Monday, December 17, 2007

Hmm an interesting video

Here is a small video that I saw at the Fischbowl and was brought to Karl's attention by Alec.

Brilliant. Now how can I use this with my students.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


As always I have left things to the last minute. Tomorrow I am being filmed doing a lesson for a textbook company. I love the stage and my kids are up for the challenge.

Since something is due..... I am procrastinating. I was reading my RSS when I stumbled upon Alec Couros' Blog and this video. It is positively amazing. The messages that are conveyed without words and the use of the scrabble game has my mind spinning with possibilities.

Here is the video. Thanks Alec for the mind stimulating. Now back to work.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh The Journey Continues

My Fosnot adventure continues to roll on and we are moving forward. I would like to share a few stats for you.

I did a test based on an investigation and the kids stunk the joint out. They did poorly and were confused by some of the wording. They did do well using the ratio tables but struggled to understand the whole picture. I have made a reflection of this test part of a Growing Post the students are doing. What a great way to review a test!!

Then I gave the students a test on the Strings we have been using in class. Strings being clever mental math strategies to add and subtract fractions. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most students achieved a higher level than in previous years. Most of the 50%ers now were in the 65%range and some questions were done properly where hey had never been done before.

2 3/5 - 1 4/5 always used to be a stickler. Kids needing to borrow or change the mixed number. Kids realized the values of the fractions and figured it out. I am impressed with their conceptual knowledge.

I have the kids creating voicethreads on the 2nd test. They are learning the powers of the tools this new web is giving to them.

We are playing with multiplying and dividing of fractions and will be doing this into January. Then the rest of the curriculum will come into play.

My message is that Fosnot Strings WORK.

Learn about them and start using them with your classes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Interesting Weekend

This past weekend many teachers from around the province came to Winnipeg for SAG,a teachers conference. All of the groups from Math to Middle Years to Computing all hold in-services to teach and inform teachers.

I was presenting my K12 Release the Hounds to the Math Group. I had 7 people in attendance. This was a small number but all the participants left feeling that they had enjoyed the show. I had a few more converts willing to take the leap to 21stC learning.

It was the lunch that followed that was the true PD experience for the weekend. Darren, Clarence, John, Dean and myself all went for lunch and started to shoot the breeze about many different topics. First I had to pinch myself to realize the company that I was with but that withstanding it was an amazing 3 hours. I learned more and had more fun with these 4 gentlemen than any other PD that I have had in years.

Dean hooked up his laptop and Ustreamed our lunch and we had more people attending this informal session than in all of our morning SAG session. Thank you twitter and American Thanksgiving.

If there is a further bright light for the weekend it would be Thursday's MB Edubloggercon. We had 60 people in attendance and I think they were suitably wowed and moved to try the tools we showed them that night. I was told that we had 6 minutes each and stuck to my time like a champ that was put into the spotlight first. You will notice that the next speakers went into overtime. All teachers went away with a positive feeling that night. We even had a twitter and Ustream of the evening.I would like to thank Andy and Manace for doing such a wonderful job of putting it together.

Informal get together with snacks..... 60 people. Paid attendance the following day 7. Come to think of it we were having lunch Ustreamed... and 20 people showed up. Food = attendance. I will be offering Meyer Lemon Cherry Scones at my next morning session. Any takers. Here is my Poem in Slidecast. I am proud of it. Shatner doesn't need to be looking over his shoulder!!

The Original idea I AM CANADIAN

My Version

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ahh Voicethread how thee helps me ......

Reluctance to talk. There has been an epidemic of quietness in my classes this week. Time to break the silence or atleast make the silence work for me.

Enter voicethread. We just finished an investigation using Ratio tables and other methods to solve a problem about Frank's Farm Produce. The students attacked it well and we needed to congress. This is when the quiet disease struck. Reluctance to talk was rampant in all 4 rooms. How to get them to talk. I spent time last night posting their investigations to voicethread. We used them on the smartboard during the congress. This was cool due to the zoomability of voicethread. The kids loved the novelty of the new technology and have started leaving comments they should of... some did some didn't.. spoken during class at the voicethread.

I made a small competition out of it and am curious to see what happens. If there is full participation 150 comments should be at each of the voicethreads.

Here they are my faithful readers. Comment away if you dare but please tell the kids where you are from in the world. Oh yeah and since it is a competition between the rooms... comment 4 times or pick your favourite number.

Room 73

Room 41

Room 17

Room 16

Monday, November 12, 2007

Manitoba Edublogercon

Next week something special is coming to town. The first Manitoba Edubloggercon. I am looking forward to being there with other bloggers Darren, Clarence, John and Dean (he isn’t from Manitoba but he brought his Sask “green screen” with him).

As of last count over 50 people had signed up to come and chat and talk about 21st Century learning. Some of us will have 6 minutes to give a brief presentation. I am looking forward to creating the perfect 360!! I will not be long winded but I will blow the roof down with my enthusiasm.

The Academy Bar and Grill is going to be the host of this inaugural event. As luck will have it ….hmm it is only 2 blocks from my house. Whoopie.. Oh yeah I promised Dean I would pick him up. Guess I will not be walking!

The edublogger community isn’t very large right now in Manitoba. After Thursday night it will be getting a little bit larger.

See you then.

