Podcast w/ @DerekRhodenizer

Last week Derek Rhodenizer invited me to chat on his podcast, Eduthoughts. We talked about innovation VS invention, problem-based learning & its similarity to a flipped classroom, and Twitter as a professional learning network. And maybe a bit about Pokémon Go too😉

Have a listen:



– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Problems We Solved in #MFM2P

My plan was to blog about every problem-based learning activity I did this year. I did not succeed; I think I blogged about two from the my MFM2P course? So as a runner up to a full blog post reflection on each, you’re getting one post with a summary image of each activity or problem & a link to my materials for it.
I’ll group them by strand here, but they are not listed in the order that we did the activities. If you’d like to see the progression of activities I used, you can see that here.

Linear Relations

26 Squares: This one I did manage to blog about.Summary (11).jpg

Banquet Hall2016.04.22 2P summary.png

Phone Charging2016.05.19 2p.JPG

Phone Plans2016.04.27 2p.png

Gummy Bears: I did blog about this one here.Summary 2016.02.29 2P.jpg

Measurement & Trigonometry

Lamppost: w/ shadows 2016.04.15 2P Summary.jpg

School Height: w/ mirrors 2016.05.25 (1).JPG

Tree Height: w/ clinometer 2016.05.11 2p summary.jpg

Wheelchair ramp2016.06.08 2p (1).JPG

Filing cabinet post-itsSummary Filing Cabinet 3-Act.jpg

Pyramid Post-its2016.05.13 2p (1).JPG

Quadratic Relations

26 Squares: I did blog about this one2d 2016.02.08 (1).JPG

Visual Pattern2016.04.12 2p summary (1).JPG

Not every lesson we did was problem-based. Sometimes I need to do some direct teaching right from the get go, like with expanding & factoring. Other times we explore & investigate by drawing & cutting out shapes, like with similar triangles & trigonometry. But in any case, maybe someone new to the MFM2P course (or not so new to it) will find these activities useful!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

#Sketchnote: 5 Practices for Orchestrating Mathematics Discussions

I’ve been hearing about this book lately, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions By Mary Kay Stein, Margaret Schwan Smith. I still haven’t gotten around to ordering & reading the entire book, but I did read a shorter article that one of the authors wrote on the same topic. And as I’ve been doing more & more lately, I created a sketchnote summary of the article to help me organize my thoughts & to share with others:

5 Practices Orchestrating Mathematical Discussions.PNG

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

OAME sketchnotes

At the start of May I attended the OAME conference in Barrie. This was my 2nd year attending. I was disappointed to have my session cut due to low enrollment 5 weeks before registration closed, but c’est la vie! Next year in Kingston I have an idea of how to better “sell” my session in the description. Fingers crossed to not get the final session block on the Saturday either – that drags your numbers down for sure.

The food was the definite low point of the trip. Georgian College offered a poor continental breakfast in the residence and OAME provided all vegetarians with gluten free bread that wasn’t suited for human consumption. Let’s hope the Kingston organizers manage something a notch above.

I thought I would share some sketchnotes I made in order to summarize my new learnings. Let’s start with the Ignite sessions which I think are my highlight of the conference each year. Ignite speakers get 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds to total 5 brief minutes to try & get a strong message across.

OAME Ignite 2016 Part 1

OAME Ignite 2016 Part 2.PNG

I was pretty active on the Twitter feed for the conference as well:

Lastly, I usually try to make an effort to seek out OAME sessions by teachers that I can’t see or work with at home but my colleague Lynn Pacarynuk‘s session on test design & assessment made me think more & harder about my own practices. So much so that I summarized some of her ideas in 2 different sketchnotes:

OAME Test Design Process Lynn Pacarynuk.PNG

OAME Shifts in Assessment & Test Design Lynn Pacarynuk.PNG

Until next year, OAME!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Pear Deck; interactive slideshows+ #edtech

This year I have been working with Pear Deck as part of their certified coach program (similar to the Google Certified Educator). Pear Deck has invited a group of teachers that are heavy users of their product to be trained as coaches. Once trained, the coaches present at various conferences and PD days on behalf of Pear Deck to spread the Pear love. Last weekend while I was at the Montréal GAFEsummit event and took some time to create a sketchnote that summarizes what Pear Deck is, the great features it offers, and the benefits to your classroom. Enjoy!

Pear Deck Sketchnote.png

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Jo Boaler’s Visual Maths – a #Sketchnote

Jo Boaler has written (with a co-author) a new paper on Visual Maths. Jo Boaler is kind of a rockstar in the Math teaching world lately. She’s started a new  website called youcubed.org with lots of activities & resources backed up by research.

I read the paper this weekend & sketchnoted a summary for myself that I then shared on Twitter. Thought I would share it here too:Jo Boaler Visual Math (1)

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Gummy Bears #3ActMath #MFM2P

I’m catching up on blogging about a couple of activities I did before my student teacher took over my classes. Here’s a brief overview & reflection about our Gummy Bear problem for linear systems.2016.02.29 2p

Act 1

The prompt:
Gummy Bear Problem
I asked (via PearDeck):

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • Estimate the cost of a red gummy bear?
  • Solve for the cost of a red gummy bear
  • Solve for the cost of a blue gummy bear2016.02.29 2p estimate

Act 2

I gave the groups access to some fake coins and some blue & red blocks to represent the candies. I didn’t get shots of everybody’s work, but here is an example from one group:IMG_1281

Act 3

The solution:IMG_1282.JPG


Using some direct teaching, I asked them to come up with an equation for each purchase if x represents the cost of 1 red candy and y represents the cost of 1 blue candy. Then I asked them to graph the two equations in Desmos & we looked at & talked about the point of intersection.

The next day, we worked on this consolidation handout reviewing the most important new learning from yesterday. The rest of the second day was dedicated to this problem set on Khan Academy (they were encouraged to use Desmos to help them with it).

My reflections

  • A colleague suggested showing students one purchase at a time and asking them what some possible prices for each colour could be.
  • I wondered whether or not this is a good context, because in reality, the blue & red gummy bears would not have different costs. Thoughts? Might this be a problem for students trying to understand the problem & context?

All materials for this activity are here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

T-Shirt Fundraiser problem #MPM2D

Another quick post to catch up on a problem-based lesson from the other week. This one was co-planned & co-taught with my student teacher, Nicole Darling.Summary (8)


We made up a problem to do with selling t-shirts, comparing costs & number of shirts in order to teach the elimination method of solving linear systems.

We posed the problem:

Your class is trying to raise money through selling t-shirts. There is a $150.00 set-up charge and each t-shirt costs $4.00 to make. You will be able to sell your t-shirts for $10.00.

What questions can we ask? Sample responses:


Estimate how many shirts you would need to sell in order to break even:Capture

Solve: A few (but not all) of their boards:

Most groups solved using a table or just by calculating the 150$ debt divided by the 6$ profit on each shirt to find 25 t-shirts. One group actually did substitution all on their own. Ms. Darling then did some direct teaching on the substitution method w/ the class as a whole & sent them back to their boards to check their answer using this method.

Interactive Pear Deck slide deck available here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)