Self-verbalization & Reciprocal Teaching

I’ve been selected to participate in a lesson study at my school this semester linked to Ontario’s “Renewed Math Strategy”. My homework after the first meeting was to read up on two of John Hattie’s high-yield strategies; self-verbalization & reciprocal teaching.

Our next meeting is tomorrow so I did some last minute reading & put together a couple of sketchnotes to summarize what I read:


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

Studenting & Visibly Random Groups: #Sketchnotes #ThinkingClassroom

A few years ago I started using visibly random groups & vertical non-permanent surfaces in my Math classroom. I got so excited about these strategies when some colleagues brought them back from a PD they had attended and immediately changed my classroom routines & setup. These strategies come out of a body of research by Peter Liljedahl on the Thinking Classroom.

Peter came to Ottawa last week for our Math PD day. He keynoted our event as well as offered workshops, both beginner & advanced, on how to apply his research findings in our classrooms. I tell everyone I can about how much Peter’s research has changed my classroom for the better, and so after his recent visit I decided to work on sketchnoting & sharing his research.

Here are my first two sketchnotes:

Visibly random groupings:


Studenting behaviours around homework & studenting behaviours in the “now you try one” teaching model:


Stay tuned for more sketchnotes about the Thinking Classroom!

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

Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros

The first time I’ve heard a group of my colleagues excited for an education-related book was for Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. We all bought a copy of the book and met after each of the 4 parts to discuss the ideas he puts forth. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter made hosting a book club so easy and really made us think as we read through the book. I sketchnoted summaries to help myself remember the information better & want to share them here:





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

Google Summit w/ #EdTechTeam

This past weekend I presented at EdTechTeam’s summit in Rosemere, QC. Their summits are designed to immerse teachers in EdTech for the weekend, learning all about the Gsuite tools (formerly GAFE; Google Apps for Education). Here are my sketchnotes from the weekend:

My pen & paper notes from the sessions I attended:


My digital sketchnotes from the 3 keynote speakers:

Jeffery Heilimg_1954

Jason MarkeyIMG_1959.PNG

Emily Fitzpatrickimg_1962

Finally, I presented about Pear Deck:Pear Deck (2).PNG

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

#EdInnovation2016 Recap

I attended the EdInnovation summit this past weekend in Ottawa to present on behalf of Pear Deck. This was the first year that this conference was run by a new organization team (in the past it was an EdTech Team event). There were over 1200 teachers from all of the major (& not so major) school boards in the Ottawa area. The conference is bilingual; in fact 3 of the 5 workshops that I attended were in French! Here are my sketchnote summaries of the keynotes & workshops I attended:

Chris Hadfield keynote


The A-Z of Generation Z by Jean Marc Dupont

EdInnovation2016 Jean Marc Dupont Gen Z.PNG

Pedagogical Documentation by Chantal Picard & Johanne Ste-Croix

EdInnovation2016 Pedagogical Documentation.PNG

Leading & Learning & the Modern Administrator by Jim Jamieson

EdInnovation Digital Leader Administrator (1).PNG

Google Cardboard & Google Street View keynote by John Bailey

EdInnovation2016 Google Cardboard.PNG

GAFE tools to support research & make thinking visible by Jim Jamieson


and last but not least, my own session on Pear Deck:

Pear Deck Sketchnote.png

Keep an eye on this conference if you work in the Ottawa area; it’s a good one!

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


This week I started seeing photos on Twitter of teachers participating in the #ObserveMe movement; an open invitation to colleagues to visit our classrooms anytime we’re teaching in order to observe & provide us with feedback. The idea is the brainchild of Robert Kaplinsky.

I’ve decided to jump in on this! I’ve always thought that part of our assigned duties in a school should be assisting another teacher in their classroom once per week. It would allow teachers to observe each other more & foster more collaboration & feedback. #ObserveMe is the next best thing.

Here’s my sign:


ObserveMePhoto (2).jpeg

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

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)

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)

My Favourite: Desmos! #MTBoS

While I’m not technically participating in the Explore MTBoS blogging initiative, I have been reading others’ posts & liked this idea of writing about “my favourite” something. I also realised that I haven’t ever posted about the ways I incorporate Desmos into my class except in passing when describing the activities we’ve done in class. So here is a list of the ways I use & love Desmos w/ my students:


Desmos New.PNG

New sketchnote created 2016.11.03

Basic Graphing & Solving Problems

Here’s an expectation from my grade 10 applied math class:Capture
The old way: Graph by hand by making a table of values & interpret the graph. Or learn the more difficult algebra for solving for zeros, etc.

The Desmos way: Use Desmos to graph the equation given & identify key points in order to solve problems such as maximum height, landing distance, etc.Capture

Investigating with Desmos:

Here is an example of a curriculum expectation for my grade 10 academic math class:Capture
The old way: 
– Draw graphs of many different equations by hand to compare & conclude
– Use school-loaned TI-83 to graph multiple equations, compare & conclude

The Desmos way:
Have students use sliders to see in real time the effects of the various parameters.CaptureAnd the best part is you don’t even have to make one yourself. Just search “vertex form” in the handy dandy search bar to get a pre-made graph to use right away:

Regression Models

The old way:
In past years I was reluctant move to far towards Demos from our TI-83 graphing calculators because the TI’s regression models were useful to my students. Especially in the applied class where the focus is less on algebraic manipulation and more on understanding & problem solving, being able to use the TI-83 to find the equation given a table of values was great. However, it did require some serious steps to follow on the graphing calculator.

The Desmos way:
Desmos makes linear & quadratic regressions easy for my students. Input your table of values, and one line of “code” . . . et voilà! Click here for a tutorial from Desmos.Capture

Activity Builder

Often when I do a 3 act math problem with my classes, for example a linear pattern problem, they solve using a table of values. I’m happy that they’ve selected & implemented a valid strategy. Perhaps not the most efficient, but the one that makes the most sense to them at the time. But the curriculum asks them to use a graph & equation to solve these problems.

The old way: So I used to create worksheets that asked students to draw a graph the data points, determine an equation, etc. the day after the 3 act math to ensure that we explored all the possible strategies for solving the problem. I would then do some direct teaching pointing out how the graph & equation relates to their table of value solutions so they could see the parallels between them.

The Desmos way: For years Desmos has been creating pre-built activities you can run with your classes; Polygraph, Marbleslides, etc. But new this year is that you can build your own activities with the activity builder. So I’ve been making online “worksheets” where each student can work through the activity using Desmos to create a graph and perform a regression to find the equation for the relation. Click here for a Desmos activity I created to consolidate our learning after the Toothpick Triangles activity. The dashboard allows you to see the work of each student:Capture.JPG

Testing with Desmos

So far this year, I’ve allowed my students their phones, a loaned iPad from me, or a loaned Chromebook from me on tests (in replacement of the TI-83 they used to be allowed during evaluations). They have to cover all camera lenses with paper & masking tape. They are supposed to only use their calculator app & the Desmos app. But I know of at least one student that has used an app that will expand/factor quadratics for her. I would be fine with that if I could make the questions harder (more critical thinking than calculation) but the course has a board-wide exam so my hands are tied.

The exam for that class will be this Friday (in 2 days). And this morning I’ve been experimenting with iOS guided access mode in which I can lock them into 1 app only (Desmos) as well as Android’s Surelock app in which I can lock them into multiple apps (calculator & Desmos) with my own password. I am thinking I will try this for the exam on Friday; no other apps, no internet access.

Have I missed any ways that you use Desmos in your classes?
Share them in the comments below.

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