Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wake up and smell the cell phones people!

Several phrases come to mind...

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

I am not standing in the way of progress I am just asking progress what it plans to do with everybody else.
-Wray Smith

Please take a moment to read this. And if you really want, why not gift a copy of the book for me. i promise to lend it to others when i'm finished reading it.

Here's the site I originally read it on. It has a little intro and write up. The link above is the original source that was sourced by the site I read it on. Both are good. Why not visit them both?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A to Z: More than a letter a day for the holidays

The Mathematics Alphabet

Friday, December 18, 2009

November Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

JC Hill (2:30 – 4:00)

Agenda Items

Present: Janis Thomas, Alice Anderson, Sandy Hill, Joe Restoule General

Regrets: Luanne Martin

Absent: Carrie Froman, Judy McNaughton

Review minutes from last meeting

Comment was made to receive the minutes in a more timely fashion. Attention will be made to this in for future meetings.

Joe followed up on several items from the minutes. He spoke about our ability to access grade 9 EQAO data. There are several factors prohibiting this, namely student “mydent” numbers that are used to identify and track students. Previous access to the data that was referred to at October’s meeting was actually an initiative of a single individual that took it upon themselves to organize and compile data. It was time extensive and onerous. GEDSB consultants indicated that EQAO data is usually used to move forward upon and that grade 9 data isn’t utilized by grade seven and eight teachers in a retrospective fashion.

The 3 Year District Numeracy Plan was revised and distributed. Joe followed up on the number of strands that GEDSB is expected to report on. Joe’s contact said that most schools used the Ministry direction of reporting on every strand at least twice; some schools report on Number Sense and Numeration each term. There is no formal ruling or practice. There is some piloting in the province of a new report card which may affect how Mathematics reporting is done in the future. Once more information is learned, it will be shared with the committee.

SEED Proposal for Math Assessment Tools

A proposal that was written and presented to Imperial Oil for Math Assessment tools was shared. The proposal was approved and will provide each school with a complete set (one for each grade) of Pearson’s Numeracy Nets, and Nelson’s ONAP (Ontario Numeracy Assessment Program), as well as a CD-ROM of the 26 volumes of The Super Source for K-8.

Professional development will be arranged at a future date, either through the companies themselves, by the District Numeracy teacher, or both.

There was a question of whether this proposal should have included or been used to purchase manipulatives. It was discussed by the committee that most schools/classrooms were well stocked with manipulatives from previous orders and school initiatives. It was raised that some classrooms may still be lacking in this regard.

Joe to construct a manipulative/resource checklist and visit all schools to ensure that all classrooms are properly stocked with necessary items/materials.

CAT/Insight Testing Opportunity

Committee reviewed their respective school’s interest in taking advantage of the free CAT/Insight testing offered by CTC (Canadian Test Centre). Samples of the test were given out for all schools at the November PAC meeting.

ECG has several teachers expressing interest in participating for the spring session.

Other schools had either not discussed this with their staff or were not in attendance to express their interest.

Joe to follow up with the principals to confirm their inclusion in the testing.

Math contest (Caribou)

Contestant results from the grade 5 and 6 Caribou contest in October were shared. See Numeracy blog for full results. Students who participated were excited and actively engaged in the test and eager to hear their results. Much enthusiasm was expressed by the students.

It was noted that the committee would attempt to increase participation from the schools. OMSK has an entire class registered for the January contest. Future dates can be found on the Numeracy blog.

ILT Literacy/Math Night on November 26th

Janis spoke about the activity she is doing for the upcoming Literacy and Math Night on November 26th at ILT. Joe shared his activity as well. It will be from 6pm to 7pm.

ECOO Conference

Joe shared a number of resources received at the ECOO conference. Each school received a free 30 day trial of Brain Pop to use in the schools. Math software was shared and demonstrated. Other on-line resources were explored by the committee. Many of these titles and licenses are made available to provincial schools through the Ministry of Education and OSAPAC.

Joe to follow up on the state of our ability to license and/or receive these resources. Leslie White-Eye and Dan Dunnigan were two names that were suggested for further information. Mike Hickey was working on this in his role as District Technology teacher.

The Grade 7-9 continuum put out by Grand Erie: follow up

Joe spoke about the Math Connections poster and explained the idea and concept behind it from his conversation with GEDSB consultants. He also shared that GEDSB is beginning to look at grades 7 to 10 as an entire block in much of their future planning.

Report Card Inserts

Two Ministry documents are on order to be sent home with the report cards on December 4th. One is from 2003, the other from 2007. The former is more primary focused and the latter is more junior centered. It was decided by the committee that sending home a copy of each document to every student wouldn’t hurt.

Review 3 Year Plan in Final Draft Form

Some schools had received a copy of the updated Three Year Numeracy District Plan that was given out at the PAC meeting. Other schools had yet to see it or were not in attendance to confirm having received the newest version.

Feedback from each school’s staff members is expected for future review and reflection on the three year plan.

