Wednesday, December 31, 2008

7 things about me..... for I have been tagged

Alec tagged me the other day in the 7 things you do not know about me meme. Let's see what I can drum up.

1. I love to cook. It is a passion of mine and a way to release the stresses of the day. Nothing says AHHHH like dicing an onion really thin. My 2 favorite cooking magazines are Cooks Illustrated and Fine Cooking. I have catered for my parents 5oth wedding anniversary and served over 60 people. I am famous for my breakfast food. Meyer Lemon Scones and Sticky buns are house and street favourites.

2. I like to run. It seems to be my sport of choice right now. I run the Timex Series in Manitoba and won my age category this year. I also had a best time in the half marathon 1:35.04 and made a pledge to myself to run a full marathon if I ever broke my previous best time set 29 years earlier. I plan to run one this year. Regina is the destination of choice since there are so many wonderful people in Saskatchewan ... and it fits my training schedule. (Perhaps Alec will put me up on a sofa bed!!! for a night)

3. I am the father of twins. I love to call them Tommy and Timmy from Arthur but their names are Colin and Alex. They are interesting boys who pester their older brother and make him a better person. Twins are fun.... really if you want to try the experience I rent them out for 1.50 a day!!

4. I met my wife working in a restaurant. She was a waitress and I was the bartender. We hit it off right away and enjoyed our 20th anniversary this year. Working in a restaurant is one of the best things I ever did. It trains you to multitask, work with interesting and sometimes difficult people and trains you to be an amazing person. I hope that all of my kids get a chance to work in a restaurant. They will be better people for it.

5. I was not the worlds greatest math student in high school. Yet I am a math teacher. What gives? Perhaps it was school in general that did not excite me. I was a nationally ranked swimmer from the age of 14 on. This meant that I spent more time at the pool than at school. When I was at school focusing on my studies was not important. This is why I have a passion to make math interesting to kids and get them wanting to learn. If I had wanted to learn perhaps I would of been a better student.

6. I really sucked at University the first time. I went to Calgary for a swimming scholarship and did reasonably well in the pool. (We won CIAU or the university championships in my first year.) While swimming went great my school work..... suffered. I came home to Winnipeg after the first 2 years of university with a 1.4 GPA. After taking a year off the University of Winnipeg accepted me and gave me extra credit for some of my courses. I pulled my GPA up to a 3.4 by the time I finished my education degree. Interesting that I had to be 20 before school meant anything to me. I hope that University professors out there are making there courses interesting. Oh to take a course for Alec. that would be fun. I would write extra long assignments to keep him up reading all night!!

7. I love running in the winter but I really love staying at the beach for 3 weeks in the summer. Manitoba is a magical place. Yes it is full of mosquitoes and annoying insects but for 3 weeks we leave all electronics behind and go to Victoria Beach. Just an hours drive from Winnipeg life at the beach is the best. There are no cars in the municipality. All transportation is done using bikes or your feet. In the weeks leading up the to trip the kids are excited. When the trip is over the kids immediatly ask "How long until we go back to the beach!"

Thanks for the tag and for making me think about what makes me "me". I will do many people the favour of ending the meme here. I will not pass it on to anyone. But I will enjoy reading all of your memes in my reader. Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pay It Forward

This is a repost of an assignment at Sargent Park Mathzone. The goal of the next few activities at Sargent Park is to build a team of leaders that will be able to step into the shoes of some amazing grade nine's this year. If we are successful in awakening the leadership potential of the grade 8 students the school will continue to run well in September. These kids have tremendous potential. I hope they follow through.

Pay it Forward

On behalf of all of your Grade 8 Teachers I would like to thank you for making the Christmas season Happier for so many people. You rallied the school and we donated over $500 in pennies to Pennies to Heaven. We collected 8 full garbage bags of winter clothing and filled Mr. Penner's truck with items for the Christmas Cheer board. Your pamphlets, posters and assemblies made the difference this year. So once again THANK YOU.

Now for your next assignment.

Pay It Forward. We watched the movie on Friday and you were given the task to "Pay It Forward" over the break. You will create a blog post showing what you did. You can upload a picture or movie of your "Pay It Forward" action.

Both the picture and movie upload buttons can be found on the toolbar at blogger. You do not need to upload to youtube.

