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)

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#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.
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  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.

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:

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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)

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:
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Create an infographic from scratch:
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Create a collage of photos for a custom Google Classroom header image:
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Posters (like this overview of course curriculum) for your classroom walls:
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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)

OAME Leadership Conference #OAMElead

 

I spent Friday at the OAME annual Leadership Conference. It was a great day of learning more about Peter Liljedahl’s Thinking  Classroom framework as well as on the topic of leadership & what it looks like.

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Peter Liljedahl was the keynote speaker. He outlined the (now) 14 elements of his Thinking Classroom framework for us. I had previously sketchnoted about the 11 elements he previously outlined so today I just added the 3 new elements to today’s sketchnote of his keynote:

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Next we were broken up by panel & experience level w/ Thinking Classroom. I attended the secondary intermediate/advanced session led by Al Overwijk & Jimmy Pai. We were visibly random separated into groups of 3 and given a vertical non-permanent surface to work on the problem of decomposing the number 25 into numbers that summed to 25 and finding the set of these that would generate the greatest product:

We also added to our boards the questions we still have about implementing the Thinking Classroom framework – what we are struggling with. It was a relief for many of us to see that other experienced educators that we respect are struggling with similar questions and strategies:

After lunch Jimmy Pai led a panel discussion on the topic of leadership. I did my best to capture a summary with this sketchnote:

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After the panel were two breakout sessions for the secondary panel; one by Mary Bourassa which involved immersing ourselves as students in a round of Desmos Parabola Slalom and a session about great problems to spark learning by Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr:

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It was a great day of connecting & learning. A big round of 👏applause👏 to OAME president Jill Lazarus and the team for putting the day together:

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