About mslwheeler

Math teacher at Ridgemont High School, OCDSB. Twitter: @wheeler_laura Class website: misswheeler.pbworks.com

Teacher-Librarian Sketchnotes+

This year, beginning in April, I embarked upon the journey to getting my 3 part specialist as a teacher librarian. Why not in Math you ask? Well, as a BScH psychology major I only had room for the minimum 5 full year credits in Math I required to get me into teacher’s college. So an Honours Specialist in Math would require me to go back & take 3 more uni-level Math courses. No thank-you (can someone please tell me why we don’t allow teachers to submit Math leadership experience in lieu of Math credits to be admitted to an honours specialist course?). So instead I took part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the Teacher-Librarian AQ. Started in April. Submitted my final assignment on Friday. YAY!

I wanted to put together the sketchnotes & visual summaries I created as part of these courses. Somewhere to house them all together. So here they are.

PS: I really enjoyed my part 1 & part 2 through ETFO online – not just for elementary teachers. I did not enjoy – and would not recommend – my part 3 AQ through Queen’s. Too bad as Queen’s is my alma mater & I wanted to love it.

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

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Let me tell you about Bullet Journals …

As a sketchnoter I have heard about Bullet Journals for a while.

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This fall I listened to the Sketchnote Army podcast episode with Ryder Carroll, the inventor of the Bullet Journal method. It got me interested enough to order his new book, the Bullet Journal Method. And now I am obsessed. Not only that, but several colleagues (and even students!) that have seen my bullet journal seem interested in learning more and starting their own! For now I’m using a dotted 5″x8.25″ soft cover moleskine. Before January I’ll get a hardcover notebook (probably the LEUCHTTURM1917 or the official Bullet Journal notebook). But the beauty of the bullet journal is you don’t need any specific journal. You number each page yourself as you go & add all the structure & content yourself too.

So what is Bullet Journalling? Here’s a video from Ryder himself about it:

A word of note: if you google bullet journalling (or Bujo as it’s often called) you’ll see plenty of images & videos showing very fancy calligraphy and intricate artwork. That is not was Bullet Journalling is about. Some people like to do it that way which is great. But I really like reading about Bullet Journalling from the creator himself because he really comes at it from a function & purpose persepective that is not about art (which appeals to me as a sketchnoter . . . as Mike Rohde always says: “ideas, not art”).

Index
You start with the first 4 pages for your index:
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The index is like a table of contents – as you create sections of your bullet journal, you’ll write down the page numbers for each topic or month. So if I take 2 pages for the new Spanish words I’m learing on Duolingo now & then another 2 page spread later in the notebook, all those page numbers will be listed next to “Spanish” in my index. Makes it easy to find. Now I made the mistake of starting on the actual first page. Next time I’ll use this page to create a “if found, please return to … / contact …” cover page & start the index on the back of the first page; 2 two-paged spreads for it.

Future Log
Next up you create another 2 two-page spreads with blocks of space for the next 11 or 12 months of the year.
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This is where you list all of the events & tasks that are not happening in this current month. I prepped this by going through the calendar on my phone (which I am still using in addition to my bullet journal – I do like the pop up reminders of things there … and also useful when my bullet journal isn’t on me & I need to record the date of something coming up).
And go back to your index and list the future log w/ its associated page numbers.

Monthly Log
So now we create a monthly log for the current month.
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On the left of the two page spread you write the days of the month down the left side; number & first letter of the day. I write the main things I need to remember happening each of those days. On the inside edge of that left page I have my habit tracker which starts as a dot for each of the 2 habits I want to track; Duolingo practice w/ Spanish & German and taking my vitamines. Each day as I do it, the dot turns into an X to indicate it’s happened.
On the right-hand page you create a list of tasks you want to accomplish in the month. Tasks (indicated with a dot) get Xed out as they are completed.
List this month and its starting page number in your index.

