Educ 415 Blog

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Giving the power of their own learning to the students.

I chose this post for a couple reasons.  One, I am a big believer in exit slips and two, I think it is very important to put students in control of their own learning.  This post made a few things click in my head.  I have always thought of exit slips as a formative assessment tool, that were more use to me (the teacher) than they were to students who filled them out.  But John’s post changed my opinion a bit.  I still think exit slips are a great way for the teacher to know where his/her students are at, but they also work to let the student know where they are at with their learning.  I can envision scenarios where, because a student filled out an exit slip, they may be more likely to come in for extra help, or ask an extra question next class because their exit slip showed less than perfect understanding on the pervious topic. Any learning responsibility that can be put on the student is great, I think it makes them more responsible, engaged, and even if they may still struggle in class, they will get to know themselves better. I wonder if I had experiences like this in school when I was younger if I would have understood and valued my own personal learning preferences before my 3rd year on university, when my love of learning really started to expand and explode.


Spot for a voice, a spot for a bit of fun.


I love this idea of the quote of the week.  I will definitely be stealing this for my classroom in the future.  I think it is important to give students some sense of ownership of the board space to the class, or it is just the white board of doom, and homework.  How many classrooms only have space to write homework as there only permanent reserved space on the board?  I think it’s little things like this that help build relationships with your students, and plus you can have a bit of fun.  


Short reflection, but short topic.  

Flying by the seat of your pants…..

This was a great story and it made me smile thinking about of class of little mathletes (or more likely a few mathletes and most not), coming up with their own question and then figuring out how to solve it.  This is what we all dream of in math class, or at least I do.  

My reflection will not be on the actual story itself but on the last sentence: “On the block, there were 70 minutes remaining, which if Miss Nowak can’t adjust on the fly her treatment of parallel lines cut by a transversal to fit in 70 minutes, one should feel free to question her qualifications.”

I have always felt the flexibility and the ability to come up with new things or modifications on the fly are an underrated part of teaching.  It does not get talked about very much during PDP, nor emphasized like some of the other qualities.  Teachable moments, or in K8’s case a moment to sit back and listen, come up all the time in class and teachers need to be able to react to the moment.  The teachable moment needs to be dealt with, usually off the top of your head, and then the lesson needs to be reworked after the moment has passed.  I have also had situations where I could tell rather quickly that my lesson plan was not working, and had to re-think activities or methods of delivery on the spot.  I like to think that this is a strong part of my teaching abilities, and I think I had a successful practicum because of it. 

Changing texts for the better.

This is awesome problem to give students as a more interesting way to include graphing or algebra or problem solving. I really like how he incorporated a logical thinking pattern into the whole problem. He started with a problem with no known solution for the kids….. ‘here’s an accident, how can we know how fast the person was going?’

I didn’t pick this blog to reflect on because of how much I like the problem, but because of how much I like how he modified a problem from the text. I generally give textbooks a hard time for having superficial, poorly laid out problems but I rarely have a issue with the topic or ideas in the problems or ‘explorations’. After reading this blog I will look at textbook problems, explorations, or labs(science) a bit differently. Sometimes it is difficult to think of ‘fun’ or engaging activities or ideas to teach topics but using the text as a spring board might work out great in many situations. Dan was able to take a procedural problem that lacked exploration, imagination and deep thought, and he was able to turn it into a fun lesson that required creativity, conceptual understanding and reasoning.

“A teacher who can be replaced by a computer should be.” – Sugata Mitra

I have recently had a few conversations with friends about the future of teaching and teachers in general.   l love the quote that Matt used at the end of this post (which is now my title), it perfectly describes my thoughts, and conversation conclusions recently.  

Ideas like the flipped classroom seem to have provided so people with the idea that classroom teaching is on the way out.  But I agree with Matt, teachers are in the business of relationship building first, teaching comes second and is much easier if the relationship is solid.  

Sorry this is a shorter reflection this week, I just wasn’t really inspired to write about any of Matt’s other posts.  

