Monday 30 April 2012

Linear Equations Business Proposal-Math 9

Student Example: "Monkeys Ahoy" (video explanation)

These students created their company assignment on the computer

These students chose a non-computer option for their explanation

Linear Relations Activity

Create Your Own Taxi or Phone Company!
Please complete all tasks from #1 to #10.  As you complete a task, place a check mark in the box provided on the left-hand side.

Task #1) Create a name for your taxi or phone company.
Task #2) Select a “fee for service” that your company will charge for a certain amount of time (or kilometres for a taxi company).  For example, a taxi company:  $1 for every 2 km   OR $1 for every 5 minutes
Task #3) Decide upon a flat fee (boarding rate for taxi company and set up charges for a phone company). For example, the flat fee is a small charge that is automatically billed to the customer upon stepping into the taxi. Often, the flat fee is about $2. Similarly, phone companies may have a minimum charge (connection fee) for the set up. 
Task #4)  Organize the data in a table of values.  Identify the independent and dependent variable.  Then write the equation that represents the rate of your company! 
Task #5)  Graph the linear relation using either the computer or graph paper.  Make sure you label the axes.
Task#6) Write a brief summary to explain what your company will charge for the flat fee as well as the ongoing rate. Explain why it is a linear relation. 
Task #7)  Make up two questions that will accompany your table of values and graph for other students to answer.  Answer the questions yourself as well but record them on the back of the page.
                    1) One  question that students will use interpolation to answer (students will use the graph to estimate values between points that are ON your graph).
                     2) One question that students will use extrapolation to answer (students will use the graph to predict values that do NOT lie on the graph). 
Task #8) Display your table, graph, written summary and two questions neatly on poster paper. 

Task #9) Share your poster with the teacher and either a partner, small group, or the entire class. 
       Task #10) Create either a logo, slogan or picture for your company and add it to your poster.

This post courtesy of Melissa Berrisford 

Tuesday 24 April 2012

The Importance of Idea Exchange

Numerous couches and lamps in Scott Findley's classroom
Last week I was lucky enough to get a rare experience for a high school teacher. I got to board a plane and fly to another district (Coquitlam) and experience an entire day of exposure to creative and interesting ideas that other teachers were trying.  In one jam packed session, Judith, Jeff and I got a tour of the “Talons” program for gifted students and the “Jumpstart” program (a program that completely integrates English, Social Studies and Art) at Gleneagle Secondary, and we also had a chance to speak with English teacher Scott Findley who has created a unique use of space and furniture in his classroom.
In the afternoon we had a small conference session with 2 more teachers. Graham Scott spoke about his approaches in his art classroom, and Alysa Patching explained her experiences with a cross grades (6-8) class that was completely immersed in project based learning. The entire day was amazing. Despite getting up at 4:30 am, the three of us couldn't help but spend the entire evening debriefing from our day and discussing ideas for our own district. 
Here are some of the lessons I took away from the experience:
  • There are passionate educators everywhere, and being around someone who is inspired by the work they are doing (regardless of the subject area/district/age of students etc) is truly empowering
  • The teachers who are designing and running creative and cutting edge programs don't have everything figured out already. They have taken a good idea and run with it and are solving problems along the way. 
  • Students in these classrooms are being successful. While we only got a snapshot, the students we observed were motivated and engaged. Stories from their teachers confirmed they were having success. 
  • Collaboration is the way to go. Many of the projects and programs we observed had a number of teachers working together and inspiring each other to push their boundaries, as well as supporting each other with resource development, planning etc.
  • Great ideas can come from unexpected sources. Just because you teach grade 12 doesn't mean you can't use a great idea from a grade 1 teacher. An idea from a math teacher can change the look of  a humanities classroom. 
  • There wasn't a single thing we saw that we wanted to replicate in its entirety. Looking at other programs and watching other teachers wasn't about copying things exactly or replicating things completely. Instead we saw many facets of things that we could apply in our own contexts. We also started thinking in new ways after being exposed to other methods of doing things. 
Possibly the most important lesson I learned was: We need to have more sharing sessions like this one.

While I know that the finances aren't available to fly teachers around the province and let them spend entire days observing other schools, we could certainly make the effort to share more ideas within individual districts, and between districts that are close to one another. 