Daily Logs
Starting on the next page, put the date for the first day of the month. And here is where you plan, log tasks/events/notes & reflect on each day.
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Tasks start as a dot then turn into an X if they get completed, a > to say it’s been migrated forward to another day in the future or < to say it’s been migrated back to the monthly or future log. I’ve started using arrows rather than < and > myself. The hollow circle indicates and event or something that happened. The dash – is a note. And of course things can be nested under each other using the various symbols. Some people will adjust the symbols to better suit themselves which also works.
I’ve started tracking the the sunset & sunrise times once in the center of each of these daily spreads just for fun. I also create a weather icon for each day & track the day’s high & low from my weather app the next morning. I’m starting to add a few more sketches & icons as I go to satisfy my sketchnoting urges 🙂 But it’s super not necessary!

Side note: Think your handwriting sucks? Doesn’t matter! This journal is for you & no one else. Also, with practice it will get tidier. Try slowing down slightly as you write and being really purposeful in your pen strokes – that often helps!

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Migration
So then at day’s end take time to reflect on your day & add to your notes about the day. Cross off completed tasks. Migrate tasks forward to tomorrow or back to this month’s task list.
At month’s end go through your month’s task list. What did you complete? Cross it off. What remains? Is it worth moving forward? If it’s still important to you, migrate it forward to the new monthly log & mark it with >.
At year’s end . . . I haven’t experienced this one yet. But the main thing I know Ryder – the creator – suggests is to start a new notebook for the new year … even if you’re current one still has room. Fresh start. Blank slate and all that.

Collections
The last element of the basic bullet journal is what Ryder calls Collections.

Collections are two page (or more) spreads for things you’re working on. For example, I have a collection for both the Spanish and German I’m learning with the DuoLingo app. I have a collection spread I’m using to plan what I do each day w/ 2 of my classes. I have another collection spread to organize who I’m planning on sending holiday postcards to. These can be for notes from PD days, meetings, courses you’re taking … whatever you want! Just create a 2 page (or more) spread & list the topic & page numbers in your index. The next time you create a spread for that same topic or project, you’ll add the page numbers next to the first set in your index (eg. Spanish, 17-18, 35-36, 47-50).

Start now!
My final advice to you is to start right now. Like, tonight!
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If this seems like something that you’d enjoy & find beneficial it is tempting to say I’ll wait till Jan. 1st to start fresh & that gives me time to buy the right stuff, etc. But come Jan. 1st in the middle of the holidays … you won’t start! So I started with a week left in November. Grabbed a moleskine notebook – but any notebook you have; lined paper, blank paper, … I’m sure you have an unused or unfinished notebook lying around the house right now. No fancy pens are needed. Grab whatever pen or pencil is close at hand. And start! Think of it like a test drive as we finish December where you can learn about how you like your own Bullet Journal to work. Then you’ll be ready for a migration to a fresh notebook on Jan. 1st.

And if you do try Bullet Journalling, please come back & tell me what you think in the comments below! Consider sharing a photo if you’re willing.
Hope to hear from you soon,

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

VZ-R HDMI Document Camera Review

61UvvrZOP+L._SX425_Last month I received a free VZ-R HDMI Document Camera from IPEVO in exchange for a blog post reviewing the tool; be it a positive or negative review.

 

 

 

 

Here’s what arrived:20181016_092835.jpg
A very neat, compact box with a sleek folded document camera. A small round card giving me a link to the Quick Start Guide online. Small tools needed to assemble the base to the document camera. And the USB cord.

I was quickly able to assemble the unit with all the materials provided:20181016_101731

Take 1 – document camera + desktop computer + projector

The first thing I did was hook it up to my desktop computer & projector input (which required the use of my HDMI-VGA cable b/c my projector is ancient). The problem with this set up is that these connections are in the corner of the room, away from students & far from the project screen. This means that if I wanted to use the document camera to project student work or product (it’s ideal use – rather than showing teacher stuff) the students would have to bring it over to my small teacher table in the corner where the computer & projector input is set up. Don’t love this. I envisioned being able to bring the document camera right to a student’s desk to show what they’re working on. Also you’ll notice I  don’t have a lot of space as I’ve really reduced the teacher’s “real estate” in the room over the years to a rather small desk with not much extra room for putting things:20181016_112347

The other issue with this setup was that it projected with a funny pinkish-purplish hue on the screen:20181016_112414
I don’t have that problem when projecting from the desktop computer. I’m sure I could adjust the colour of the projector, but don’t want to have to do so each time I change from computer to document camera.

