Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lets Convert the US to the Metric System! A Grade 10 Essential Math Persuasive Project

Today my Grade 10 Essential Math class was introduced to their unit project to conclude their unit on Measurement Systems.
If you can remember back to my previous posts, they created board games as their unit project in their last unit on Personal Finance.
 
Here is what they were tasked with today:
 
- Time For A Change -

The United States is the only leading nation not using the metric system,
despite doing business with metric countries thousands of times a day.
Your mission is to create a persuasive Public Service Announcement (P.S.A)
designed to convince the United States to convert to the metric system.
 
Your P.S.A can be in the form of a(n):
                      - Recorded Podcast
                   - Filmed or Performed Commercial
                   - Filmed or Performed News Interview
                   - Informational Video
                   - Series of Poster Ads
                   - Newspaper/Magazine Article
                   - Multi-Media Ad Campaign (shorter video, poster, shorter article)
_____________________________________________
 
(If you'd like a copy of the full assignment with specifications and assessment rubrics, just leave a comment below, I'd be happy to send one your way!)
 
I am really excited to see what my students come up with! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

See You In 5 Days...

     I only see my Grade 9 math class 3 days a week... Now, I will note that although this is a high-school class, it is not broken into semesters and I will see them all year long. The problem, however, is that these 3 days are back-to-back Monday to Wednesday. This means that my students do not have math for almost 5 full days with the way our class times are laid out.

     Furthermore, our school functions on a 5-day cycle which means that anytime there is a holiday on a Monday, I only see my students 2 days a week. To put this in perspective, we have a potential of 38 school days in the months of September  & October. If there was no holidays, extra-curriculars, etc, we would potentially have 24 math class. The way our holiday & extra-curricular schedule has worked out, however, we will only have 19 classes (3 of these have less than 1/2 the students in attendance due to other extra-curriculars).

     Now I realize that 5 missed classes may not seem like a lot but when there is such a long time-gap between math classes, I find that I am spending a lot of time re-teaching information when students return because they have forgotten. To make it even more scary, I only see my math class FOUR times between now and November 18th when report cards go home.....

     What can I do? This scheduling set-up makes me nervous for the year to come.

I'm Back!!

After a 9 day hiatus I am finally back in the blogging world.
Trust me, it is not for a lack of writing topics... the opposite actually.
Since I last posted my life has been a whirlwind of activities:
 
- In-school meetings
- Supervising student council dances
- Driving 3 hours to watch our football team play their first play-off game
- Driving an additional 3 hours to attend a PD session
....
....
....
Oh ya... all of those were on the same day actually (but trust me, the remaining days were just as busy. On top of that, our home internet went on the fritz!
 
Any-who, things are somewhat back to normal now.
Be prepared for a post overload :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2 Stars & A Wish: Week 7

 This weeks started our back-to-back short weeks as Monday of this week was Thanksgiving and this upcoming Friday is our provincial professional development day, S.A.G.E. This week seemed to go by very quickly even though I didn't actually teach that much. Most of my classes are nearing the end of their units and I had 2 classes write their unit tests on Friday. Two things that I think went really well this week are:

1 ) Introducing Formal Lab Reports in Science
- We have been working with the Scientific Method since the beginning of'
  the school year and we have practiced a few different methods of
  "Communicating our Results". We've had sharing circles, made posters,
  completed blog posts, and made presentations in class. This week,
  however, I wanted to introduce formal written lab reports with my students.
- On Wednesday we completed a very simple diffusion experiment as a large
  group. I purposefully chose a simple experiment so that my students could
  focus on the details of a written report and get used to the format.
- On Friday we began discussing how a lab report is organized and
  brainstormed the details that should be included in it. This week I would like
  to complete our rough drafts and eventually get them typed.