Fear and Uncertainty

Image: 'DSC00164.JPG'
I just finished attending an inservice all about the "Fosnot" math that I am using in my class this year. For those of you reading this for the first time Catherine Fosnot is the author of a series of books that puts the context into math investigations. These investigations would make David Warlick proud. Students are not mirroring information spouted by a teacher but amplifying ideas that they create themselves and in discussions with their classmates.

Every investigation is rooted in context. Kids understand what is being asked of them. Students then have a chance to conference with other groups and hear other groups with different of similar strategies. Students then have a congress or convention. The teacher has selected a certain set of finished products to be discussed at the congress. Students teach the class. The teacher has to be skillful to pull out the answers and ideas from the community of learners without giving the answers directly.

Bottom line. Kids love these investigations. I left an investigation with the sub that was in my class today. Kids do not misbehave they engage in learning.

The key ingredient in the investigations is a major shift in pedagogy. The teacher becomes the facilitator of learning. The teacher shifts the focus of learning to the students. Students are now responsible for their learning. Good bye silver spoon. These skills of asking questions and finding answers are so important when the students hit the credit system next year.

Since I have started this program in my class the at-risk students... you know them the 50%ers are doing better then ever. They are making tremendous gains. This is an exciting development. At least half of them are “getting it” where as before they would just sit around being lumps wanting to be spoon fed information. Spoon feeding does not enable learning. It distracts from it.

I love the challenge of using probing questions to allow students to come up with answers. I do not give the answers, the students come up with them from their own discoveries. How do you know it works? What strategy did you use... does it work every time? Students are discovering math and the infinite patterns that help us do this "difficult" subject.

Image: 'Terrore?'
All of this brings me back to the inservice today. The fear in the room. It was eerie. Some of the issues were that these activities (investigations) will not cover the curriculum. My students will never be able to do these activities. There will be disruptions in my room and .... the list goes on and on and on.

Fear is such a powerful emotion. Many of these same arguments are used when teachers are reluctant to use the tools of web 2.0 and 21st century learning.

Somehow we need to enable teachers to try these tools, and new(er) teaching ideas. Support their missteps and help them try again. For the math teachers I was with today all of these supports are in place. An entire team of support teachers at their service yet they still are reluctant to do something new. "Give me a textbook...." it hurts me when they say this. They want to see mirroring not amplifying.

Image: 'blink'

Be confident, take chances and your students will thank you.

Image: 'DSP 147: Thank You3 2007-10-11'

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My continuing Fosnot Adventure

For the past few weeks the blog has fallen silent. The Picture you see here is one I found when I did a search for "lost" at flickrcc. I seem to be struggling with the idea of slow learning. Doing the Fosnot Math is taking lots of time. A book that is supposed to be done in 10 days took over 4 weeks. The second unit is taking just as long. But the students are starting to take responsibility for their work and learning. They have completed their first growing post at their class blogs;
The students were highly successful using clocks to add fractions. Here is a voicethread I made in the summer for using clocks to teach the adding of fractions.

Now we are using Money to add fractions and playing with ratio tables. Fractions are such a large part of next years math that I am willing to spend a third of the school year teaching them. I hope they stick with me.

I have had issues marking and assessing the learning for these units and have come to the realization that the Growing Post is one easy way to see how what they have learned. Now we will journal old school in our notebooks and put the highlights of what we have learned in a new growing post. I had the students learn to upload a picture from their harddrive and to bring one in from flickr. They had to reflect on their learning from the first unit and most students participated. I hope they do as well the second time around.

Now that the students have a firm grasp on moving around the blog I will start Scribe posts. When I first attemped this the students did not know what they were supposed to do and just used the slides from the class smartboard as the scribe. I will still post the slides to slideshare but make the students recreate their math using paint or sketchcast.

Another thing for the students to start. Oh yeah we will start eportfolios in the next 2 weeks. Hmm more work for these poor students. They love it.

And to my friends and network in my google reader. I will now start to go attack the backlog of posts that I have not read for too many weeks. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

OK. I have 15 minutes to blog...

I feel rather guilty that I have not been blogging as much as I would like. So much to do and so little time. Now that the K12online is live and ticking I would like to see as much of it as possible.

A nasty thing gets in the way.... that "job" thing. Hmm how to do both.

How about some Fosnot!

Speaking about the job my students finally finished the first unit of thier Fosnot adventure. They have created some amazing work and will be doing a growing post soon on what they have created.

I still am having trouble not being the center of attention in the classroom. I love the spotlight and a chance to captivate an audience. Now my role is taffy puller.... getting that important information out of the students head to give them ownership of their knowledge.

My mentor at school keeps telling me as he draws a turtle on the board "slow learning". Sometimes it is so frustrating with the silence. I will have to continue to find the right "questions"or conversation bridges to continue the math chatter in the class.

The timeline in the book said 10 lessons. My students needed many more lessons than in the book's outline. Most one day activities were 2 day activities to allow for completion of assignments. By the end of the unit the students were getting more efficient at their learning. They were talking more at the onset of lessons and expressing the math that had been learned the previous day. Finally some progress. Hmm it can be hard to reprogram students to be the one mashing up the knowledge instead of mirroring it. (thank you Mr. Warlick)
I have used the blog to get the kids to comment on what has happened in school that day. I am up to 50 to 60% of them commenting regularly. This shows promise for assignments to come.

