Monday, April 30, 2012

MindSong Math

Here is a website out of Wisconsin designed to help students in mathematics, specifically special needs students of Native American background.  Often these types of resources fall under the banner of "Necessary for Some, Good for All" so no matter who or what you teach, you may want to check out some of the resources.  Find the site by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aboriginal Games

Here's a page entitlted "Games from the Aboriginal People of North America".  Though I can't say I've sat through and read it all, I thought I would share it and let YOUR comments tell us how you feel about the resources.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Roll Up the Rim Wrap Up

Well, it appears that we beat the odds this year when it comes to Rolling Up the Rim to Win.  By "we", I mean the lucky friends of mine.  Not only are they lucky to have me as a friend, who brings them coffee unexpectedly, they also benefitted by winning rims.  Out of the 7 coffees/hot beverages I purchased to give to someone else, 3 cups turned out to be winners.  (And in case you were wondering, YES, I do give winning rims...I do not expect to have the prize back.  My rule is, if the prize is less than $1000, then that's fine.  If it's $1000 or more, we'll split it.  There.  It's in writing for any future instances and legal battles.  What's your personal rule when it comes to winning rims on beverages you bought/gifted?  Leave your rule by posting a comment below.)

Overall, our win totals were better than the posted odds.  Now, honestly, we didn't track this meticulously, as some beverages I bought for others, I didn't follow up on whether or not they were winners.  I figured people would tell me if they did win.  Which is to say, maybe there were more losing cups than we kept track of.  Also, one might say being altruistic leads to a greater winning percentage for the receivers of charity, but then again, isn't the charitable act a win in of itself?  One could speculate forever about this, which is the fun of mathematical inquiry and the field of probability and statistics.

Here are the final totals for Spring 2012.  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: 14
Drinks for others: 7
Drinks for me, purchased by others: 2 (Nya:weh, Mr. Sowden)

Total Drinks Purchased: 23

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 14
Odds for others: 3 in 7
Odds for me, purchased by others: 0 for 2

Total odds: 5 in 23.

That's certainly better than 1 in 6!  How about that for a deep math problem?  Sort these odds using 1 in 6 as the midpoint, where some odds are better and others are worse.  Or seeing as it is Stanley Cup playoff time, track odds of winning the cup with actual results by round.

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Twitter and WebQuests in Class

It's Virtual Museum week on Six Nations Numeracy.  Here's the first of a week's worth of links, courtesy the Virtual Museum newswebletter.

Twitter and WebQuests in Class

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Titanic Tangrams

Miss Powless' fabulous fours and fives 
created these Titanic renderings using Tangram shapes
and the SMART Notebook software.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lure of the Labyrinth

If I haven't mentioned this to you yet, either I haven't actually seen you OR you weren't listening, because I've been telling everyone lately about the MIT created Lure of the Labyrinth game.  This comic book style, immersive experience of learning mathematical concepts at middle grade level is my new favourite thing.  The more I play it, the more I'm amazed.  I see it as fun for all ages, and of course, a million times better than doing worksheets or drill.  Though, that goes without saying.  The truly impressive element of Lure of the Labyrinth is how it creates a puzzling environment that challenges students to test their mathematical thinking and to naturally develop conceptual pieces of middle grade math ideas.

Currently, a contest is running for grades 6 to 8 students, working in groups of 4 to 6.  All they need to do is have a teacher create their teams and register at between April 1st and June 15th.  However, the challenge is just a contest that MIT is hosting to gather data on students and gaming.  Anyone can play the game, regardless of age (and trust me, this is one of those "fun for all ages, 8 to 88, kind of deals") by going to the main website.

Check out this website Scoop for some more info.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teachers' Domain: Lure of the Labyrinth

Teachers' Domain: Lure of the Labyrinth

Check out the video above if you want to learn more about the Lure of the Labyrinth.  It has a great recap of what the game is about, as well as some firsthand accounts of how teachers have used the game to supplement their lessons and student learning in the classroom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DailyGood: 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, by Leo Babauta

DailyGood: 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, by Leo Babauta

Despite the slant this article has towards typical schooling, it raises some great points.  Please share your own views by adding comment.  For the original source of the article, click above.  To read the article in its entirety, continue below...

Kids in today’s school system are not being prepared well for tomorrow’s world.

