Thursday, March 29, 2012

From the Classroom: The 4 Icon Challenge for A Wrinkle in Time

From the Classroom: The 4 Icon Challenge for A Wrinkle in Time

This isn't a numeracy strategy exactly, but I suppose you could use it that way.  Check out how this grade 5 class uses the 4 Icon Challenge, and then go to the link to Ben Rimes' original explanation of the strategy to think about how you may want to use it with your students.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

for the love of learning: Dysfunctional PLCs

for the love of learning: Dysfunctional PLCs: When I taught middle school, I was a part of what we called "Team 8" which was where all the grade 8 teachers would come together on Monday ...

Friday, March 23, 2012

EQAO Session Survey

Please take some time to fill out the following survey.  Your responses are anonymous and will help to develop future professional development sessions and improve the quality of future training sessions.  Your feedback is extremely valuable and greatly appreciated..

Click here to take survey

It's Their World, We Only Live In It

Study Claims iPad Helps Rise in Literacy for Kindergarteners

A study conducted in Auburn, Maine suggests that the iPad may be able to improve literacy rates among kindergarten students, notes The Loop. The Auburn School Department recently assigned iPads to half of the district's 16 kindergarten classes for a period of nine weeks. This translated into 129 students being taught with iPads, and 137 without; to gauge results, all of the students were tested before and after the trial.

In the end, the classes using iPads are said to have outperformed the ones without them in every literacy metric used. The ASD is, however, reported to have put special effort into the project. "The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there," says the Department's Multiple Pathways Leader, Mike Muir. "We are paying attention to app selection and focused on continuous improvement -- we aren’t just handing equipment to teachers."

He claims that many educational institutions have not put in enough effort. "Too many innovative programs don’t prioritize their own research, and even if they collect observations and stories later, they don’t make the effort to do a randomized control trial, like we did," he argues. "We wanted to make sure we could objectively examine the contribution of the iPads."

Sue Dorris, the principal at East Auburn Community School, comments that the Department is seeing "high levels of student motivation, engagement and learning in the iPad classrooms." While the exact apps used are unmentioned, they are said to "teach and reinforce fundamental literacy concepts and skills," and be "engaging" while providing kids with immediate feedback. They can be customized to suit each child, letting people learn at different rates.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Simple List, Sure To Grow

10 Educational iPad Apps Recommended by Explore Knowledge Academy

From wire service reports
When Explore Knowledge Academy has its grand opening celebration in March 2012, it will become the first “iSchool” in Nevada, with a 1-to-1 ratio of iPad tablets to students.

EKA students as young as kindergartners use the iPad to learn traditional subjects in math, English, social studies, and science. (To read about their experience, click here.)

Here are the 10 iPad applications used by educators at the public charter school and recommended for other schools and families with iPads.


BrainPOP is a subscription-based application that brings 750 or more movies and quizzes in science, math, social studies, English, engineering, art, and health to the iPad. Users can watch an animated movie on a particular subject and then test their knowledge by taking an interactive quiz. The iPad application is free, but it costs between $1.99 and $6.99 per student, per month to access education materials.

Cell and Cell Structure

Cell and Cell Structure is a graphic application that teaches middle school students about cells, cell structure, and function. Users can view 3D interactive graphics on different cell types and parts, take quizzes to test their knowledge, and use flashcards to review and memorize information. Videos also give users a microscopic view of the cell. The app costs $2.99 in the App Store.


ConjuVerb is a foreign language application that allows students to look up more than 600 commonly used Spanish verbs and their conjugations. Quizzes and flashcards help students memorize and test their knowledge. It’s free in the App Store.


Dinopedia is a reference guide created by National Geographic for dinosaur connoisseurs. Students can look up more than 700 dinosaur types using the application and get audio pronunciations, vital statistics, size comparison, and videos about each of the dinosaurs. A visual table of contents and an interactive family tree allow students to quickly search for their favorite dinosaurs. It costs $4.99 in the App Store.


Discover is a reference application for the iPad that repurposes Wikipedia articles for the tablet user. It’s free in the App Store.
Math Bingo

Math Bingo is an educational iPad game modeled after bingo. Elementary school students try to get five “Bingo Bugs” in a row by correctly answering math problems. Scores are determined by how fast students complete a game, and students are assessed a two-second penalty for every incorrect answer. It costs 99 cents in the App Store.