About thier blogs

These are raw "blogging" students. They need to be taught the inner workings of the blog. How to post, how to embed how to ..... you get the picture. I never had thought about using "Growing Posts" to teach all of these blogging necessities to students. But the Growing Post seems to be the tool that fits the bill.

I look forward to showing them voicethread, and bubbleshare to be tools that they can use to illustrate ideas in their growing post.

Next Fosnot Unit next week. The scribes will begin. Houray. Onward 21st century learners...

Ding time is up. Time to create a Growing Post.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

K12online shifts into high gear tomorrow

I will be getting up early and downloading the two keynote presentations for K12online07 tomorrow. Clarence Fisher and the 3 Amigos are going to have excellent presentations. Hey my presentation will be later in the week. I am looking forward to digesting all of these great new ideas.

Come and join the party. Do not forget to tag your posts.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shaun the Sheep

A while back.... Graham posted a blog about Shaun the Sheep. I just got Shauned!! I am totally addicted to this show.

I hope the rest of you find it amusing as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back to Fosnot

Kids do not want to take responsibility for learning. Man they blew the first assessment. Those that participated in class did well. Those who sat on their hands.... well you can guess those results.

I am still in the first unit trying them to understand just what fractions are. Hopefully by the end of the week they will be done this section. I have added in some clock strings to the mix a little early. are a series of fraction questions that can be answered using the idea of time.

They seem to get it... those who are participating.

I am also using the smart board to post the slides of each class. I wish it was mounted instead of being on a cart but... we will live with what we have.

Onward Fosnot soldiers... we continue the struggle with the mathematical F-word Fractions.

Wow I have time to post

Life has been busy around here. I have officially completed all my work for my K12 Online Conference Presentation Release the Hounds.

It took a month (should have done it in the summer AARRGGG) but being the procrastinator that I am decided that the first month at school would be a better time to complete it.

It is done and I have learned new things, how to create a slidecast, how to convert slidecasts into mp4,.mov and about 4 other file formats. Hey I even dabbled in Audacity. I am a regular audio/video phile now.

I would like to thank Graham for providing feedback om my presentations, the k12online helpdesk for walking me through some encoding issues and Darren for saying nice things and nudging me to get done by the deadline. Since I am giving out thanks after thanksgiving, I would like to thank the students who created this work on their time/ Who did work that they enjoyed and did it well. For all of you who's work I did not choose to highlight. THANK YOU.

I am afraid to look at my google reader account. I am sure the numbers are too high to really read them. Most likely I will scan all of them and get back into the swing of things soon.

Life is getting back to normal. Then there is all the family and school stuff.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ah it is fall and my K12 is done!!

I decided to go out for a run and this is a trail close to my house. It is called the Harte Trail and was an old railway line. Hope you enjoy the pics and please leave comments behind at the voice thread.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Manitoba Edubloggercon

Well it is finally happening. There is going to be an Edubloggercon in Manitoba this fall.... no winter. The date is Friday November 23rd. Yes that is SAG day. We are planning to have an informal meet with all who blog and want to blog.

Here is the wiki that gives more information

I hope to see you there. Already on the "I am coming list" are Clarence Fisher, Darren Kuropatwa and Myself. Join us for some libations, handshakes and ask the question "What you really exist""I thought you were just part of the internet."

It will be fun. More info to follow.


Monday, September 17, 2007

How do you tell a teacher to Shut up!!

Listen today was my second Fosnot class on fractions and I need to shut up. I need the kids to pull the ideas out of their own thoughts instead of having me prompt and push them to the right answers. I need to relax and "let it happen."

The joy of teaching a lesson 4 times as I get to do is that by the 4th time I should have figured out all the problems and it should be a perfect lesson. As the day progressed I spoke less and less and let the kids figure out the path that we would be learning. It almost worked. Going through the last lesson the "congress" or math meeting was moving along smoothly when I needed to step in.

I pushed to hard to get where I needed to go. AARRGG . Baby steps. Next time I will hold my tongue longer and the needed result will happen.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fosnot Day 2

The second part of the Submarine Sandwich assignment will be having a "Math Congress". This is a math meeting where students become mathematicians and explain their work. I am looking forward to this day. It will be my job to make the class and the presenters go in the right direction. I will need to maneuver them their with a hands off approach. I need the rest of the class to push the participants to the "needed end point".

I need the class to see:
  • Fractions are division
  • the size of or amount of the whole matters
  • with unit fractions, the greater the denominator, the smaller the piece is.
  • when naming a piece, the whole matters.
I am hoping that these congresses soon will be published on the web. I will record some and create podcasts. I will also take pictures of all of their work and post them in a pictobrowser.

Day 2 is going to be great!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dunk Tank is over!!

Job 1 done Now to the hotdogs!!

Stopped me in my tracks

Running over the railway walk bridge on the way to work I had just passed some runners when to my right this happened.

One of the great things about mornings is the sunrise. Soon it will be gone as I will be up too early. Ah well. The Treherne Marathon is on the weekend and there are lots of hills but it is a great race. I have a cold so I won't do a personal best but it is a pretty race so I won't mind. Hey any race that serves homemade muffins at the finish line has me coming back!!

