#LearningInTheLoo: actionable feedback strategies

Inspired by this tweet …

I asked my PLN to share their strategies for getting students to take action on the feedback we leave them on their work:

Their responses are compiled in my latests edition of Learning in the Loo:

Learning in the Loo

The archive of my past editions can be found here in case you want to put some up in the bathrooms of your school too!

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

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3 Act Math #Sketchnote

I was looking back at a blog post from last year showing a short video I made explaining what 3 Act Math tasks are & how they work. This lesson structure is the brain child of Dan Meyer. I decided to put together a sketchnote on the topic:

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Here’s video of Dan Meyer himself facilitating a high school level 3 act math task: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2013/teaching-with-three-act-tasks-act-one/

Here’s a video of an elementary level 3 act math task: https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/05/13/modeling-with-math-nsf/

Want some 3 act math tasks to try? Have a look through:

Finally, are you interested in trying your hand at sketchnoting yourself? Or just want to learn more about it? Read my recent post on the topic here.

What is your favourite 3 act math task of all time? Leave a comment in the section below!

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

90 Days of Getting to Know you Questions for Visibly Random Groups 🤔#ThinkingClassroom

In my classes, I use a strategy called “Visibly Random Groups” based on the research of Peter Liljedahl. In short, every single period students are greeted at the classroom door with a random playing card from a set I’ve made for each class. The number on the card tells them which group they will sit at for the day (groups of 4 desks are clustered under hanging group numbers from 1-8). Students may not trade cards and I may not choose which card they get. Students sit with different classmates daily.

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Discussing the question of the day “Where is your favourite place to go for a walk?”

To help break the ice, we begin each day with a “getting to know you” question with our new group mates. Most importantly is that I stress they must start with “My name is . . . ” before answering the question of the day. I insist on this even if they think their partner knows their name. Too often I will notice half way through our group work that someone in the group of 3 does not know their partner’s names which can make group work awkward and/or difficult.

So I thought I would share my most recent list of getting to know you questions in case you might find it useful for your class also. There are 90 questions because we have 90 classes per semester here in Ontario. It starts with 26 of the “36 questions to fall in love” list. Then it’s a mix of questions by myself, my students, colleagues, or that I’ve seen online somewhere:

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  3. Who’s the last person you made an actual phone call to? What about?
  4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  7. How do you think you will die?
  8. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  10. Take 1 minute and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
  11. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  12. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  13. What is something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  14. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  15. What do you value most in a friendship?
  16. What is your most treasured memory?
  17. What is your most terrible memory?
  18. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  19. What roles do love and affection play in your life? who are you affectionate with? who is affectionate with you?
  20. Tell your partner about your relationship with your mother
  21. Tell your partner about your relationship with your father
  22. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  23. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  24. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  25. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  26. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
  27. Do you pour your cereal first then milk or milk then cereal?
  28. Do you prefer rainy or snowy weather? Why?
  29. Apple or Android? Why?
  30. Tell your partner about something you learned how to do from YouTube or the Internet
  31. Tell your partner about a time you felt included here at this school (like you belong).
  32. What is the last movie you watched?
  33. What is your favourite TV show?
  34. What is your favourite book?
  35. What website/app do you spend the most time on?
  36. What is the last book you read that wasn’t for school?
  37. What do you consider one of the best inventions in the world? Why?
  38. Tell what you did this weekend in 30 seconds.
  39. What’s the last song you listened to?
  40. What is your favourite season (spring/summer/fall/winter) & why?
  41. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  42. If you invited a friend over for dinner this weekend, what would you cook for them?
  43. If you could be an animal, which one and why?
  44. Complete this sentence: “math makes me feel _____” & explain why
  45. What are the qualities that you look for in a teacher?
  46. What are your strengths?
  47. What Canadian city would you like to visit? Why?
  48. What is your favourite sport to play?
  49. What are you passionate about?
  50. Name one of your hobbies & say why you enjoy it
  51. Who is your favourite actor/actress?
  52. What pets do you have at home? If you don’t have any, what pet would you get if you could?
  53. What is your favourite meal to eat at home?
  54. What is your favourite activity to do with friends?
  55. What is your favourite thing to read?
  56. Would you prefer to play hide & seek or tag? Why?
  57. What has been your most rewarding experience getting your 40 volunteer hours so far?
  58. Would you rather: live inside your house or outdoors forever?
  59. Where are you from?
  60. What do you want to become in the future?
  61. What is the first thing you do when you get home after school?
  62. What is the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?
  63. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
  64. Tell about a goal you made & achieved
  65. Chocolate or candy? Why?
  66. Sweet or salty?
  67. What is the scariest thing that you’ve experienced?
  68. What is your favourite fruit to eat?
  69. Favourite grade/year of school to date?
  70. What is something you’ve done that you regret? Why?
  71. When is your birthday & how do you celebrate?
  72. Do you walk/bike/drive/bus to school? Why?
  73. Teach your favourite stretch to your partners
  74. If you were making a playlist to make you happy, name 3 songs you’d include
  75. Where is your favourite place to go for a walk? (or what’s the best spot you’ve ever walked/hiked?)
  76. How do you help encourage your friends when they are stressed or nervous about something?
  77. How would not having your cell phone with you for 24 hours change your day?
  78. Describe the last time you had a real conversation with someone you didn’t know very well.
  79. Describe the last time you played in the snow.
  80. What space (locker, room …) is your most messy? Name 3 things you should probably clean up or throw out there.
  81. If you were to send an encouraging text to someone right now, who would it be & what would it say?
  82. Describe the last funny video you saw
  83. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
  84. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? What time do you go to bed? … Wake up?
  85. What’s your favourite piece of clothing you own/owned?
  86. What hobby would get into if time & money were not an issue?
  87. What fictional place would you most like to go to?
  88. What job would you be terrible at?
  89. What is the most annoying habit that other people have?
  90. What’s your favourite thing to drink?