2 ) Incorporating a Solid Routine for my Special Needs Students
- I have two students in my classroom that are involved at an adapted level
  in Science class but are on a completely different program for math (at
  about a Grade 1 level). I try to have them work on their program in the
  classroom as much as possible but there are times where my teaching is
  just too much of a distraction for them and the EA takes them out to a
  quiet space.
- While I realize that this is necessary for them at times, I want to have them
  included as much as possible. This week my EA and I worked together
  to develop a math routine for them that closely mirrors our class routine in
  math. When we complete mental math at the start of each class they
  complete calendar time. I really like this set-up because this allows them to
  stay in the classroom with their peers for the start of each class. From there
  they either stay in the room or step out depending on how much classroom
  discussion and louder activities we are doing.
- I am really happy with the way this has been going and they seem to be
  responding positively to it as well.

Week 6 Update:

     Last week I shared that I wanted to work on differentiating instruction for my Grade 9 math class. The way this week played out, however, didn't really allow for me to work effectively towards this goal. Monday was a holiday and Tuesday I was attending in-school IEP meetings all day so there was a substitute in my class. Since we only have math Monday-Wednesday, this didn't allow me to work that much on this goal . As such, I am keeping this goal for an additional week. I am also getting evaluated again (this time in Grade 9 math) so it will be good timing to try some new activities

Friday, October 18, 2013

#FunShirtFriday 3

      One of our school goals is to build in classroom spirit activities/routines for our students as a way to help foster school spirit and classroom community. One activity that I came up with for our class is #FunShirtFriday that I've seen on Twitter.

     Every Friday, I encourage my students to wear a "fun shirt" to school. Over the summer I found a lot of funny and interesting shirts online related to math, science, art, and teaching in general so I was pretty excited to share these with my students.

     To take this spirit activity one step further, we have begun charting our class #FunShirtFriday participation using a bar graph. Our final math unit of the year is Statistics & Probability so I plan on creating a project out of the data that we'll collect throughout the year!
_________________________________________________
 
     Today both my Grade 8 and Grade 10 math classes had unit tests. Of course, this shirt had to make an appearance.
 
fun shirt friday in math class
 

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things...

We're at that point where the majority of my classes are finishing up their first units and preparing to move on. As such, I wanted to share some of my favourite projects and activities from some of my classes.

Grade 8 Art
Our first project in Art this year was a Famous Artist Research Mobile. Students picked an artist of their choice, created  mobile using their pieces of art, and included artist bio's and references on the back.
These are now laminated and permanent fixtures in my room!

art research projects, art mobiles, grade 8 art ideas, art projects, junior high art projects
 
art research projects, art mobiles, grade 8 art ideas, art projects, junior high art projects
 
art research projects, art mobiles, grade 8 art ideas, art projects, junior high art projects
 
 
Grade 8 Science
In Science we explored cells and systems and did an interesting comparison between the Cell Theory and the Aboriginal Medicine Wheel. While the Cell Theory breaks down life into microscopic calls, the Medicine Wheel breaks down life into four central components. We created two illustrations to compare these two perspectives.
 
aboriginal perspective in science, aboriginal perspective in biology, incoporating the medicine wheel into science class

aboriginal perspective in science, aboriginal perspective in biology, incoporating the medicine wheel into science class

aboriginal perspective in science, aboriginal perspective in biology, incoporating the medicine wheel into science class

 
Grade 10 Math
My Grade 10s have been working on board games as their unit project for Personal Finance. They were asked to create a board game that could be used to review the skills related to personal finance, types of wages, payroll deductions, and income equations. I completely forgot to get pics before some of them got taken home but here are the ones I got today!
 
grade 10 essential math, personal finance projects, projects for essential math, board games in math
Movie World
- How to Train Your Dragon, Finding Nemo, Despicable Me, Spiderman - 

grade 10 essential math, personal finance projects, projects for essential math, board games in math
Farming Theme

grade 10 essential math, personal finance projects, projects for essential math, board games in math
Math Ball
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sometimes You Just Need To Shut The Door...

     Lunch hour... in any other profession I've been involved in this meant that I left the premises (or at least moved to a cafeteria/staff room), ran personal errands up town, went to the gym, relaxed and enjoyed my food, etc.