Now off to the dunk tank.... brr it is still only 5 C here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fosnot Math Day 1

I was excited to start teaching fractions with context today. This is one of the goals C Fosnot has given me in my math teaching this year. We started with a problem about field trips and the students were actively participating. It is amazing when good questions are posed how entertained and enthused students are about math.

Now that they have answered the question they have to present to the class what they have learned and it is my responsibility to get the "big ideas" out of the presenters and the class. The class will have to be trained to be good listeners and the presenters will have to be trained to be good mathematicians. I am looking forward to tomorrows class and congress.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Meet the Teacher Post Party

As usual the crowd was sparse at meet the teacher. We had about 20 parents out of the 140 students that we teach. Ah well.

Ahem Ahem.... they liked my video and are enthusiastic about what the year has in store for their students. I am too. Interesting side note to the video. I chose to use 2 year old scribeposts because they showed off better in the movie. Last years scribes used so many other applications that they were to complex for the video.

Parents on board. Kids on board. Scribes start Monday.

This summer I took part in a Fosnot workshop. I blogged about it here, here and here. Tomorrow I put this work into practice. This will mean a big change for my class and for my own pedagogy. I am looking forward to this change.

Oh and this stuff that I will be teaching is so...... blogable!!!!! As JenW would say GRINS

Monday, September 10, 2007

AARRGGG Network and Meet the teacher

The new Novel network we are using in our division is giving me fits. It will be great once whatever is going wrong on the other end (not my fault!!) gets fixed. I have been without network access on my Mac for 3 days. Boo hoo I know.

Here is why I am ranting. Check this out. For the first time I asked students to get Google Accounts at home instead of at school. I should have figured this out last year..... they all (90% of them) have done it at home. I will now create a screencast for joining their class blogs and ... wait for it ... we will be up and running. These kids are amazing.

Tomorrow is meet the teacher. Last year I used this post to welcome parents to . SargentParkMathzone. This year I am cranking it up a notch. I created a video hyping up why 2.0 and 21stC learning is important to me and my pedagogy. I hope they like it.

Here it is

I'll tell you how it goes over. I used the video Sheryl posted and mashed it up a bit.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Students are back

It seems to me that the students are back. Yeah time to influence a new class of eager math bloggers. All aboard.....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Post 101

Hi everyone this is my 101st post. I never thought 2 years ago that blogging and all the other 21stC learning would be such a part of my new pedagogy. I have eclipsed the century mark. I hope to be at 200 next September.

I passed another milestone this week. My kids, all three of them are in school full time. Wow time flies. Soon they will want car keys and be eating me out of house and home.... wait they already do that eating thing.

Ah they are fine looking boys. Now back to k12online presentation creating.

I'll write more soon.

A new year starts

Wow the week is almost over and boy did it fly. I have 4 new classes and they seem eager and keen. Next week I get them all, all 140 of them signed up to their class blogs. Here are their links:


The class hub will still remain the same. Sargentparkmathzone and we will be diving into wiki's and video this year.

Our school network has been down for two days. No network contact with all my friends in the blogsphere has made me feel very alone. When brief twitter, and bloglines reading were not possible I started to feel disconnected.

I hope I can give my students a feeling of connectivity this year. We will be embarking on a terrific journey. I hope you will come along for the ride.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Decade are we in?

Watch this video and try to figure out if there are similar arguments today about the 21st century school and what these folks were dealing with in the 1940's. I found the similarities .... disturbing. It is a powerful piece to show your staff.

Thanks Sheryl

Monday, August 27, 2007


Ok Blogger has a video uploader. This is a great step forward for us who use blogger. I have however just been introduced to Viddler. This is a service similar to Youtube and Google Video. Viddler allows you to add comments and reply to comments that have been left on uploaded video.

I plan to use video often this year. If students can interact with the video especially if it has the curricular content this is what separates viddler from the rest. Here is an article (thank you Jason Hando) that explains what makes viddler different. Oh Yeah there is no 100 MB limit to the size of the video that you are uploading. You get a wopping 500 MB. This is handy when you are using bulky video making software.

Jason also pointed me to this recent OnlineVideo Screencast Comparison. I guess you could say that I am getting ready for the school year. Oh the percolations I am having. Lets the the year off to a great start.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Darren just talked about pictobrowser Pictobrowser is an easy and I mean easy way to embed a flickr slideshow into your blog. Just go to pictobrowser, it will prompt you to a flickr account then your tag and give you the code. The result is below. For 3 minutes of work and most of that was typing this post easy peasy!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

video upload

Testing out the video uploader here at blogger.

On a different note. I had the opportunity today to teach 30 teachers about the new math curriculum being implemented in Manitoba. They had a great time and my partner Greg and i put on a great show. Greg told the crowd about my blogging and wikiing with my students and very few OK only one of the participants had even heard of blogging and wikiing. I gave them some URL's to check out and told them about K12online06 and the upcoming K12online07 and maybe some will bite and check it out. I hope they find 2.0 apps and their potential to change their classrooms as interesting as the math material we presented today.

Still waiting for the video to finish processing. If this is a seamless and effortless as I think it will be then my goal of more movie production this year from the sargentparkmathzone team will be easier then ever.