Joe indicated that he would like to have a fully electronic version completed which would mean altering the appendices. He will follow up on this.

Numeracy Committee Goals for 2009-2010

The committee was to set some goals and/or identify the items in the plan that we can focus on for the 2009-2010 school year.

As the meeting was poorly attended, it was determined to suspend this agenda item until greater representation is present.

It was discussed that we are already advancing and enacting upon several of the goals in the three year plan and should continue to do so.

Ready, Set, Green!

A new ministry document on environmental education was shared. The recommendation was made to order one for every teacher in the district. Joe agreed to do this.

Almost Solstice

Today there are two suggested Brain Pop lessons!! One is Winter to correspond with the quickly approaching first official day of Winter. The other is Solstice and Equinox, in recognition of the upcoming Winter Solstice on the 21st.

Click on the links to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wright Beethoven

Today there are two suggested Brain Pop lessons!! One is Flight to correspond with today being Wright Brothers' Day. The other is Ludwig Van Beethoven, in recognition of his birthday in 1770.

Click on the links to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

EQAO Strategies

Fresh off the EQAO e-mail newsletter.

How YOU can fix your scores too!!!

Follow the link.

Math 3 Under the Sea

Here's an interesting and fun site for the early middle grades and struggling later grades. It is well animated, Canadian, and quick and easy to learn. Once entered into the pool (fish, pool, get it? ha, ha, ha), students can return with their unique screen name and unlock more activities.

It did freeze up a few times on me, but i don't know if it was just my multi-tasking and window hopping or my internet connection.

Give it a whirl! Dive in! (sea, dive, get it? ok, I'll stick to my day job).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sticks and Stones Might Break My Bones but at least I'll have learned something!

I came across this Native American inspired data management lesson/game whilst looking for exemplary lessons. If you haven't utilized the NCTM Illuminations website yet, what are you waiting for??

There are SO many great lessons at your fingertips that can be modified or presented as is for your classroom. Search by grade and strand and away you go. Most lessons are actually designed to combine math strands, so not only does it cut down on your lesson planning, it also trims time on your curriculum coverage.

Take a look by clicking on the link "Illuminations" on the side bar. The best thing about these lessons are their adherence to the type of problem solving, open investigation learning that we need our students to be doing in the modern math class.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cold Enough For You?

Today's suggested Brain Pop lesson is South Pole to correspond with today's anniversary of the first expedition to reach the South Pole in 1911.

Click on the link to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Friday, December 11, 2009

12 Days of Problem Solving

Whilst visiting ECG teachers yesterday, the Amazing Alice Anderson shared a lesson with me that she and Mrs. Bomberry did with their grade ones and twos. It is everything a model problem solving lesson should be: open to student exploration, various methods for solving, engaging and connected to other classroom content, etc.

Mrs. Anderson sang the 12 Days of Christmas with the students. i believe they also read a book about the traditional Christmas song. The students were then asked to figure out, just how many gifts does the person receive in the song, exactly?

Students were left to their own devices, chart paper and markers, to figure out how they were going to solve this question. Mrs. Anderson shared some of the attempts with me, which ranged from writing a number sentence, to creating a graphic or pictorial image of the songs' gifts, to the construction of a list, table or graph. Others were drawing and grouping pictures of the gifts from the song.

These types of activities allow the students to use mathematical processes to solve a problem. It does not dictate exactly which method they need to use. By doing this, the students reveal plenty of interesting data concerning their abilities to understand and apply the knowledge they currently possess in math. It gives the teacher an opportunity to see what their students truly know about certain concepts and mathematical application or skills.

Bravo, Alice and Beth for tying in music, language and the holiday with a mathematical problem solving situation!! One quote from Mrs. Anderson that resonates with me is when she said, "There wasn't a single kid saying, 'I don't want to do this,' or 'I don't know how to do this.' They were all trying their best to figure out the answer.

Afterwards, the groups can share their process and enlighten the rest of the class with the various ways one can approach a problem using mathematical processes.

Consider this a gift from Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Bomberry. Try it out this last week before Christmas Break. It can be easily adapted to suit older grades (have them come up with an algebraic formula perhaps?) or other examples of compounded/growing patterns. It also lends itself to various strands.

Winter Holidays

Today's suggested Brain Pop lesson is Winter Holidays to correspond with today's start to Hannukah. The video explores various winter celebrations around the world.

Click on the link to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prize for Prizes

Today's suggested Brain Pop lesson is Nobel Prizes to correspond with today's date to traditionally announce and give Nobel Prizes.

Click on the link to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Important Math Survey for Educators!!!

Dear Fellow Math Educators;

The Ontario Mathematics Coordinators' Association, The Ontario Association for

Mathematics Education, and The Fields Institute have banded together to give math

educators in the province of Ontario a pro-active voice in the curriculum reform

process. We are using surveys to gather input from Ontario Math Educators. This is

the third of a series of invitations to participate. Please forward this survey to

all interested math contacts you have. Especially send this to primary, junior,

intermediate and senior teachers that you work in mathematics with as their feedback

is critical.