A sincere thank-you to all the SD 43 teachers who spoke with us and allowed us into their classrooms. As well, thanks again to Elspeth for organizing the day!

Monday 23 April 2012

Some Different Ideas for the Pythagorean Theorem

We have been learning about the pythagorean theorem and the area of the squares of the sides of a right triangle.  I found a cool little jigsaw puzzle that shows the idea.  I have been giving the students 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each class throughout the unit to try and figure it out.  It is quite interesting, one student figured it out within the first class.  But none of the other students have figured it out yet.  I have math first block, so it is a great way to get the students to wake up and get them interested.  They are all into it and it really bugs them that they can't figure it out.  I have a few students that are working on it at home, but still haven't got it. 

Next was practicing Pythagorean Triples.  Rather than just giving them a bunch to try out on a sheet of paper, we did a little sticky note activity.  I created 10 or so triples, then put them in a chart.  I took out 1 or 2 numbers from each triplet.  I then put the class in groups and gave them each a section of the board and some sticky notes.  I then gave them the missing numbers and got them to write each number on a sticky note.  I then got them to write the chart, with the blanks, on the board.  Once every group was at this point, I made it a race, and had them complete each triplet.  It was just another way for them to practice using the pytahgorean theorem with a little bit more excitement

I have now started a little activity outside to show the practical use of The Pythagorean Theorem.  We are having a kite flying competition, where they need to determine the height of the kite using the Pythagorean Theorem.  The first class I told them we were going to have this competition, but before we go out to actually fly kites, they need to be able to tell me how they are going to actually determine the height.  So they discussed with their group and came up with their method.  The next class we continued our discussion and then came up with the most accurate way to do it.  We went out and started the activity today, and will continute tommorow.  Apparently I need to give a little lesson on kite flying as well.  However, we will get the idea across and have some fun with it. We have cheap little dollar store kites, as well as nice big kites.  Pictures and videos of this activity will come once we have it completed.

My last little activity will be for the students to go outside and determine the lengths of specfic items outside.  I made up a little worksheet where they go outside and take the measurements of certain sides of specific items and then use pythagorean theorem to find the last side.  Rather than doing the textbook applications, we use actual applications.

A fun unit, really easy to use real-life applications!  Post Courtesy of Pam Rutten

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Practical Applications in Formal Assessments-Science 9

Tim Haberstock decided to try adding a practical hands-on component to his unit test in Science 9. One section of the test required students to demonstrate their understanding of circuits by building an actual circuit. 4 students at a time came up to the stations at the front of the room while the rest of the class worked on the written sections of the exam.

Tim's primary concern was that it might not be possible to rotate all the students through the stations before the end of the test. The last group ended up finishing just as the block was over. Tim's goal is to now add at least one practical/hands-on component to each of his formal assessments.

Some observations he had:

  • Students who had difficulty with written response, (but understood the concepts) were able to accurately demonstrate their understanding
  • He was able to circulate through the stations and give students hints if they were completely stuck (so they would at least get partial marks and not a zero on the entire question)
  • Most students benefitted from the opportunity to get up and move around once during the test. It seemed to allow them to focus more for the remainder of the class when they were in their seats
  • Certain students who were very comfortable with explaining the circuits in written form were actually not comfortable with having to get up and actually build a circuit. It pushed them out of their comfort zone and a few of them did not like it. Some students on the other hand absolutely shone in their ability to quickly solve the circuit questions.

Note: Click Here for a related example of a Math assessment using manipulatives. 

Thursday 12 April 2012

Providing Options

Adaptation of the curriculum might well be an approach to meeting the needs of students who have a story to tell - students who miss school, or who are disassociated from the day to day activities of the classroom because of extraneous circumstances might have an opportunity to meet the learning objectives in a different way.
            We all have many students in our classrooms who have important or devastating things happening in their lives.  Currently a student whose parents are in the process of splitting up is grappling with what is happening in class but is really so distracted by what is happening at home that she is not succeeding with class expectations. I am looking for ways to adapt the English 11 curriculum to help students who are struggling with issues outside of school.
            Another student is concerned with the health of a child who is close and is spending a lot of time away from school. I have assigned the student to keep a journal in lieu of some of the writing assignments given in class. The journal, in effect, has taken the place of assigned personal essays. Although this has not been terribly successful to date, the nature of the assignment is that the student will produce a journal of several entries over time to be given as a gift to the child. More time may be necessary before the final journal is completed. I shared samples of books that are written in a journal format with the student to promote creative thinking.  Two of these books are, "The Jolly Postman" and "Griffin and Sabine”.
            Understanding and flexibility are necessary to ensure that the process of adapting the curriculum runs smoothly.  By adapting the curriculum, there is a greater opportunity for success for the students I am most concerned about. -Post courtesy of Bill Laven.