Want more? I found this list of 200 questions to get to get to know someone today & their website has several other question lists also.

Do you have a getting to know you question you love that isn’t on the list above? Leave a comment in the section below!

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

Sketchnoting: what is it & how can I get started? #Sketchnote #Sketchnoting

What is sketchnoting?

If you’re a teacher on Twitter, chances are you’ve seen at least one sketchnote, if not many. What is a sketchnote?

Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines.

Mike Rhode (The Sketchnote Handbook)

The best way to figure out what makes a sketchnote? Go look through a whole lot of them! On Twitter (no account needed) look up #sketchnote to see many different examples & styles across different disciplines. Teachers in particular seem to have taken strongly to this visual note-taking method as a way of sharing ideas and tools.

You don’t have to be a fancy artist to sketchnote. In fact, sometimes simple stick figures make the best illustrations for a sketchnote! Can you draw a stick man? Then you can draw! As Mike Rohde says, sketchnotes are about “ideas, not art“.

To see some examples of the sketchnotes I’ve created, have a look here.

Why should I sketchnote?

Sketchnoting, for me, primarily serves as a way to take notes, but more visually. It helps me remember what I’ve read, heard or seen. It helps me to organize ideas. It’s primary function is as a record, for me! When I think they might also be useful to others – and turn our nice enough – I share them on Twitter so other teachers can learn from them too. I often get teachers asking if it’s OK to print them up as posters for their classrooms or staff rooms – I always say yes of course!

Having trouble building a PLN on Twitter? Create a sketchnote & share it on your Twitter account with #sketchnote. People go crazy for sketchnotes & they get retweeted & shared way more than my usual tweets.

If you’re interested in some of the research that supports an activity like sketchnoting (Dual coding theory, handwriting vs typing notes, etc.) check out Kathy Schrock’s excellent collection of background research here.

What can I sketchnote?

My suggestion to start? Ted Talk videos. Choose your favourite Ted Talk or use this one I often suggest: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. The advantage of sketchnoting videos to start (as opposed to live talks) is that you can rewind & replay as many times as you like to capture the ideas you want in your sketchnote.

There is no end to the things we can sketchnote:

When should I sketchnote; live or afterwards?

This is a personal choice. But to start I recommend sketchnoting after the fact or sketching things that you can pause, rewind & look back at. Sketching live during a talk is a whole other ball game, adding the stress of time constraint into the mix. But fun – so give it a shot when you’re ready!

What do I need to get started?