Math Drills

Math Drills is an educational application that tests up to 50 students in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students can use number lines, wooden blocks, facts, and hints to solve problems. Teachers can view an individual student’s scores and test history to see which concepts need to be reviewed. The app costs $1.99 in the App Store.


Penultimate is a handwriting and note-taking application for the iPad. Students can scribble notes on digital pages and sort them into notebooks. They can also import photos into the application and annotate them. It costs 99 cents in the App Store.

Scientific Graphic Calculator

Scientific Graphic Calculator is a math application for the iPad that allows students to solve math problems needing a scientific calculator or a graphing calculator. The application also contains a triangle solver, which solves for a missing side or angle in geometry problems. Students can also use a unit converter and a constants reference to complete math problems. It costs $1.99 in the App Store.

Word Wizard

Word Wizard is a spelling application for the iPad that allows students to hear sounds of letters and words using an interactive alphabet. The application also provides a spelling quiz with more than 1,400 questions and answers. Elementary school students can tap on alphabetic or QWERTY keyboards. It costs $2.99 in the App Store.

Copyright (c) 2012, the Las Vegas Sun. Visit the Las Vegas Sun online at Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Tell-Tale Signs You're Becoming a Teacher Leader

5 Tell-Tale Signs You're Becoming a Teacher Leader

Click the link above and see how YOU rate on a scale of 1 to 5.  I know for a fact that there are a number of people in our system who would score a FIVE easily!  Feel free to add a comment mentioning the teacher leaders you know in your school.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Four Letter Word We All Love: FREE

The following article, courtesy eSchoolNews is a good follow up to yesterday's post.  If you try any of these out, please leave a comment to let us know what you like and don't like about the site.

Free Websites Help Boost Student Engagement, Teacher Productivity

February 24th, 2012
By Laura Devaney, Managing Editor
Cash-strapped schools can’t stop giving students the resources they need to learn and develop 21st century skills simply because budgets are tight. Luckily, educators can turn to free online resources to help them find and organize lesson plans, give students extra help in various subjects, and more.

During a webinar on, an educational social networking site for teachers and administrators, presenter Shannon Holden, a former teacher and assistant principal, and adjunct instructor at Lindenwood University and Missouri State University, shared a number of free online resources to help educators take advantage of what the internet has to offer.

Many educators “don’t know where to start” when it comes to finding, learning about, and really using free online resources, Holden said. “Most people just do not have the time to learn all of these technology tools,” he added.

Holden suggested that those educators pick one or two websites of interest and start exploring them. Users can turn to YouTube for website tutorials if they need help.

“Don’t wait for the next big thing in technology before you jump in–there’s always going to be a next big thing,” he said. “It’s just amazing that all this stuff is free, and we don’t use it because we don’t have time to find it.”

Here is a round-up of Holden’s web recommendations:
This site supplies educators with information about teaching reading comprehension to students of all ages. It includes details on Lexile scores, teaching strategies, and more.

http://quizlet.comThis flash card and study game website offers more than 10 million free sets of flash cards on a range of topics. Users can find flash cards or can create and share their own original flash cards.
This site offers multimedia study materials and educational information to high school and college students, all for free. Subjects include algebra, statistics, calculus, biology, physics, chemistry, Earth science, economics, history and government, psychology, and religion. Users can “mix” their own multimedia playlists, find existing playlists, and share their playlists with peers. Teachers can create playlists for easy student access.
Though not as aesthetically pleasing as some other sites, teachers can search through 2,800 teaching units and lesson plans, from other teachers, focuses on plays and novels. The site currently offers only literature lesson plans, but will expand its offerings into other subject areas in the near future. Lesson plans are alphabetized, printable, and full of information.

