I like to try new things in the classroom. In the past 3 years I’ve embraced social media in the education space, bedded down Inquiry-based learning sequences that encourage broader thinking and collaborative skills and also taken a leaf from primary educators and made my classroom more ‘interactive’.
It hasn’t always been successful, mind you!
This page is where I share those ideas. Some are raw – straight out of my head. Others are better developed and have been through a number of iterations. Many are similar to others’ ideas and, where possible, these will be attributed.
Enjoy – because I certainly have!
This activity comes from alutwyche on TES – and was a real hit with my Year 10 Pre-Methods class (15 year-old advanced Math students). We have been looking at Statistics – mean, median, mode into Box Plots, Standard Deviation and the like. They have really taken to the topic, so I was looking for something that would bring home the connections between Math and the ‘Real World’. This activity came highly recommended on Twitter and it certainly hit the spot with my class.
In particular, the students were able to use the SlideShare as a springboard into looking at the data source and using the numbers to represent the data in different forms. This included time series plots, calculating regression lines and Pearson coefficients.
The Music Industry Trends – This is a single page document that accompanies The Music Trends SlideShare
Operation – Infinite Potential
Operation – Infinite Potential from the Jason Project is a wonderful interactive activity that I have used with my Year 11 Physics class.
The Roller Coaster activity allows you to build the coaster vehicle (and its’ colours/design!) as well as the track for the vehicle to travel along. This interactive enables students to experience the dynamic nature of Potential and Kinetic energy as well as using these concepts to determine ‘real world’ issues such as stopping distances.
This lesson also comes with an associated worksheet: Operation_Infinite_Potential_Coaster_Creator_Postlab_Worksheet
I found that my students (particularly the large cohort of males) enjoyed this activity and were able to use it as a reference point in later discussions that we had about energy transformations. The set-out of the page is also conducive to reminding students of the formulae required to evaluate both kinetic and potential energy.
The power of the written word cannot be underestimated in these days of rapid technological advances.
In order to stimulate students’ thinking and writing skills, I often include Journal Writing tasks within my Mathematics teaching.
Just recently, we have been completing an extended algebraic investigation. The task itself looks at the parabola’s traced by fireworks and the suitability of them for use at a school event.
In Mathematics, many educators (and therefore, students) miss the power of being able to verbalise their understanding. Journal tasks make students organise their thoughts on a concept – with the aide of a prompt – enabling them to see holes or gaps in their knowledge. This benefit extends to the teacher also, as they can see the same thing!
I’m really proud of a small addition that I have made to the OneNote Notebooks that my students are using to create an ePortfolio of their learning.
Over the past week I have revisited each of the topics covered in Year 7 Science and have clearly indicated the Learning Intentions of that topic. By making these clear at the start of the topic, I get the impression that my students feel more comfortable in branching out and following their interests within the boundaries of the broader topic. The power that comes from using OneNote is that I am able to make these Learning Intentions “check-boxes” which enables students to keep track of the concepts that they are comfortable with.
The next step from here is, obviously, to revisit the topic content to ensure that there is enough depth and breadth to meet the needs of a wide range of students. In some cases, increasing the complexity of application challenges within the topic will be sufficient, yet in some areas (particularly in Mathematics) it will be necessary to offer students opportunities to broaden their thinking. Differentiating curriculum in such a fashion is difficult, but made much easier by the targeted use of technology.
‘Angles Pool’ – Year 7 Angles Pool
With this task, I constructed a Billiard table out of green paper on the back wall of my classroom. The boys (I teach the all-male class in a co-educational school), loved being able to visualise the change of angles as we moved about the table.
‘How much water does Melbourne need?’
As part of a Professional Learning Team at my school, I have had the chance to implement our first iteration of a new inquiry task in Year 7 Mathematics. Focusing on the areas of decimals, percentages and fractions (yet encompassing many more) – this task is intended to give the students an opportunity to self-direct their learning.
When I first posed the ‘Big Question’ to students, I was surprised at how quickly they took to probing into the ideas behind water usage. By the completion of the first period, the students had the outline of a plan and were beginning to research some figures. Dam capacity, their family’s daily water usage, population of Melbourne – just to name a few.
Inquiry in the classroom
During the inquiry task into how much water Melbourne needs, the following skills were predominantly developed:
- Very large numbers with regards to volume. Liter, Kiloliter, Megaliter, Gigaliter, etc.
- Use of percentages
- scientific calculator usage
This task has progressed exceptionally well! To provide evidence of learning, I have asked the students to produce a write-up of their journey through the different tasks. This ‘Project Diary’ includes the following components:
– Students are to articulate the approach that they are using on the task as if their audience did not have a mathematics background and did not have a computer (to view the task). This involves/requires the use of diagrams, neat handwriting, correct mathematical layout/working and sentences to articulate solutions in the correct context.
– To support a gentle move toward establishing a ‘flipped’ mathematics classroom, I have directed students to the Big Ideas Math website (http://www.bigideasmath.com/students/) for homework and for in-class support. This site has video tutorials (for Windows and Mac) that the students can use to learn the skills required to solve each task. This has been particularly useful for tasks that involved Pythagoras’ Theorem and circle/semi-circle areas. An added bonus to this aspect was the availability of 9 class iPads which were set up at a central ‘station’ for quick video checks of the relevant methodologies.
– The final component of the ‘Project Diary’ involved a reflection on the students’ learning for the day and their prospective tasks for the next lessons. In this section, students were asked to briefly articulate what they learned during the task, what challenges that they faced and what they were looking at achieving in the next session. Being an all-male class, this also served to remind them where they were up to!