Just click on the link below to access the survey.

Yours in Mathematical fun,

Jacqueline Hill

OMCA/OAME/FieldsCurriculum Steering Committee Contact

Programs Facilitator, K-12 Mathematics DDSB

OAME Past President

OMCA President

Phone: 905-666-6391

Monday, December 7, 2009

Brain Pop Pearl Harbour

Today's suggested Brain Pop lessons is World War II to correspond with today's anniversary of Pearl Harbour.

Click on the link to take you to the Brain Pop site. You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tangram Stories

i can't seem to visit Mr. Freeman's room without walking away with some new, interesting, invigorating teaching tactic or device. Today he shared this tangram site with me, which i am now sharing with you.

He tells me the students were impressed, fascinated and requested to view the site several times over again.

He then had students tell their own stories using tangrams. The link between math and literacy is phenomenal.

For examples of Tangram stories, visit here.

For more Tangram activities, visit here.

For a list of Tangram links, visit here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Brain Pop Lesson suggestion

Today's suggested Brain Pop lessons are Harriet Tubman and Slavery, two videos that correspond with yesterday's International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Click on the links to take you to the Brain Pop sites. The Harriet Tubman lesson is from Brain Pop Jr., and Slavery is from the Brain Pop site. Choose according to your class' age appropriateness.

You may have to login, using the free 30 day account trial that your numeracy rep provided for you. If you forgot to sign up, you can use the login of another teacher in your school that did sign up.

Again, not exactly math related, but the more you use Brain Pop, the more you'll come to discover the advantages of the program. And, as those at Brain Pop say, "The more you know, the more you know."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Schools plan curriculum overhaul -

Schools plan curriculum overhaul -

This is an interesting article from today's Toronto Star.

Time to wake up and smell the big ideas, people!!!

Time to move education into the 21st century, people!!!

You're either with us OR against us!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Virtual Museum Webinar Today

Not completely math related, but an excellent resource none the less, is the Virtual Museum from Heritage Canada. There is a brief 15 minute webinar today at 3pm to provide an online demonstration of the resource. i believe it's all free and basically gives you access to a variety of museums across Canada, if not the world!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Statistics Can Prove Anything!

If you haven't had the discussion with your class about bias in data management, and how stats and graphs can be altered for bias effect or to mislead readers, try this on for size:

Danger! Bread Kills (Or How to Lie With Statistics)

  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
  2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score at or below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.
  4. Every piece of bread you eat brings you nearer to death.
  5. Bread is associated with all the major diseases of the body. For example, nearly all sick people have eaten bread. The effects are obviously cumulative:
  6. 99.9% of all people who die from cancer have eaten bread.
  7. 100% of all soldiers have eaten bread.
  8. 96.9% of all Communist sympathizers have eaten bread.
  9. 99.7% of the people involved in air and auto accidents ate bread within 6 months preceding the accident.
  10. 93.1% of juvenile delinquents came from homes where bread is served frequently.
  11. Evidence points to the long-term effects of bread eating: Of all people born before 1839 who later dined on bread, there has been a 100% mortality rate.
  12. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as a teaspoon of dough can be used to suffocate a lab rat. The average American eats more bread than that in one day!
  13. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
  14. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and being fed only water begged for bread after as little as two days.
  15. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.
  16. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  17. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  18. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
  19. Most bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:

  1. No sale of bread to minors.
  2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.
  3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.
  4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.
  5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Authentic Assessment

Here is another interesting harangue by a fellow OCT:

What are the characteristics of an authentic assessment?

In the past, student assessment and hence achievement was based solely on tests and exams. However, I feel these types of tests do not provide an accurate picture of what students know.

Instead, these types of traditional assessments only provided a snapshot of what students know at one particular time. It was more of a matter of teaching to the test than anything else and not allowing students to demonstrate what they truly know or even relating it to skills and knowledge that students would be applying the "real world".

The advent of authentic assessment changed all that. Authentic assessment are tasks given to students that are designed to assess their ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world challenges.

Some characteristics of authentic assessment are:

1) Performance Tasks: students are asked to perform more complex tasks that are more meaningful. These tasks require complex, higher order thinking skills.

2) Time: the process of authentic assessment is ongoing so it is gathered, analyzed and shared with the student, parents, teachers, and support staff. This would be collected in the form of portfolios.

3) Construction of Knowledge: authentic tasks require students to synthesize and apply what they have learned instead of recall of facts and learning by rote. In this way, students construct new meaning along the way, as they learn while performing these authentic tasks.

4) Student-Centered: authentic tasks tend to be student centered. By this I mean that the teacher is not the one constructing the test or exam. In authentic assessments, students are given a choice or more of a "leeway" into demonstrating their knowledge. Teachers give students more flexibility in HOW they show WHAT they know.

