Wednesday 23 November 2011

Math 8: Sticky Note Success

This post is courtesy of Middle School teacher Pam Rutten.

Monday morning always seems to be a struggle for my students to get motivated, especially in math. So I am really focusing on Monday mornings and how I can get them engaged right off the bat. This Monday I tried a little activity with Sticky Notes. We are working with fractions, decimals and percents. I wanted them to be able to convert a fraction into a decimal, or a decimal into a fraction, etc. and understand what the values actually meant. I split the class into 6 groups of 4 and gave each group sticky notes. I then wrote 14 different values in the board (.0067, 75%, 3/5, etc) and had them write one value on one sticky note. I then gave each group a section of blackboard and their task was to place their values in ascending order on the board. I made it a competition to see who could complete the task first. Those were the only instructions I gave them. In order for them to do this, they first had to recognize that it would be easiest to convert them all to the same type (either all fractions, all decimals, or all percents), and then order. So it was very interesting to watch. All the students were very engaged and discussing with their group about how to go about the task. A few of the groups converted all to percent and a few converted all to decimals and then ordered them. Once they thought they had it correct they would call me over and I would simply say "error" if there was one and they would all go crazy and try again. Once they had all figured it out I had each group pick a representative to share the approach their group took to solve the problem. Then to top it off, no group had converted to fractions, so I had another race to see which group could now convert all the values to fractions first. Overall, I would say it was very successful, and the students had a much clearer understanding than they did at the beginning of the class.

Monday 21 November 2011

Tableaus-Social Studies 9

So I decided to try tableaus in class yesterday. It was a refreshing break from some fairly dry content material (life in New France). The students were really into it and were able to explain their tableaus well and include key issues and events.

I started off class today with questions about the material yesterday and most the class was able to answer them adequately. (Marcus Krieger)

Sunday 20 November 2011

Grade 8: Choice...and censorship

This post courtesy of Middle School teacher Lindsay Anderson.

For Remembrance Day, students were given an option for how to represent a veteran's story of their choosing:  poem, interview, illustration, letter, etc. One of my students did an amazing job on this assignment! He is really into Call-of-Duty video games (war based), and so first of all liked the idea of researching a real war veteran. He wanted to not only create a picture, but also write a poem! (He was only required to complete one option but decided to do an extra one as well). I wanted to blog about this particular assignment because in this assignment I saw how by allowing this student to make connections to something I didn't really "approve" of, he came up with something really meaningful. When this student was working on this assignment, he was chatting with his friends and making connections to his video game. A part of me wanted to shut the discussion down, but a part of me enjoyed seeing him get so excited about something that he is good at, and apply it to the assignment.  On a similar note, a few weeks ago students were given the option of creating Facebook pages on the protagonist in one of our stories,again, I was thinking, Is Facebook really appropriate? but the results that I got were excellent. Students loved using Facebook. They totally hit the learning outcome (showing conflict), and had fun.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Math 9: Rational Numbers

In Melissa Berrisford’s math 9 class, as an alternative to individual work, the students were put into groups of four for a game. Each student was given a piece of paper and asked to divide it into 8 sections (they could choose to fold the paper however they wanted). Then a problem was put on the overhead and every student wrote the problem down on their paper individually but they were all expected to collaborate in how they solved it. The whole group then had to agree on a final answer at which point one appointed student would raise their answer in the air and ask the teacher to check it. If the answer was correct the group would be allowed to advance to the next problem (the students worked through a total of 8 problems).

The whole thing is a competition (to see which group can successfully complete the 8 problems) and it engages students who like to compete but it also takes the risk away from less confident students as they are allowed to work through their answers with other students, and they don’t have to hold up their answers by themselves. This same game format could be used for various topics.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Playdough-Spanish 9

This is a video that shows a Spanish 9 class playing a game similar to Pictionary but with play dough. The students were given a list of 15 new vocabulary words. First they worked with a partner for 10 minutes to create a play dough symbol for each word. For example a lake could be a blob of blue. This encouraged the students to become familiar with the vocabulary. Then they played a game with another pair of students. One student from each pair picked a word from the list that they would like to "show" with play dough. They quickly created their play dough symbol and the first partner to say the work in Spanish won that round.

