Friday, 25 April 2014

Let me google that for you!

Last week I attended the GAFE summit in Sydney.

The summit was held over two days with an introduction by Jim Sill and keynote presentations by Suan Yeo, Jennie Magiera and Chris Betcher. Throughout the days, there were lots of workshops to choose from in order to develop skills depending on your interest area.

I have to admit, I was quite apprehensive about attending the summit. For those who know me, there is no question of my passion for Mathematics. There is also no question of my passion to discover things that are going to improve the engagement and learning of my students. 

So I walked onto the grounds of the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Croydon, thinking that I was going to be way out of my depth, with all these amazing educators who know so much more about google than I do.

I am pleased to say, that I felt comfortable the whole time. I saw that there were so many others who are just starting their GAFE journey like me. There was such a positive, dynamic feel to the two days. All the presenters, for the workshops that I attended, were very engaging and were incredible in their support of our learning goals. It was so great to be around so many like minded educators, who are facing the same challenges that I am. It was very clear, that the focus of everyone there, was our students, not technology. 

I was motivated, inspired and challenged. I can't wait to start using some of the things that I have learnt, and to reassess some of the things that I have always done. For those of you who get the opportunity to attend a GAFE summit in the future, I totally recommend you go. Don't sit back and think that you don't know enough about technology to go. When you get there, you soon realise it is less about technology and more about student engagement and strategies to increase independent learning for our students.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

What's the chance of that?

I had been working on probability with my year 8 class. We had spent a few lessons looking at theoretical probability, so I thought it was time my students had the opportunity to see the results of experimental probability.

I took in my supply of dice and cards and set the students to work.
For the more traditional dice, the students were asked to record what number was rolled.
For other dice they were asked to record if they rolled a prime or composite number.
Or if the number they rolled was 10 or less or greater than 10.
 Whether the number rolled was odd or even

For the cards, some were asked to record whether the card selected was red or black, what suit was selected, or whether it was a picture card or not.
Some students also demonstrated their great shuffling skills.

I did this activity in the second period of a double, last period of the day. It worked well to keep the students engaged and provided an opportunity for them to see probability in a practical sense.

Investigating Directed Numbers.

My students were grouped into pairs. They were given an investigation to conduct, which related to a practical application of directed numbers. These included looking at time, temperature, sea–level and golf.
They were given some time to complete their investigations. Then they had to share their findings with the others in their group who investigated other contexts. The task included completing questions to demonstrate a relationship and then using their iPads to research further.
Students worked in collaboration, and were able to demonstrate their understanding of directed numbers to their peers. By completing this activity, students were able to see the relevance of directed numbers to real life situations.

At the end of the topic, the students were given an opportunity to compete against each other in a card challenge. Using the cards from ace(1) to ten(10), black being positive and red being negative, the aim was to be the closest to a target amount.
They selected two cards...
multiplied them together...

then recorded their result. Whoever was closest to the target number was the winner. It was the best of 5 for each round.

By completing this activity, students were able to consolidate their understanding of directed numbers in an engaging way.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Discovery!

I was starting a unit on circle geometry. I decided to give my students the opportunity to discover the circle theorems for themselves, rather than me just "teaching" them. I entered my year 11 class all excited, ready to enjoy the moment when my students discovered some great relationships associated with circles. 
When I explained to my class what we were doing for the triple lesson that we had, I was surprised at their response. They were resistant to the idea, they saw it as a waste of time and wanted me to just go through the theorems for them. After some very persuasive arguments on my behalf, which they all agreed were very valid, they then started the activity.
I shared with each of my students on google drive a geogebra file for each of the circle theorems. 
They were to go into each file and follow the instructions given and then record what they thought the theorem was in their own words. 
As they were working through the activity, I think they finally realised why I was so passionate about them doing it, and why I thought it was the best use of this time. After the discovery lesson, we then went through each theorem and formalised them using the correct terminology. I was happy with the responses the students gave, which showed they had gained a lot from the discovery lesson.
At the end of the unit, I gave the students an opportunity to consolidate their understanding of the circle theorems by using a cut and paste activity. 
They were given a sheet with the circle theorems and the diagrams all mixed up. They had to cut them out and glue the correct picture with its corresponding theorem.
One student commented as a joke "miss, this is such a waste of time". This was his referral back to their initial reaction to the discovery lesson.
That first lesson was not just a discovery lesson for my students, but a big one for me. I realised that my students are relying too much on their teachers to deliver them content that they are too afraid to make discoveries themselves. This has made me rethink what I am doing, and has made me more aware about offering all my students opportunity to discover things and become more independent learners.