Hey the video uploaded quickly. This can only be a good thing

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fosnot Institute Day 3

What a wonderful day. These 3 days have reaffirmed my belief in how I teach math. I have been given the tools and an extra jolt of horsepower to continue my path to having students talk, communicate and become mathematicians. I am also convinced that 2.0 apps and how they promote collaboration and publishing students work fits nicely into my new plans. I also love voicethread. Two years ago I was happy when kids went into paint and created an image. Last year slideshare, bubbleshare and came into their posts and math work. This year the posts will be kicked up a notch when students see that they can create movies and talking slides using the newest apps. Wow what will next year... wait next month... wait tomorrow's newest apps bring to their work. Now on to day 3 of the Institute.

Fosnot Day 3

The math is not in the model to be seen but in the learners head. The learner is constantly trying to figure out and understand. Use real context this will give the opportunity for authentic learning.

So you teach fractions here are some strings for you
Think about a half? Elicit responses from your community. Many will come out but the first one I want you to think about is money.

First string think about $$

String 1 (coin strings)

1.) ½ + ¼ = (3/4 75/100)
2.) ½ +1/10 = 6 dimes 60 cents
3.) 2/10 + 1/5= (how many people thought of a nickel)(good for /100)
4.) 4/10 + 2/5 +1/4=

This is a very early string for fractions. These are landmark fractions. Landmark fractions are easy because you are dealing with whole numbers instead of dealing with fractions. Link to percents because of the $1.00. Get rid of the fractions and make it contextual.

String 2 (clock)

Draw the clock to represent the fraction
Calculate the minutes. You do not need to show the equivalent fractions because the clock model is there you do not need to show the equivalent fractions
1.) ½ + 1/3
2.) ¼ + 1/3 (anyone get 7/12)
3.)1/6 +3/12 +1/3
(1/6 is the kicker here) 1/6 is 10 minutes… start to look at the whole.. There was some breakdown here. The 1/6 was causing problems… get the community to provide the proof for the breakdown. This is key keep the kids talking and doing the explaining. Knowledge can be generated out of a communities talk. 4) 10/60 + 1/6 +1/4 +7/12

This problem was generated after the community was having issues. Free flow. Getting bogged down in some lcd’s
Pedagogy 10/60 and 1/6 are = this should be a good scaffold
When doing strings think on your feet and go with the flow… but not too much
This string again gets you away from fractions and into wholes… then you can get back into the fractional form.
Scaffold the landmark fraction(ability to use whole numbers) and coins.

String 3 (you choose the strategy)

Look at the numbers and choose coins or clocks
1.) ½ +1/3 (clock because of 1/3 $)
2.) 1/3 +1/4
3.)¼ + 1/5 ($$)
4.) 4/5 – ¼ ($$ because of the /5)kids will start to see which fractions are clockable and which are $$able

String 4 (double numberline)

Pick any number you want to be a guide on the track (numberline)
1.) 1/3 + 1/7 =
2.) ½ +1/4= Community will choose numbers to be the numberline total

(need to add the other aspects of the string) Kids will start to create common denominators What others numbers are easy numbers Lets pick a simpler number…. This gets to the common denominators. Work to prove conjectures. Name them after the student that came up with the idea. Use other examples to prove or disprove Double open numberline paves the way to common denominators…… Push to show equivalence
Multiplying fractions

String 5 (Use an array to demonstrate)

1.) 1/3 x 1/5 left with 1/15(outer inner boxes)
2.) 2/5 x 1/3 (the whole remains the same one more piece doubles)
3.) 2/5 x 2/3 (double doubles) (use the playground context to be the building block)
Inner and outer rectangles show the algorithm
4.) 3/5 x 2/3 You can use the previous array (shows the pattern)
5.) 2/5 x 3/3 Curious leap here (new array) what happened to the inner rectangle. It shifted 2 by 3 becomes 3 by 2)
Can we swap the numerators to make a friendly question
6.) 4/7 x ¾ = 3/7 x 4/4

Division of Fraction
Use a ratio table see photo Use the ratio table to explain yours is not to reason why just invert and multiply

The use of the ratio table was brilliant. It should be the model used to bring understanding to why we invert and multiply fractions.

Many times we take part in activities and professional development that is lacking in so many ways. These 3 days out of my summer break were stimulating and exciting. I can hardly wait to use my knowledge of 2.0 apps and push the limits of what I learned this weak. Oh Yeah you can annotate and draw while doing a voice thread. That is too cool for school.

For those of you who want to get the Fosnot material here is the web address

The material I was being taught is from Fractions Decimals and Percents.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fosnot and Dalk Mathematizing Institute Day 2

I had planned to podcast this session. I ran out of time. As it is this is a rough and sometimes hard to understand recounting of the day. I did figure out how to use voicethread. Perhaps I started to enjoy it a little too much.

Fosnot Institute Day 2

The day started answering some questions following yesterdays session that dealt with Math in Contest. Yesterdays session make us partake in a group activity in mathematizing. This activity would take a whole class. Todays session was more about the "drill and practice" if you could call it that.

Strings are minilessons. They should take between 10 to 15 minutes of classtime. These activities focus on a students ability to do "mental math". That does not mean that they have to do all computation in their head. Mental math is giving students strategies to solve questions in a variety of ways.... the way mathematicians would.

Strings of computation problems where numbers are chosen for a reason to connect in giving a student a feel of numeracy.

I jump around her a bit. I hope it is clear.

Questions and comments that arose out of string 1

10 x 17 = 170

Question is... How did you know?

