#LearningInTheLoo – #HourOfCode

Hour of code is next week so I decided to make a new Learning In the Loo poster about the event & why a teacher might want to participate. A big thank-you to Sylvia Duckworth & Brian Aspinall for allowing me to include their great list of reasons to teach coding in sketchnote form:

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Want to share some Learning In The Loo posters at your school? Here are my archives!

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

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Khan Academy … everyone loves to hate it

This popped up in my feed today:

Since I’ve been using Khan Academy, an online math practice website, with my students for a few years now, I was intrigued & promptly read the blog post.

I had so many thoughts as I was reading through it that I decided to respond to each of David’s points from his post in a comment on his blog that I’ll post here now:

Feedback is terrible or nonexistent

Agreed. No worse than a textbook w/ an answer key in the back to check (KA tells you if right or wrong). Better than a worksheet w/ no answer key to check.
Obviously worse than a teacher working beside you.

Impossible to see patterns

Agreed

Blocked practice

I have my students use the blocked practice to practice a skill the first time. Later I encourage them to do KA’s “mastery” quizzes which interleaves concepts they’ve practiced over time to help with retention.
So some of these offer both blocked & interleaved options.

Too easy or too hard

I use the progress tab on KA to look at a series of practice sets. Students that still haven’t mastered the first on the topic from back in September practice that again. Students that have shown competence with more skills will be assigned the next in the progression for their needs. I can do this student-by-student on the KA dashboard so that they each get what they need to practice next.Screenshot 2017-11-28 at 3.45.27 PM

Inappropriate medium

No worse than a textbook. My students solve the KA problems on paper with pencil and then input their answer to see if their right … same as they used to do w/ textbook practice.

It obscures information from teachers

Yes – it doesn’t show me the student’s work like when I used to pick up paper copies. But I also no longer spend hours checking/correcting homework. Instead I use that time to better prepare the in class activities we do where I am able to offer in the moment feedback while they work on problem solving.

It isn’t really mathematics

Again, no worse than a textbook.
Obviously worse than the problem-solving activities I run in class …

…. But here’s the thing: Khan Academy [or insert other online practice medium] is not meant to replace a teacher or a math class. I use it as a tool to allow my students independent practice like they used to do w/ a textbook. I think practice is useful to my students, and sometimes they do need to practice skills one at a time in addition to the problem-solving we do in small groups all the time in my class.

I’m not a fan of these blanket statements that these online tools are totally horrible and can’t be used in helpful ways. Is Khan Academy perfect? Far from it – but nor was the textbook my school used to offer us to use. Here are the things I like about it:

  • The report it generates is a useful tool to communicate home about students that aren’t practicing (b/c I believe that independent practice is still important)
  • That I can differentiate who gets assigned which exercise set.
  • That students can work ahead & KA can even predict what the next skill in their progression might be
  • That students don’t lug home a textbook each night
  • That it has videos (even if I don’t always love his strategies) a kid can watch when stuck
  • That I no longer have to spend time marking homework for correctness or completion
  • Probably more reasons too that aren’t coming to mind at the moment …

KA is not a valid replacement for good Math activities and teaching. But is it a useful tool to offer independent practice to students? My argument would be yes. Does that make me a bad teacher?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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

#LearningInTheLoo – Classroom Screen #edtech

Last week I stumbled across this tweet that caught my attention:

I checked out the @ClassroomScreen twitter feed full of retweets of how teachers are using this tool in their classrooms & it seems pretty handy! It needs no account or login, it’s free & loads pretty quick. So it became this week’s edition of Learning in the loo!

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Give it a try: http://classroomscreen.com/ and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Want to post some Learning in the Loo posters in your school or make your own? Here’s my archive!

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

#LearningInTheLoo – Google Drawings

My latest Learning in the Loo poster is all about how to get started with the Google Drawing tool:

Learning in the Loo

As a companion to this week’s how-to-use Google Drawings edition of the Learning in the Loo in a toilet stall near you, I wanted to provide some examples of ways you can use Google Drawings … what can you do with this awesome tool?

Make diagrams for your handouts/tests/slideshows:
Inline image 1
Create an infographic from scratch:
Inline image 3
Create a collage of photos for a custom Google Classroom header image:
Inline image 4
Posters (like this overview of course curriculum) for your classroom walls:
Inline image 5
In addition, an article “10 ways to use Google Drawings for Learning”: http://blog.whooosreading.org/use-google-drawings-for-learning/
Want to give it a try? Go to http://drawings.google.com/create
If you try making a Google Drawing – I’d love for you to show me what you make!

Interested in sharing these posters in the staff washrooms at your school? Here’s the archive.

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

Course Packs for the #ThinkingClassroom

I had the pleasure of welcoming Peter Liljedahl to visit my classroom this past week. Peter is the brains behind the Thinking Classroom framework that I’ve been implementing in my classroom over the last few years. While he was in town this week for the OAME Leadership conference he took the time to visit some Thinking Classrooms in the area and I was lucky enough to have him come visit ours. He spent a period with my grade 10 applied students where I was running a problem-based learning task (or 3 Act Math task) to do with solving for the missing angle in a right triangle.