5) Proof of Knowledge: Authentic assessments, offer more direct evidence of the construction and application of what students know.
For example, I remember having many multiple choice exams when I took Psychology courses in university. I don't believe this really demonstrated what I knew. Instead, I relied on my memory which really didn't show that I could apply my knowledge to real life situations.

To make my Psychology exam more authentic, I believe my professor should have given us "real life" scenarios of patients, so more clinical examples and see if we could apply the theories of Psychology in helping the patients.

Here's a quote I found which I can really relate to:

“Fairness” does not exist when assessment is uniform, standardized, impersonal, and absolute. Rather, it exists when assessment is appropriate.

I truly believe in this statement because I have often said to colleagues: "Equality is not treating everyone equally. Rather it is treating students differently according to their needs".

Having the exact same assessment for all students is not fair. Just like every teacher has their own teaching style, every student has their own unique skills, strengths, and weaknesses. As teachers, we need to design assessments which will showcase their strengths and knowledge at the same time challenging their weaknesses.

Authentic assessment helps us do just that; allows students to demonstrate what they know in various ways :-)




Monday, November 23, 2009

Understanding Math

At the ECOO conference i met a man by the name of Rudy Neufeld. He has created a math resource software series called Understanding Math. It is very well designed, very user friendly, and most importantly, he envisions the software being used to COMPLEMENT the teacher's instruction and students' use of manipulatives. It truly is an enhanced learning experience, as opposed to a "stick a kid on a computer with this math game and leave me alone" kind of resource.

For more information, visit his website. You can view sample lessons, templates and other resources, as well as download samples of the software for classroom use.

Friday, November 20, 2009

October Numeracy Meeting Minutes

These were just passed and approved at yesterday's Numeracy meeting:

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

JC Hill (12:30 – 3:30)

Agenda Items



Present: Carrie Froman, Luanne Martin, Alice Anderson, Sandy Hill, Janis Thomas, Joe Restoule General

Absent: Judy McNaughton

Review of last year’s committee and any unfinished business

Robin Staats asked the question of inviting an LSK rep

Newspaper space for numeracy was discussed last year (see Tammy Claus);

PD involving whiteboards was discussed (see Marlene Martin)

Math nights were planned last year; JAM currently planning a math workshop for parents; ECG did some planning as well

Numeracy Assessment Selection

Overview of assessments was conducted

PRIME was discussed at PAC as too expensive

CAT was considered a similar option as EQAO; it was suggested that should this assessment be explored it be used in Grades 2, 5, and 7 to not coincide with EQAO, but rather give an indicator beforehand

KeyMath workshops are being planned; all schools have a kit

ONAP for grades 4 to 8 to be explored

Numeracy Nets for grades 3 to 8 to be explored

Imperial Oil dollars were raised as a possible source to fund exploration of these assessment tools

Math contest (Caribou)

Contest was explained and viewed

Schools were asked to encourage participation

Gr. 7/8 students in modified programs (LM)

This was brought up to help us develop grade 8 programs better suited for students possibly entering Locally Developed stream

Toni Martin’s name was mentioned in regards to knowing about a Life Skills program

Joe to follow up with Cam McDonald from GEDSB about the Math Connections poster

Comment was made that our high school students have said that once they enter high school they find that the teachers “teach completely different” from the way they were taught previously, meaning no hands on activities.

K-8 Curriculum Continuum from Niagara DSB

This was shared with the committee to share with their respective school staff

It was mentioned that T.I.P.S. has a continuum as well for grades 6 to 10 approximately

The Grade 7-9 continuum put out by Grand Erie (LM)

Question was raised about the origin, implementation and future avenues regarding the Math Connections poster.

Joe to follow up on this with GEDSB

Access to Grade 9 Math Scores (LM)

Question was raised about our ability to access grade 9 EQAO math scores

Joe to follow up on this

Review 3 Year Plan in Draft Form

The committee felt that we could begin implementing this plan as a work in progress; this would mean begin working towards the goals and getting perspectives from the Six Nations staff

In order to do so, it was decided that we needed to revise the original to make it more reader friendly (copies were cut off)

Joe to revise and redistribute for next meeting

Question was raised regarding the number of strands to report for each term

Joe to follow up with GEDSB on this

Numeracy Committee Goals for 09-10

The number one goal was to try and determine a common assessment tool or tools for the district

Future Meeting Dates and Times

Committee determined that Mon to Wed was not good for future meetings

Thursdays were decided upon; request was made to not have meetings the same week as the Literacy committee

Joe to complete schedule, gather feedback, and distribute final schedule

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are You a "School on the Move"?

This article popped up in the "Numeracy in the News" sidebar on this blog. i just wanted to post it here for future reference, as the sidebar is a newsfeed that refreshes itself as new articles arrive.

The article is about a school in the HWDSB that was identified as a "School on the Move", an initiative of the Ministry of Education. There is a link in the article to the Min. of Ed. site section that explains Schools on the Move. Basically, schools with similar backgrounds and challenges connect with one another about initiatives that have helped boost student achievement. It's worth a look.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Use Problem Solving?

