Thursday, 23 June 2016

Logic Puzzles used for Problem Solving

A couple of years ago I received a Christmas gift from a student of mine.  It was one of those desk calendars where you remove a page a day.  This one in particular was titles Brain Games.  It has a bunch of different types of puzzles in it that are supposed to be done fairly quickly.  I tried to start my day doing a few of them in the morning before the day started and found a few of the puzzles quite interesting.  One morning , one of the many students in the my class came to ask me a question and saw that I was working on a sudoku puzzle and asked if they could help.  Since I was pretty busy anyway, I told them to finish it for me.  Well then it began, I didn't know it at the time but giving that student the puzzle lead to a fun part of the class that encourages problem solving and logical thinking.   When that student went back to finish the puzzle it lead to about 5 more students asking if they can do a sudoku as well.  I showed them the calendar and said I only had the one copy but I would find some more and hand them out later.  The next day when I got to school I went and photocopied the next puzzle which was a Binary puzzle.  I put them on the students desks and told them to try this one while I take attendance.  I was expecting students to finish within ten minutes and then we would move on with the day.  They stayed focused on the puzzle for about 45 minutes, coming up to ask me if the answer was correct and then going back to review and find the errors to try again.  I was amazed at how focused they were and how they were used some basic problem solving strategies to try to solve it.  On that day, nobody solved the puzzle and we had to move on to another commitment.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

CUEBC 2015 - ProD

So Professional Development is always an interesting day.  The chance to learn how to make our practice better.  With so many options it is often challenging to choose what to do.  The problem for me is often this question, With so many fads in education it is tough to choose what will be productive.  Pressure gets put on to attend different Development days and often they make little or no impact on my teaching.

This year I chose CUEBC  to attend and enjoyed it thoroughly.  I have been to this conference before but was disappointed the last time I went so it has been a few years.  In my class I am thinking of trying to have students start coding and wanted to have some resources or structure to set this up.  My day brought me a few things I can honestly say I am excited about.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Holiday Feast - Math Project

Heading into the holiday season is a great time to motivate students.  There are many ways that allow students to realize that the holiday season my be fun but can be costly.  In this project I have the students completely plan a holdiay dinner event.  I have them organize and cost out the entire day including figuring out the taxes that are incurred.  Here is the criteria that I am using this year.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Geometry in our World - Middle School Math Project

So I have taught middle school math for many years and one of my goals is always to try to make
connections for the students.  Allow them to realize the importance of mathematics in the creation of our world as well as our current lives.  I have tried a few times to create projects around math in the everyday world and have always felt like they fell flat.  Students seemed to always struggle with the concept of math in our world.  Somehow the Fibanacci Sequence comes out and students become fixated and confused by the aspects of it.  They just could never really build the connection and learn anything. 

This year I decided to try once again, with my head held high and expectations booming to see what I could do with this topic.  I wanted the students to see the beauty of how math has shaped our lives.  I decided to change the focus from all math to just Geometry in our World.  This is a project that I actually had ongoing throughout the entire first term.    I gave them four general topics and allowed them to choose a theme for each topic.  They then had to find out what they could about the topic in that theme and give me 4 examples of their findings.

Here is the link to the criteria: Geometry in our world

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Supporting a Family Math project brought back

I  that I posted this project a few months ago, but now is actually the time to try it with your class.  It is quite a fun project and builds a nice understanding of how much the Christmas season costs for parents.  I am not sure that students truly understand it.  I am actually doing this project myself this year and will be taking the students to the local mall so that they can do some research on prices for things that they want that are not actually in flyers.  The students are very excited about this and we couldn't have a better energy going into a math assignment.  Anyway here is the link back to my original post.

and here is the link to the assignment at my tpt store:

I hope a few people try out the project because it is definitely worthwhile.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Math Project - Designing your Backyard

When working on Measurement, project ideas are abundant.  There are so many things you can do with it to make it real for the students.  Here is an idea that fits right in.  This may have been one of the first math projects I ever did and the students really enjoyed it.  I basically had the kids design what they would like their backyard to look like.  There of course are certain criteria that the students had to put in but I also allowed them to add whatever they wanted into it.  You could extend this and have them try to figure out the cost, in fact I did it once but my students had a difficult time with it.  Now with more and more access to online research in the class the students can find information on cost a lot easier.