     Lunch hour... in the teaching profession, however, is a somewhat less-structured continuation of the rest of your day. As soon as that 12:00pm bell rings you are:
- Supervising extra-curricular activities
- Providing extra support for students who need to catch up
- Meeting with colleagues or admin
- Holding meetings with students
- Making phone calls home
- Photo-copying
- Preparing for your afternoon's class

     This list goes on... and on... and ON... before you even factor going to the bathroom...  not to mention actually eating anything that resembles a full lunch.

teacher's mental health, taking a break from teaching, teachers,

     Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and this is the first time in my life where I don't consider my job to be work. There can be days, however, where I notice my patience lessening, I notice my frustration growing, and I feel tired thinking about the next set of 25 students that will come through my door.

     This is when, I as a professional, need to shut the door to my room. I need to dim my lights, turn on the radio, and actually sit and enjoy a meal (even if it is only 20mins out of the hour). When that door opens, I am back. I am clear-headed. I am ready to approach my afternoon with positivity and openness.

     Teachers can fill a hundred different roles throughout the day (teacher, secretary, doctor, psychiatrist, coach, chef, disciplinarian, philosopher, politician, comedian, etc) but all of those roles are always to benefit the children we have the joy of spending our time with. With this in mind, if you ever have one of those days where you notice your patience lessening and you are losing sight of yourself... I remind you that sometimes you just need to shut the door...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Resources To Start Off Your Week 80

     Holy moly, has it really been 3 weeks since I had a Resources To Start Off Your Week post?!? It seems like it has been forever. I have been posting, I just have been posting other awesome things on Mondays... Anyways, today is Thanksgiving and I was reminded of how thankful I am for all of the amazing people who are willing to share their ideas and experiences online. To honour this, I wanted to make sure that I shared some resources with you! As always, I will be adding these to my lists of resources under the Fav Websites heading.

1 ) U of A: Aboriginal Science Education Resources
- This page features a lot of awesome resources for teachers who are
  interested in incorporating Aboriginal perspective into their science
  classes.
- By clicking on the Aboriginal Lesson Resources, users can search
  through resources specifically designed for high school biology or
  elementary classes. Even if you are not teaching in one of these specific
  areas, I think this website has a lot of helpful ideas.
http://www.cmaste.ualberta.ca/Outreach/AboriginalScienceEducation/
AboriginalLessonResources/Biology20AboriginalResources.aspx

aboriginal perspective in science, aboriginal perspective resources


2 ) Periodic Table of Videos
- If you are a science teacher then this website is for you! The
  Periodic Table of Videos does exactly what it says, and presents
  a video for each of the elements on the periodic table.
- When you click on an element, students not only get to see the
  atomic number and symbol, but they also get to watch a video
  about the element.
- This is a great option for your visual learners and can even be
  used as a sample if you are interested in creating a similar project.
- http://www.periodicvideos.com/

periodic table of videos, periodic table of elements, periodic table of elements for visual learners, teaching about the periodic table

Happy Monday everyone & Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2 Stars & A Wish: Week 6

     Twas' the week before the long weekend... That's right, it is Thanksgiving this weekend! Not only that, but it is also our community's big rodeo event and our school's Spirit Week. All together, this resulted in our student's having that "Friday afternoon" mentality ALL week long! It was a bit of a nut house, but we all made it through unscathed. Two things that went really well this week are:

1 ) Having My First Evaluation!
- On Monday I had my very first evaluation as a first year teacher.
  I was asked to submit a list of possible dates that fit my schedule
  and my principal decided to evaluate me on Monday morning
  during our Grade 8 math class.
- I was nervous in the sense that I wanted to do well, but wasn't
  worried about how the actual class would go. We spent the first
  half of our class doing a student lead review of fractions &
  integers and finished with a discussion on rational numbers.
- I was given some verbal feedback (about 2 mins) but no written
  report. I believe my principal needs to come in at least 3 times
  before I get a full feedback report.