  • Paper
  • Writing implement; pen, marker or pencil – you choose

People often think they need an iPad and fancy stylus to make a decent sketchnote. And while many of the sketchnotes we see accompanying articles on edu-websites are made on a tablet, you absolutely don’t need one! Just grab your favourite writing implement and an 8.5 x 11 sheet of printer paper to get started. These days, my own analog toolkit is fine-tipped & regular-tipped permanent black markers and a set of crayola markers to colour, highlight & accent with. Lately I’ve been drawing in a blank paged notebook that’s maybe 6″ x 9″?
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When I do work digitally I use my (now very old & cracked) iPad and a ~20$ disc-tipped stylus I bought off Amazon. On my iPad I use the Paper by FiftyThree app. For smaller drawings on my Android phone I use the Bamboo Paper app.
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How do I sketchnote?

Decide on a layout: There are many different layouts you can try such as popcorn, radial, columns, paths, etc. But as an easy starter try this one:

Create a title: In big writing either at the top of the page or smack in the middle, write the title of the video, book or whatever it is you’re sketchnoting. If it’s a talk given by a person, it helps to write their name & their twitter handle too.

Now as you listen or read, write down the biggest, most important ideas and/or quotes. Try to use as few words as possible (I’m still working on that skill). Leave some room nearby for a drawing or two.

Either as you go, or afterward, add some drawings next to each idea or quote. Pick the keyword from that text & sketch it. Stuck for ideas? Search words on the Noun Project to get ideas for simple icons that are easy to draw. If you still insist you can’t possibly draw, then here’s a little something for you:

Add colour by using highlighters or markers. Either by drawing over top of black text or by colouring in your drawings, or separating ideas using coloured boxes, etc. You can use many colours, or stick to just one!

Use shapes as containers to separate and emphasize ideas.

Use lines to connect & divide ideas.

If you think you might share your work online, put your name on it somewhere (& your Twitter handle if you have one).

Check out this great sketchnote summary of the above info by Shauna Burnie:

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Source: https://imperfectmasterpiece.weebly.com/blog/making-media-4-sketchnoting

Where can I share my sketchnotes?

I really encourage you, no matter how bad you think your sketchnotes are, to share them on Twitter. Or with colleagues. Or show them to a friend at the very least. Take an image of your paper sketchnotes using your cell phone and post them to Twitter with the hashtag #sketchnote!

Who can I follow to learn more?

Sylvia Duckworth gave the first sketchnoting workshop I ever attended. If you’ve seen sketchnotes on edu-blog articles, they were likely hers. She’s a force!

Marie-Andrée Ouimet gave the 2nd sketchnoting workshop I attended (with Joel Charlebois) and even let me follow her back to the final keynote for the conference to watch how she sketchnotes live on the spot. En plus, elle est animatrice d’un podcast – La Folie du Sketchnote – sur lequel elle parle avec des enseignants de toutes sortes qui sont en train d’intégrer le sketchnote soit dans leur salle de classe avec leurs élèves ou pour eux même.

Mike Rohde as the author of the seminal Sketchnote Handbook is a good follow. I like following him because he shares a lot of news and ideas on sketchnoting beyond the edu-sphere.

Wendi Pillars is the author of a great book that explores ways teachers can get their students sketchnoting in the classroom; called Visual Note-Taking for Educators.

Kathy Schrock has a great page chock-o-block full of resources related to sketchnoting worth checking out.

I hope you’ll give sketchnoting a try!
I hope you’ll come back here & share your sketchnote in the comments below.
And know that it’s normal to be frustrated by your first attempts not turning out quite as spectacular as you’d like them to.

My first try:
first try
. . . and now:
Thinking Classroom Sketchnote 14 elements

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

Top Tweets from 2017

Earlier this week I wrote a round-up of my top blog posts of the year. Today I wanted to do the same for tweets. I headed over to analytics.twitter.com to see which of my tweets had the most impressions/views & interaction/clicks.

A sketchnote I did of the George Couros keynote at our school board’s Digital Lead Learner Conference:

Two tweets as I started sketchnoting Peter Liljedahl’s research on VNPS, VRG & the Thinking Classroom:

This sketchnote of Peter’s full Thinking Classroom framework back when it had 11 elements only:

My school was chosen to host a [surprise] visit from Malala Yousafzai. I sketched some of the quotes from her talk afterwards to commemorate the event:

It’s been the year of Peter Liljedahl & the Thinking Classroom. It seems anything I post on the topic, teachers go nuts for it:

This tweet I wrote while at the OAME Conference – a quote from the first workshop I attended on day 1 – went crazy … engendering a lot of support for the idea as well as some folks who think we’ve missed the mark by moving away from memorizing & recalling:

Also from OAME:

And this one looking forward to the next OAME:

This sketchnote of Judy Larsen & Peter Liljedahl’s research on the #MTBoS community . . .