TL;DR: This setup is OK but not ideal. But it was easy to set up & get started with the document camera.

Take 2 – document camera + chromebook + Google Cast for Education

Ideally I really want to be able to bring the document camera to a student’s work space & project what they’re doing to the class. They shouldn’t have to come to me. How can I hook this up to my chromebook w/ the USB cable?

So I downloaded the IPEVO Visualizer app for Chrome. It was quick to install, open up & show what the document camera was looking at on the Chromebook. Then I used “Google Cast for Education” to cast my entire Chromebook desktop to the desktop computer that is hooked up to the classroom projector. This worked great & the colour tint wasn’t an issue!

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So this is the golden ticket! Projects with no colour issues. And is portable enough with the document camera connected to my chromebook via the provided USB cable. I can take it right to a student’s desk to show what they’ve been working on.

Thanks to IPEVO for providing the document camera to try out! A great tool to add to my classroom repertoire to show off student test solutions on paper, algebra tiles, and other hands-on manipulatives.

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

@PearDeck #LearningInTheLoo 🚽

Learning in the Loo (1)

I first heard about Pear Deck at a Google EdTech Team Summit back in 2014:

Pear Deck is an interactive slidedeck tool that gives students the ability to respond to teacher prompts using their personal devices. I quickly approached the presenter, who is also the COO & Co-Founder of Pear Deck – Anthony, pear-deck-certified-coachabout offering to present at conferences in the area on their behalf in trade for a complimentary premium account. Now Pear Deck is an incredibly useful & powerful tool for student voice even when using the free account! But I thought why not ask & see if I can get the full hog premium features? Since that time, Pear Deck has created their Certified Coaches program which I’ve been a part of since the beginning and I’ve made such good use of Pear Deck in all of the subject areas that I teach. I am passionate about sharing this tool with other teachers!

So this week’s edition of Learning in the Loo is all about Pear Deck. It includes a sketchnote covering what Pear Deck is all about, a few of the differences between a free & a paid account (to show that the free one is still awesome!) and a quick how-to-start guide for the Pear Deck add-on in Google Slides:

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Interested in posting Learning in the Loo posters in your school’s staff washrooms? My entire archive can be found here.

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

Great Canadian Mail Race – “Dear any grade 9 student …”

This spring I got an envelope in my mailbox in the main office addressed to “any grade 9 student”. At first I was unsure as to why the office staff chose to direct it my way; likely because I work with the Link Crew students who, in turn, work with our grade 9 students to help them transition to high school. I opened the envelope to find a handwritten letter from a grade 9 student named Jeremy in Langley, BC. The enclosed typed letter from Jeremy’s teacher explained that this was part of an activity she called The Great Canadian Mail Race. She explained how it works in her letter & I did a quick Google search to discover that it’s been around since at least 2013. Very cool – how had I not heard of this before?

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I decided this would make a great assignment for my grade 9 BTT1O/S class; Information and Communication Technology in Business. They could type up letters to send around the country using Google Docs. So I read Jeremy’s letter out loud to the class. I then gave each of my students a quarter sheet of paper to write a short response to him. We put all of our responses together in an envelope & mailed that off to Jeremy:
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Next up, I had my students – in pairs – choose a different province & territory. Within each pair, one student picked a big city and one student picked a small town in their chosen province/territory. I told them they couldn’t pick Ottawa (our town) but next time I would say no Ontario at all – because it meant that with the number of students I had. we left out Newfoundland & Labrador. Each student picked a high school in their chosen city/town.