The zero trick… Why does it work.

Why is it like magic?

Talk to your partner?

This discussion with partners within the learning community is important. Some prompts the facilitator can give are:

Did the person next to you say something interesting to you?

Did the person next to you say something that made you said WHAT?

Why does adding a 0 when x10 GENERAIZE?

Pull this information out of the community of learners.


Switch the question instead of 10 seventeens lets think about seventeen 10’s. Ah the good old communicative property. This is a rule that generalizes

17 x 10 = 17 x 10

Question 2

2 x 17 (double)

Question 3

12 x 17

12 is 10 and 2 so use this to help you multiply the more difficult question.

Use and array to illustrate this question.

Eventually you can use and open array to show the multiplication on all kids strategies.

(draw rectange with 10 by 17 then underneath it do a 2 by 17 show the two combined to show the new array 170 and 34 is 204

Mental arithmathic is to break the habits of pen and paper. Mental math is more to break the bonds of the traditional algorithm.

Get kids to build on their strategies instead of putting them into our strategies.


Mathematicians play with what they know about number and go with it. They are not restricted to just using the traditional number algorithm. Multiplication and the array is so important for understanding the multiplication of polynomials. (x+6)(x+3). Many of us learned the FOIL method. You can use the array to display the multiplication better.

When we teach the students the traditional method of multiplying what happens is the opposite to what kids need to know when multiplying polynomials. The traditional way of multiplying ends up being LIOF the opposite of FOIL that they will need in middle and high school.

Distributive property and the array much more effective.

Strings and how they built.

1.) 10 x 17
2.) 2 x 17
3.) 20 x 17 (doubled the 10 x 17 (draw a double array 10 x 17 twice) Show the array over again )

4.) 22x17 is the next part of the string

Next part of string is 19 x 17 Which strategies will kids choose? I chose 170+90+63 because I can multiply but you can see another strategy that would be 20x17-17….or -10-7

5.) 19 x 117 next part of string just 100x19 more than the previous string

Towards the end of the string take the strategies away

6.) 13x22 but the strategies you have been working on will be the helpers

Come in with a string but be prepared to go with the flow of the learners.

String 2

1.) 2x18
2.) 4x18
3.) 8x18
4.) 16x9 (double half or x10-16)
5.) 4x36 (4x30 4x6) strategies are honoured even if they are outside the 48x3 (could be 4x12x3 use the factors to make it easier) make an array

This string takes into place the associative property

When kids get the distribuive property and the associative property they get multipication.

6.) 4.8 x0.3 (make it 48 x 3)
7.) 3 1/2 x 14
(double and half so that it is 7x7)
8.) 3 1/3 x 150 (x3 divide by 3 becomes 10 x 150)

Now for some Division

String 3

130/13 (10’s rule)
2.) 26/13 (doubles)

3.) 52/13 (26 doubled answer doubles)
182/13 (52 and 130 from above using partial quotients)

Partial quotients uses the distributive property (inverse of multiplication.)
5.) 195/13 (just 13 more)
260/13 (doubles)
247/13 (260-13) one less

What we have been working on is Associative property.
Distributive property and how it relates to division and partial quotients

String 4

1.) 100/4 (four quarters)
200/4 (just doubles)

3.) 200/8 (divisor doubles but the divident remains the same it halves)
Partial quotients are helpful when there are no common factors or if one of the numbers is a prime

Simplifying are effective

4.) 400/16 (double double) equivalent fractions
800/32 (fractions again)
300/12 (use the first question and create equivalents)
1200/48 (simplify)
3.6 /0.9 make it simpler

These are great warm-up and mini lessons. Highly recommend that you go and buy the books buy these authors. This is the way math was meant to be taught. I am looking forward to the last day and the school year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fosnot and Dalk Mathematizing Institute Day 1

What a terrific day I had today. With the exception of the fire alarm that interrupted the afternoon session great learning was had by all. Here is my recap...

Fosnot Institute Day 1

Starting to use math with context. It is important for students and teachers to learn math with a context. Allow students to be mathematicians learning and explaining. For too long teachers have been the be all know all.

Here is the context. The teacher poses this question to the class.

A rectangular lot in neighbourhood A is 50m by 100m. Of this lot ¾ of it will be a playground. Of this playground 2/5 will be blacktop.

A rectangular lot in neighbourhood B is 50m by 100m. Of this lot 2/5 of it will be a playground. Of this playground ¾ will be blacktop.

Which Park has more space for blacktop?

In pairs you now attack this problem. As a teacher you stand back and take notes on the conversations happening between the students. This thinking time is important for the mathematical ideas to take place. A push or prompt needs to be held in instead of giving that helping hand.

Here are some photos of our finished work

It was fun to work with a partner and talk math. Together we worked out the problem and were chosen to speak for the math congress. Hmm not bad for my first day back thinking about math.

Following this work time students post their work which had been done on chart paper for a gallery walk. During this time students are encouraged to post notes using post-its on the other pieces of chart paper.

Students need to be trained to have good gallery walks. Choose similar and different solutions. Teachers need to use guided questions to start this process.

· What was done similar to your solution. Is it clearer on this paper?

· What do you not understand on this solution. Is there something missing?etc

Next to the congress. This is a part of the lesson where students become the teachers. You could call it double learning. Students are reinforcing their learning when they are teaching the rest of the class.

