Thursday, December 23, 2010

So How did the $0.25 a day work out??

Our winter campaign of charity has finished and I have some tremendous results to share with you.  For the readers of this blog you will have read this post. In it I describe the 3 week plus 3 day push to have students contribute $0.25 of their own money everyday.  They were to give up something small once a week and contribute THEIR money and not their parents to raise money for some holiday charities.  I blogged about this, put it out on twitter to try to get other schools to participate.  I even created a wiki to house all of this information.

In the end I had one other school participate.  Karl Fisch and his fantastic math students at AHS in Colorado participated.  Here is an excerpt from Karl's post;

Our goal was a quarter a day per student for the remaining ten days we had of class, which worked out to $62.50 for the twenty-five students in my class. We ended up at $77.26. (Including one student who chased me down in the cafeteria on the last day before break – which is three days after the last day my class meets – to hand me 85 cents.) I said I would match up to $100, so I’ll be matching with $77.26. My Dad apparently still reads my blog and he said he’d match at 50% of what I matched, so that’s another $38.63. And then Rob in Afghanistan, who I’ve blogged about before, sent me an email letting me know he would be sending me a $100 check as well.

So that works out to $293.15 (okay, I’m gonna chip in another $6.85 to make that $300). Now, I know that’s not a huge amount of money, and I didn’t take advantage of the full educational possibilities here (see some of
Bill Ferriter’s excellent work with Kiva), but it will still make a difference for the entrepreneur(s) we fund with this (and, of course, when it gets paid back I’ll re-loan it again and again – that’s part of the beauty of Kiva).
Thank you Karl for giving us at Sargent Park someone else to look at during this project.  It is hard sometimes to do things on your own.

So how did we do at Sargent Park.  Over the 3 week 3 day period we raised $519.  This is increadable.  If the students all had brought in $0.25 we would have been at approximately $650.  I am impressed and awestruck. Thank you Sargent Park Grade 8 Students.  Your generosity is appreciated.

On the last day of school we had a movie morning to celebrate the completion of our work.  When the movie was over I told the students that instead of buying the treats or candy this year I was donating to Agape Table.  In front of them I pulled up the web donate and proceeded to donate $150 to this worthy charity.  I did this with a purpose.  I had to show them that adults donate too and I wanted them to see the power of donating.  This was further amplified when we started donating their charity donations.

This is how it broke down.  We gave $300 to 1HopeWinnipeg.  This local charity operates 5 different shelters around the city.  $300 will help out tremendously.  The rest of their charitable donations went to Kiva.  This is also where things got really fun.  Imagine if you will over 100 students in a classroom.  Looking at a Smartboard with the Kiva Site up.  I now explain what Kiva does and how it works.  As a group now we start reading the stories on the Kiva site and choosing recipients.  The kids ate this up.  They were cheering and whooping at every donation that we made.  In total we made 11 donations to Kiva helping finance Micro loans around the world.

I have to admit the power of the group being there when we made all of these donations is now a key element in this project.  Kids donated the money they have to see it at work.

Where do we go from here? I would like to get more schools around the globe participating in this project.  Have them find a way for kids to donate money and see the power of philanthropy.  Already the Grade 7 team in my building is incorporating this idea into their study of the Developing World and will do a smaller but similar campaign in the new year.  I still would like to see it develop more.  There are many 13 year olds in school across the city.  If more of them participated we could really make a difference.  With that said there are many school children all over the globe.  Imagine if we harnessed that power.  Wow that would make another good post and a great story.  Thanks for listening and best of the season to all of you out there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Once Again I have Amazing Kids... Pay it Forward

We start of our 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Project every year with Pay it Forward.  We get the students to watch the movie, reflect on the ideas expressed in the movie and then have them go out and do a Random Act of Kindness.

It all started three years ago when my new teaching team mate Michele was first introduced to the 2 minutes project.  She said that for a few years she had been doing a Pay it Forward unit with her students.  The two ideas meshed perfectly with each other.  Here is an excerpt from the movie...

"You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how
they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It three more people. Each. So, nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see, to eighty-one, then two hundred forty-three, then seven hundred twenty-nine, then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?"

The first year students were a bit perplexed with the whole idea of doing a random act of kindness.  They went and babysat younger siblings for free, shoveled walks and did chores. While these were altruistic and doing a good deed they were weak in the "Random Act" and helping aspects of the Pay it Forward Movement.  Still when the goal is to awaken a feeling of giving and citizenship in 13 year old kids it was somewhat of a success.