As someone who went from the corporate world and then the government world to the ever-changing online world, I know how the world of yesterday is rapidly becoming irrelevant. I was trained in the newspaper industry, where we all believed we would be relevant forever — and I now believe will go the way of the horse and buggy.

Unfortunately, I was educated in a school system that believed the world in which it existed would remain essentially the same, with minor changes in fashion. We were trained with a skill set that was based on what jobs were most in demand in the 1980s, not what might happen in the 2000s.

And that kinda makes sense, given that no one could really know what life would be like 20 years from now. Imagine the 1980s, when personal computers were still fairly young, when faxes were the cutting-edge communication technology, when the Internet as we now know it was only the dream of sci-fi writers like William Gibson.

We had no idea what the world had in store for us.

And here’s the thing: we still don’t. We never do. We have never been good at predicting the future, and so raising and educating our kids as if we have any idea what the future will hold is not the smartest notion.

How then to prepare our kids for a world that is unpredictable, unknown? By teaching them to adapt, to deal with change, to be prepared for anything by not preparing them for anything specific.

This requires an entirely different approach to child-rearing and education. It means leaving our old ideas at the door, and reinventing everything.

My drop-dead gorgeous wife Eva (yes, I’m a very lucky man) and I are among those already doing this. We homeschool our kids — more accurately, we unschool them. We are teaching them to learn on their own, without us handing knowledge down to them and testing them on that knowledge.

It is, admittedly, a wild frontier, and most of us who are experimenting with unschooling will admit that we don’t have all the answers, that there is no set of “best practices”. But we also know that we are learning along with our kids, and that not knowing can be a good thing — an opportunity to find out, without relying on established methods that might not be optimal.

I won’t go too far into methods here, as I find them to be less important than ideas. Once you have some interesting ideas to test, you can figure out an unlimited amount of methods, and so my dictating methods would be too restrictive.

We had no idea what the world had in store for us.

Instead, let’s look at a good set of essential skills that I believe children should learn, that will best prepare them for any world of the future. I base these on what I have learned in three different industries, especially the world of online entreprenurship, online publishing, online living … and more importantly, what I have learned about learning and working and living in a world that will never stop changing.

1. Asking questions. What we want most for our kids, as learners, is to be able to learn on their own. To teach themselves anything. Because if they can, then we don’t need to teach them everything — whatever they need to learn in the future, they can do on their own. The first step in learning to teach yourself anything is learning to ask questions. Luckily, kids do this naturally — our hope is to simply encourage it. A great way to do this is by modeling it. When you and your child encounter something new, ask questions, and explore the possible answers with your child. When he does ask questions, reward the child instead of punishing him (you might be surprised how many adults discourage questioning).

2. Solving problems. If a child can solve problems, she can do any job. A new job might be intimidating to any of us, but really it’s just another problem to be solved. A new skill, a new environment, a new need … they’re all simply problems to be solved. Teach your child to solve problems by modeling simple problem solving, then allowing her to do some very easy ones on her own. Don’t immediately solve all your child’s problems — let her fiddle with them and try various possible solutions, and reward such efforts. Eventually, your child will develop confidence in her problem-solving abilities, and then there is nothing she can’t do.

3. Tackling projects. As an online entrepreneur, I know that my work is a series of projects, sometimes related, sometimes small and sometimes large (which are usually a group of smaller projects). I also know that there isn’t a project I can’t tackle, because I’ve done so many of them. This post is a project. Writing a book is a project. Selling the book is another project. Work on projects with your kid, letting him see how it’s done by working with you, then letting him do more and more by himself. As he gains confidence, let him tackle more on his own. Soon, his learning will just be a series of projects that he’s excited about.

4. Finding passion. What drives me is not goals, not discipline, not external motivation, not reward … but passion. When I’m so excited that I can’t stop thinking about something, I will inevitably dive into it fully committed, and most times I’ll complete the project and love doing it. Help your kid find things she’s passionate about — it’s a matter of trying a bunch of things, finding ones that excite her the most, helping her really enjoy them. Don’t discourage any interest — encourage them. Don’t suck the fun out of them either — make them rewarding.

5. Independence. Kids should be taught to increasingly stand on their own. A little at a time, of course. Slowly encourage them to do things on their own. Teach them how to do it, model it, help them do it, help less, then let them make their own mistakes. Give them confidence in themselves by letting them have a bunch of successes, and letting them solve the failures. Once they learn to be independent, they learn that they don’t need a teacher, a parent, or a boss to tell them what to do. They can manage themselves, and be free, and figure out the direction they need to take on their own.