The teacher based on the gallery walk chooses examples that will further the learning process. This does not necessarily mean the best examples but examples that add more context to the topic.

During the congress it is important for the teacher to remain on the side lines. Instead of asking Do you get it? The teacher needs to ask;

How many people and put in there own words what this group has said?

Giving a group a second chance to explain a topic will give them another chance to reinforce their knowledge. The second time around concepts are easier to explain or at least seem to be more coherent.

During this congress after the group presented there was time for a pair talk. Are 2 fifths equivalent to 4 tenths. Questions that arise during the congress are the avenues to deeper contextual understanding and avenues to further discussion and scaffolding.

It is not the presenting groups responsibility to explaining the new topics arising from the congress. Other students take turns explaining using their own words and pictures on the assignments hanging up throughout the room.

If students get bogged down in these instances the teacher then jumps in and tries to rephrase the topic. (pictures can be a powerful manipulative)

The congress develops a sense of community in the classroom. It is important to recognize the importance of math to students. Celebrate questions and explanations explaining to students the mathematizing they are doing.

Side note Create a classroom space for working and congresses. Find a way to separate the two pieces of the problem.

From the congress here were some things I heard… Lets prove it.

Of means multiply
(use pictures that are out there in the congress)

  • to prove it you need to disprove it. Find a math sentence that uses of in a different way other than x.
  • two of 5 or 2 out of 5
  • groups of means x?

The use of arrays proves this …?

Facilitator needs to stop this and give this as homework journal. (blog it)(move it back to the individual level instead of the group)

Multiply numerators and denominators the demomenators give the number in the gird(array)the numerators multiplied gives you the amount of the whole.

Communicative Property 2 times 5 is the same as 5 times 2

All the above were ways in which we took the contextual problem and stretched it further our understanding.

Take away the AHHA’s and kids will never want to be mathematicians.

Petagogy… make the kids do the explaining. Take your time and have them do the explaining…double learningl.

In the afternoon we broke up into two groups. We were with Maartin D talking about the landscape of learning. This landscape takes into account

  • Building the landscape of learning.

  • What do children really think and do….

  • What is it that I as a teacher want my students to talk about

  • Building context…what content can I steal….

  • What is the order

  • Big ideas take time to create

  • What models are used

In their supplemental material that is provided Fosnot and Dalk give many examples of teachers and students interacting in mini-lessons and math congresses. This gives educators a chance to see this mathematizing in action. The CD's have the ability to cut and paste video lessons and parts of video lessons into your own customized clips which you can then add to your landscape of learning for the unit you are creating. We went through this task in the afternoon and I was pleasantly surprised with the ease at which we started to create our own landscape to improve our learning experience.

As you watch the many different video clips that are provided you will be able to deduce for yourself,
  • What is the role of the teacher
  • What are the children saying and the math behind it(this is how you neeed to see the footage we watch)
  • What is the big idea being discussed in the video blip?


As we watched the first video clip it was clear that the students were doing most of the teaching and the learning. The teacher was merely a guide to facilitate the learning.

You want the students to start to use the model with a context to understand a variety of different situations.

I went home with a positive attitude and a desire to return the next day and continue my journey into mathematizing and the joy of seeing students be key instruments in their own learning.

Message of day one... Context is important, kids need to be mathematicians.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Podcast People

I was in the twitterverse when I ran across some twits between Dean and Bob. Dean was asking about podcsting sites and Bob suggested Podcast People. All of this podcast talk started me thinking. Hmm this looks like a new avenue to walk down this year.

Here are some things I like about Podcast People.

It is easy and free.

You can add authors to a central podcast page or hub.

Part of your page includes can include feeds from flickr,
and Delicious

All of these easy to set up and use features makes this site worth a further look. Hey stay tuned I will create a podcast and upload it soon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I should have done this in June. Last year was my second year using 2.0 tools and applications with my math classes. I think that these students did a great job and learned in new and different ways. My learning curve was steep too. I let go, giving control to the students instead of being the omnipotent all wise being that I was in the first year of blogging.

What went right

Class blogs Students used the class blogs to do growing posts and scribe posts. This was a good introduction to blogging for most students. I was able to use these activities to prepare them for what was to come. I also made commenting part of the scribe post assignment. Students were given a list of other classes that scribe or use blogs and were asked to leave a comment behind. I found that many of my students were great commenter and started to comment more on their own school blogs. Problems.... Not everyone participated in their class blogs. It was hard to get the "less" motivated students to participate and do a scribe post. I also found it hard to find the time to comment regularly on these posts.

Class hub After switching to the "new blogger" at the beginning of the year the class hub was a great communicator with the students. I had my skype availability, chat boxes and email on the hub for students to use. Students skype chatted with me and g mail chatted regularly. This allowed the room to be open beyond the 330 bell. I would have students asking me questions up until my sleepy time it I was in front of the computer.

I liked hub post like "what did I do wrong?" This got the class thinking and doing different types of problem solving.

I will use the same hub this year. I am hoping that students will continue to use this hub as a place to get the class information that they need.

Wikis This was my first season with wikis. I used them to do student led conferences and the first and second unprojects. Students liked the feel of wiki's because of their familiarity with other apps like facebook and myspace. They created some amazing content and blinged it up using applications they learned on their own. This was a complete success. Wiki's got all of the students participating in communicating mathematically.