http://WatchKnowLearn.orgTeachers and students can search through and download thousands of free videos, arranged by subject. Videos include user ratings and appropriate age ranges. The site offers more than 33,000 educational videos, which have been placed into a directory of more than 3,000 categories. Videos are available without registration or fees to teachers in the classroom and to students at home.
Teachers can set up a library of educational videos they want their students to view and can group videos together in an online content library that students can access at any time. The site removes outside content that exists on other video sites such as YouTube.
This website is a free online grade book and also gives educators a way to create a personalized learning system. Teachers can organize lessons for student access, and teachers are able to make assessments, and distribute them for students to take, based on their lesson plans.
Through this free site, teachers can create lesson plans, share those lesson plans with anyone they please, and can access their lesson plans from any internet-accessible place or device. Users can attach files to lesson plans, link plans to the Common Core standards, export to Word or PDF, and print.
Elementary school teachers can take advantage of this site’s free teaching ideas, including Bell Work ideas and sponge activities. The site features lesson plans and thematic units, teaching tips and interactive bulletin boards, and downloadables and reproducibles.
This site lets anyone share a presentation, document, webinar, PDF, or video. Teachers can share class presentations or multimedia, which students can access at home or in a library for reference. Homebound students or students who are out sick for a day can use the site to brush up on the lessons they missed. Educators might also turn to the site for a “flipped classroom” experience, in which students watch presentations outside of school hours and come to class prepared to discuss what they viewed.
This site, which Holden helped to develop, takes the typical field trip “packet” and transforms it into an app for students’ personal devices or for a classroom set of mobile devices. Students scroll through the app and answer questions during the field trip, and are able to send their completed “virtual packet” to the teacher. Washington, D.C. and London are currently offered, and a New York City app is coming soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Let Them Eat Napkins

Not only does this mark the 400th post on the Six Nations Numeracy blog, it is a post filled with what the future may hold for education.  The entire article appears below, but if you prefer to see it at the original source (as well as a printable version) click here.

‘Mass Customized Learning’: The key to education reform?
Posted By Meris Stansbury On February 21, 2012 @ 1:03 pm In AASA,Best Practices News,Curriculum,eClassroom News,Featured AASA,Featured Best Practice,Featured Superintendent's Center,School Reform News,Superintendent's Center,Top News | 2 Comments
Technology helps make this mass customization possible through personalized digital learning.
Would you still drive a car if it was the Ford Model T? No? Even if the paint was new and it had air conditioning? The answer would always be “no,” said one education reform expert, because no matter how much you spruce up an old model, there’s always a maximum capacity … and the same applies to education.

During the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education [2]Julie Mathiesen, director of Technology &  Innovation in Education (TIE), a professional development organization based in Rapid City, S.D., argued that the only way to achieve true education reform is to redesign student learning from class time to curriculum, and from teaching styles to learning spaces.

A key way to accomplish this reform, said Mathiesen, is to implement “Mass Customized Learning,” in which the instruction is tailored to each student’s needs and interests. And technology helps make this mass customization possible through personalized digital learning.

“The current Industrial Age system of education is working perfectly,” she said, “if you’re looking for 25 percent skilled and 75 percent unskilled students—[or] if you’re looking to have around one million students fail to graduate high school every year. We need to completely revamp the system.”

According to Mathiesen, the old way of learning doesn’t work anymore, because students are living in a world where they are no longer “told” how to think and don’t process and learn through “telling.” Instead, students learn by doing and by learning anytime, anywhere.

“One way to accomplish this is through the use of technology. I heard a great quote recently,” said Mathiesen, smiling: “‘The web and technology are setting out a great buffet of teaching and learning tools; however, most schools are just eating the napkins.’ If schools could learn about some of the great, free resources available, and learn how to engage students, true reform could start to take hold. We can’t keep simply tinkering with education.”

Along with the Model T reference, Mathiesen also discussed the book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life [3], by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

According to the theory of “Flow,” there’s a boredom threshold and a challenge threshold. For example, we’re all skilled at clapping our hands but would find this too boring to do for fun. Like clapping hands, class activities can’t be based solely on skills—they have to be exciting and engaging as well.

Now take the example of knitting: People who knit like to apply skills to a challenging task to stimulate their mind. But if you say to those people, “You must knit a sweater and accomplish it all, perfectly, in one hour,” most will find it too challenging and quit.

“The classroom must be a place that balances both skill and engagement, and it can’t be limited to a time and place. One way to accomplish this engaging, successful, 24-7 learning environment is through customization that’s currently available through a number of resources,” said Mathiesen.

According to TIE, Mass Customized Learning (MCL) is described in this scenario: “What if every day, every learner came to school and was met with customized learning activities at his or her precise developmental and achievement level, was learning in his or her most effective learning style with content of interest, was challenged, was successful, and left school eager to come back tomorrow?”

An example of MCL can be seen in this video, which theorizes what a student’s MCL experience would look like:

Mathiesen also named a number of free online resources that educators can use to reach and engage their students. Examples include:

• iTunesU [4]: K-12 curriculum videos are also included.

• Google Earth [5]: It’s not just a map; it also includes activities such as looking at classical art in museums in Italy and mapping shark and whale migratory patterns, to name a few.

• Wolfram Alpha [6]: A computational knowledge engine.

• Khan Academy [7]: Free online lectures and videos.

• [8]: These free online textbooks are also customizable and include many interactive components.

A full list of online resources and tools, as well as Mathiesen’s presentation, can be found on her TIE wiki page [9].

More information about TIE’s approach to MCL, including a rubric to get started, can be found in the book Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning, Learning in the Age of Empowerment, by Chuck Schwann and Beatrice McGarvey. Information can be found here [10].

TIE also is collaborating with the authors of this book to produce a field book of resources to support educational leaders in implementing MCL. A sample of resources from the soon-to-be published field book can be found here [11].

“Obviously, you can’t go into your school tomorrow and say, ‘OK, let’s implement MCL in one day,’”
Mathiesen said, “but you can start by identifying important content and skills today’s students need [and] determining how best students can learn these, by customizing content and by redefining space and time constraints.”

Article printed from eSchool News:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] Image:
[2] National Conference on Education :
[3] Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life
[4] iTunesU
[5] Google Earth
[6] Wolfram Alpha
[7] Khan Academy
[8] CK-12.org
[9] wiki page:
[10] here:
[11] here:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roll Up MY Rim and Win!!

Well, it's that time of year, once again.  For anyone who has read my blogs over time, you may remember my posts on the probability of winning on a Roll Up the Rim Tim Horton's cup.  If not, check them out here and here.  Last year I thought to look at the odds and how well they matched up with my hot beverage purchases.  I used the breakdown below to score my results (last year's end totals are displayed):

Drinks for me: 23
Drinks for others: 6
Drinks for me, purchased by others: 4

Total Drinks Purchased: 33

Winning cups for me: 2
Winning cups for others: 2
Winning cups for me, purchased by others: 0

Total winning cups: 4

Odds for me: 2 in 23
Odds for others: 2 in 6
Odds for me, purchased by others: 0 in 4

Total odds: 4 in 33

This year, Tim Horton's (I refuse to use the public relations and media friendly moniker "Tim Hortons" as it pays little respect to the founder of Tim Horton's and separates the chain's history from the man that started it all, hence, Tim Horton's--or the coffee shop belonging to Tim Horton) claims that the odds are 1 in 6.  Let's see about that one...

Drinks for me (so far): 13
Drinks for others (so far): 7
Drinks for me, purchased by others: 1 (Nya:weh, Mr. Sowden)

Total Drinks Purchased: 21

Winning cups for me: 2
Winning cups for others: 3
Winning cups for me, purchased by others: 0

Total Winning Cups: 5

Odds for me: 2 in 13
Odds for others:  3 in 7
Odds for me, purchased by others:  0 for 1

Total odds:  5 in 21.

Consider tracking your own purchases but more importantly, discuss and utilize real life instances of probability to enable students to make real life connections to the math they are learning.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Are You Smarter Than a 5th (or 4th) Grader?

 Miss Powless' grade 4/5 class at OMSK recently created their own geometric solids.
They were able to design, build, name and describe their shapes.

 Here, some students proudly display their design, 
along with their label sheet of how many vertices and faces
each shape had, along with the shape of the base.

 Another assignment had them construct 
three dimensional shapes from a net.

 Can't quite make this next photo rotate properly.
But with 3D shapes, does it matter the orientation?

What great work this class did.
Even more impressive was their ability to describe
their shape orally using precise mathematical terminology.
Way to go, Miss Powless!!