This post courtesy of Anita Mosher

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Socials 10

This blog courtesy of Russ Reid

Due to the shortened weeks and a couple of family life classes I had not seen my grade 10 class for three classes - which translated into almost a full two weeks. In addition, the class was the first block of the day so I figured I needed to do something a bit active and interactive. Each student was given a list of key terms (in the middle of the paper) with the three complaints / themes in half circles. They were to colour each theme differently and then link the terms to a corresponding theme. SEE VIDEO ABOVE

For a morning class of 15/16 year olds and a topic (rebellion of Upper Canada) that is not the most exciting (one might relate it to rational numbers in math) they were all engaged and interacting with each other. It was interesting how each student choose to connect the terms (by colour or lines) as well as, how and when they realized there was an overlap in many of the terms (ie they linked to different themes).

As a class we then placed the terms on the board (SEE VIDEO BELOW) and discussed how many of them overlapped.

The class had movement (while sitting and moving to the board), there was elements of individual and class discussion. I am not too sure if this will improve their grade, however, the engagement factor was at a high level and I believe they were showing a better understanding of the complaints the lower class of upper canada had prior to the Upper Canada Rebellion.

The next step will be to take these terms and add images to them. Have them create their own chart of complaints in the appropriate theme. This will be done using a Venn Diagram (yeah math). It will culminate to a written paragraph identifying the main complaints.

Monday 7 November 2011

Small Improvements

This is a reflection post from middle school teacher Lauren Vallis.

So, usually Taylor (not the student's real name) shows disinterest in what we're doing in class. He will sit and stare at his work, but not do it. He will complain that he doesn't know any of the answers or he doesn't understand. A couple of days ago, I posted some notes around the room and had my class moving around to find them and write them down. Taylor was very engaged in this process. He was working the entire time. Even when it was time to take those notes to their desks and copy them onto post-its (to eventually put them in order of the events that take place in the circulatory system), he kept working.

In addition to that, yesterday he was in at lunch to complete some missing tasks. He actually came and asked me if he had written enough! Normally, he might try to submit something unfinished because he doesn't want to put any more effort into it.

Today, the class did mini skits to act out certain events from our novel and he participated without a single complaint!

Sunday 6 November 2011

Window Writers- Literature 12

Friday's Class (Nov. 4th) The students have a quiz next Tues on the first 2 acts of King Lear. In the past I have put students into groups and made each group responsible for one scene. They have to write down the key events, pick 2 key quotes, draw 2 key images and connect the events in the scene to any of the "big ideas" in the play. In the past the students have done this on paper and I've photocopied a booklet for the students to study from. Today I decided to give each group window writers and complete the assignment on windows. In the past this never would have worked because of lack of window space but this time I used the library which worked very well. I couldn't fit everyone in the library but I had 2 groups in my classroom and 2 groups on hallway windows.

Most groups were engaged for the entire activity (they had about 40 minutes-the first half of class was spent on discussion of one of the themes in the play, review of key ideas and 15 minutes of video). I made up the groups and put a lot of thought into who was working with who. After groups were finished I interviewed at least one member of each group on video to check for understanding.

Post activity reflection: There were 2 groups that had particularly difficult scenes to explain. I should have anticipated this and had some support sheets to scaffold their understanding. As it was I spent longer than I would have liked with these two groups while I personally took them through the text.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Cameras In Class

We are on day 3 of "King Lear". I may have resigned myself to the fact that this class will never enjoy sitting still while I personally try to explain ANYTHING to them. However, as soon as I ask them to get up and participate in an activity the results are great. We are about a fifth of the way through the play and the kids need to start reflecting on certain key ideas that are starting to show up. I decided to break the class into groups of three and give them a "big idea" to track (betrayal, loyalty, blindness, disguise). The students wrote down examples of these themes in the play and characters who have demonstrated them (I have done this many times in the past). Today I added the extra step of having the kids choose one partner to pose as a character and write out one thing the character did that linked to a "big idea". The students took most of the pictures with my camera and a few kids used their cell phones and then emailed the pictures to me. I'll put a little slide show together for them tomorrow as a review. (Note: the written notes are from a student that usually disengages in any form of written activity, but in this case he had group members to support him and he liked the photo activity that came after).