Being Picky – Ignite Session OAME 2017

Giving an Ignite talk can be a rewarding but also super terrifying experience. For me it was both. Session participants create exactly 20 slides which will auto-advance every 15 seconds giving a total time of 5 minutes. This year, for the second time OAME invited me to participate in their Ignite session at the 2017 conference in Kingston, ON (my home town).

I wanted to share with you my talk:  Being Picky: How we choose lessons and tools for our classroom.

You can read the transcript with slides below.

I was inspired for this talk by fellow teacher Andrew Stadel and it begins with coffee makers. Here is the super deluxe coffee maker that I was looking to buy for a long while! It has all the bells and whistles, timer, auto shut off, and even a grinder.
and then this baby slides in which is arguably the easiest coffee maker to use in the world, it has only three buttons. I had to make a decision. I wonder? Which would you choose? Why? The why is most important part of the conversation it’s what dictates your choice. That’s because we humans are picky. We’ve got lots of reasons to like what we like. We create a set of criteria based on our wants, needs, beliefs, values. I could swap out coffee makers here for
tv shows or computer choices or hair styles and you’d have lots of opinions, conversations, disagreements, maybe even regrets. How many of you had those haircuts……come on….don’t be shy! I knew you did!

We could also swap those out for our lessons and activities. It’s important that we think about what we want in our lessons to create good student learning opportunities. We need to think critically how lessons we get from others fit into our core beliefs of good learning. For me, I have four criteria I use to evaluate all of my lessons
I want ALL my students to show me their thinking and understanding in interesting ways. I want them to show me what they think first instead of just telling them what to think! I want to open up the questioning that goes on in my room. So I look and create lessons that allow for this.
I want my students to discuss, collaborate, argue, defend, and justify with each other. I believe this helps clarify their learning and understanding so I must make sure that discussion and collaboration happen in my best lessons.
I am always assessing! I’m constantly looking to see who gets what we are doing and who needs help. I need to be able to assess quickly the abilities in my room so I can use that on the fly to decide where to go next. Assessing easily must be apart of my lessons.
Every lesson or activity must have a ratio between the cost of set up and the payoff where the payoff heavily out weighs the set up. Nothing is worse than spending a huge chunk of time, making, cutting, designing and then when you run it the learning outcome wasn’t worth it. The payoff must out weigh the set up.
These are things I value in my lessons so naturally I must select lessons and tools that allow me to meet this criteria! One tool that I use regularly and meets all of these criteria is

A whiteboard. Students can easily show off their learning. They are quicker to get to writing on a whiteboard than on paper. Especially when the boards on the wall. Students get to defend, argue, justify their thinking with each other. I can easily see if students are understanding and the set up ratio is a no brainer. Here’s a whiteboard, marker….Go!
As technology advances it becomes a bit more difficult to choose what we want to use. There are literally thousands of apps, websites programs that are in ED tech and globally it’s an $150 billion dollar industry!! And I know that all of those companies out there didn’t create their software with my criteria in mind. I only want tools that fit my criteria!! So I throw away programs/apps/websites/tools that don’t meet it and keep the ones that do meet it. I want to share two tech tools that meet my criteria and one that doesn’t. First up…

The activities on teacher.desmos.com are amazing and meet my first two check points. Through carefully set up prompts my students can easily show me their thinking in a variety of ways. Their new conversation tools make it easier for us to consolidate and class discussions have never been more interesting.


It also meets my second two criteria. I can see in live time what the students are working on. It gives me the feedback I need to decide to go further. The set up can’t be easier. There are hundreds of pre-made activities ready to just click and run. Just grab a device.


Freshgrade is online portfolio tool that meets my criteria. Showing thinking through pictures is the beauty! Discussions can occur easily and assessment is a snap…which drives where we go next.


Kahoot has been pretty popular lately. Students answer multiple choice questions in a game like format competing against the rest of the class. However, It doesn’t allow my students to show their learning in interesting ways…..just a right/wrong selection. We can have discussion about the ideas but the questions are timed putting a rush on my students thinking and I don’t think that helps good learning.


Assessment is tied in but I see class scores not individual achievement. But hey, its super easy to set up!!! Since it doesn’t meet most of my criteria I decide not to spend time creating on it.


These are my four criteria for lessons and tool selection. If a tool doesn’t meet the criteria then I don’t use it. Our time is valuable. I don’t want to spend time on learning something if it doesn’t fit into they way I think good learning happens.

Going forward you have homework. You need to decide: What kind of lessons do you want in your room? And then create the criteria that will help you evaluate the lessons, activities, tools you get from co-workers, friends, online, or at conferences like this. Be picky! We trust you!