Have you noticed a diatribe in my posting? Here's the latest "gem" from an OCT colleague:

While not really a theory, for me one of the most influential ‘models’ in shaping my approach to teaching is of doing so through problem solving. “By learning to solve problems and by learning through problem solving, students are given numerous opportunities to connect mathematical ideas and to develop conceptual understanding” (Ontario Mathematics Curriculum, p 11). I find it surprising that many colleagues still struggle with this model, uncertain as to implementation and misunderstanding the “time factor” (“that would take waaaaay too much work to do – I don’t have time for that”).

As I learned to follow a problem solving approach to teaching and learning, what was impactful for me was the realization that, by teaching students mathematical concepts through problem solving, I can incorporate many critical skills while also providing opportunities for students to learn, connect, and apply concepts in meaningful and purposeful ways. “Students who engage in problem solving build a repertoire of reasoning skills and strategies…Students who work together to solve problems learn from one another as they demonstrate and communicate their mathematical understanding.“ (Guide to Effective Instruction K-6, Volume 1, p 27) Teaching through problem solving also provides a means to incorporate different strands of the curriculum as well as to integrate math into other curriculum areas. Too, it offers me a flexible framework in which to consider students’ needs, strengths, prior knowledge, and learning styles when planning, allowing me to differentiate based on their individual/common needs.

A problem solving approach also establishes a learning environment that values students’ thinking, communication, and participation, making students feel important, respected, and appreciated as a group member. It supports students in feeling accepted and valued for their different strategies, methods, and perspectives in solving problems, fostering confidence in themselves and their abilities to be successful in math.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Math Dictionary For Kids

Here's a site i just discovered (in the same way Columbus discovered America---i.e., it was already there but i ran into it). It is a math dictionary for kids. Everything is interactive. There is a word bank that students can click on, which then takes them to a definition, as well as some interactive content that brings that definition to life. Verrrry handy at boosting the communication side of learning, using and most importantly, UNDERSTANDING math terminology.

Just a word of warning. The site requires Adobe Flash Player, which is a free download, but it may need to be installed on your computer. It doesn't take long and is very handy for all sorts of web based content.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is important about teaching Number Sense?

George Gadanidis claims number sense teaching is about developing what already comes naturally to the child. It is allowing children to develop their own procedures, not ready made algorithms, so that they strike upon procedures that are most useful dependent on the situation. "It's what they think that matters, not what we tell them to think." (p. 33)

Marilyn Burns would take the position that teaching about number sense is practicing mathematical thinking, which is best learnt through games, especially for K-6. It's not just about getting answers, it's about solving problems and finding approaches to those problems that require mathematical thinking.

Through these games (and the resulting math talk and play) children discover relationships between/across numbers. It is also about making reasonable judgements based on the knowledge of the relationships and comparisons of numbers. This means determining if a solution to a problem makes sense, based on the student's understanding of numbers. In order to arrive at these solutions, students need to use mental math, reasonable estimation, and proper judgement and selection when it comes to procedures or operations.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Get with the Times People!!!

How uncanny it is that i would be attending an education technology conference and the Globe and Mail for that day has an article exactly on the message of the keynote speaker (more on him at a later date), not to mention the basic premise and theme of the conference. That is, embracing technology in education for the betterment of our students. Take a read of this article and let us know what you think...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yet Another Math Site

The sites just keep coming and coming. This one is another math "hub" where links to other sites are organized at one main site. Check it out here.

i will keep adding these to the blog if you want, but your feedback will be the most helpful indicator of which sites are useful and which ones aren't as helpful. The best ones (again, based on YOUR feedback) i can add to the sidebar so they are always available for your access. Leave your feedback by clicking on "comment(s)" below.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Math for the 21st Century

Yet another gem from a fellow OCT (when i see something good, why not share it?):

The following is a summary of the vision of mathematics in the 21st century, where math is going and how children are going to get there. There has been a paradigm shift in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The movement is towards a more constructivist approach where students learn for understanding they don’t just participate in rote learning. I have found the constructivist approach to be an ideal model to guide my teaching practice.


the changing perspectives of elementary school mathematics and what this means for students;

the new directions being taken to teach and help children learn mathematics;

how children learn and “do” mathematics;

New Methods versus Old Methods

Mathematics used to be a test of your memorization skills and how well you could mimic the teacher’s procedures. Math was about practicing the formulas by doing a set of similar examples. Focus was not on the process involved in solving problems.

Mathematics is now focusing on teaching for understanding with the ultimate goal to produce successful and productive citizens.

Teaching for understanding yields growth for children at all ability levels thus making the goal more attainable.

Having an understanding of the students’ thinking processes helps guide teachers’ instructional practices to meet this goal.

The OLD way of teaching and learning math looked like this:

paper pencil tasks (worksheets,tests)

teacher modelling

one method to achieve solution

one correct solution

rote learning

students saying, “Huh?”