I made this map of the locations we picked for the purposes of this blog post. Next time I’ll have the class collaboratively build this map in Google My Maps:Capture.PNG

I gave students a day to read up about their chosen city/town and the school they had selected. Then my students began composing their letters in Google Docs. The previous week we had learned about composing a proper email message and each wrote a proper email to somebody. We started these letters by discussing as a group what the format of a typed letter should be. We made a sort of template to follow on the whiteboard & students began writing their letters. For many of my students this was their first experience with writing a letter (as it had been composing an email longer than a sentence or two also).

Once they had a rough draft, I had them draw a random name of a classmate and share their doc with that person to be peer-edited/reviewed. We do this by sharing our docs in “comment only” mode. They leave a positive comment as well as something for the person to improve. Then each student returns to their own doc for a final edit.

Once all of our letters were ready to go, we printed each one and wrote something by hand or drew on our letter to make it a little more personal. Each student addressed the envelope for their letter. This was a learning experience in and of itself. Many students were unsure what to write where, how or where to find the proper mailing address for the school online, etc. Lots of learning happened here.

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I also typed up a letter that I photocopied & had students include with theirs in their envelope. It read:

Dear Teacher,
My students are writing to you today as part of the Great Canadian Mail Race. A few weeks ago we received a letter from a grade 9 student in BC. We read that letter and each student responded with a short hand-written note that we then mailed back all together.
Today we are sending out new typed letters as part of our BTT1O/S course; Information and Communication Technology in Business. I am evaluating their ability to work in Google Docs as they write their letter. We have arranged it so that we are sending one letter to a small town and one letter to a big city in each of the provinces & territories in Canada. The first person to receive a letter back in the mail will win the race!
We are a very diverse school in Ottawa, Ontario. Some of the students in my class are ESL or even ELD students. ESL students are learning English as a second language. Our ELD students have had significant schooling gaps in their life, and are not yet literate in their native language, let alone in English. They have done their best to write their letters as clearly as possible.
I hope you’ll consider continuing the Great Canadian Mail Race with your class; it’s been a fun experience for us. For some of my students this was the first time they have ever written a letter to someone. Perhaps it will be a first opportunity for some of your students as well. We hope you’ll read this letter with your students and encourage them to respond in kind.
Sincerely,

Here are our stuffed envelopes ready to get stamped in the main office & be sent out in tomorrow’s mail!

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I can’t wait for letters to start coming back to my students. I know that when they wrote their emails the other week to past teachers, family members, and city councilors they thought it was pretty neat to get back & read the emails they received in return.

This has been a great activity so far. A genuine way to have students create something in Google Docs that we can send out into the real world (a tech skill I have to evaluate for this course anyway). Don’t wait to receive a letter, start the mail chain yourself by having your students write a letter to any grade ___ student elsewhere in our beautiful country. Teaching a course on global studies? Have students pick various countries outside Canada instead.

If you try this activity or have done it in the past please leave a comment below about what you did differently, things that went well, and what you’d change next time so that we can all learn from each other!

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

#LearningInTheLoo: Station Rotation Model

While I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book yet, I’ve been working my way through the Blended Learning in Action book this year:
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I turned their chapter on the station rotation model into a “learning in the loo” poster for this week. I made good use of this model with my ELD (English Literacy Development) Math class last year which required differentiation for a variety of mathematical levels amongst my ELL students. It was so helpful because it allowed me to do small group instruction by ability level.

With chromebooks becoming ever more present in our schools and our school board looking to move away from the rolling class set of chromebook model and towards the embedded tech tub of 5 or 6 devices in every room, many teachers are wondering how they can make use of only 6 chromebooks daily rather than booking a class set every so often. One solution, can be the station rotation model:

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Want to post some Learning In The Loo posters around your school? The whole archive is here.

