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… slide 1 is an easy intro that students who are waiting can work on.


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.


Slide 5,6,7


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%.


Slide 8-12





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

Better Questions – Two Truths & One Lie

During these last few days of class we have been completing problem after problem to prepare for our exams. I wanted to start class off with a different question than “What problems should we take up?”

I’ve used and played the game Two Truths and One Lie as an ice breaker before (first read about it in Marian Small & Amy Lin’s book More Good Questions)  and it popped into my head when I read this weeks blog post from Having students develop two truths and one lie about a math concept seemed super intriguing. The openness of this task made me eager to see what they would come up with. It would give my huge insight to what they know and what we would need to work on too.

This image was waiting for my 10th grade class when they came in.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 12.40.35 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 1.49.00 PM

They worked in pairs as a team to develop the truths and lie. I overheard great discussions on what should be considered truth and how to choose a lie. I loved the variety of what they chose. No two groups had the same.

Here is one:


After writing their statements on a sticky note they were to trade stickies with another group and identify which statements were true and which was the lie. This was the best part! They were competitive. I overheard groups saying “prove it” or “show why that’s true”. They were demanding each other to see work and evidence. They weren’t accepting guesses! The vocabulary was amazing too. Afterward I had them all write their truths and lies up on the board. We went through each statement discussing the strategies needed to verify.



I also ran the same activity in my 12th grade Advanced Functions class. Here was their function: Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 2.34.42 PM

and their stickies:



Afterward I asked the class what we could do to make the activity better. Here are some suggestions I’ll try next time.

  • A point should be awarded for getting the two truths and a lie correct and not for “stumping” another group.
  • Each group should get their own function to create statements for. Then in each match the opposing team would have to verify everything. Lots of practice and lots more variety.
  • We ended up giving a point to groups who found errors in another groups statements.

Also thinking of putting a question like this on my next assessment/test. Have the student write and indicate which is the truth and which is the lie. Or give 3 statements and have them generate a graph or equation where two statements are true and the other is a lie.

If you have any other suggestions on how to change/modify this activity I’d love to hear about them.


My Favourite 

The semester is just about over…exams start next week! When I look back on the semester my favourite tool/technique was having my students work in random pairs daily at vertical whiteboards.

I’ve had students use small personal whiteboards at their desks before, but I couldn’t believe the change in active engagement and cooperation once they were standing. The discussions they were having about the math was much more insightful and meaningful.

Our whiteboard uses usually started as soon as the bell rang. In their random pairs they would put up a few homework questions from the previous day. I could see students looking around verifying their work with their peers. They were self assessing.

We continued to make use of the boards while we worked through our new challenges. Students had no problem leaving their space to go and talk to another group to gain some insight on new strategies. I can easily circulate the room to engage students in conversations and challenge their reasoning.

So….if you can, get some writeable surfaces on those walls of yours. This will be your next My Favourite  post!

I found some stick on whiteboards from

I also bought some boards that lean against the wall from Home Depot 

One Best Thing

The MTBoS Blogging initiative has begun! Check out the two options to blog about. 

I choose option 1 which is writing about something good that happened during the day.

Week 1: One Good Thing

Today was a good day! In my mailbox was this little package.


It’s a package created & designed to make students feel amazing!

It’s from Knowledgehook.

Knowledgehook is an ed tech company specializing in  creating “engagement tools to measure and improve student learning“.

My students have been completing practice questions using their Homework product. An added, amazing bonus is when a student completes a mathalon (completing the majority of questions from the course) Knowledgehook sends in the mail a real (heavy duty) medal. Along with it is a pennant we can hang in the room.

Today a student in my class got that medal! We presented it to him in front of the class. IMG_0411
He looked a tad embarrassed, but I could see he was super proud! Big smiles. Later he told me he was going to wear it home to show mom!

That was today’s good thing.