The next year we started off the same way as in the past.  One small change occurred the students talked about all of the possible activities they could do right after the movie.  They were excited and almost egging each other on to do bigger and better deeds.  This time the students donated toys to hospitals, volunteered at daycares and sent pillows to soldiers overseas.  The students really understood what was needed to do a Pay it Forward activity.  The best examples was Elijah and her group.  They pooled their own money and created gift baskets for the Children's Hospital.

Which brings us to this year.  I was skeptical of what could be accomplished.  Last years crew had done a great job and I was extremely hopeful that this years crew would be similar.  I was not disappointed.  The students did a great job.  We had boys delivering toys to churches, writing letters to soldiers overseas, and caroling outside of a supermarket to raise funds for a homeless shelter and taking toys to the Childrens Hospital

Here are all of the projects.  Please leave comments behind for the students they would appreciate that.

In an interesting twist I was interviewed by the local CBC with a student about Pay it Forward.  


They had been talking about it all day on the station.  People had called in talking about buying coffee for strangers and purchasing their parking... I emailed the station and told them about the students and their projects.  They interviewed myself and a student.  I guess they now know what a "Pay it forward" can look like.  140 students doing random acts of kindness really ROCKS.  I have great students.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Would your students donate $0.25 a day?

So once again Brian Metcalfe has given me an ideas that well.... I have decided to run with. It is a simple premise but holds a huge potential.  I am asking all of my students (140) to bring in a donation of $0.25 a day.  We will continue to do this up till the Winter Break on December 23.

Every year the Grade 8 students have found a Christmas Charity to help out.  It is the start to our Citizenship Project 2 minutes to make a Difference. We are still doing that.  We have chosen 1 Hope Winnipeg this year as our major charity. Half of all money raised will go to 1 Hope Winnipeg.  The other money raised will be donated to charities that the students will choose.  This is why it is so powerful. We are putting the power in their hands.  They donated the money and they get to choose who to give it to.

So how do you get students to donate 25 cents a day.  I have not figured that out yet.  I know that each teacher is going to have to work hard at keeping this idea going.  Students will forget and decide that they do not want to participate.  Teachers can keep the flame alive though and I am adding a global touch.  Through my network on twitter and my readership here I hope to have other schools across Canada and around the world participate.  I have created a wiki to keep track of the schools and what they have raised.  The wiki will be open and each participating school will be able to do whatever they want.  Seeing kids from around the globe doing this event with them could spur them on.

It is important that students do not get this money from their parents.  They have to earn it or give up something to make the donation.  We are sending a note home to parents so that they understand that this is supposed to be a student project not a parent project.  Most of our students spend money at our canteen or local restaurants at lunch.  Giving up a quarter for most of them will not be a deal breaker.  THEY just have to understand the sacrifice that is needed.  I hope it works. If it does the students at the school will have raised $1800 in a short 4 weeks.  Powerful stuff.

Now for the important question. Who is going to join? Please email me and join the wiki.

chris (dot) harbeck (at)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life Long Learner

I have some people who have influenced my teaching as mentors.  The first is Darren Kuropatwa who introduced me to this wonderful world of online learning and PLN's.  The other is Brian Metcalfe.  Brian was a tech mentor in our division.  From my first days teaching elementary classes to my current job of teaching Grade 8 Brian was always learning.

He would be the mentor that would find out new things and SHARE them with the masses.  He created an online and paper newsletter showcasing all that he was learning.  Brian retired a few years ago but....

Brian continues to learn.  He attends every meeting of significance in the province.  He attends conferences routinely and was the reason why I met Dr. Tim Tyson and started the 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Project with the Grade 8's at school.

Brian in retirement learns more everyday then most of the teachers I work with in my division.  Why is that.  Why does a guy who is away from the school setting still want to learn and be part of the mix? Why is he watching K12 Online when the rest of the tech mentors who are still working are not, or are not telling people about it!! You might have to ask Brian Metcalfe over at his blog.  Brian was so kind after my recent presentation.

2minutes spreading our roots
View more presentations from charbeck1. Here is the ustream.

Brian emailed my admin and told them about the presentation and how it was an enjoyable experience.  It is nice to have a fan like Brian.  
 I want to be a life long learner.   Thanks for pushing me to do more and be a better teacher.  We all can learn from Brian

At Home Sick

Drat one of those 1000 kids I am in contact with everyday has infected me with a virus... I am not really super sick but I have lost my voice.  A teacher without a voice is not effective so I stayed home today.