You need to label your post payitforward and complete the following questions in the body of the post:
  • After viewing the movie Pay It Forward you are being asked to do the same. Think of ONE act of kindness you would like to do for either a person youknow or a stranger. the goal is to make a difference in someone's life. Think about the following steps:
  • Who are you going to help?
  • What are you going to do?
  • Where are you going to do this?
  • When are you going to do this?
Those questions should be answered in the first paragraph of your post.

You then will place the picture or movie following that paragraph.

Finally I would like you to use the following questions to reflect on your "Pay it Forward" action.
These questions will help you create a second paragraph.
  • What happened?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did the person/people react?
  • Did you ask the person/people involved to "Pay it Forward"?How did the person/people react to this?
  • If you did not ask the person/people to "Pay It Forward", how come?
Your final paragraph need to answer this one question....
  • Can one person make a difference?
Thanks for Paying it forward. This is due before you arrive back at school in January.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What to use to upload videos

There are so many options now when it comes to uploading videos on the web. I am still a big fan of viddler because of the layered commenting feature. Here your comments appear like pop up videos as the video is played.

The students all post at youtube and this makes it meaningful to them. Recent changes have allowed for many different applications to be made using youtube. One being a choose your own adventure style. This layering effect to link videos together interests me in seeing how this could work in a classroom. Here is that video...

Also you can edit how the embed appears in your blog or wiki. You can edit out the related videos which can in some cases be inappropriate. Click the little blue gear beside the embed and you have this option.

Flickr allows you to upload video but you are limited to the size and length of the video. Short pieces could be uploaded here. These are my two boys singing and dancing. This is convenient because most of us have flickr accounts already. Hassle is the file size and time limit though. Shame because the quality is quite good. This was shot on a flip ultra.

Now I am trying out vimeo. It allows for HD video to be uploaded and the higher quality video is appealing to me. You are limited to 500 mb a week but for important uploads... perhaps this is the ticket. Here is my son singing at the concert this week. He loves to sing and ... scratch.

Untitled from Chris Harbeck on Vimeo.

All of these options. Wow we have come along way in a few short years.


I just read a post at Jeff Utecht's twitter stream. It was all about kickyoutube. Now in one easy step you can download youtube videos to your computer. Simple place the word kick before youtube in the url.

Abba video

Now do this and it will be on your desktop.

It is that easy. There are multiple file options for the download. Just select the file type and click the green go download arrow on the left.

Now I will go back an reminisce about rollerskating in the 70's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Facebook Generation

I had really good students last year. They were prolific bloggers who did amazing work. But if you look at the difference between January to June and the new year... September to December there is a difference. These students are using the blog even more than last year. From 1000 hits a month to over 5ooo now. I must admit most of these hits are from my own students but a few are from you out there.

Welcome to the Facebook Generation. These kids are wired and needing a place to find an audience. With a proper blog and a few strategic comments the world of 2.0 will be a place for you too!

With the new year just around the corner start a classroom blog. Create a community for your students to belong too. They will eat it up and you will be amazed with the results.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I teach great kids

Part of the goal of the Grade 8 team this year is to dive headlong into Inquiry based learning. The first step happened this week. All the Grade 8 students researched four charities in our city. The students created posters and pamphlets for the school. A group of students from each of the 4 rooms created google presentations to show the rest of the school in mini assemblies in my room. The first two assemblies happened today. I am very impressed with the presentations that were created and the powerful message being sent to the rest of the school.

I think the larger project "2 minutes to make a difference" that will happen after the winter break. Here the students will choose something that they will do to "make a difference". They will document it and create a movie.

Here is the ustream of today's presentation.

Great Big Book Of Algebra Chapter 2

It took me a while but here is the follow up to the Integer Poetry. I hope the kids find it amusing to do.

I have finally figured out what I want your second chapter to be in your GBBOA. I would like you to create a conversation between two people talking about combining like terms and the distributive property. You will use xtranormal to finish this chapter. Ok here we go.

In your post The Great Big Book of Algebra underneath your poems you will create Chapter 2. Here you will type out a script between two people having a conversation.

Biff "Hey how is it going"
Mortimer "It is going fine"

You get the picture!!

Now these two people are having a conversation about two algebra questions. The questions are:
  • n+3-5n+12
One person thinks the answer is -6n+15. Is the person right or wrong. In the script please show the steps to solve the statement and what the mistake was.

The second question is:
  • 2 + 4(3n+8)
One person again thinks that the answer is 12n + 10. Is the person right or wrong. In the script please show the steps to solve the algebraic statement and tell what the mistake was.