6. Being happy on their own. Too many of us parents coddle our kids, keeping them on a leash, making them rely on our presence for happiness. When the kid grows up, he doesn’t know how to be happy. He must immediately attach to a girlfriend or friends. Failing that, they find happiness in other external things — shopping, food, video games, the Internet. But if a child learns from an early age that he can be happy by himself, playing and reading and imagining, he has one of the most valuable skills there is. Allow your kids to be alone from an early age. Give them privacy, have times (such as the evening) when parents and kids have alone time.

7. Compassion. One of the most essential skills ever. We need this to work well with others, to care for people other than ourselves, to be happy by making others happy. Modeling compassion is the key. Be compassionate to your child at all times, and to others. Show them empathy by asking how they think others might feel, and thinking aloud about how you think others might feel. Demonstrate at every opportunity how to ease the suffering of others when you’re able, how to make others happier with small kindnesses, how that can make you happier in return.

8. Tolerance. Too often we grow up in an insulated area, where people are mostly alike (at least in appearance), and when we come into contact with people who are different, it can be uncomfortable, shocking, fear-inducing. Expose your kids to people of all kinds, from different races to different sexuality to different mental conditions. Show them that not only is it OK to be different, but that differences should be celebrated, and that variety is what makes life so beautiful.

9. Dealing with change. I believe this will be one of the most essential skills as our kids grow up, as the world is always changing and being able to accept the change, to deal with the change, to navigate the flow of change, will be a competitive advantage. This is a skill I’m still learning myself, but I find that it helps me tremendously, especially compared to those who resist and fear change, who set goals and plans and try to rigidly adhere to them as I adapt to the changing landscape. Rigidity is less helpful in a changing environment than flexibility, fluidity, flow. Again, modeling this skill for your child at every opportunity is important, and showing them that changes are OK, that you can adapt, that you can embrace new opportunities that weren’t there before, should be a priority. Life is an adventure, and things will go wrong, turn out differently than you expected, and break whatever plans you made — and that’s part of the excitement of it all.

We can’t give our children a set of data to learn, a career to prepare for, when we don’t know what the future will bring. But we can prepare them to adapt to anything, to learn anything, to solve anything, and in about 20 years, to thank us for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

28 Creative Ways Teachers Are Using Twitter (with their Twibe members)

28 Creative Ways Teachers Are Using Twitter - Best Colleges Online

The original source of the article below is Best Colleges Online.  Continue reading below for the full article.  Once you're finished, how about sharing a comment with how YOU use Twitter in your class.

1.Instant feedback: ReadWriteWeb and Mashable both featured Monica Rankin, a history professor at University of Dallas, and discussed how she utilizes Twitter to gather real-time feedback. Students send questions and input to the microblog, which end up projected right there during lectures; Rankin encourages them to study one another’s insights.

2.Answering questions: In a similar strategy to the aforementioned information gathering, some educators streamline the process by allowing students to answer questions via Twitter rather than raising their hands. This greatly aids studying, too, as they can easily refer back via dedicated classroom hashtags.

3.Enabling discussion outside of class: University of Texas emerging media professor David Parry also talked Twitter with Mashable, lauding the ubiquitous microblog as an excellent way for his students to continue class discussions after they’ve already ended. And they frequently do!

4.Announcements: Rather than sending out a mass e-mail, many education professionals find it far easier to tweet changes, cancellations and other important announcements. Definitely avoids the dreaded spam filter that oftentimes prevents students from receiving time-sensitive messages.

5.Notifications about completed assignments: Conversely, many students use Twitter now to alert their teachers about when they’ve finished their work. This strategy works especially well for online courses or classrooms taking advantage of internet-based technologies.

6.TwitLit: The 140-character limit offers a nice little challenge for students, and innovative educators and authors like have taken notice. Whether writing poetry, short stories or something else entirely, the site’s unique structure offers up some excellent ways to stimulate creativity.

7.Word, trend or hashtag tracking: Staying on top of what people are talking about opens up users to an incredibly broad spectrum of perspectives. Requiring subscriptions to specific, relevant words, hashtags or trends is a simple (and free!) way to provide such a window into the world.

8.Follow conferences: Some educators may want their students to follow certain professionals and keep track of the various happenings at relevant industry conferences. The more active feeds might even provide links to streaming video or audio!