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Peter Liljedahl & Judy Larsen visit

The two most popular elements that most people know about Peter’s Thinking Classroom framework are vertical non-permanent surfaces and visibly random groups. Another of the elements is to have students take meaningful notes after the problem-solving task; giving them time to select, organize & synthesize the ideas they want to keep in their notes. My way of doing this has been to create course packs for each of the courses I teach. Peter shared out this idea during his keynote on Friday and a number of teachers were interested in hearing more about them and seeing examples, so I figure a blog post was in order!

What are my course packs?
They are approximately 10 pages long (1 page per overall expectation for the course) or 5 sheets back to back. There is a box for each of the key terms or skills they need to know (I pull these from the specific expectations listed in the curriculum docs). For my applied classes I usually fill it in with worked examples of the skills, but leave the key terms blank for them to complete (see below right). For my academic classes I usually leave every box blank for students to complete (see below left). I copy & staple one for each student and hand it out at the beginning of the course.

How do we use them?
A place for meaningful notes: After each activity we do, I get my students to take out their course pack & open to whichever page matches the content we covered that day. I give them time to write their own notes based on the student work on the boards, the short notes I may have written on a board or on their boards, and I’ve also suggested mathisfun.com as a good site for definitions at their level. I also encourage them to put both images & words in every box.
A reference document: When groups go up to their boards to solve the day’s problem, one of the 3 members is given the role of bringing the course pack (the other 2 are responsible for scribing and calculating, respectively). Groups will often look through the worked examples if they need some help solving the day’s problem or remembering how to do something. On individual practice days, students often have their course pack out to help them with their practice problems. When students are stuck on a problem, I’ll often ask them to show me where a similar problem is in their course pack & we’ll use that as our starting point as we work together.

Can I see some examples?
Sure can!
Grade 10 applied course pack
Destreamed grade 9 (applied & academic together) course pack:
Grade 10 academic course notes

Still have some questions? Hit me up in the comments below or on Twitter! Have you made some of your own? Share links to your course packs below too!

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

Learning in the Loo: Google Classroom edition

Today I prepared the year’s first edition of Learning in the Loo for my school all about what’s new in Google Classroom this year. The topic was inspired by the most recent episode of the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (worth subscribing to if you’re into podcasts!).

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

Captive Audience: #LearningInTheLoo

Do you ever read a great article or blog post and think I HAVE to share this with my colleagues! So you email everybody the link & say you have to read this. And then maybe 1 or 2 people actually read it?

I find so many great things on Twitter & blogs (#MTBoS) that I want to share with my colleagues, but they often don’t have (or make) the time to check them out. So when I happened upon a tweet about Learning in the Loo I thought it was genius – a captive audience!

So I have made it a habit to create & post a new Learning in the Loo 11×17″ poster in each staff toilet in our school every 1 or 2 weeks this semester. I curate the amazing things I learn about online & turn them into quick read how-tos or ideas to read while you … “go”. And it just occured to me that I should have been posting them to my blog as I made them. But now you can get a whole whack of them at once and next year I’ll try to remember to post them as I make them.

The whole collection so far can be found here with printing instructions.
Feel free to make a copy (File –> make a copy). Also the sources of images & ideas are in the notes of the doc above too.

Here they are:

Learning in the Loo Assessment FeedbackLearning in the Loo Cell Phone Work Life BalanceLearning in the Loo EdPuzzleLearning in the Loo Adobe Spark VideoLearning in the Loo TwitterLearning in the Loo Google ClassroomLearning in the Loo Grouping StrategiesLearning in the Loo KahootLearning in the Loo Google Docs

What would you share in your school’s first Learning In The Loo poster?

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

#3ActMath – What is it?

I learned about a great tool this past weekend at the Ontario Summit; Adobe Spark video. A huge shoutout to Rushton Hurley for the introduction to this tool. It’s a super fast & easy way to combine photos, videos & text and narrate over top of it to create a seamless professional looking video.

I tried my hand and created one about 3ActMath lesson style. Give it a watch & let me know what you think:

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

Kahoot: game-based learning

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Kahoot is a game-based learning system for the classroom. My students love playing Kahoot; it’s a great way to practice & review material.

There are 4 types of Kahoot games:

  1. Quiz – multiple choice questions
  2. Jumble – choose the correct order of the 4 answers
  3. Survey – a quiz with no right or wrong answers, no scoring, no leaderboard
  4. Discussion – a single-question survey

How it works: The teacher presents the questions on the projector. Students (using their own device or grouped to 1 device) choose their answer. Points are assigned for correct answers, with more points for quicker responses. After each question, a graph is displayed with the results of the class, showing how many responses were chosen for each answer choice. Before the next question, a leaderboard of the top 5 scorers is displayed to the group.

Why Kahoot is awesome:

  • Increases student voice, engagement, & accountability.
  • Students get immediate feedback as to whether or not they got the answer correct.
  • Spurs class discussions; teacher facilitates discussions when results show many students are struggling with a certain question or topic.
  • Try playing in Ghost Mode where students play against their previous attempts, trying to beat their previous score.
  • There’s a bank of quizzes created by teachers to choose from, you can create your own from scratch or even duplicate then edit someone else’s.

My favourite way to play is to put the game on “randomize order of questions” and play the first 10 random questions from a large bank of questions I’ve created for my entire course as a warm-up to start class.

Here are my Kahoot question banks for MPM2D and MFM2P.

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