One of the luxuries of having a blog is being connected to your students all the time.  If I need to say something to them outside of school hours there is always a way to do it.

Today I left the sub plans on the class blog.  Here the students could see what was expected of them.  I also was in the Math Help Chat box.  Kids would see in real time me typing away answering questions if they needed help.

I was at home with no voice but in the room as loud as ever using a keyboard.  Cool.  Connectiveness.  I like it:)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why we use Social Media

In my last post I talked about my newest project Sesame Street Video Mashups... We filmed on Friday and the kids are busy creating posts explaining the ideas of Ratio Rate and Proportional Reasoning.

It is amazing how after doing a few weeks of hard work and learning concepts kids need to release some energy.  When I first introduced this project they were excited.  Seeing them sing, make puppets, and create these videos was so exciting.

For many years I have been using these culminating projects to build excitement and bridge into the next unit.  If you are willing to let your students go wild and be creative for a bit you can reap the rewards.  Math is a subject that can be boring a dull.  By infusing it with some fun you can make even the quietest student incredible.

I have one student that amazed me for this project.  Kids had a chance to work with in up to a group of three.  This student chose to work alone.  She is a student who is very bright but never makes eye contact or never volunteers answers in class.  You would not characterize her as a problem child but she is uber-shy. On Friday she absolutely blew my mind.

We entered class and she pulled out these homemade puppets.  She had a homemade background and was ready to film.  I wondered how a quiet student could make a video.  She set up her camera and started to film with these puppets.  The room was a bit noisy so I asked if she wanted to stay for a few minutes after class and film.  I held the camera and she did the rest of the work.  She was loud, clear and her information was terrific.  I was amazed at how well she did in the acting and how excited she was.  Her video reminded me of my childhood watching Sesame Street.

This is why using 21stC tools is so important to students.  They all have a voice and gain confidence in their work.  Kids using keyboards to speak loud, creating movies to show understanding are commonplace in some classrooms.  WE need to let these kids shine.

I am glad that I am challenging myself to use what kids like to bring out their understanding in math in new and different ways.  We are doing Pythagoras next and since they like the video project so much we are going to do a different Video Mashup....

I am sure if you have kids you will recognize the following cartoon, if you have never watched it before you should but I warn you it is addicting... so here is the next big movie production (hey we used Flip cameras and they worked great!!)

Kids love this show. It seems to be a no brainer. So wait till next month when they make their new videos.


The videos are done.  The kids had a hoot and are in the process of writing about ratio, rate and proportion.  The energy level was off the scale and most had the video done on time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Building Audience

Over the past few years I have noticed a growing phenomenon. Kids are getting into commenting.

My students start to comment from the first posts of the year.  I have just had them do a math profile.  How do you see yourself as a math student etc. I asked that they comment and they have.  But how did they get there? I am lucky that the Grade 7 teacher uses blogs too.  Together we create quite a team.  He and I give the Grade seven students the basics and by the time they hit Grade 8 they are ready to really do some spectacular things.

But still how do you get them to comment. At first you entice them with the possibilities of getting marks for commenting.  You need to build a routine for the students to follow.  I follow the "Whose line is it Anyways" approach.  You will get one gazillion marks if you...

The points were just there. They did not mean much. Kids in my classes get marked for blog work. Posts and assignments are one category and comments are another. The students think they are worth "lots" of marks but in reality they are not. It does not matter however.  Soon after the first term is over and they have a routine of reading the blog regularly and have been trained at giving great comments the work other students produce improves.  Kids that get blog post comments create better posts than kids that do not.  All blog posts are being commented on so ALL posts are done better.  Some of the advice in the comments are amazing.  On average posts are receiving 4 comments each.  Some are getting over 10.  After the first term the students do not ask about "comment marks" anymore.  They just leave comments.  When they get to Grade 9 and are in their third year of commenting they are truly an audience of peers who help each other.

Kids are amazing.  Train them and teach them to be a community of learners and they will take themselves places together they could not get to alone. 

I am one lucky teacher... really I am.  You can be too.  Get the kids to comment.  Get them to blog.  You will be glad that you did.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Taking the next step... Sesame Street

I have been lacking innovating ideas as of late.  I am going to start pushing the envelope.  Yesterday on twitter someone sent me a video.

That was not the video I saw but it is what captured my attention.  Kids love Sesame Street.  They all remembered different videos from this show that captured their imagination.

