Lasers+Aliens=Awesome Fraction Game

I am totally addicted to this game right now thanks to Dan Meyer. Who cares that it’s probably designed for 4th graders!  I like how the creators of the game explicitly state that the game is not a lesson in fractions, but rather requires knowledge of fractions.  I think this game would make a great starting inquiry into fraction concepts.  Students can play the game and later reflect and induce some fraction rules.  That and it’s just fun!

You can visit the official page here:


You can check out their other games here:

Assessment: Who’s in Control?

Originally posted on Inquiry Within.

Inquire Within

What if students were able to choose when and what they wanted to be assessed on?  That simple question was posed by colleague, recently to me in a staffroom chat.  It quickly exploded into an hour long discussion, that resulted in about 2 weeks worth of work on re-imagining my classroom experience for next year.

I think I was alway comfortable with the idea of students choosing their own topics or concepts for inquiry, but I was never able to come up with many good assessments that allowed for good student initiated action.  It was hard to think of open ended assignments.  My colleague’s question allowed for an end-around to the problem of the teacher structuring tasks, and then making students fit their learning and inquiry into the teacher’s structure and time-frame.

Luckily, I teach within an MYP context, so there are skill driven objectives set out for…

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TED Talks

TED’s tagline is: Ideas Worth Spreading.  Sounds like education to me!  Some of TED’s talks are great at motivating teachers to teach better; some are great for motivating students to want to learn; others are great specific examples of ideas and topics you may be teaching.

Be careful when you head over to or you might find yourself chewing up 20 hours of time!  It is an addictive place to get motivated.

If you’re interested in using TED Talks on your own website, you can easily click the SHARE button just below the video.

After you have selected SHARE, then you will see various options for embedding.  If you are a WORDPRESS user make sure to grab the specific code so that it will show up appropriately in your blog.  Otherwise, grab the embed code and insert into your own page.

Here are a few of my favorite examples!

Be “Less Helpful…”

Or so Dan Meyer suggests.

Check out his TEDx talk on how we can help our students better learn mathematics, by being purposely less helpful.  I have started to integrate problems like this in my own G7 classroom, and have found that it has increased engagement, collaboration, and inquiry amongst students.

Dan also has tons of great ideas to use in your own classroom.  I highly recommend Dan Meyer’s 3 Acts: Incredible Shrinking DollarShower vs Bath?A Lousy Mathematical Problem, especially Graphing Stories!

Wolfram Alpha Widgets

WolframAlpha has some pretty awesome Widgets in Beta testing right now.  In fact you can easily create your own widgets.

Some of these are great for higher level maths, but I think they could be quite useful in the lower grades as well, particularly for investigating patterns.  They’re also not just for Math, but could be useful for Biology, Chemistry, Business and Finance, Humanities, and are really open to any good query searches.

Finding the widgets is quite simple.  Head over to Widget Gallery and then browse for an appropriate  WIDGET.

Once you’ve located the widget that you want you can select the EMBED button on the right and it will give you the source code to EMBED the widget into your page!

If you use Blogger or WordPress, it’s even easier.  Just click the appropriate button and it will take you to your Blogger/Wordpress page and insert it straight away.

If you want to create your own widget then at the top of the page instead of browsing you can select BUILD A NEW WIDGET.

Or you can select this from the widget start page.

If you choose to build your own widget, I would recommend you watch the 6-7 minute tutorial video that is located on the widget building page.  It is very informative and easy to follow.

Suggested Uses for Teachers:
– Provide a calculator for specific functions you want your classes to investigate
– Create a widget for an investigation, or even use one of WolframAlpha’s Lesson Plans for investigations
Suggested Uses for Students:
– Create calculators for projects and investigations

You can even insert a Wolfram Alpha search right into your page by going to: