
- as activity plans if you have a substitute
- as individual options for students who are done early
- as review options before assessment
- etc

     The resources are colour coded by unit of study for easy searching:
Turquoise    = Cells & Systems
White           = Light/Optics
- Black           = Fluids
Blue             = Water Systems 
 
 



Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 9 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 2

Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome to Day 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway
 
seducation resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 11 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 2 Giveaway!
- Rational Numbers Unit PowerPoint -
 
     Today's resource provides you a detailed PowerPoint presentation on Rational Numbers. I use PowerPoint presentations like this to help my visual learners and to provide some basic note points for my linguistic learners.
     This fully-customizable 84 slide presentation covers Rational Numbers, Fractions, and Integers. In addition to lesson information for each of these three topics, it has built in:
- activating strategies
- ed resource links
- daily mental math questions
- exit slips
- center activity ideas
- Interactive Notebook integration
- review activities
 
     This file can be modified to fit the needs of your class so whether you are using it as is, using it for activity ideas, or changing it to match your classroom's needs, it is the perfect resource to add to your files!
 
Download the FULL 84 Slide Presentation from DropBox.
 
Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 10 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Day 1

Its that time of year again!
Last year I celebrated the Christmas season by hosting a
linky-event and I am bringing it back again this year!
 
seducation resource giveaway, free ed resources, education giveaway, 12 days of christmas giveaway, christmas classroom freebies, christmas classroom giveaway
 
Everyday, yes, EVERYDAY for the next 12 days
I will be giving away a classroom resource
that I have developed to everyone who visits!
It is, however, the holidays so I'd love for you to
 spread the Christmas cheer as well and link up to give away a resource of your own
 
You can link up and celebrate with us for 1 day, 2 days, or all 12 days! 
Please keep the holiday spirit going, if you enjoy the freebies, link up
below, share a resource through your blog, and link back to here
so other people can join up too!
 
12 Days of Christmas Day 1 Giveaway!
- Grade 7 Science Resources -
 
        I've created the following Symbaloo that includes over 50 awesome science resources that align with the Manitoba Grade 7 Science curriculum. Not from Manitoba? Don't teach Grade 7? No worries! All of the resources can be utilized with various age groups depending on the level of depth you would like to get into. These resources can be used:
- as large-group activities on your SMART Board
- as web-quests
- as activity plans if you have a substitute
- as individual options for students who are done early
- as review options before assessment
- etc

     The resources are colour coded by unit of study for easy searching:
- Green    = Ecosystems
- Red       = Earth's Crust
- Blue      = Particle Theory
- Grey      = Forces & Structures
    
 



Tune in EVERYDAY for the next 11 days
to take part in my giveaway and please link up and share in our celebration!

 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Dropping The Beat: Power Laws in The House!

     In Grade 9 math we have been discussing Powers, more specifically, the six major Power Laws:
- Power of a Power
- Zero Exponent Law
- Product of Powers
- Quotient of Powers
- Power of a Product
- Power of a Quotient
 
     After being introduced to each of these laws (over the course of four classes) and having time to practice applying them (over the course of four classes), my Grade 9 students are now creating songs about each of these laws! In groups of 4-6, students were assigned a specific Power Law to base their song lyrics on. Here are some examples that inspired us:
 
This video is by the Westerville South High School Math Club in Ohio.
I WISH I could be as cool as these math teachers!
Super Base (WSHS Math Rap Song). (2011). Uploaded to YouTube by WSHSmath. Available online at: http://youtu.be/QIZTruxt2rQ
 
This video is by one of the Vista Charter School math classes & showcases a great math-song example for those students who don't necessarily want to publish their faces (it is just lyrics).
Laws of Exponents (On The Floor Parody). (2011). Uploaded to YouTube by Mitchell Snow. Available online at: http://youtu.be/1p5kpP7C_CE
    
     When you think of math class, traditionally, you don't necessarily picture music playing a big role (not to mention actually creating music). Here are a few reasons why I decided to incorporate music into our class:
 
1 ) CREATION is the Highest Level on Bloom's Taxonomy
     - Composing song lyrics requires a deeper understanding
       of the concept in order to creatively represent the topic
       while matching it to a tune
 
2 ) The ADOLESCENT BRAIN Loves Music
     - Last year our division had Dr. Kathy Nunley speak about
       the adolescent brain & she discussed how music plays a
       large-role in adolescent development.
     - Music is a great way for their brain to create new branches
       between information (more branches, better understanding &
       retention).
     - Music also evokes emotions (happy, silly, mad, etc) which
       further aids in memory.
 
3 ) Students LOVE Music
     - It is very rare for me to look around and NOT see at least
       half of my students with their earphones permanently attached
       to their heads.
     - Music is a part of our student's daily routine, whether they are
       passive listeners or actively involved in creating their own
       music.
 
4 ) PARODIES Have a Huge Online Presence
     - The internet has no shortage of various song parodies and this
       assignment allows students to be a part of this movement
       and create something that, stylistically, represents something
       that they see day-in and day-out.  
 
     Students will be sharing their finished products with the class next Monday and I will be sure to share some of their creations! If you would like a copy of the assignment I created for this project, comment below (be sure to include you email).



Sunday, 8 December 2013

2 Stars & a Wish: Week 14

     This past week represented my shortest teaching week this year as I was away both Tuesday and Wednesday at a math conference. While I enjoyed the PD opportunity, and learnt a lot of effective strategies, it is a lot of work to be away from your classroom for so long. I came back to what felt like chaos since my room was no longer organized to my expectations (I may be a tad OCD) and not all of my students behaved the way they do while I am present. I had several students deviate from routines and fail to hand-in assignments to the substitute. With that in mind, however, two things that I think went well this week are:

1 ) Students Applying Their New Skills Independently
- Over the past few weeks we have been discussing drawing
  techniques in Grade 8 Art. We've explored different
  shading techniques, light sources, and 3D images through
  group and individual assignments.
- Late this week students began their independent assignments
  where they design their own assignment for the unit. I was
  pleasantly surprised to see my students seamlessly incorporating
  all of these strategies into their project choices without any
  reminders! It was good to know that our lessons have stuck
  with them and that they are ensuring to incorporate their
  new skills as they progress.

2 ) Student-Lead Discussion on Study Strategies
- My Grade 7 Science class is writing a unit test on Monday.
  To prepare them, I scheduled review/study classes on both
  Thursday and Friday. Thursday was more of a large-group
  review with discussion on the test format. On Friday I
  announced that it would be a study period so they needed
  to find a study strategy that would work for them.
- What followed was a great student-lead discussion on
  different study techniques such as:
     - re-reading notes
     - re-writing important information
     - creating flashcards
     - asking questions with a peer
     - creating your own study questions
     - creating acronyms or jingles to assist in memory
- I was really happy to see how aware they were of these
  different strategies! Furthermore, when I walked around
  the room, students were able to tell me WHY that strategy
  worked for them. Yay for metacognition!

     One thing I want to work on this week, however, is planning effective instructional time with my Grade 10 math class. I currently have students at approximately three different stages in this class. One group has completed everything I have assigned on time, one group is one assignment behind and one group is several assignments behind (despite clear due dates). This has resulted in instructional "lectures" getting really confusing because not all students are ready for that portion and they are getting confused and frustrated. I would really like to have as many students as possible at the same place before we go into the Christmas break.

Week 13 Update:

     Last week I shared that I wanted to work on creating effective substitute plans as I was away for two days this week. I received some good feedback from my sub that she really liked my substitute teacher binder and how organized my resources were! Since she is not in our school all the time I don't really have any more feedback than this but I am pleased that she found the resources I left helpful and clear.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

David McKillop: Mental Math Strategies in Middle Years

     Today was day one of a two-day professional development session I'm attending as part of my Professional Growth Plan for the 2013-2014 school year. The sessions, presented by David McKillop, focus on mental math strategies (today) and assessment practices (tomorrow). David has over 30 years experience in the education field and is currently involved with Pearson's "First Steps" and "Numeracy Nets" programs.

     I haven't developed a passion for math the same way I have for social studies and earth sciences but I felt that David's presentation was very engaging (there was even singing!?) and I'm walking away with several strategies that I can utilize in my classroom immediately.

     David introduced his session by discussing the concept of "math tourists". These are our students who see the information, pass it by, maybe discuss it once or twice, but never truly take ownership of it. He mentioned that a lot of times our students focus more on the physical numbers that they recognize as opposed to the meaning behind the operation, which is why we have students misapplying strategies because they don't understand the background behind why they are doing what they are doing.

     The first half of the day was devoted to multiplication strategies while the second half provided strategies for division, estimation, & percentages. Here are some of the notes I took throughout the day:


Skills You Need When Using Multiplication Strategies
1 ) knowledge of your multiplication facts
2 ) an understanding of properties
     - associative property
     - distributive property
3 ) an understanding of the meaning of multiplication
4 ) an understanding of place value
     - when multiplying using standard algorithms we often
       hear students immediately say something like, "I'm
       carrying the 5". No, you are actually carrying 50.
5 ) an ability to partition numbers
** teach knowledge of strategies that will go into long-term memory,
     NOT quick tricks that are forgotten next week

Multiplication Strategies
1 ) Front-end Strategy
     (ex) 6 x 59 = (6 x 50) + (6 x 9) = 300 + 54 = 354

2 ) Compensation Strategy
     (ex) 6 x 60 = (6 x 60) - 6 = 360 - 6 = 354

3 ) Standard Algorithm
     (ex) 59
            x6

4 ) Using Compatible Factors
     (ex) 50 x 46 x 2 = (50 x 2) x 46 = 100 x 46 = 4600
     - Requires an understanding of the associative property
     - Think, what will get me to a benchmark number like 100

5 ) Finding Compatible Factors
     (ex) 25 x 48 = 25 x (4 x 12) = (25 x 4) x 12 = 100 x 12 = 1200

6 ) Halving & Doubling
     (ex) 28 x 50 = (0.5 x 28) x (50 x 2) = 14 x 100 = 1400

* A good way to have students "discover" strategies is to present
   them with a problem and have them share what steps they used
   to find an answer. (students usually share all these strategies
   except halving and doubling)

Multiplication Facts
- your multiplication facts provide the basis of all mental math
  strategies & they facilitate the development of all other math
  concepts as you use multiplication, in some depth, in all units
- your working memory can retrieve 7-10 items at one time &
  we really expect students to be able to bring ALL their
  multiplication facts at one time?
- we want our facts to be clustered in groups that can be
  retrieved by strategies
     - so students can remember 6-8 strategies rather than 100
       discrete facts
- 2s                  double addition

- 9s                  nifty nines

- 5s                  clock facts

- 0s                  tricky zeros

- 1s                  no change

- 3s                  double plus one more set

- 4s                  double-double (4 x 8 = double 8 (16), double that (32))

** the last 9 facts that aren’t covered through these strategies are determined through “helping facts” that you already know (have students suggest strategies for these ones)
 
Pictorial Representation of Multiplication of Fractions
David McKillop, David McKillop Pearson, how to draw multiplication of fractions
 
Division
- think multiplication…
1 ) Partitioning the Dividend
     - 420 (70 x 6)     18 (3 x 6)
     - 248 ÷ 4 = (240 + 8) ÷ 4 = 60 + 2 = 62
     - 8280 ÷ 9 = (8100 + 180) ÷ 9 = 900 +20 = 920
     - 344 ÷ 8 = (320 + 24) ÷ 8 = 40 + 3 = 43
 
2 ) Compensation 
      - $1393 shared between 7 people
            - $1400 would be $200 each but 1400 is 7 more than
               1393. 7 more for 7 people = $199 each
 
3 ) Balancing For a Constant Quotient
     - changing a division question to an equivalent question so your
        answer is the same but the process is easier
     - 125 ÷ 5 = (multiply both by 2) 250 ÷ 10 = 25
     - 120 ÷ 2.5 = (multiply both by 4) 480 ÷ 10 = 48
      - 23.5 ÷ .5 = (multiply both by 2) 47 ÷ 1 = 47
 
** uses the right language (NO “goes into”)
     - 8 goes into 344 (NO)
             - 344 goes into groups of 8
     - 420 ÷ 6 =
              - 420 goes into 6 groups with 70 in each group
_______________________________________
 
     Overall, I am very impressed with my first day with David; I feel like I have a better understanding of student challenges and feel prepared to incorporate these strategies to help students be more successful. As alluded to, here is a sneak look at some of the singing we enjoyed...
 