Just like their love of tech students love children's television programming.  So I am going to harness both of these loves.  Their first assignment for me in wrapping up their first unit on Ratio, Rate and Proportional Reasoning is to make a video parody of a Sesame Street Video.  They will choose the video, then redo the lesson substituting their topic for the one that Sesame street chose.

Ernie could buy a ratio or a rate, the Martians could find a proportion or a ratio.  The Genre is set, it must be a Sesame Street video, topic is set it has to be Ratio Rate or Proportions not it is up to the students to create their videos.

I am thinking we will spend one class taking apart the videos and showing the story arc.  We then will substitute our topic into the story line (take out 8 and put in rate).

I will send the students home to choose a video over night. This perhaps will be the hardest thing.  Then they will have a week to create the new storyline, and film the video.  We will post them to the new math youtube channel we are creating.

There now I am doing something different this year.... it is a start.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Creating your Classroom Blogs Part 2 Personalize and Audience

Here goes the second attempt at this post.  Deleted it yesterday by mistake:(

Kids crave audience.  To have a good classroom blog where kids want to work you need to build an audience so they preform.  There are many great audience builders.  
I have been using this service since I started blogging.  It is simple and effective.  What you receive from clustr maps is a small icon that sits on your blogs sidebar.  In the design part of your blogspot blog you can choose "add a gadget".  Here you scroll down till you find .  You will be posting code in from the clustr map site.  Go to clustr maps and fill in the form.  Following this you will get a box where the html code is for your blog.  Copy that code into your clipboard and then paste it into the "add gadgets" box open at your blog.  You now have a map in your sidebar that will show where people from around the world have been visiting from.  The beauty about clustr maps is that the map just receives dots.  A dot for every visit.  You will see after a while that many dots will show up from around the world.  Some are legitimate hits but many are just google inquiries.  The kids do not need to know this ;) Audience is audience.  Soon real visitors will come and leave comments behind.  When students have audience they will out preform previous standards of work.

Chat Boxes
I see some of you starting to shake in your shoes.  Chat boxes are an integral part of any class blog.  This can be one of your greatest teaching tools.  Kids use the boxes to help each other out.  They ask questions, answer other students questions and...... all when they are not in school.  The blog and chatbox or help box do not sleep.  This makes your classroom alive 24 hours a day.  Kids need to have some ground rules though.  Make sure that they are aware that the blog and chat box are extensions of school and appropriate behaviour is expected.  In my many years blogging and using chat boxes very few "bad" things have gone on.  The worst is juvenile boys being boys and some potty jokes.  Simply using this a teachable moment and reexplaining the rules of the blog brings everyone back in line.  If for some reason it doesn't work I could remove the chat box for a week and show them why they need it when it is no longer there for them.  Students do not view it as an MSN zone but as an extension of the the classroom because of the audience you have shown them. 

At the beginning of the year I monitor the chat room.  Answering questions and overseeing its use.  In recent years an amazing thing has taken place.  In about October students start monitoring the room.  They by choice make having the math blog open during their evening computer sessions.  It becomes one tab on their browser and believe it or not they become the teachers.  Students teaching students.... does it get any better than that.  

I have used many chat boxes but am currently using cbox.  It is easy to set up.  One thing I will recommend is to turn off the ability to add URLs.  Spammers love to drop URLs into your chatboxes.  This option negates the potentially bad links sent by spammers.  I wanted to reuse a cbox this year but the spammers had gotten to it and continued to add bad comments.  I simply created a new cbox and started over again. Simple process.  Once again just use the "add gadget" from your blogger design template and paste the html into the space provided.  

Chat boxes can change the way your blog works.  I highly recommend them.

What about the Parents?
Part of the blog needs to be for parents.  It is a spot where you can direct them to go read when they are interested in WHY kids need to learn 21st C literacy.  I found many links from John Evan's in his Diigo account. I chose 3 links for parents and here they are:
Parents have never asked me Why we blog but I am ready with answers if they do.  This brings to a close Day 2 of Setting up your Classroom Blog or Blogs.  Tomorrow we will deal with first posts for you and the students and more about building Audience.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Setting up Classroom Blogs Lesson 1

    This will be a series of posts designed to help teachers set up classroom blogs using  It is currently the middle of the summer break.  Time to stop totally thinking about relaxation and slowly start the process of getting ready for another school year.  It is at this time that I start putting the class blogs together for the next year. It is a simple process that takes a bit of time.  So I break it up over a few days.  I need to get back into the saddle slowly not all at once:)

    Today I cleaned up my blogger dashboard.  For those of you that have blogs already you know what I am talking about.  I have over 30 of them so I need to clean up my dashboard.  This means that all old blogs get "hidden". 