The Jolly Postman
Griffin and Sabine

Wednesday 11 April 2012

The Importance of a Student's Perspective

A week and a half ago I made a new seating plan.  As we all know, creating a seating plan is a kind of art.  I spent a lot of time writing and erasing and re-writing.  I must have made 10 different versions.  I finally came up with the ultimate plan, or so I thought!

 I put "John" in his usual place, somewhere in the back corner, near the door.  This is an "ideal" spot for him because he can be very distracting to other students and he often gets up out of his desk.  At the beginning of the year I had him in the front, but every time he got up he would push a pen off of some one's desk or say something to distract the others.  We did the seating change while he was out of the class doing some catch-up work in the office.  When he returned to class, he was VERY upset.  He put his head down and started to tear up.  I quietly pulled him out of class and this is what he said to me, " I hate being in the back corner.  It makes me feel like I am already in trouble, like I was sent to the corner.  I can't focus and everyone in the class knows I am there because I always get in trouble."

I felt HORRIBLE.  I never considered how it made him  feel.  He probably has always been put in the back corner his whole life.  I feel really bad that I didn't consider giving him a second chance.  I never realized the negative association of being "sent to the corner".  I immediately told him the truth about how I never considered how he felt about where he was sitting.  We talked about it and I moved him to the middle back of the class.  He was very receptive to the change and he had a fairly good class.  He has been doing fine there since the change.

I learnt a lot form this experience.  Sometimes I get caught up on the big picture and forget to think about the small details.  Something as small as where someone is sitting can really have an impact on their mood and behaviour.  This is something to consider in the future!

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Creative Choice in Lit Circles-English 9

For one of my projects this year, I decided to try Literature Circles as a way to meet a number of learning outcomes. I wanted to give my English 10 students choice in picking a novel, the roles they could play, deadlines, and ways to show their understanding of the book.

Students were exposed to a number of novel choices, and voted on the top choices.  The class ended up covering 7 different novels, with groups ranging from 2-6 members.  Each week, the novel groups met and discussed their novel. 

I also wanted to give students the choice as to how to demonstrate their final understanding of the novel.  Students had one required piece of writing, and then could choose 3 other ways to represent their knowledge of the novel.  One of the most popular choices was to impersonate the characters in the novel.   The students had to choose 5 key aspects that they wanted to show about their character and do a brief write-up as to why they thought those 5 things were important. The idea behind the impersonation was to allow for creativity on the part of the student - but also to raise awareness and interest in the particular book around the school.  Surely students dressing up as characters would cause students, teachers, etc to ask what was going on...and so it would allow the students to discuss their novels.

I was amazed and impressed with the level of excitement and interest that the students took in creating their characters.  Some students spent hours getting their costumes ready (going out and getting supplies, researching with their parents how to make a zombie face, etc).  It was very clear that they put a great deal of thought into how they could best demonstrate key characteristics of their characters...rather than simply doing a worksheet on character traits.I have photos from all seven books – the students did a fabulous job.  Here are a few:

This is a group who read the Hunger Games. They picked things like the obvious survival elements of the story (bow and arrow, packs. face paint), but also made sure to include things like the flames on their outfits to represent the importance of fire to the survival of the characters in the story.
Another student who read "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah-took the time to make a cutout of Ishmael's face, had a cutout of a machine gun an found a relic in a tape recorder (which was a key part of Ishmael's leaning English).

These two students read "The Boy Who Couldn't Die". One student spent hours researching how to make a realistic zombie face-she made her outfit with kleenex, makeup etc. there was no way that she didn't cause a few people to turn their heads and ask "What is up with that?"

This post is courtesy of Jeff Richert.