teacher evaluation

2 ) Being Asked To Share My Unit Plans at Our Staff Meeting
- This week we had a staff meeting which focused on
  Backwards By Design planning, which is one of our school goals
  this year. As a new teacher, this is a method that I was taught in
  university while a lot of our teachers are only just being introduced
  to this idea.
- With my recent education in mind, my principal asked if she
  could use my unit plans as a sample during the staff meeting. Now,
  my unit plans are by no means "perfect" (and I don't believe they
  will ever be) but I was still a good feeling to help out some of the
  other teachers in our school!

     One thing that I want to work on, however, is differentiating the instruction of my Grade 9 math class. The group of students I have this year have such a large gap in-between them that it is getting to the point where one group of students in now completely bored and checking out, while the others are still struggling. (they are also my biggest class) I am thinking that I will divide them up into 2 (if not 3) groups and begin rotating my discussion so everyone is working on a concept that they are challenged by. My only concern is that this might widen the gap and I will not be able to have large-group projects again.... what are your thoughts?

Week 5 Update

     Last week I shared that I wanted to work on completing the Respect in School online course. All of our teachers, support staff, and students eventually have to complete this course and I, embarrassingly, forgot! I am happy to report, however, that I finished up the course early in the week and am officially caught up

Friday, October 11, 2013

Spirit Week

This week our Student Council organized a Spirit Week
leading up to the long weekend. Here are some pics from
 the week:
 

Backwards Day & "Pie The Teacher" Fundraiser,
I couldn't think of  better shirt to wear to this event!



I got off pretty safe in the pie-throwing event!

Twin Day!
Thing 1 & Thing 2

Movie Character Day:
Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games

Monday, October 07, 2013

#MTBoS Mission 1: The Power of the Blog

    
math twitter blogosphere, mathtwitterblogosphere, mtbos, MTBoS, math  mooc, mission 1: MTBoS


     I am participating in the wonderful #MTBoS World this fall as a way to learn  more about teaching and assessing math as well as to connect with math educators and grow my PLN. As a new math teacher (teaching Grades 8, 9, & 10 math) I am interested in learning as much as I can and am so thankful to all of the wonderful educators who are willing to share their experiences online!

     First off, if you haven't heard about #MTBoS (or the MathTwitterBlogosphere), it is an 8-week series of missions designed to connect dedicated math teachers who are willing and interested in sharing their tips, tricks, and experiences. Sounds awesome right?! You should definitely head over to their Wordpress site and learn more about it!

Mission #1: The Power of the Blog

What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems?  How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)

     As a first year teacher, who is new to math, I don't have a large resource of open-ended questions that I have been drawing from. I can, however, share a question that I posed to my Grade 8 students last week that got them really excited about math and got them thinking out of the box (including my reluctant learners)!

     I came across the following video via one of my YouTube subscriptions, Numberphile. I was immediately engaged because it got me thinking about math in a way that I hadn't been before. As we had been discussing integers and fractions in class, I decided to share the question with my Grade 8 math class.
*Note: I did not show them the video on the first day, I simply presented the question:

     "The following series 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1... continues forever, using your knowledge of integers, what do you think the answer(s) to this question might be?"

     I had some students say that the answer would be 1, some said 0, some said 2, and I had some students that were unsure. The following day, I showed them the video that I had seen online:


     This was the first time all year that I can honestly say that ALL of my students were excited about math! The possible solutions to Grandi's Series got them thinking about math differently than they had before and the fact that the video ends with a challenge had them even more engaged. They are planning on completing the Thompson's Lamp experiment on their own at lunch this week to see how it turns out!

     I have always been a fan of including video clips in class as a differentiation method to meet different learning needs but I hadn't specifically thought of videos that ended with open questions. This is definitely something that I will want to explore more with my students as we progress throughout the year!