    When you click the hide button only the blogs you want on your dashboard will be visible.  All others will be available to you if you click on view all at the bottom of your dashboard.

    Now that my dashboard is clean I choose
    Here I now go into the process of making the 4 classroom blogs for the year.  It is a simple process.  Follow the instructions provided by blogger and there should be no problems.  I will give a few suggestions however for those of you that are new to this:)

    1. Blog Title.  Keep this simple.  I just call mine 817 Math (2010) This is just a room number and a year.  The title for the student zones does not need to be fancy (but it can be if you like)
    2. Blog Address.  It took a while for me to figure out a few tricks here.  I always changed the names of my addresses and forgot what they were called.  Now I use a simple url and change the last 2 digits to show the year.  spmath81710.  spmath817 is the room and 10 is the calender year. Next year it would be spmath81711 and so on.  It is a nice way to organize your blogs.
    You now have a blog.  I always publish something as a first post.  Today it was titled Test in the body of the blog I simply typed TEST and labeled the post "first post".  This is so I can see what is going on when I preview the blog.

    The new blogger offers new templates for beginners.  This is a nice touch.  I chose a template from the start menu but in the near future will change that design.  But for today the generic template will do. 

    Next steps.

    You need to go back to your dashboard and click settings
    You are going to change a few things in the settings to suit your needs.  The first thing I change is under settings/basic I add a description.  This description is part of your heading at the blog.  Once again I keep this simple.

    You then have to save.  Moving over2 tabs in the settings brings you to formatting.  Here you need to change the time to where you live.  This will provide you with an accurate timestamp on when people comment and post to the blog.  Handy when tracking student work. Be sure to save these settings.

    Finally move on to commenting.  Here you have some choices.  I chose to allow all people to comment.  This is a bit risky for first time bloggers but in all the years I have been doing this there has been very little spam on current blogs.  If the spam becomes an issue I will add comment moderation.
    My settings on the blogs are 
    and until something happens I leave the comments wide open. You have many options from only allowing group members to comment to people with google accounts.  The problem with limiting comments is that you shut out audience.  Kids want to get comments from abroad.  If you allow comments from anyone you will be able to receive information for other students.  A way around this is to enable comment moderation.  I only use this on old blogs to prevent spammers.  But you could moderate comments to the blog. 
    To moderate comments choose "always" and add your email address.  Now you get notified and get to read all comments before the arrive at the blog.

    Click save setting on the bottom and voila you have set up your blog.  Now for the hard part but.......

    that is a different post for a different day.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Help. If you have some time...

    My students have finally finished their first versions of their 2 Minutes to Make a Difference movies for this year.  A change from last years movies is that we are encouraging them to solicit feedback from classmates and around the world.  It would be great if your spring included having students watch the videos and adding comments and ways in which they would make the video better.  I will include the playlist from the spmath channel on youtube.  I have also included 2 screencaptures of the rubrics we will be using to make give the final marks.

    What is important is that there is a global audience for these videos.  Please when commenting leave where you are from geographically so the kids see the power of audience.

    Thank you in advance

    Here are all the videos up to Tuesday. These are first versions of the movies. Please use the following criteria if you are interested in leaving feedback behind:

    Use the arrow on the right hand side to switch videos. Thank you for your time

    Here are 2 screencaptures of the rubrics

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Interviewing an expert

    Part of the changes we made to the 2 Minutes to make a Difference movie project this year was an expectation that the students find an "expert" to talk to.  What was impressive was the amount of students scouring the internet to find people that might talk to them or correspond with emails.

    Out of 75 marks the interview is only worth 5 but many students are having long conversations with people from around the world.  They are learning how to ask questions and how to collect information from these experts.  It is ironic how many of the "experts" do not have a great grasp on technology.  Many use email but when asked to skype or use a different online tool they had little knowledge on how to connect with my students. 

    Welcome back the phone.  Here the students and the experts were comfortable and the information interchange was excellent. 

    Part of the reflection at the end of the project will be to explain how the students found their expert and how the "expert's" information helped their movie project.  I am impressed with my students.  They constantly rise to the level of the challenge provided to them.  I need to remember this.  Set the bar high and they will achieve more than if they had the bar set lower.

    Google Docs takes Steroids

    I have loved Google Docs since I first started using it 3 or 4 years ago.  Now I like it even better.  Up to a gazillion people can edit and work on 1 document at one time!!! This is a change from the past. Long live etherpad. 