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

#LearningInTheLoo: Making phone calls w/ Google Hangouts

All of the teachers at my school just got new chromebooks for their use, to replace our aging desktop computers as they are dying off. Now is the perfect time to let them know that Google Hangouts are a great way to make free phone calls to anywhere in Canada & the US, making it easier than ever to contact student’s parents or guardians.

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Want to post some Learning In The Loo posters around your school? The whole archive is here.

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

What do your students think is the purpose of school? #BFC530 #edchat

Yesterday’s #BFC530 chat was “If you polled your students about the purpose of school, what would they say?” from Ben Owens.

We all had some ideas but also admitted that we should probably actually ask our students! I told them to give me their honest answer as to why they think kids are supposed to go to school … not what they thought I’d want to hear.

The short version of their answers is this:

But if you’re interested in reading them all, here is all of the responses from my gr. 9 computers class, my grade 9 (academic & applied mixed) Math class, and my grade 10 applied (aka remedial) Math class:

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Amber Grohs also asked her kindergarten students & tweeted their responses:

And Kathy Iwanicki polled her 8 year old students and wrote this post about their responses.

What do you think your students would say? Better yet – ask them & tell us what they think in the comments below!

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

My Khan Academy Pedagogy

I first wrote about how I was using Khan Academy with my students in late 2014 here. Then earlier this school year I wrote a response to another blogger’s post about why online Math practice tools aren’t good, here. Since that first 2014 post, Khan Academy has changed & improved quite a bit and so has how I use it with my students. So let me share a little of my Khan Academy pedagogy.

From here on out, KA = Khan Academy

Students and teachers can use KA anytime they like without having an account or without joining a teacher’s KA class. However, by making an account, the student’s progress gets tracked & saved in KA, allowing the site to better offer next steps of Math for them to work on. And by joining the teacher’s class, the teacher has the ability to assign practice problems & check student progress. I highly recommend using it as a class like this.
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Step 1: Create a class

If you haven’t yet, make a KA account yourself. I often log in from my chromebook & so I love the simplicity of the red Google button that automatically logs me in using my school board Google account.
Then head to your “dashboard” https://www.khanacademy.org/coach/dashboard & click on “add new class” (on the right side). Enter information for your class – I like to name it by period & course code – or choose the “import from Google Classroom” option if you already have all your students connected to Google Classroom.

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You will be prompted to tell KA what Math subjects your students are learning. I choose “World of Math”.

Step 2: Get students in your KA class

Two ways to do this:

  1. Invite students by email address (or by email but via Google Classroom). The advantage here is that you will see a list of invited students on your dashboard & KA tells you which students have not yet accepted the invitation; makes tracking the sign up process simple.
  2. Give students the Class Code. This can be found by starting from your dashboard choosing the class & then clicking on Roster. Top right you will see the Class Code. I used to write the code on the board in my classroom & students go to khanacademy.org/coaches to enter it & join the class.

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If at any time you’d like to change the name of your class or change which subjects you attributed to the class at the beginning, you can click on the class name in your dashboard & then choose Settings:Capture

Step 3: Find content & Assign it

So let’s say that today we did a 3 act math task or problem-based learning activity involving surface area & tomorrow I want my students to do some individual practice on surface area. I use the search bar at the top of KA to search for that topic. I click on “Exercises” to filter it so that I only see the practice sets:Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.27.59 AM.png

Once you click through to the exercise set, along the top you have the “assign” options. You can choose to assign the set to one or more of your classes. By default “All students” is chosen but you can click the drop down in order to assign to only some of your students if you like (useful for differentiation). Choose the due date & time (students can complete it after the due date still but it will notify them that it’s overdue. When ready, click Assign.Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.32.58 AM

Step 4: Students do the practice set

I provide class time to practice independently on KA after each activity we do in groups. What they can’t get finished in the provided class time becomes homework to complete at home.