. . . which was interesting timing given the great debate of #MTBoS vs #iTeachMath that started the next day:

This sketchnote got some good traction despite posting it during summer vacation in July:

Teachers out for Pride Parade; we led the parade, just in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself:

This news from Desmos:

This idea for a 3 Act Math task I did with my gr.10 applied class. A shout-out here for drawing your own diagrams to insert into activities & tests (I used the Paper by Fifty Three app on an old iPad for this one):

A cool new tool I discovered via Alice Keeler’s blog (a must-subscribe):

Getting back on the #ObserveMe bandwagon. Even got a couple of visitors!

Sketchnote of Peter Liljedahl’s keynote at the OAME Leadership Conference in the fall:

Followed by an updated version of my Thinking Classroom sketchnote to show the now 14 elements that Peter has included in the framework:

This visual I made of a quote from our vice-principal that resonated with me:

Tweeting out the sketchnotes I made for the #DitchSummit digital conference were well received & shared:

And finally, this tweet that I sent out just last night seems to have struck a chord:

What have I noticed from all this?

  1. Peter Liljedahl’s Thinking Classroom framework – including VNPS & VRG – is still fascinating teachers all over even 3 years after I first learned about it & started to implement it in my own classroom.
  2. People go crazy for sketchnotes – something about the ability to share a complex, broad topic in one single image. You gotta’ give sketchnoting a try!
  3. All except one of my most popular tweets have images attached (and the 1 that didn’t featured a tweet by the Dan Meyer – and may have been retweeted by him – which is almost like cheating when looking for top tweets). It might also just be a biased sample since I’ve noticed over the years that tweets containing visuals of some kind seem to do better. So even for that last tweet above, which could have just contained the quote in text, I created an image for the quote. Those tweets always seem to rise above.

Thanks to everyone that has shared their tweets, read mine, retweeted, answered my questions, pushed my thinking, inspired new ideas . . . Twitter really is THE BEST PD any teacher can get!

What are your top tweets from 2017?

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

#DitchSummit 2017 #Sketchnote RoundUp!

This month was the 2nd annual digital Ditch Summit; 9 talks given via video, available for a limited time to watch until the end of the month, hosted by Matt Miller. Inspired by Jen Giffen’s sketchnotes from each of last year’s Ditch Summit talks, I decided to give it a go myself this year. So here they are:

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

My Blog in 2017

Last year I wrote up a bit of a summary or review of my blog for the year 2016 after reading similar posts by others around the MTBoS. So here is the look at my most read blog posts in 2017 and some other stats that I find interesting to look through:

Most-read blog posts from 2017:

  1. Building #ThinkingClassrooms (March 15th):
    Detailing the research of Peter Liljedahl, including the use of vertical non-permanent surfaces & visibly random groups. My sketchnote of the elements of the thinking classroom has been updated to accurately reflect his additions to the framework & a link to the most current version is at the top of the post.
    Thinking Classroom Sketchnote 14 elements
  2. Self-verbalization & Reciprocal Teaching (March 1st):
    This one surprises me. I made a couple of sketchnotes on the topic of self-verbalization & reciprocal teaching as way to take my own notes about them when I was tasked to read up about them before our lesson study at my school. I quickly posted them to the blog. The concepts must have been coming up at other schools too, perhaps as part of RMS, and thus being often searched online.reciprocal-teaching        self-verbalization
  3. Course Packs for the #ThinkingClassroom (November 11th)
    I was very lucky to have Peter Liljedahl visit my classroom this year to see how we implement his Thinking Classroom framework. In his keynote speech the next day at the OAME Leadership Conference, he said some kind words about the “course packs” I create for my students as a “shell” for them to complete their own notes about our learning (one of the elements of the thinking classroom – student-created notes). I got many requests to share my course packs that day, so I put together a blog post w/ links to download course packs for the courses I teach.
    DOKpPKdVQAAbcjl
  4. Khan Academy … everyone loves to hate it (November 28th)
    My response to a blog post by David Wees titled “Online Practice is Terrible Practice”. The original post was shared to a wide audience on Twitter by Dan Meyer. David then shared my response to his large audience as well.Screenshot 2017-11-28 at 3.45.27 PM
  5. Kahoot: game-based learning (February 15th)
    A bit of a primer on Kahoot; what it is & how it works. Includes a sketchnote of course 🙂
    Kahoot

Other Stats I Thought Were Neat:

Views my blog gets, year by year. Growth is a good sign.
views by year

Where in the world the views came from this past year:
readers by country

The search terms that lead people to my blog (a lot of searches are encrypted so don’t show up in these results). But I find them interesting nonetheless:
search terms
Someone out there must have their students researching Roger Schank b/c my book summary of his book is often at the top of the views list also.