The NEW way of teaching and learning math looks like this:

students working collaboratively

teacher guiding encouraging learning and reflection

teachers providing a positive environment where math is fun and students are confident

many methods to achieve solutions

math journals and logs (to solve problems, explain math ideas and, to write and learn about processes)

math words walls (math terminology, definitions and symbols)

math centres (problem solving groups, journal sharing, peer discussions about math)

manipulatives (hands-on materials to aid in learning new concepts and solve problems)

students reflecting on work (what do I understand?, what am I still confused about?)

reasoning (thinking about why answers make sense)

students actively constructing new knowledge and making sense of ideas

students applying their learning in new situations

teacher read alouds about math

lots of talk (sharing of ideas, learning from peers, presenting new connections)

students saying, “I GET IT!”

New Directions

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) was a major driving force for bringing about change in how we teach math.

The NCTM created a comprehensive set of Principles and Standards for Mathematics Education that has been made an essential part of the curriculum.

Educators are designing their programs according to these principles and standards each of which are objectives for helping students to process mathematical concepts. The universal goals are for them to be actively engaged in learning, questioning, analyzing, predicting and constructing knowledge from meaningful contexts and real-world experiences.

How Children Learn Math

The NCTM Learning Principle states that, “Students must learn mathematics with understanding, actively building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge.”

Young children are curious beings and it is therefore important that educators and parents provide them with opportunities to actively explore their environment and construct concepts.

A thorough conceptual understanding is required so that students may use their knowledge to make sense of new problems.

The problems that a teacher chooses for students should be interesting to them and relate to their personal experiences.

Talking with one another helps children to expand on existing concepts and develop new ones.

The best way to learn is to do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Get a Clicker when you can Poll Everywhere?

i know there was some Clicker training and interest being done in and around our district. Here's a resource that claims to be much much cheaper and is creating a lot of educational buzz (two name drops out of two seminars today).

It's called Poll Everywhere and you can check out some educator FAQs here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Changing Face of Math

Here is something that came from a fellow OCT:

A worthwhile math task in one that:
•Challenges a student
•Allows for students to collaborate, communicate and share ideas,
problems and solutions
•Involves the use of, or provides an opportunity for the use of technology and /or manipulatives to build and further a student’s understanding
•Is fun and engaging
•Takes place in a positive math environment
•Embraces errors and mistakes to further learning
•Coincides with curriculum expectations (otherwise, why are we doing it? :) )
•Is meaningful and relevant
•Connects math to the “real world”
•Relates to other math strands or other subject areas

A math task that is not worthwhile is one that:
•Does not connect to the curriculum at that grade level
•Does not challenge a student
• Does not engage a student
• Does not provide an opportunity for personal growth and learning
•Is not relevant
•Is “busy work”

An example of a math task that is not worthwhile:

You hand your grade 8 student a worksheet at the end of a lesson. You tell them it’s due tomorrow and you’ll be marking it. On the worksheet, they are required to measure the length of the sides of various polygons and find the area and perimeter each. There are many reasons why this is not a worthwhile math task. Firstly, in grade 8, this does not correlate with the expectations. In grade 8, students are way beyond simple area and perimeter. The focus in grade 8 is surface area of cylinders, circumference, radius and diameter of circles and their respective relationships. Clearly this task does not challenge them, and it’s not appropriate for their grade level (given that they are expected to achieve grade level expectations). Secondly, how can it provide an opportunity for personal growth and learning when they’ve done this in the junior grades. Thirdly, if they are required to take it home to complete, how does it engage them and provide opportunities to collaborate and communicate with their peers? Clearly, this would be a case of “busy work”. Furthermore, if they have to do it at home and hand it in to be marked, how do they learn from errors in their processing if they don’t have the opportunity to ask questions for clarification? Also, if the only access a student has to manipulatives or appropriate technology is at school, it is unfair to send a student home to complete work that may require their use.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Environmental Education

Though this isn't solely a math initiative, i wanted to point out that the province has created a document that aligns with the June 2007 "Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future" document on Environmental Education in Ontario Schools. This document is called "A Scope and Sequence of Expectations" which indicates how Environmental Education can be taught throughout the Grade 1 to 8 curriculum in various subjects and strands.

i tried to order some for the schools but the document is only available on line (which makes sense from an environmental standpoint).

Then you can decide whether or not you want to print only the pages you want, print the document in its entirety, or the most environmentally responsible option, bookmark the page so you can refer back to it.

If you have any ideas for connecting Math to the environment, feel free to add them to the blog!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Need some Fraction Lessons?

Here is a site with some lesson plan suggestions for the almighty difficult area known as Fractions.

Another suggestion for fractions is to use fraction stacks. These may already be in your classroom. Basically, they are stackable cubes that represent fractions in four different ways. One side has a typical fraction (1/2), another side has the decimal (0.5), the next has the percentage (50%), and the fourth may have a fraction over one hundred (50/100). This should help with that tricky converting between the rational numbers.

