Tag Archives: math

Disrupting the Classroom Norm

You know that feeling that you want to write about your first week of school to document it and yet you don’t want to do it. But I have to tell myself over and over that there is only one first week of school for the year. This first week of school is very special because this year, I have my own class, my very own class as a permanent teacher!

Now, does that make it more valid to be worth writing about?

A few weeks before the new school year started, Twitter has been overflowing with back-to-school ideas. Three of them I picked in particular to get me started: Play-Doh activity found in Teach Like A Pirate book by Dave Burgess, Youcubed.org videos by Dr. Jo Boaler, and 5 Questions to Ask Your Students by George Couros.

Here’s my learning at the end of the week.

Using Play-Doh on the first day of school lessened the anxiety of students. It made the atmosphere more relaxed. Grade 4-5 students were surprised to see a Play-Doh on a plate waiting for them. A new student actually wrote about it on her “Highlights of the Week.”

It’s interesting to see some students struggled in deciding what to make to represent themselves while other exactly knew what to do. This activity gave me an opportunity to learn about them right away.

With Dr. Jo Boaler and her students sharing their love for math in a video for students to watch, how can this be not worth a try? I had the youcubed.org posters printed off and laminated. Another poster from Ikea coincide with the idea of making mistakes. Only after 4 days of school, I hear my students saying that math is not about speed. It’s more about depth. They are more open to making mistakes and keep on trying which was visible when they did the Stack-A-Red-Cup Challenge. So far, we worked on 3 word problems from the University of Waterloo. Then, topped it up with a card game on place value which they truly enjoyed.

The classroom norm, we asked the students about classroom expectations during the first week of school. With George Couros’ list, we asked them about the qualities they look for in a teacher, their passion, their question for the year, their strengths and what success looks like to them. I took the risk and gave them this questionnaire and am so glad I did. It gave me an insight of who they are beyond the classroom. I’m going to put them in a chart and see what’s common and what’s different.

I also want to open that window for parents and guardians to get a peek of our learning beginning the first week. On Friday, students came home with the Parent Invite to connect to our class through Seesaw. Out of 24, 10 are already connected. They can listen, watch or see what’s taking place which can be a good starting point of conversation at home. When they ask their child, “How’s school?” The one word response “good” won’t be enough.

Highlights of Our Week
Trust. A Safe Place. Respect. Like any human being, we would like to be around people that we trust. We would like to be in a place where we feel safe and individual differences are respected. This is the kind of environment that we try to build at the beginning of a new school year. For four days that they’ve been coming to school with smiles on their faces, I know we are on our way. It will take time for some but we will get there!

This is a new journey for me. I’m opening myself to take more risks to better myself in the classroom, make mistakes and learn with my students, collaborate more, share what I know and learn much more with and from other educators.

Lastly, a question I’d like to ask you, “How’s your first week of school?”




Tips and Tricks of Using Seesaw From Our #SeesawChat

#SeesawChat: 12th May 2016

“There are so many new things out there about what technology and how to use it in the classroom. I am not really comfortable using it.” This is a common statement among educators who are not comfortable infusing technology into the classroom. Very true. It can really be overwhelming. If I ask a couple of teachers, they will come up with at least 5 different apps they use in class.

This is what I tell them, “I am quite comfortable using technology in the classroom but will never catch up with every new tool out there. I remind myself, use one as it fits.”

Here’s one that caught my attention last summer and was able to delve into it more a few days ago by taking the training to be a Seesaw Ambassador.

My first #SeesawChat with fellow educators brought saw many ideas that I would like to share in this post. Both teachers and students are capturing and documenting the learning that takes place in school.

Spelling via Mrs. St. John’s Class

Capturing progress on IEP Goals via Heather Gauck

Genius Hour via Miss Zeisler

Reader’s Response via Jess Ische

Math via Miss Elikwu

Assessment via Traci Piltz

Text Features via Joni Quintavalle

Math via myself courtesy of Mrs. S MathTechLearnCentre class

Health via Traci Wood

Oral Reporting via Jennifer Sanders

Interactive QR Code via Emily Corrigan

Retelling via Miss Knutson’s Class

Word Connections via Mrs. Gadtke

Science via Ryan Wiggins

Expect more collections on how to enhance students learning through the use of Seesaw and other apps as I continue to explore this digital road.

At one point, I read a line that somehow goes like this, “If you’re doing something great that no one knows, then, there’s not much greatness in what you’re doing.” Share the love. Feel free to add to this list below.








1, 2, 3, Blow!

A slice of measurement for the Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 22.

One of my favourite topics in math is measurement. There are just so many fun things to do using non-standard and standard units.

Instead of doing everything that’s planned for today, students were given the time to finish their Easter egg symmetry and math measurement activity that they started working on yesterday.

Before they headed off to Music at the end of the day, we read a short story titled, Measurement Day. It’s about the different activities that students brainstormed that they can do on Measurement Day in the gym. One of them was Blowing Feather. They were all ears while I was reading the story. Why not do one of them?

There was no feather in the classroom but crepe papers. I cut a small piece from each colour: green, purple, pink, fuchsia. The class was divided into 4 groups of 4. Two metre sticks were laid on the carpet as starting point. The distance of each paper will be measured from the starting point to where it will land using a ruler (cm). One member from each group every turn. 1, 2, 3, Blow!

It’s a spur of the moment simple math activity and yet, students were so engaged during the learning process. Who would have thought?


Beyond Numbers

A reflection for A Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 3.

There are a lot of talk about numeracy in the classroom for the past few years now. Do we get away from the worksheets? Do we get away from asking our students to memorize the multiplication facts? How effective is the Mad Minute practice?

I am a product of these old school of learning and mastering math. Probably, most of us are. If I think about it now, there’s not much access to technology during those times. Maybe, that’s why. Most lessons depended on textbooks and workbooks. Not even worksheets.

Slowly, I am veering towards that direction of number talk, asking students the proper questions that would lead to deeper thinking and understanding, providing more real life word problems in order for them to make connections, focusing on the process rather than getting the correct answer. Instead of giving the students worksheets that would give the same answers to all 20+ of them, games are doing the trick to master the basics.

Not knowing that they are trying to master some facts, they are into it. As I see it happening more, what really is clicking to me beyond numbers during these types of activities is human interaction. This is like hitting two birds with one stone.

With technology within their reach, they can do things without face-to-face interaction with their peers but with these exercises, one requirement is to be there physically. Through board games, dice, playing cards, dominoes, to name a few, they are also learning how to play fair, accept defeat but value the fun, cooperate, be honest and inclusive, and resolve problems on their own. They are learning how to interact with humans who have emotions that can get hurt, who know how to appreciate and who are capable to care for each other.

All the academics that we are trying to teach, at the end of them all, we would like these young citizens to grow as responsible and caring people of our society. That they do not just sympathize but empathize.

Any new skill that requires the mind can be learned at any point in time. What the heart requires should start while its young.