__________________________________________________________
 

     On a side note, my students decided to feature this video and question on their class blog and Dr. James Grime (the man featured in the video) actually saw it and commented to them! It was so exciting to see their enthusiasm and surprise when they checked their blog comments this morning!

     So, I have officially completed Mission 1 of the #MTBoS journey! I look forward to connecting and sharing with you!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

2 Stars & A Wish: Week 5

     September is behind us and here is my first 2 Stars & A Wish post of October. Teachers always say that the year goes by so quickly and I definitely understand that now! It honestly seems like yesterday was the first day of school and it is almost already Thanksgiving. Two things that went well this week are:
 
1 ) Reinforcing our Risk Free Environment Policy
- I do not have a formal list of rules in my classroom, but I do
  have a Risk Free Environment Policy that reads as follows:
  "Our classroom does not discriminate on the basis of disability,
  gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other means.
  It is of the utmost important that every action we undertake]
  demonstrates respect for those around us. If at any time a
  situation occurs that does not illustrate this practice please bring
  it to my attention. I strongly believe that we are all part of a team
  within this classroom and if I witness a situation that does not illustrate
  this practice we will address it as a class."
- I have one class that is still working towards understanding what this
  actually looks like in the classroom so this week, instead of having
  science class, we worked on this policy. We had some really good
  group discussions about my expectations and what this policy might
  look like in a classroom, school, life setting. We then made posters
  that we displayed in the front hallway right by our main office!
- I am so proud of the growth I witnessed in my students in such a
  short time and had the absolute best class ever with them on Friday!

risk free environment

2 ) Having My Students Get Excited About Math
- I came across a video this week via my YouTube subscriptions that
  really bent my brain and got me thinking about math in a different way.
  Of course, I immediately began thinking of ways that I could share this
  with my students. I was worried because the video was a little outside of
  what we are studying and is a geared towards an older audience with
  more background information but I wanted to try it; and I am glad I did!!
- Here is the video I shared with them:
  I hope you actually took the time to watch it because it is awesome,
  but if you didn't, it shows you that 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1... = 1/2
  I know, crazy, right?!
- I presented my students with the series 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1... on
  Thursday and got them to guess what they thought the answer could
  be and why. On Friday I began explaining the series as it is explained
  through the video and I immediately had some students dozing off &
  giving me blank expressions. As soon as we began manipulating the
  variable, however, (and students began seeing where the answer was
  leading them) I had every students engaged!
- My students were yelling, "My mind is blown!", "How can that work?"
  "We need to show this to people". It was definitely an awesome
  experience :)
- If you want to discuss this video, or Grandi's Series, please visit the
  blog post my students wrote about this; they love getting comments!
http://mrstsclassroom.blogspot.ca/2013/10/what-would-grandi-say.html

     One thing that I will be working on this week, however, is completing the Respect in School online course. All teachers, support staff, and students (once they reach a certain age) are required to complete the online Respect in School course. As a new staff member, I was asked to have this done by September 27th and, embarrassingly, I completely forget about it! After a friendly reminder from my principal, it is now my priority for this week and hope to have it done ASAP!

Week 4 Update

     Last week I shared that I wanted to work on keeping my students up-to-date in regards to their grades and missing assignments. I am happy to report that I was able to get all my grading up to date and printed off current achievement reports for my students in my high school classes. There was definitely a few students who had forgotten about missed assignments so those marks might have been eye-opening, but I am happy that my students are up-to-date and well informed. I made sure to remind students about making up work, completing corrections, and the lunch-hour math development sessions I hold.

Friday, October 04, 2013

#FunShirtFriday 2

     One of our school goals is to build in classroom spirit activities/routines for our students as a way to help foster school spirit and classroom community. One activity that I came up with for our class is #FunShirtFriday that I've seen on Twitter.

     Every Friday, I encourage my students to wear a "fun shirt" to school. Over the summer I found a lot of funny and interesting shirts online related to math, science, art, and teaching in general so I was pretty excited to share these with my students.