Finally, here is a webpage that i think will work interactively with SMARTboards or whiteboards (don't actually have one to try it out, so i can only presume it works--please leave a comment if you try it and it does or doesn't work).

Like many things on the internet, you can do this on a regular computer, as a whiteboard isn't entirely necessary to use it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Primary Math Games

Here is a site with a number of games more suitable for the Primary division.

Try out the time games on the second page. This might help students with some practice for that difficult concept of learning time.

One downside is the amount of advertising on the site.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bringing Parents into the Equation

Here is an article on the importance of including parents in a child's learning of math. It is from an excellent site that is simply entitled, It might be something to include or talk about in and around report card day. Possibly post it or relay some of the ideas of the article to the parents you converse with.

Besides the article, the site has a plethora of tutorials and math lessons. Truly, someone from outer space could use the site to teach them everything there is to know about math. (Though, if they found earthling math from the far reaches of outer space, i'm not sure what our primitive math would have to offer them).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Suggestion from a class mate

One of the websites I use is I use a game called Railroad repair under the grade five heading to teach decimals. The activity is popular because students root for the train and they are given many opportunities to discover decimals while having a representation that they can drag. I was introduced to it by a retired highschool teacher who works at the University of Waterloo. There are follow-up activities to be printed off. The curriculum requirement that this activity fulfills is: demonstrate an understanding of place value in whole numbers and decimal
numbers from 0.01 to 100 000, using a variety of tools and strategies . It's a great introductory lesson for my grade 5s and works on understanding for my grade 4s.

In regards to calculators, I've used them with success in many of my lessons. My favorite activity is the broken calculator key that I got from a Marilyn Burns book. In this activity, you are not allowed to use specific keys and you are forced to experiment to create working equations. These kind of scalable puzzles always go over well with my class.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Day, Another Fun Math Site

We are trying out a new site

It's kid tested. A lot more challenging from a video game aspect, as the action is fast and furious. It brings a little more speed into the math thinking, which is good for the times tables or other areas where quick mental math ability needs to be developed.

Give it a try and leave us some feedback.

Edit: i just went back to the site and noticed the "video" section, where kids send in questions and the answers are explained using audio and visual responses. Really, do students even need teachers anymore?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Math Maven Mysteries

Here is a site that combines literacy and numeracy. It is from Scholastic. Basically there are little math stories, which can be read aloud (there are audio links, so this is optional, not a necessity).

The stories also come in pdf format so they can be printed off for classroom use, (just in the case of the odd situation where your school or classroom is having computer issues).

Try enjoying the Math Maven Mysteries right now!

P.S. - There are varying degrees of difficulty, which will obviously depend on your own students' language and math proficiency. If i had to indicate a grade range i would say the easiest problems can be solved by late primary students with the more challenging ones appropriate for the high junior/low intermediate level.

Monday, October 26, 2009

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

Here is a neat website that i may or may not have shared already. It is full of virtual manipulatives that students can use when working in math or just looking for something fun to do. Obviously you need to have the computer handy, so it could be good as an assistive device for the few hands-on learners in your class OR a way for students to explore math problems at home, WITH MANIPULATIVES, where there normally aren't manipulatives on hand.

Please experiment with it and provide feedback for the rest of the district by posting a comment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interactive Hundreds Chart

Here is a helpful site to have kids learn patterns and other number concepts (prime vs. composite, etc.) in an interactive way. Give it a try!!

***Mrs. LaForme commented that this would be very helpful for those students who have difficulty colouring or working on a physical hundreds chart. The click of a mouse is an easier small motor task for some of our students.***

Friday, October 16, 2009

Illuminations Math Site

Here's another website to try. There are lessons from K to 8, with some games that might be good to try with younger students. It is from NCTM.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Caribou Contest Results

Congratulations to our grade five and six students who competed in the Brock University Caribou Mathematics Competition. We had 9 students compete amongst 384 students in all of Ontario. Here is how the nine students ranked:

72nd, 87th, 93rd, 124th, 151st, 187th, 210th, 257th, and 273rd.

Isn't that awesome?!?! Three in the top 100, three more in the top half, and three more who placed ahead of a hundred others. You should all be proud of yourselves!! The next contest is on January 20th for grades five and six. Grades three and four can compete on November 18th.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tracking the Caribou

Today i am travelling around the district and helping teachers who had students selected to try the Brock Math Caribou contest. So far i've been with Jamieson and ECG. The grade 5 and 6 students have been working really hard on answering these challenging questions. It's great to see the wonderful math minds and thinkers that exist in our district. Results will be available tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Caribou Contest Tomorrow

Reminder to grade five and six teachers...tomorrow is the Caribou Math Contest date. See previous posts for details.

Mr. Hickey and/or Mr. Restoule General can pop by your school tomorrow to assist students and/or teachers with the contest. Just give us a call or e-mail. We will be working with the Jamieson students in the AM.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marilyn Burns Quotes

For the next little while i will be adding quotes from Marilyn Burns (Super Math Solution Teacher Extraordinaire). Please feel free to add your own comment or discussion tidbit in response to the quotes.