End of transcript

I’d like to thank Andrew Stadel for this post on his Tech Tool Criteria and also Kyle Pearce for feedback and  suggestions and listening to me rehearse!

What are your criteria for activities and tools? Feel free to share them with me through email, twitter, or here in the comments.

Percent Pile Up – MEL3E Day 5

Today I wanted to see what my class’s prior knowledge was around percent. Since they are 16-17 year olds they have been exposed to percent quite a lot. But since their math skills are operating anywhere between a grade 5 level through to a grade 9 level I wanted us all on the same page.

I started off with an Explain Everything file I put together. The slides start at a basic level but then creates a need to determine equivalent values that match a certain percentage.

Slide 1:

Getting the explain everything file onto each students iPad, or getting them connected to the wifi, or showing them how to type in a URL can take some time…..so slide 1 is an easy intro that students who are waiting can work on.

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Slide 2,3,4

I wanted to make sure that when we know the whole is 100 that just counting the tiles covered gives us the percentage. These were too easy for my students but it gave us some time to review writing a fraction as a decimal and as a percent. I asked students to tell me the percentage they covered and then we converted to a decimal and fraction. They had the option to record what they were thinking.

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Slide 5,6,7

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Right away almost all students covered 10 squares. I then asked them to convert their new fraction (10/50) into a decimal to see if we get 0.1 ….and then some shock on their faces appeared. Some students then knew their mistake and made some corrections. But we spent some time here going over the visual interpretation …..10% means that 10/100 are covered. This board had been cut in half so only 5 must be 10%.

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Slide 8-12

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This is where we generated a need for an algebraic (proportion) method. The students could estimate how tall he could be….but they had a hard time determining with accuracy how tall he would be. So this is where I stepped in and showed them how to calculate. The remaining slides with Fido and then with piles of gold and then finally with no visuals at all were to practice this method.

After all slides were finished they started on some more practice questions on paper. We’ll finish those tomorrow as most students just started it.

Grab a copy of the Explain Everything project file

Final Assignment – Estimation Challenge

For our final activity I started the off with this……

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we filled in too high, too low, and best guesses! Then we checked the answer…..

Completing this challenge got the students pumped and hooked into doing some math on our very last days of class (especially with some students exempted from the final exam). Our final assignment is to …

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We got out the iPads and I let the kids work….. here is what a few came up with:

A lot of kids did water filling or post it note covering estimates. Some kids ended up making an all-out 3 Act math problem.

Zack

How many caps will fill the marker?

Estimate & Answer

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Alexis

How many cups to fill the shape?
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Answer:

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Meghan

A 3- act task in Explain Everything:

How many post-its will cover this triangular wall:

Act 1: She put a photo and a small video in Explain Everything to start us off.
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Act 2: She provided us with a little more info after we made some guesses.
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and
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Act 3: Made a time lapse video and provided a screen shot with the answer

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Grab her Explain Everything File here

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Tiana

How many stickies to fill the door window?

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And hit us up with a time lapse video for the answer:

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Celina

How many water bottles will fill the hexagonal prism?

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and the answer

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Watch the water fill up by grabbing her Explain Everything File

A fun last few days….and I’ve got some new estimates for class next year.

Distance-Time Graphs – Gallery Walk

The last few semesters I ran this two-day lesson on distance-time graphs. Today I added a new twist on Day 2.

Recap: Day 1 – A few prediction videos on water height in a cup vs. time. Then WATERLINE by Desmos!

Day 2:  Today

Warm Up – We reviewed the previous day’s work by choosing one of the cups from the picture and drawing a water-height vs. time graph.

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Not surprisingly, no students chose to draw the graph for the Stanley Cup. After they make their sketches we dove into using the CBR Rangers from Vernier just like on Day 2 from the previous post. They walked in front of the Ranger taking various different walks and we all saw their distance-time graphs in real-time. For each walk the students made prediction graphs on their whiteboards before seeing the live graph.

I wanted more predictions from them so I showed them a video I made. They were to watch the video and make a prediction graph of my distance away from the camera vs. time.


After take up of this graph they were to create their own video on the iPads. Each pair of students we’re given a scenario to film that described motion.

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Here are two motion videos they filmed: Very basic to start!


They had to create their distance-time graph and hide it under the flap on the vertical whiteboards.

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Pairs then went on a gallery walk. They watched each student made video, graphed the matching distance-time graph and then checked the answer under the flap.

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Kids enjoyed it and they practiced lots of different distance-time graphs.

Thanks for reading!!!