Resources
Mental Math Support Booklets
Mental Math Support Videos

Sunday, 1 December 2013

2 Stars & a Wish: Week 13

     Tis' the season! December is upon us and there is only 15 teaching days left until Christmas holidays. Technically it is even less since I am away at a conference 2 days this week and we have some spirit activities in the last week that will take away from class time. Again I fell off the reflection-bandwagon due to the craziness that is report cards & parent-teach interviews but I am committed to keeping with this! Two things that I think went well this week are:

1) Incorporating Student Suggestions in My Grade 10 Class
- Shortly after report cards went out I asked my students to give me a
  report card (anonymously) so they could share their thoughts on the
  class. I feel like my students answered very honestly and, since then,
  I've been trying to incorporate their suggestions whenever possible.
- Some examples of this has been having my students create their own
  rubrics for assessment, providing more choices with assignments, &
  building in instructional groupings so students who need more
  explanations can get assistance and students who don't can go right into
  activities.

2) Having My Students Getting More Excited About Blogging
- Previously, I had a few students who were apprehensive about
  blogging since their writing could be seen by anyone. They would be
  nervous when they were picked as a blog scribe for the day and would
  spell-check again and again before hitting publish.
- This week, I shared Dean Shareski's blog posts about Why You Can't
  Click Publish, with my students. He talks about how publishing a book
  is designed to answer all questions on the topic while a blog is always
  evolving and meant to be a ongoing piece of work that invites
  conversation.
- After this I had one of my students who had previously been nervous
  about blogging actually blog twice this week!

     This week I am away both Tuesday & Wednesday so it is my goal to plan efficient and effective substitute plans for my substitute teacher. I've never been away for two days in a row and when I've previously had a substitute teacher my students were near the end of a unit and mostly working on unit projects. The majority of my classes have just begun new units and are still developing their skills in the topic. I hope it all goes well!!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

#MTBoS Mission 7 - A Day In A Life

 math twitter blogosphere, mathtwitterblogosphere, mtbos, MTBoS, math  mooc, mission 1: MTBoS
 
     At the start of October I signed up to participate in #MTBoS as a way to connect with more math educators and learn about different strategies/activities that could help me as a first year math teacher. I'm not exactly sure what I did wrong, but I signed up to get the weekly challenges emailed to me and added their wordpress blog to my Feedly account and for some reason I never got any updates!

     8 weeks later... I noticed that a few of the bloggers that I follow have jumped on the #MTBoS wagon and are blogging about week 7! At first I felt mad because I felt like I've missed out on so much and I didn't understand how come the information didn't get through. Then I felt embarrassed because I was so busy with everything that comes as a first year teacher that I never remembered that I could just go back to the original website to check instead of expecting everything to always get sent correctly.

     Regardless, I'd like to participate in both Mission 7 & 8 this weekend, it is never to late to learn and share!

Mission 7: A Day In Your Life

You’ve read about what other people are doing in snippets and snapshots. You’ve shared about yourself in 140 characters or less. This week is your chance to know more, and to share more. Just about this time last year, a concurrence of events led to people who were frustrated with the perception of teachers by the general public. We wanted the world to know exactly what it is like to walk a mile in our shoes. Some of our shoes drive a long commute while others walk across campus to get to class. Certain teachers’ shoes are tied tight to race from one class to the next as they try to beat their students. Others have a change of shoes as they get out on the track or court or field to coach. All of us have a different story to tell, but we all have tired feet by the end of the day!

     I don't only just teach math (I also teach Grade 7 Science, Grade 8 Science, and Grade 8 Art) so I'm going to share what my day was like on Wednesday as I have all of my math classes on that day.