    Combine that with the power of google and.... voila:) More importantly you can create images like in Microsoft Paint.  This has been a feature missing from most of the Macs in my room.  Now kids can enhance their posts using google docs instead of trying to find other programs on their computer. 

    Oh yeah and it is saved with the rest of their work, you can pubish it and link it to documents and.... to your posts:)

    Google Docs I <3 you

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Movie Project Update

    With the days rapidly dwindling before the Movie Project is done crunch time is upon us.  It is evident that this years students are different than last years students.... go figure.  Some reinventing of the Movie Project has evolved over the year. 

    More work needed to be done during school time.  This is fine.  Problem is that most of that time came out of my math classes.  The "team" did not figure out that they too had to donate some time to the cause.  Oh well.  Perhaps next year the "team" will recognize the importance of the project and jump on board earlier... here is hoping!!

    We have given the students  a rubric for them to use.

    They should have a first draft of their movies done by the end of the week.  Next week we will use the rubric and student responses to edit and critique the finished movies.  My goal is to have the students leave comments behind at youtube.   The groups will then have a chance to redo their movie and resubmit it.  Peer feedback will be important to a better finished product.  The top groups will benefit from this editing time.  Last year we found many groups with grammar and topic errors. A good peer edit will eliminate many of these small errors.

    A problem will occur when the other groups do not finish on time and hand in inferior work.  It is a fine balance with due dates and students.  Some make the due dates others do not.  With the movie being 20% of the third term I hope this motivates them to complete it on time.

    cc licensed flickr photo shared by randomcuriosity

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Pi Day Festivities

    I know it is late. Pi day was at 1:59 on Sunday but we have had no school since then. Today was our first Pi day at school. Imagine an "Amazing Race" but with math clues. Nine teams of Grade 8 students, 2 teams of Grade 9 students and 5 teams of Grade 7 students raced around the school looking for clues based on our favorite irrational number!! Pi!!
    What I took away from this experience was that kids love competing and some kids love to compete using math. So here was our format if you want to use it at your school:

    Each Grade had 5 questions to answer. Here are mine..
    Question 1
    A) Count the lockers outside the gym and before Room 2. 
    B) Use that number as the diameter of a circle. 
    What is the area of a circle that has B as a diameter?
    What room is closest to where you have arrived.  You will find your second clue there.
    Question 2
    Use the room where you area now and call it a radius. 
    Find the are of a circle that has it as a radius. 
    Your next clue awaits you there.
    Question 3
    Find the median of the provincial basketball banners by the west gym doors. 
    Divide that year by 100 and round to the nearest whole number. 
    Use that number as the circumference of a circle.  You will find your next clue at the room that is one whole number larger.

    Question 4
    Use the Room from Question 3 as a diameter.  Find the surface area of a cylinder whose length is also the answer from Question 3. 
    Round the area up to the nearest unit and you will arrive at your next destination.
    Question 5
    Find the Radius of a circle whose circumference is 98432.72 units.  When you find the radius you need to find that number in the gym hallway.  Good luck!!
    Final Clue
    Find the digital root of this radius.  The treasure awaits you there.

    I placed the clues in envelopes at the locations found in the envelopes, (locker numbers, room numbers etc).  After each clue was solved the students would race around to the next clue location and have to find in in close proximity to where the previous clue had sent them.
    If I was to do this again I would stagger the groups out and have them start with different questions all returning to the final clue and the prize.  The way I did it this year all students started at question 1 and went to question 2 etc.  It was a bit of a follow the leader instead of solve it on your own.  Oh well.
    What Have I learned? I have learned that kids love this activity and as a school we will do it again in a month or so. We will do it outside and set it up like score orienteering.  Perhaps more kids will try out and have fun.  If not the ones who do sign up will have as much fun as the winners from today's Pi event. I guess I forgot to tell you.  All kids received a prize (pizza tickets) due to their large smiles and enthusiasm. 

    I love my job:)

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    2010/365 the second month

    I have successfully created a second month of 365 photos. For some reason I missed one day... I took the picture but I cannot find it anywhere. Do not know if this disqualifies me but I am loving this project.

    Here is February

    Created with flickr slideshow.

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    My first month of 2010/365

    I made it a month. I am trying to do a 2010/365 project this year. So far so good. It is really changing the way I see my life and my day. I am always on the lookout for an interesting shot to tell a story about what happened that day or to improve my photography.

