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: http://games.cs.washington.edu/Refraction/

Or, just PLAY THE GAME!

You can check out their other games here: http://games.cs.washington.edu/site/games

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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Infographics in Abundance

I’m always a little bit wary of info graphics, largely because as a scientist/mathematician I want to see the raw data too, just to make sure sure I agree with the presentation of the data.  However, that doesn’t mean that all info graphics are incorrect and they are increasingly more popular, so teaching students to evaluate them is an important 21st century skill.

The Aside Blog has a fantastic page full of links to various info graphics for you to use in class.  I also love the video they highlight by Column Five which talks about specific visualization strategies for presenting data.  So if you’re interested in data visualization and info graphics, head on over to the blog and start indulging your inner data geek.

I Choose To Go Deeper: Choose Your Own Adventure Videos

I used to love choose your own adventure books as a kid.  I would read them over and over to get the most favorable ending, often skipping ahead to see which way I really wanted to go.  Some might have called it cheating, but really I was curious and couldn’t resist finding out what ‘might have been’ (plus there is some research that suggests spoilers increase enjoyment!).  I imagine many of our students are the same way, and a bit of mystery might be a good thing to get them to delve deeper into an issue.  Choose your own adventure books are actually pretty tough to create and it’s easy to get lost, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to harness videos and the web to make interactive choose your own adventure videos instead?  Well, YouTube makes this possible with a little linking and annotating.

I’ve found a great tutorial from Greg Kulowiec (via Richard Byrne’s FreeTechnology4Teachers.com) on how to make a Choose Your Own Adventure Video using YouTube.  There also is a nice flowchart on Greg’s blog that you should check out.

For me the beauty is that you can create a single shell video to embed into your class page, which will then serve as a portal to a series of other videos, either student, teacher, or 3rd party created.  Student inquiry and presentation can thus become an avenue for other students’ inquiry.  Challenge your students to help others choose to go deeper.

Suggested Uses:

  • have your students create and share choose your own adventure reports
  • link student videos together into one single embeddable video
  • create a video with links to various other YouTube videos for students to explore
  • create a single video entry point for your Flipped Classroom videos.  This way ‘distractions’ will be meaningful tangents to learn from.

Empowering Students to Leave a Legacy

Originally posted on InquireWithin.
How can we create the desire to inquire? That is a hard issue to grapple with (and worthy of much inquiry by educators), but I’m sure that: 1) it’s not grades, and 2) there’s no silver bullet to get students motivated to dig deeper and extend their own learning.  However, I think one great way to create deep motivation for some learners is encouraging them to leave a legacy.
Mathtrain.tv a site “for kids, by kids” is one example of students leaving a legacy.  Teacher Eric Marcos has his students create and upload math tutorial videos to teach other students.
The true beauty of Mathtrain.tv though, is not so much the videos to replace your own teaching, as it is the idea of empowering students to teach their peers.  Alan November’s TEDxNYED Talk (well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it) highlights the importance of students leaving a legacy, and he uses Mathtrain.tv as a great example of this.
If we live in a collaborative world, why do we often wait until the work environment before we learn from others?  Why do teachers fight the system, or more likely just ignore it? Who knows, but I sure think Alan November and Eric Marcos have something worth listening to.  Never underestimate the power of a motivated student.  Personally, I’m committed to tapping into that motivation, even if it means sacrificing my own ideas about how something should be taught.

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 TED.com 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!