Period 1-2: Grade 8 Science

Period 3: Grade 8 Art

Period 4-5: Grade 8 Math
- This week we started our new unit on Squares & Square Roots.
- Every class begins with a mental math activating activity. Students
  participate in mental math every day, which they keep in a duotang
  in our room. Every week we have a mental math hand-in day where
  students can select 1 mental math activity from their duotang to hand
  in for assessment.
- As I introduced our new units, students were provided with the
  definition of what it means to "square a number". We then went
  through representing squared numbers with symbols, multiplication,
  and pictorial representations. For this, we alternated between
  teacher-lead instruction and student-lead example questions. In our
  math class, we use individual white boards ALL the time when
  practicing questions so we utilized these while going through this
  practice:

individual white boards in math instruction
This isn't my classroom but it allows you to get an idea.














- We also created a benchmarks chart that summarized our
  perfect squares from 1x1 to 13x13.

LUNCH

Period 6-7: Grade 10 Essential Math
- This week we started a new unit on Consumer Decisions.
- Every class begins with a mental math activating activity. Students
  participate in mental math every day, which they keep in a duotang
  in our room. Every week we have a mental math hand-in day where
  students can select 1 mental math activity from their duotang to hand
  in for assessment.
- We've been having discussions about consumer decisions as we've
  lead up to this unit (especially with Christmas shopping season
  starting), so my students had a good background on what this unit
  entailed before we officially started. We started by brainstorming in
  table groups about why consumers might pay more for an item than
  its actually worth:
     - Location (sports stadium, theatre, remote area)
     - Timing (holiday season, in demand products, natural disaster)
     - Etc
- After sharing these ideas as a class, we began discussing unit
  pricing. As part of this discussion, groups were presented with a
  shopping scenario:
     - Starting a new sport & need equipment
     - Going on a camping trip
     - Accessorizing their new vehicle
     - Etc
  Students came up with a shopping list of 5 items that fit their
  scenario and then researched what their unit price would be in our
  area, what it would be in our province's major city, and what it
  would be in a city in the US.

Period 8-9: Grade 9 Math
- We are working on a unit on Power Laws.
- Every class begins with a mental math activating activity. Students
  participate in mental math every day, which they keep in a duotang
  in our room. Every week we have a mental math hand-in day where
  students can select 1 mental math activity from their duotang to hand
  in for assessment.
- We've previously gone through 6 Power Laws in group settings as 
  well as in a full-class setting with student-lead example questions.
  Students are now practicing their application of these laws. I
  provide students  with three different sets of practice questions &
  they get to chose what set they want to complete for each Power Law.

HOME TIME

     So that is a glimpse of what one of my days might look like. I feel like I could dedicate post(s) to each of those individual classes so if you want more details on anything don't hesitate to comment!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Stanley the Koosh Ball!

This post is for all of you that have a SMART Board or other brand
of Interactive Whiteboard in your classroom.
Did you know that you can use a "Koosh Ball" to activate your
board and, thus, create a kinesthetic learning opportunity for your students?
 
Before I graduated with my B.Ed I spent a lot of time substitute teaching
in a Kindergarten class near our home. As part of their morning
calendar time, students reviewed months/days/years by activating review
prompts on their SMART Board with a "Koosh Ball".
 
These rubbery balls are the perfect sensory tools if you have students
that need "fidget toys" but they also work perfect for this activity
because they activate the SMART Board but are so soft that you won't
damage it by throwing them at the screen!
 
I got used to this activity while substitute teaching and then promptly
forgot about it because I didn't think my Grade 7-10 students
would want anything to do with it. Then, however, I came across "Stanley".
 
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Ball Toys. (2011). Uploaded by Heidi Ferrer. Available online at: http://girltomom.com/mommy-mistake/stop-thief
 
Now I don't have an exact picture of Stanley but he is blue, has a cute little face, and looks
just like the "Koosh Ball" in the photo above.
I purchased Stanley from our dollar store for $2 & thought I'd give it
a try because I felt like I was having a hard time building in enough
kinesthetic activities in our math classes.
 