     To take this spirit activity one step further, we have begun charting our class #FunShirtFriday participation using a bar graph. Our final math unit of the year is Statistics & Probability so I plan on creating a project out of the data that we'll collect throughout the year!

_________________________________________________
 

     My Grade 8 class decided to begin featuring a weekly math post on their blog, which started today, so my "fun shirt" helped celebrate this event! (It was also hat day at "S-School" today too). If you would like to see their first "Mathlete Friday" post, and maybe even participate in their challenge, you can follow this link: http://mrstsclassroom.blogspot.ca/2013/10/what-would-grandi-say.html

Thursday, October 03, 2013

My New Toy

     I am writing this post from my brand new Microsoft Surface tablet that I got from my husband for my birthday! I've really wanted a tablet for quite some time because I am always online doing something for school or for the blog but couldn't decide what brand I wanted. I have an iPhone and really like the way it functions... but I haven't had awesome experiences with the iPads we have at school. While I'm a fan of awesome apps (who isn't), I spend 95% of my online time on my blog, reading other blogs, researching for school, or on social media. It is also important to note that I've always had a PC and our school is all PC as well. Point being, if I was going to invest in a tablet, I wanted it to meet my needs (not just be a shiny toy that still required me to go to my computer).

Microsoft Surface, surface, why I love my microsoft surface


     After using my Surface for the week:
- I LOVE the snap-on keyboard and built-in screen stand
- I love the available USB port as my school has inconsistent internet
  service and I can't rely on cloud storage
- I use PowerPoint presentations in all of my classes for my visual
  learners and create my assignments on Word so it is awesome that
  the Surface comes with Microsoft Office
- I LOVE the setup and interface of the Twitter app
- I LOVE that I can save files, pictures, & music using an organization
  system that I'm familiar with

- I don't like the snap-on power cord as it seems to snap off easy
- I don't like the lack of apps... but again, this isn't what I use my
  tablet for
- I don't like that the speakers are fairly quiet

     Overall, I am so pumped to have joined the tablet world and can't thank my husband enough for such an awesome birthday present!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Edible Cell Models

     My Grade 8 Science class has been learning all about Cells & Body Systems (you can check out their blog here) and lately we've been discussing the difference between Plant Cells & Animal Cells. After working with the appropriate vocabulary and completing labeled illustrations, we decided to create 3D models of the different types of cells... using edible materials!!

     As a class my students brainstormed an ingredient list, set a budget, and put themselves into groups of 4. We even went shopping for the ingredients as a class during our math period! Today was the physical creation of the cells and I can say that they turned out pretty darn good... and delicious! Students were required to create a model that showcased a cell with:
- Cell Membrane
- Cytoplasm
- Nucleus
- Mitochondria
- Vacuole
- Endoplasmic Reticulum
- Cell Wall (for plant cells)
- Chloroplasts (for plant cells)
I also asked that each group submit a written legend so that their model is clearly understood.
here is how they turned out:

PLANT CELLS

plant and animal cell, plant cell vs. animal cell, edible cell project, edible cell models, plant cell model, animal cell model

plant and animal cell, plant cell vs. animal cell, edible cell project, edible cell models, plant cell model, animal cell model
 
ANIMAL CELLS

plant and animal cell, plant cell vs. animal cell, edible cell project, edible cell models, plant cell model, animal cell model

plant and animal cell, plant cell vs. animal cell, edible cell project, edible cell models, plant cell model, animal cell model

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

October Currently

          If you haven't encountered a "Currently" post before, it is just a fun post at the beginning of each month that serves as a way to share what is Currently going on in your life! You can link up and share your own "Currently" post by visiting the wonderful Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.  
     It is finally my favourite month of the year... October!! I LOVE October! October means that fall is officially here, the leaves are changing, my birthday is in October, Thanksgiving is in only 12 days, Halloween arrives, hunting season is upon us, football is in full swing, my husband starts hockey in a few weeks... well you get the idea. Needless to say, I will be loving every day of this awesome month!

currently, currently bloghop, oh boy 4th grade