Today's Marilyn Burns quote is...

"Most of us learned the procedure for multiplying fractions--you multiply across the numerators and across the denominators--without understanding why. Frankly, it's easier to teach students the procedure than to help them make sense of why multiplying the numerators and denominators produces a correct answer. But teaching the why requires that teachers themselves have thought deeply about multiplying fractions."
Are we teaching the procedure OR the why, OR both? Let's discuss...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SMART Sessions with Marion Small

This information was just shared with me. Could be interesting...

Nelson Education has teamed up with SMART Technologies to present a unique series of webinars featuring Marian Small. In each online session, teachers will share SMART Board math lessons and activities they have created, while Marian Small provides practical suggestions on how to easily modify the lessons to make them more accessible for the wide range of learners in the classroom.

Each webinar will focus on a specific strand and will be using examples specifically from Grades 3-6, but anyone is welcome to join from any grade.

Sessions are always on Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30pm (EDT). Each session will be recorded and posted online afterward.

The schedule is:
October 7, 2009: Patterning
November 11, 2009: Number and Operations (Part 1)
January 20, 2010: Number and Operations (Part 2)
March 10, 2010: Measurement
April 28, 2010: Geometry

Registration is now live - you can visit this link, then click the Registration button which will take you to the SMART site. You can register in advance for all 5 sessions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grand Erie Workshops

i just came back from the Primary Math session put on through the GEDSB. It was part one of three. (Not sure if any one from our district took the Junior Math session. Please let me know if you did because i could only sit in on one of them.)

Tonight we were given a resource for Patterning and Algebra that could also be used in the Arts (drama, music and dance strands). Just a simple little activity that i think was designed to get us moving on a Monday. We then looked at how an exercise in the Guide to Effective Mathematics Instruction provides an opportunity for students to actively problem solve, using all the areas and strategies that they are expected to engage in from the ministry documents.

From there, we looked at how teachers can plan their math for each term by exploring the big ideas of each strand and cluster expectations based on those ideas. A planning resource and curriculum continuum was shared, which i will bring to the first Numeracy meeting (this Thursday, October 1st!)

Grand Erie is offering many after school workshops throughout the year. If you haven't checked out the package posted at your school, please do so. i've highlighted the Math related workshops on the sidebar of the blog. ------->

Friday, September 25, 2009

Key Math Assessment

The past week or so, i have been conducting Key Math assessments with a few students in Mrs. S. LaForme's class. i will also be working with Mrs. J. Skye and one of her students. It is an interesting test that is quite time consuming but helpful in planning and programming for out of level students.

i plan to give a workshop on conducting the assessment in the near future. If you are interested, please leave a comment. This will give me an idea of what kind of numbers to plan for when conducting the workshop. This is an assessment that any educational staff member can conduct (admin, teachers, TEAs, LRTs).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

EQAO Improved through Focused Analysis

Here is a section from the EQAO Connects e-newsletter, talking about the improvement that one school had in their math results:

"Similarly inspiring are recent improvements in Father Venini’s Grade 3 math results. The team called upon the board numeracy consultant to help identify problems and develop solutions. A breakthrough came when the Grade 3 team reviewed The Ontario Curriculum and mapped it to the classroom textbook. Muir states: “The curriculum is specific about what students should learn and comprehend at each stage of their education. However, the curriculum and the textbook don’t always align.” The educators were able to streamline their teaching by concentrating on items from the textbook relevant to the curriculum.

The math consultant brought diagnostic techniques to the school, made recommendations to remediate gaps, helped the team focus and even taught lessons (e.g., a class on probability using a computer-generated model). The team now uses Math Makes Sense and the boxes and boxes of manipulatives that come with the text. Muir and Doiron believe that it is important for teachers to be familiar with these tools and to recognize that a child is thinking when using blocks. The teachers at Father Venini have seen these tools work. And their student achievement results demonstrate their effectiveness.

The mathematics team is also using continuum-based math with diagnostic tools that assess students’ counting, computation and performance of operations. This diagnostic assessment occurs just before a six-week teaching block and shows the gaps in a child’s numeracy skills development. The staff discovered there were students in Grade 3 who couldn’t count past 100. Muir states, “Students are great at coping, and normal lessons don’t reveal these gaps.” The teachers use the diagnostic data to target group teaching, with small student-group withdrawal for explicit, focused teaching. The primary division team is astounded at how quickly students have progressed.

Muir, Doiron and the rest of primary division staff now feel capable of quickly adapting teaching strategies to address each child’s needs. The statistical data are allowing teachers to learn about and reflect on students’ individual learning.

Of particular note at Father Venini is the fact that the team is not using new resources but is putting resources that have been around for several years to work. “We haven’t created anything truly unique,” says Doiron “We used a lot of the tools made available by our board and put [them] together to work for us.”

This is definitely something we are capable of as a district.