Finally, these are the top-viewed posts on my blog, NOT necessarily written this year:
most viewed this year - not written this year

Have you done a similar year-end review or summary of your blog? I would love to have a read; leave a link in the comments below!

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

How we #Kahoot!

In a short couple of years, Kahoot has become a pretty commonplace activity in many classrooms. Kahoots can be used to preview & teach material, to practice skills, to solidify vocabulary, … you name it! I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher that hasn’t at least heard of Kahoot, let alone played it.Want to learn more about Kahoot? Check out my introductory blog post here.

Kahoot

I’ve been working with my 2 student teachers this semester and as I’ve been sharing with them my ideas of the pedagogy of Kahoot, I thought it might be worth sharing here also.

My most common way to play Kahoot is to use a bank I made of almost 100 questions covering the most basic skill sets as laid out by the curriculum for each course I teach. There are some options that I like to pick to make the game run well for us:
answer streaks get displayed & rewarded
name generator (so I don’t have to worry that the names they pick in another language might be inappropriate)
podium allows us to see the top 3 players at the end … I give out a sticker to each of the top 3 (yes, grade 10 students still love a good sticker!)
– randomize the questions & the answers (we don’t play the whole bank of 100 questions at once)
– display game pin throughout so that students arriving late can join easily & if the wifi kicks someone off, they can rejoin (albeit losing their points).

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The most important thing, since we use this as a question bank, is that I randomize the order of questions & answers both. So of my bank of almost 100 questions we might play 10 or so questions at a time. Since the questions involve some calculating, it can take us up to a half hour to play through those 10 or more questions.

As my students join the session, I remind them to have paper, pencil, calculator & course pack out on their desk:98D987A1-CBC2-4020-A2FD-480B9F7F8687
I do this to stress that they should solving & calculating; not guessing.

We play through the questions, they are timed according to the difficulty of the question; the harder or longer the problem, the more time they get to find an answer (up to 2 minutes max). After each question, Kahoot displays a graph of how many students picked each of the answers:Screenshot 2017-12-15 at 2.33.11 PM

When most students have the right answer, we simply move on to the next question. When roughly half or 2/3 of them get it right I will do a little direct teaching up on the board, asking students to explain to me the justification behind the correct answer. When few students get the correct answer (like in the graph above) I will send them to their boards to solve it in small groups (in my class we sit in daily random groups of 3; VRG & do problem solving on vertical chalk- & white-boards; VNPS ). Even though my students are allowed to talk & help each other during Kahoots, something about getting out of your seat, going to the VNPS & working with your group members, seems to get the juices flowing & it’s usually not long before every group has the correct solution shown on their board (without any direct teaching on the topic from me).20171215_092556-01 (1).jpeg

We can play Kahoot this way, with this bank of problems, because I spiral/cycle my courses – not teaching unit by unit:

This means teaching every expectation in the curriculum over the first few weeks, albeit in an introductory fashion. Then we cycle through all the material for a 2nd time, delving deeper. And then again a 3rd or maybe 4th time through depending on time. Mary Bourassa has a good explanation here of spiralling.

At the beginning of the year, I use the “skip” button in the top right corner of the game to skip questions we haven’t covered yet. At this point in the semester (mid-way through 4 of the 5 months) we’ve covered all the skills needed in the course because of spiralling. Now we’re left to work on more complicated application problems. So when we played Kahoot today we did not have to skip any of the questions in our game.

Here are my banks if you want to use them:

Grade 9 (MPM1D & MFM1P combined):
https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/cbcf329d-7e08-4e65-967f-7f559d064d2c
MPM2D, grade 10 academic:
https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/0fbaf64c-1af9-4007-8cc1-d4fdc45236df
MFM2P, grade 10 applied:
https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/e3dfb0a4-dd78-4928-aa3f-e578eae07850

So that’s how Kahoot works best for me & my students. How do you use Kahoot? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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

 

#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:

Learning in the Loo.png

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)