Surprisingly, my Grade 8 students LOVE Stanley!!
They bought right into Stanley as a "character".
- He only likes math so that is the only time we see him
- He lives in the bottom drawer of my desk because he is scared of the outdoors
- He lives off of pickles, broken pencils, and chewed up loose-leaf
 
I've used Stanley as an activating strategy to reveal new information
as well as a review strategy to quiz students.
What is even better, is that SMART Exchange has 100's of
"Koosh Ball" Review Templates that you can use and modify
to suit your class needs and subject area!
 
Tips/Tricks That Have Worked For Me Using "Koosh Ball" Activities with Middle/High School
 
- Create a story to go behind why you are doing the activity.
  It can be funny or crazy but a story helps students at this age
  buy into the activity.
- Have an "x" on the floor to mark where students can throw from.
- Build in an underhand throw rule if your students throw TOO hard.
- If you have bigger class sizes, incorporate an activity so that students
  are in groups or completing another aspect of the activity so they have
  something to do while another student is throwing.
 
Do you use "Koosh Balls" in your classroom?
If you have any activity ideas or tips that you want to share, leave them in the comment section below!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

My 1st Parent-Teacher Experience

     On Monday of this week our first round of report cards went home and officially kicked-off Parent-Teacher Interview week. Being that we are a K-12 school, our K-7 teachers scheduled and organized their own meetings which ran throughout the week. In the 8-12 end, our school secretary scheduled our meetings for us which were primarily held on Thursday after school and Friday during school-hours (there were no classes on Friday).

     Thursday marked a full day of teaching from 8:50-3:30 and then straight into interviews beginning at 4. By the time I had straightened up my room and ran to the bathroom, parents were already walking down the hall (talk about a busy day)! Our interviews are scheduled in 10 minute blocks and with the exception of a 20 minute break, I was scheduled from 4pm to 8pm! I'm proud to say that for approximately 95% of my interviews I was on-time and didn't have to be concerned about running over time. Near the end of my schedule, however, I had one interview that ran over and resulted in me not actually being done until 9:30pm! Over 12 hours at school is way too long for me...

     Friday was more spread out and I felt more prepared having a full evening under my belt already. Our staff was able to go uptown for lunch together and I was done early at 2:15!

ORGANIZATION/SET-UP

     Here are some organizational aspects that I included when  setting up for my interviews:

1 ) Clearly Posting The Schedule Outside The Door
- This way parents could visually see that someone would be coming
   after them and that there was only so much time (it seemed to prevent some
   interviews from running over time).
- It also let other parents know when you were with someone so that they
   weren't walking in during the middle of someone else's interview.

 2 ) Having Portfolios of Student Work
- Before interviews, have students place samples of their work in a duotang
  so that their parents can see their actual products of work and see the
  rationalization behind the assessment.
- It seemed like a lot of parents had a better understanding about their child's
  mark once they were able to see the work that they had completed and it helped
  to have a visual when explaining what the student's "next step" could be.
* Make sure to pick work samples that demonstrate different skill sets
  (knowledge/understanding, mental math, problem solving) and/or from the
   different units of study (rational numbers, percentages, etc).

3 ) Having a Detailed Print-Off Of Their Mark Ready
- I found that a lot of parents didn't come into the meeting with a copy of their
  child's report cards or the child hadn't brought their report card home with
  them.By having a detailed print out of a student's marks in your class it is
  easy to show parents what assignments are missing, trends in marks, and
  provides insight if they hadn't seen the report card yet.

4 ) Setting up a Tech Station Outside The Door
- This way parent could explore through our classroom website or the Grade
  8 class blog while they waited for their interview. This received positive
  responses and I had several parents on the computer when I went to
  welcome them to the interview.

     When I first posted about Parent-Teacher Interviews when I was student-teaching I summarized some of the different types of interviews you can encounter. Now that I've gone through interviews independently, I'd like to revisit these types:

STUDENT WHO IS DOING WELL
     We all know this student, he/she is the one who has marks in the mid 80's and up, they have all of their work in on time and very rarely present behavioural challenges in class. These interviews were very short and to the point. More often than not these interviews just reassure the parents that their child is still doing well in the class and that they should keep up the good work through the remainder of the course. At times, the parent was interested in knowing how they child could do even better but for the most part, these interviews were very short as there wasn't a lot of information that needed to be covered.