This year I will start the wiki's earlier and integrate them more into everyday homework, and assignments.

Darren mused about "expert voices".

This got me thinking. What do 13 and 14 year olds want to be experts in or more importantly how can they show that they are experts. My solution were unprojects. I called them unprojects because the only part of this assignment that was in my control was the topic and the amount of information needed to be provided so that a student could be an "expert". The rest was up to the students. The communicated math in so many different forms. Some sang, made movies, created wikis or blogs. The most important aspect of these projects was the participation rates. Over 90% of the students created some kind of unproject. All of these students pushed their own limits to new heights, some by just participating and others by going way beyond the call of duty. I found out during this assignment that once students have a grasp of some 2.0 tools out there they will start to do math work at home that is meaningful to them.

This year is going to be different. I have a class of students that has not blogged before and will be raw. They will need some extra pushes to get the creative juices flowing. I am confident that great things will continue to happen this year in the Sargent Park Math Zone. My goals are to do more interactive slide shows, make movies and podcasts and incorporate all of these pieces into the greatest Student Led Electronic Portfolio's my school has seen. As more and more 2.0 apps appear on the horizon it is going to be fun to mix them into my math teaching pedagogy.

Thanks to my former students for being so inspiring. To this years crew..

It is going to be a great year. Thanks you in advance.


As I sit in my Google Reader and Bloglines accounts and read all of these 8 things about you memes it makes me think..... is this a good starting blog post for kids. The idea of the meme, liking it to others to keep it going and the creativity of answering some questions could be interesting to students.

Beginning bloggers could learn how to link to other pages, learn what to put into posts and what to leave out (that dreaded personal information stuff..) and you could even use Google Docs to type the questions and import them into your blog.

Of course all of this is percolating in my head because how many of us ask our students to tell us what they did during their summer vacation etc on the first day back. Now here is a way to get the students to write and learn blogging.

I know many adults find the meme tedious and somewhat intrusive. Many call it viral. If my memory is accurate I think many students find these memes novel and interesting. Would this not be a great way to start off an interactive collaborative project. Two groups of kids and multiple memes. If you kept them short you would have some excellent ice breakers introducing the kids to each other. I know that Lynne memed her students with the latest 8 things meme.

We need to create some student friendly memes. Now that many of us are getting back to work and thinking about school is this a way to start off the year?

Think about it.

Monday, August 06, 2007


One of my first blog posts was on Mathematizing. Now I will be having a 3 day institute on implementing Mathematizing ideas into my classroom.

Catherine Fosnot and her co-author Maarten Dolk( are coming to Winnipeg to do the workshop in person. This is an amazing opportunity. The authors ideas include the idea of mathematizing. This is when students become mathematicians and talk about the math that they are learning. This is a perfect way to use 2.0 tools. Part of being a matematician is to publish your work.
Mathematizing is solving problems, posing problems, playing with patterns and relationships and proving their thinking to fellow mathematicians. It was so fun to see these ideas in action in the classroom video clips from New York.

There is a diference between activity and genuine Problem solving. So we need more than "Hands ON" Discovery Learning.

Classrooms become communities. Children meed in groups and as a class to present and talk about solutions to common problems. There is "no wise one". convincing arguments are made to the group. Knowlege emerges in a community of discovery.

Doing math is like climbing a mountain. You take it one step at a time. Sometime you can take many steps before seeing the vista and all its beauty. For students to continue to climb and enjoy the journey they need to undertake this journey themselves. Only then will they continue to climb instead of staying at one leve

Many techniques were used with the young learners. They were always placed in pairs and the pairs were carefully selected. You did not want to put the best student with your worst a A and Z pairing. You wanted to do a A and C parining so that there was a difference but not a vast gap.

The students would receive a large problem on a large piece of paper and then in pen put their answers to the question. The teacher would choose examples of the student work and have the students present to the class. The students would lead the discussion and ask quesitons to the presenters. The teachers role was to facilitate the conversation to hit petagogical ideas.

Teaching was done in the form of mini lessons to activate strategies and ideas. Learning was always group based and fostered math language skills.

When we have math students talking and writing about math they conceptualize what they are doing. This allows them to understand the math deeper than if they were just drill and practicing.

I am going to create a wiki and do blog posts about this course. Her books are a must read for teachers who teach elementary math or middle school math.


My father recently retired from the University of Manitoba. There he was an award winning professor of Education. He now has time on his hands. One thing he loves to do is to hang out my sons. With that in mind I got him a Garmin Etrex for his birthday. He now can go Geocaching with my kids.

To prepare my sons for this experience I borrowed the Garmin and took my kids out looking for a cache. As luck may have it there is a cache at the top of my street at Brock Cordova Park. The cache SKAVENSQ is located just a half mile away. While we were searching for a a local reporter was having a picnic with his family and asked what we were doing. I said looking for treasure. He was interested and asked if we would like to be on TV. So....

Today Monday August 6th we were filmed looking for the cache and interviewed on tv. Hmm Pretty cool for the second time out geocaching ever. My kids like it. I like it. There are over 500 caches in the city of Winnipeg. I know what they will be doing in there spare time!!

Now I have to go watch the news.

Update. Here is the spot with me and the kids. I did not mean to sound like a pirate. Global News link.