    Even on runs now I have my DSLR in its backpack ready to be pulled out when the "perfect shot" is possible. Makes running slower but I am having fun. Here is my first month. May the second month be as much fun.

    I recommend this to anyone with a camera. Start now and enjoy the story telling potential that your camera give you.

    Created with flickr slideshow.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    My 250th Post... and a Black Violin

    We saw an excellent performance today.  A group called Black Violin.  The students loved the performance.  They travel all over the place and if you have a chance to see them please go and enjoy one of the best shows I have seen in ages.  Here is the slideshow of todays performance.

    Here are some videos...

    Once again. Go see them if you ever have the chance!

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Haitian Relief What Happened

    WE DID IT!!

    cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

    Sargent Park School raised $2100 for Haitian Earthquake Relief.  When you couple this with the Canadian Governments matching all donations we raised $4200.  This is very respectable for a school of only 1000 students.  How did this all happen? Let's go back in time....

    Earlier in the week I had been showing "The Big Picture" photo essays from Haiti.  This started the classes thinking.  At a blog post I requested the students to leave comments behind on what could be done at Sargent Park School.

    These are the comments they came up with!! Now they had to make it happen!! We had a meeting and the Grade 8 students asked the Student Council if they could use a Fine Friday to help Haiti.  The student council agreed and the ball was set in motion.

    Three teams of students created presentations to show to the school.  Each presentation based on the age level of the students watching.  We chose K to 3 for one assembly, 4 to 6 for another assembly and finally we had the Grade 7 and 9 students.  The Grade 8 students did not come to the assemblies because they had already had many information sessions about what was happening in Haiti already.

    It was great to see the STUDENTS taking charge of the situation.  They were empowered to be the ones in charge.  Granted I set the ball in motion and planted the seeds BUT they took the initiative to get the whole school involved.

    Fine Friday is a great fundraiser.  The school suspends "rules" that can be circumvented by paying a fine.  We chose 3 rules; no hats, no iPods in class and no stuffed animals in the classroom.  All of these school based rules would be waved on the Friday if the students payed a fine of a dollar.  This meant that the students bring in $1 to $3 donate to Haitian Relief.

    As you can see from the first picture we did it.  Every student on average brought in $2.  Over 95% of the student participated.  There are no costs involved so everything was pure profit as a fundraiser. Both teachers and the students were impressed with the amount of money raised.

    All of this activity falls back into the 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Movie Project that will be finished by late April.  I hope that the students now realize that One student or person CAN make a difference.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    My Continuing Smartboard Odyssey

    Today the students took control of the Smartboad and the Ustream Channel.  They were the ones correcting their work and it went OK.  I need to get them to practice writing more on the board.  There is a skill to not touching the board with their hand.  After yesterdays post on using Ustream I received a comment from Ian H.  He recommended  Webcam Max as a PC alternative to using Camtwist to stream the desktop to ustream. 

    The kids took control and here is what they did. I use links and screen captures because the old Macs in my room do not like to wait and process all the embedding. 

    Correcting Question 1

    Correcting Question 2

    Correcting Question 3 and beyond

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    Student Response to the Haitian Earthquake

    We held our student meeting today.  The turnout was good and the students were excited to get to work.  They decided we would have a FINE FRIDAY. Students can pay a fine and be allowed to listen to Ipods and wear hats inside the school.  It allows all to participate for a minimal fine.  In a school of 1000 students we should be able to raise up to $1500.  We are allowing students to pay a double fine if they wish.

    The group decided to create posters to create awareness, get a PSA spot on the announcements and make presentations for the rest of the school.  Each group would be responsible for different grade levels.  There are many gripping images out there.  Some just are not appropriate for the younger students.  On Wednesday the groups will fan out throughout the school talking about the earthquake and how it has devastated Haiti.

    Here is a draft of the parent letter that have sent for proof reading...

    Dear Parents

    On Tuesday January 12 Haiti was devastated by a large earthquake.  Haiti already one of the poorest countries in the world scrambled to save its citizens.  In recent days aid agencies have been working hard to help the people of Haiti.  These agencies require money to keep the supplies going to people in need. 

    On Friday the school is holding a fundraiser.  It is called FINE FRIDAY.  Students are encouraged to bring a dollar or two and participate.  The Elementary students will be allowed to wear a hat during the school day or bring a stuffed animal to school as their "fine".  For the Junior High students the will pay a fine to be able to listen to their Ipods or wear a hat.  This is a fun way to raise awareness about this important world event. 