     Depending on the student, these interviews may discuss the option of enrichment material as well. Luckily for me, the High School math teacher is right next door to me so it was easy to quickly include him in the conversation if the student/parent was interested in adding in enrichment activities from the upper-years math classes.

STUDENT WHO IS STRUGGLING (PERSONAL EFFORT)

     These students are the ones who have the potential to do quite well in the class but, for various reasons, are not applying themselves. Some reasons for this could be:
- Not taking the time to fully complete their assignments
- Not handing in assignments for assessment
- Not attending class
- Not interested in the class
- Influenced negatively by peers, etc

    These interviews tended to address the fact that I knew the student understood the material but due to the student's personal effort, their understanding wasn't being reflected when it came to assessment activities. Most of the time, the parents were quite aware of their child's behaviour and the discussion shifted from their child's assessment to what can be done to assist the student in getting on track. For a lot of students, we used the pre-printed reports to highlight missing work and make lists of what the students can complete, or re-do, in order to boost their mark. We also discussed options like coming in during study periods, lunch hours, and after school to work on assignments and receive additional support to get caught up.

     While I realize that these type of interviews could be challenging, I found that most parents were very aware of their child's personality and weren't surprised that their child needed to apply themselves more often. I think that, for a lot of students, this type of behaviour is just a part of growing up and learning responsibility and accountability.

STUDENT WHO IS STRUGGLING (UNDERLYING CONCERN)


     These students are the ones who are continually struggling in multiple core-area subjects and the parents and teachers have begin to consider adaptations to help the student succeed. Some situations I experienced were:
- Students encountering new medical concerns that were presenting
  challenges for the student
- Students who may be undergoing assessments for a possible learning
  disability
- Students who comprehend but are unable to produce any tangible
  products for assessment.

     These interviews focused on the fact that there was some sort of underlying concern that was preventing the student from succeeding and having a positive learning experience. For almost all of the students who were in this group we discussed the resources and supports that may be available to them in the school. We also set up meetings with the school's resource teacher when it was appropriate. This allowed the teacher to have some type of documentation about the student's challenges and would allow them to implement certain adaptations once the resource team had addressed the student's specific situation. Until assessment with the resource team could take place, we discussed adaptations that could be implemented  right away. These included bringing in laptops to type assignments, using voice-to-text software, having verbal assessment options so students can verbally explain their understanding and recording in-class explanations.


STUDENT WHOSE PARENT IS UNHAPPY


     These students had their parent(s) come into the meeting very unhappy with various aspects of the class or school in general. Some concerns that were addressed with me included:
- Frustration over Grade 10 Essential Math being mandatory
- Anger towards disciplinary actions occurring through another
  teacher or administration
- Unhappiness with the wording of Report Card comments
     These interviews were more about school operations, me as a teacher, and classroom routine as opposed to the student and their progress. I will start by saying that these types of interviews are mentally and emotionally exhausting. Depending on the parent and what their concern is, you might not be the one who can assist them. For these types of interviews, remember to reference back to your anecdotal records to provide specific examples and recognize when to direct to administration for the concerns that were not in your jurisdiction.

TIPS
(in no particular order)

- Speak to what was communicated on the report card (both academically
  and behaviourally). This ensures the parent/guardian fully understands
  what the report was telling them.
- Having print-offs of the most current achievement report (including
  report card comments) is a great reminder if you're on your 101st
  interview and can no longer think clearly!
- Write notes to yourself after each interview (if needed) so you can
  follow-up effectively (I would never remember otherwise)
- Have your anecdotal records handy, don't mention behaviours or
  situations that you can't back up with documentation!
- If your discussion warrants a follow-up phone-call make sure you
  note this and put it into your planner after interviews are done, there
  is nothing worse than promising to do something and then forgetting!
- If you are not the right person to talk to regarding a certain situation
  then make sure you direct the parent to the correct person, don't try
  to tackle something that isn't in your area.
- Relax, focus, and take it one interview at a time! :)