  1. REMEMBER you need to still be in your original post.
  2. You need to call this Chapter 2 Combining like terms and the Distributive Property
  3. You need a script typed into the chapter between two characters. They will be talking about the two questions above.
  4. You need to create an xtranormal movie to be the end of your chapter. Please use the script of you chapter to be the script in the movie. You then can cut and paste the blog text into your movie!!
  5. This is due December 19th. Add a label to your post XTRANORMAL

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Soungle is a cool site where you can find sound effects. I found it from Ben Hazzards presentation for Smartboards. I am thinking of using this library of sound effects to enhance my lessons. Imaging the possibilities of a burp will have with my teenage crowd. There are many different sounds that could be added to a story or whatever... the possibilites are endless.

Thanks Ben

Thursday, December 04, 2008

These kids really get the need for "Audience"

One of the most important aspects of blogging is leaving comments. When I first started blogging with the classrooms 4 years ago commenting was almost nonexistent. Today my gmail gets filled everynight with kids commenting on each others blog work. I am always amazed at what they say.

Most comments started of being Good Job :-) but now this has changed. Students are leaving behind meaningful comments that are read by the post's author. I have never seen so many comments as I have this year. By mentioning the importance of commenting and showing quality comments the students have gone from the smilie face to comments like these:

linda 8-17 has left a new comment on your post "The Great Big Book of Algebra":

HI ALYANNA! NICE POEMS! I agree with Peachy, the Diamante was probably in the best, in my oppinion that is. But, in that picture poem you have some spelling errors. I've noticed a lot of people don't think when to use apostrophes. You could lose marks on exams if you spell things improperly! Remember, you use apostrophes when the word is possessive, or connective.
-- I just thought you should think about it when spelling "your" or "you're"

AND! I think the colours you chose were very prettifull :)


Or this,

Wow, I can't believe that no one commented yet. I guess I'll be the first.

Your poems were so well done Karen! It seemed like it took you a while just to complete those because it was done so well. I really liked how all of your poems rhymed and I liked how almost all your poems were different types.

One thing that I would try to fix though is the 'Chapter 1: Poetry' title, sometimes blogger has 'issues' and makes things closer together. I think that you fix this problem by adding an extra space or two.
[I don't know exactly if Blogger has problems or if it's just my computer acting strange.. :P]

Other than that I would like to congadulate you on a job well done! ☺
I could keep on adding comments that the students have left but you can read their blogs for yourself. Just look for the student blog section in my sidebar. That your portal to the student blogs.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some Student Integer Poems

I was surprised when the students already posted some integer poems. I asked a few kids if they would let me share them with you. They are awesome. What do you think

These are from NickyD

Adding Integers with Kitty

One day while I was walking,
As happy as could be,
I noticed a little cat,
That happened to follow me.

I asked him what his name was,
And you know what? He could talk!
He said "My name is Kitty,
And I'll teach you how to walk!"

I told him that I knew how,
And although he looked quite sad,
He then cheered up and told me,
"Then I'll teach you how to add!"

I told him that I knew how once more,
But still,he offered to help,
He then wrote on a piece of paper,
And then I gave a little yelp!

He had added two negative integers,
Right before my eyes,
I could not believe it so I asked,
"Can I give it a try?"

He handed me the paper and pen,
And I gave it my best shot,
But sadly I could not add them,
Probably because I forgot!

Kitty was quite surprised at this,
However he showed me how,
To add integers quite easily,
And I can add them now!

Subraction is Myth

Subtracting is false
Adding opposites is true
Be true and go far

Partitive division,
Now what on earth is that?
Is it some form of writing,
Or a blue and purple hat?
I for one do not know,
What this could really mean,
Although I might've guessed,
That it might be for the keen.
Of course it is a long two words,
And the first is quite confusing.
This word I believe is for those,
Who find such words amusing.
However it is not,
It is a form of math you'll see.
So now you know what partitive means,
And I hope you'll let me be!

From Giselle


Adding Integers
Adding integers,
big, great,
adding, combining, gaining,
Two numbers coming together,

Free Verse:

Subtracting Integers
In the world of integers,
subtraction does not exist.
In the world of integers,
subtraction is not missed.
When there is a subtracting sign,
I change it all the time.
Addition now,
I'm almost done.
Adding is more fun!