Students log in to the website (khanacademy.org/login) or download the app & sign in there. The assigned work will be on their dashboard in a list of assignments to do. They click “Start” next to the assignment title. I have my students work on paper so that if they get stuck they have a trace of their thinking so far for me to help them find their error or sticking point. Once they have an answer, they choose the answer (if it’s multiple choice) or type it in (paying attention to how KA wants it submitted; rounded to the hundredth or as a precise fraction instead of a rounded answer). They click “Check” and KA either tells them they are correct, or incorrect & try again.

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If students are stuck they have the option near the bottom of the screen to watch a video or use a hint. The KA videos are pretty traditional teaching and often involve tricks like FOIL. But they are better than no help at all when a kid is at home & stuck on a problem. Hints are literally the next step in the problem given to them. They can keep pressing hint until the whole solution is shown & explained. But using any hint results in the student being allowed to finish the question, but not have it count as successful. I believe KA’s recent changes mean students need to get 70% of the problem set correct to be considered “practiced” on that skill.

Step 4: Checking their work

KA tells students immediately if they get a question right or wrong. Students cannot move to the next problem until they’ve entered the correct answer for the current one. So students get immediate basic feedback about right or wrong.

From the dashboard for a given class you can see the current assignments as well as past ones (whose due date is past). If you click on the number of students that have completed an exercise next to its title (ex. 3/15), you can see a list of students and their scores. You can sort by date, number of attempts, score, etc. This can also be downloaded as a CSV file (which opens as a spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel or similar programs).Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.56.55 AM

If you click on View Report next to the assignment title (not the one next to each student in the above image), you can see which questions the students had the most trouble with:Screenshot 2018-01-30 at 11.55.27 AM.png

Step 5: Assigning further homework & Differentiating

I have created a list of all the KA exercises that meet the curriculum needs for each course I teach, divided by overall expectation. You can see an example here:Capture

I list the practice from easiest to hardest (or in the order in which we will study it). When I am assigning the 2nd or 3rd practice set from that list to my students, I will use the “Progress” tab for each class & I will click on “Within mission” in the top gray bar & search for the list of practice sets for that expectation (you can see this screen below). Any student that is still in the “needs practice” or “struggling” column will be reassigned the first homework. Any student that is “practiced” or above on the first homework gets assigned the 2nd homework, and so on until each student has been assigned the next practice set for them to work on according to their completed work to that point. I find this helpful to not overwhelm students with a practice set they are not yet ready to tackle individually.

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Step 6: Mastery

When students are done all of their assigned practice early, they have three options:

  1. They can redo old practice sets to increase their score on them if they weren’t happy with how they did. They can find these under their “completed assignments” list in their account or by searching the title of that practice set.
  2. They can do KA’s “mastery” quiz which gives them a mix of 5 or 6 problems from topics they’ve been practicing. The mastery serves to check if students retain their abilities over time; can they still find surface area 2 weeks later?Capture.PNG
  3. They can work ahead on practice sets that we have not yet assigned by choosing from the list on our Google site.

Step 7: Using the spreadsheet of data

There are two main things I do with the data that KA provides for me; communicate with parents & guardians as to their child’s progress on KA skills and use it as backup evidence at the end of a semester when I am determining whether or not a student has shown sufficient achievement of an overall expectation for the course.

On the “settings” tab of each class, you can download the student data as a CSV file:Capture.PNG

I save that CSV file to my Google Drive & open it in Google Sheets. I move & hide columns to meet my needs. I use the IFERROR formula to compute their best score yet (not the score at the due date) for each practice set & display “incomplete” if there’s no score. I sort by student and copy & paste their table of data into an email to them & their parents.
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I try to do this every few weeks. I download a new .CSV file each time so I have their up to date best score to honour when they go back & try again or do mastery to level up. This is purely for feedback to them & their parents at this point.

At the end of the semester I do a final spreadsheet where I do one extra step: I sort the exercises by curricular expectation, for each student. When determining a final grade or whether or not to grant the credit, this can serve as backup evidence of their skills in the case where they have difficulty with the more complicated problem solving on our formal evaluations.

PHEW! I think that’s about it.

Have you used Khan Academy? How do you use it with your classes? Let us know in the comments below!

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