9.Communicate with professionals: Instead of asking students to merely follow industry insiders, ask them to actually tweet a response and open a discussion — or at least try to, anyways. For high schoolers and the college crowd, this assignment might very well help them discover some personal career goals.

10.Taking notes: Similar to the example about facilitating extracurricular discussion, Twitter also provides a quick way for students and teachers alike to take notes. Keeping everyone organized in a list makes it easier than ever to supplement (not replace) reviews for tests, quizzes and assignments.

11.Share a story: Put a social media twist on an old classroom favorite by asking students to play some fun story-go-round games on the famous microblogging site. The first tweets a sentence, the next builds off of it and so forth; try assigning a hashtag to make reading everything faster.

12.Map trends: Combine social media and geotracking with Twittermap, which allows users a chance to plug in and track what people are talking about where. For sociology and marketing students, such technology helps them better understand demographic needs and wants.

13.Keep parents informed: When teaching the younger set, parents may like to follow along with what’s going on in their children’s day. Keep a Twitter feed updating them about the different lessons and activities as they happen for greater engagement between the home and the classroom.

14.Play a geography game: Ask eager and willing tweeps to give their location, and put together a project mapping out where in the world they share. For kids just learning about distance, this makes for a lovely way to get them to know more about where everything is in relation to their own cities and towns.

15.Set up a poll: Teachers might want to set up a Twitter poll for either their students or the broader microblogging community. The applications are limited only by one’s own creativity; for an added bonus, combine the poll with some sort of geotracker.

16.______ of the day: No matter the class, a vocabulary word, book, song, quote or something else "of the day" might very well make an excellent supplement to the day’s lesson. When teaching younger kids, tell their parents about the Twitter feed and encourage them to talk about postings at home.

17.Start a book club: Within the industry but outside the classroom, some educations band together via Twitter and host their own book clubs. A common hashtag and communicative network is all it takes to share insight and recommendations.

18.Follow politicians: Well…ones that won’t "treat" the class to a faceful of wiener, anyways. All the same, though, following them on Twitter provides students with a quick glance at the lives and opinions of people shaping their countries for good or for ill.

19.Keep up with current events: Similarly, educators can set up lists with different news sources, allowing their students to stay on top of current events. Separate them by field for quicker access and even more comprehensive organization.

20.Capsule reviews: Challenge kids (and adults!) alike to write up reviews for books, films and other materials consumed in class. The 140-character limit teaches them how to remain concise while getting their main points across — and educates their followers in turn.

21.Communication between classes: Beyond facilitating communication within the course itself, teachers may like the idea of connecting with similar ones in other cities, states or even countries. Set up a communal hastag for students and professionals alike to use and exchange their views and lessons.

22.Host a Twitter scavenger hunt: For fun and education, get students moving and organize a sort of Twitter scavenger hunts — maybe even see if other classrooms or professionals want to get involved. As with many of the projects listed here, such an activity can easily be applied to a wide number of grade levels and academic subjects.

23.Fun with historical figures: Some instructors ask class participants to set up feeds roleplaying as significant figures in history, approaching microblog technology "in character." Although one could easily incorporate scientists, artists, literary characters and plenty more into the fold as well.

24.Start a meme: Memes actually existed long before the internet, but the virtual world certainly played a major role in bringing the phenomenon to public attention. Anyone studying communications, sociology and psychology can certainly benefit quite a bit from tracking or creating their own examples.

25.Supplement foreign language lessons: Twitter’s unique spacing limitations make for an interesting way to nurture foreign language acquisition. Tweet a sentence in a foreign language at the beginning of the day or class and ask students to either translate or respond in kind as a quick, relatively painless supplement.

26.Review: Nursery school teacher Ana Dominguez of Colegio de Alfragide likes using the popular microblogging tool to review the day’s activities and inform them of anything interesting other tweeps have to say. Not only does it help them reflect on their lessons and their world, but it also serves as a nice, guided introduction to social media.

27.Help students get their names out: College professors hoping to nurture the professional future of their juniors and seniors might like the idea of teaching them the role of social media in job hunting. Business students into the whole "personal branding" fad will particularly benefit from comprehensively exploring such things.

28.Create a twibe: Build networks beyond Twitter itself and set up (or have students set up) a twibe, bringing together other classrooms or professionals. These networks not only serve to broaden one’s perspective, but offer an interesting lesson in how online communities come together, sustain themselves or fall apart.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012