    All students received presentations about what was happening in Haiti.  For more information please check out the following websites:

    Thank you for your understanding.  All donations will be donated to UNICEF.  This agency looks after children.  The students felt it was important to have all donations go to children.  The Canadian International Development Agency or CIDA will match all donations.  Any donation is greatly appreciated. 

    It was great to give the power to the students.  See them take charge of the situation and start to get the message out.  To often we adults take control, this takes power away from the students when they need it the most.  With all the work the students have done on their movie projects this year they are finally learning what it is to be global citizens.

    I will keep you updated... thanks for reading.

    Using Ustream in the Classroom.

    I love my Smartboard.  I use it extensively to connect my lessons to the web.  Slides go to slideshare and video is streamed and recorded through I use ustream instead of the smart recorder because the recording is instant and you are able to embed the video into blogs and wikis immediately.  Here is how I do it.

    Attached to my smartboard is a Logitech Camera.

    I use this as my mic and as my streaming camera.  I could use it to capture student work being done in the class. I have had students make videos using this device.

    Now I use Camtwist to capture the desktop.  This allows me to use the camera's audio and to capture all that happens on the smartboard instead of filming the board from afar.
    This is what the camtwist setup looks like for me.

    Now I am able to select Camtwist from the ustream menu.  This is my video input.  I use the camera as my audio and I have an instant screen recorder.

    For those of you on PC's I will have to figure out how you use your screen casting abilities.  Camtwist is only for Macs.

    Tomorrow gets kids involved in the recording process.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Streaming, Smartboards and Mini lessons

    I am going to do some innovative thinking over the next few weeks.  Most of it surrounding smartboards and streaming.  Hoping to get kids to create mini lessons and post them to ustream, or have their mini lessons done live in class to ustream

    This should be an interesting week.  I know this is a small post but I think it is important to get back into the blogging spirit again.

    Most of the work will be initally housed at the Sargent Park Math Zone

    Haitian Earthquake Part 2

    cc licensed flickr photo shared by Got Phi

    I showed the students another photo essay on Friday.  I also showed them the comments other students have left behind.  All students agreed that something had to be done.  As I read the comments to them the more head nodding I was seeing.  They have decided to meet a lunch on Monday to come up with a fund raising idea.

    While we were doing our own investigation of the Haitian Earthquake the other teachers in the school came to the room.  They wanted to make what the Grade 8 students had thought of a whole school project.  This was fantastic.  I was impressed with how the students ideas were spreading already.

    Now the students will be running the show on Monday and taking responsibility for fundraising.  Here is one way to make students become activists.  I will update this post on Tuesday to tell you of how the meeting went and what the students have decided to do.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    An experiment with Humanity... and 2 Minutes to Make a Difference

    In recent weeks the students have been working on choosing a topic for their Movie Project.  With the recent earthquake in Haiti it is time to see if they are learning that one person can make a difference.  I am going to introduce the classes to what happened in Haiti and see if any of the students pick up on the need to do something.  Odds are they might not do anything but it will be interesting to see what does transpire.  Keep you updated.

    Here is the post that the students will use.

    Yesterday a great tragedy occurred in Haiti.  It was hit by a earthquake that was a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale.

    Why is it important to care?
    Can you make a difference?
    Leave a comment about what you can do.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Starting eportfoios

    I feel very guilty that I have not written in a while.  Here is a cross post on the instructions I give my students about getting their eportfolio ready at wikispaces.  More content to follow. Sorry for my low output of posts lately.

    We are getting ready to do some work on our e-portfolios this year. You need to have certain things done by the end of the week (January 15th).

    • You need a wikispaces account. Please use a name, email and password that you will remember.  

    • You need to ask to join your class eportfolio wiki.  Here are the links to the rooms.
    • 816 eportfolios
    • 817 eportfolios
    • 841 eportfolios
    • 873 eportfolios
    • At the class site click edit. 

    • The wiki is now a word processor. 

    • You need to find your name, highlight it and then create a link. 

    • Now press save. 

      Your name should be a red link.  Click the red link and you should see this.

    • Now you will hit the edit button and your eportfolio page is ready to be created.
    Now you have your own eportfolio page.  You have some small instructions left.  Please follow them carefully.
    1. Type [[toc]] and enter twice.
    2. Type your four main subjects in this order each on a separate line Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Please add a fifth topic of Other.
    3. After you have typed each of these topics highlight them and choose Heading 1 from the editor bar.

    4. Click save and you should have a framework for what your eportfolio page.

    Please do your best to follow these instructions.