In this I had the students work on graph paper to make my marking a lot easier and I have seen other teachers have them do it on graph style chart paper which really brought the design out. Here is the criteria that I set out for them.
You can have the word document here if you don't want to copy and paste.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cribbage in the Class

I am lucky enough to have a lot of freedom with the students that I teach.  I teach a group of gifted students all day long.  I am supposed to try to challenge the students in a variety of ways.  Students bring in laptops, tablets and Ipods and they try to stay connected to them all day long.  My partner and I decided that we want our students to learn about things that are not necessarily technology based.  We have started with gaming in the class.  Our original goal was to have the kids learn a game and make them communicate with each other.  We started by asking how many students knew how to play the game.  Out of the 53 students we teach, we had 2 students who even heard of it before.  In our mind , it is a good start because when teaching gifted students it is often hard to find things that they have not investigated.  I quickly put together an research investigation so that they could begin to learn terminology, rules and strategy.  The students started with a bit of a groan!  I also went out and started buying crib boards so that we had enough for the students.  I found a dollar store that sold them for $5 and bought enough for the class to play partner cribbage.  Decks of cards from the local casino also helped keep the cost down as well.  Once the students understood the basic rules and I had some boards, it was time to play.  Observing became quite interesting in the class once they started.  Here is what I noticed:

Friday, 13 September 2013

Revamping Science Class

Another year has started and it is time to take a look at what I do in the class.  I have taught grade 6/7 Science for the last few years and have dutifully just followed the text books and topics laid out for me.  I have added nice experiments and activities and tried to make the class enjoyable and informative.  Last year I was working with a grand total of 8 text books for my 2 classes and students were frustrated by not having the access they wanted to the book.  I began straying away from the text more often.  Resources in the school for experiments are shared and with our school getting larger it is harder to share.  The whole school works on an A/B year system with all the classes separating when you have your chance to use the resources.  Unfortuately with my style of teaching I don't always fit in with these types of schedules.  This year we are supposed to move on to the grade 7 curriculum.  Well I didn't even go to see where the textbooks are.  Instead I decided to try something new. 

My friend and fellow teacher gave me a book a few years bakc called, "A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe" by Micheal S. Schneider. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Desk organization

Last year I had a student who was very disorganized.  We tried different techniques to try to keep his papers in order but was not very successful.  He listened to me and tried the techniques that I gave him but nothing seemed to ever get in his binder.  His desk was a disaster of papers and materials all stuffed in.  Near the end of the year I sat down with him and we discussed how to be better organized.  This time though he looked at me and said, I know how to be more organized, just find me the top of a box.  The ones that are on top of the photocopy papers and I will be more organized.
I looked at him suspiciously and said okay , I will see what I can find.  The next day I brought in the box top and asked him to show me how this will work.  He put his binder and materials into the box top and put the box into the desk.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Superstars - Role Models and traits

With September near I guess I must start thinking about school again.  So here we go.  A nice way to start the year is to have the students think about the type of year they want.  With this project I get them to think about role models.  Who are the role models in our society and who are their personal role models.  I start by have the students think about the role models in society whether it be politicians, or athletes or any other role model.  We then brainstorm traits that those people have in common that make them role models.  What are some traits that make a good role model?

Next I have them decide who are some of the role models that they personally have (parents, brothers, teachers, actors etc.)  I then ask them to write down the traits that those people have that they admire.  The students are asked to have reasons why that person is a role model.  For example I had a male student who named Megan Fox as his role model because she is "hot".  He then had to come up with other reasons and prepare for a paragraph and discovered that Megan Fox was not really his role model.  Through some discovery though he found out about some of the charity work that she does which opened his eyes a bit.  I also had a student who chose a celebrity from a show he liked and after some research he found out the person wasn't as good of a role model as his grandfather who demonstrated many of the traits he found important. 

There are many character traits lists online but here is one that I have used :

For fun I have the students then get a picture of their role model and they will use it to become that person.  At the beginning of each year I take pictures of all my students and so they combine the two pictures using their head and the persons body.  If you enlarge the head a bit you can make it look like a bobblehead and the effect is quite fun.  The student design a background that would be suitable and write a paragraph about why this person is a superstar in their mind.  I display this on the wall of the classroom and the students really enjoy it. 

I have also extended this project by adding a goal setting component where the students use the traits that they think are important to make short term and long term goals.

If I can find some previous examples in my room I will post them.  Hope you enjoy.