Power of Patterns

I choose this post because I find myself having problems explaining and conceptualizing ‘easy’ math concepts (by easy I mean concepts that I have been doing for so long I do not remember learning them, subtraction, addition, multiplication, division, negatives etc.).  I was TOCing in a grade one class and I was to teach them about subtraction.  The class had no problem with 8-3, but as soon as I asked 18-13 the class was at a loss.  Finally student said ‘it’s 5’, I said ‘thats correct, how did you get that?’ the student said ‘I don’t know 18-13 is 5, that’s the answer.’  I struggled with her in trying to find a way to explain her thinking.  My brain does not have a conscious step by step process when it comes to simple subtraction, how can I explain my thinking to the grade ones.  

The use of patterns in the blog post to explain the concept of negative numbers is great.  Starting with things that are ‘too easy’ can be a risky proposition (as you can lose some of kids before you reach the ‘light bulb moment’), but I think it can really work with younger grades K-8.    I really appreciate Julie’s hate for math rules….. It sucks the life and fun out of math.  I don’t think ‘rules’ lead to conceptual understandings, rules are boring and rules are “made to be broken.”  

Oh how I love space……..


I had to pick this post for two reasons: 1) I love space, all things space, or solar system, space travel, the universe etc. 2) I love Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  But after picking this post for those two reasons I found what a fun activity this would be.  I really like the idea of using predictions to set up problems, it think students can learn so much when they have to try and figure something out with out much help/knowledge.  It also gives the kids something to think back on after the math is done, it gives them instant feedback to how their thinking and knowledge of the problem has changed.  This lesson could be so much more though, I was thinking it could be done as an in-class project.   The students would be told they have a 5m diameter sun and they have the rest of the class to make a planet that is the correct size (proportionally), they would also have to say how far from the 5m sun it would be.  This lesson could teach several skills and it could be a lot of fun.  


Assessment is hard enough concept for me to get my head around.  Reassessment is something I have given very little thought to because initial assessment is giving enough thoughts.  But I absolutely love this idea I having students apply for reassessment.  There are many things I like about this idea:

1) It takes effort to apply for reassessment, so students should and would (I think) take it seriously.  

2) In an application (like the one set up on Sam’s blog), students would have to show me what they have learned or worked on, since the initial assessment.  

3) Students will have ownership of setting up a time to be reassessed.  

4) It may eliminate the test-fail, re-test-fail scenario.  Where I student hasn’t learned anything since the first test but come in for the retest anyways.  Which is a waste of everyone’s time (mine, and the students). 

I love reading these blogs and am struggling not to spend hours flipping through them all (I have other things I need to do….. haha).  I am going to try something like this as soon as I get a chance to, it really puts students in charge of their own learning.  It also helps students know where they are and where they are going, assessment through the concept of navigation!

Avoiding the teaching Plateau

This blog post really hit home with me.  I, like Micheal, have noticed that I have hit plateaus in life outside of the educational context.  I am an avid snowboarder, but I have noticed that I am not really getting any better over the last couple years.  This is because I do not go enough to get over the plateau on my skill level, I have not engaged in ‘hard practice’, I just show up at the mountain and ride I have no systematic approach.  I have found the same in volleyball, I have reached a skill level where without training harder and smarter I will not get any better.  In both these sports I have plateaued and consequently they are not as much fun as they used to, I sill do both sports and have a great time but since my skills are not improving at the same rate as they once were I have found my self to be complacent.  This is something I need to avoid in my teaching career as I believe I have a good skill set to start with but I can’t allow complacency slip into my practice.  I like Micheal idea of a systematic approach to ‘practice’.  I will keep a daily log to chart the daily pros but most importantly the daily cons.  I also think the point of consuming good teaching is brilliant, I find that I have stolen like tricks and tactics from many good teachers from my past and I think it is a great idea to try to find some more.   Being a good teacher comes easy to me, but being a great teacher will take years of ‘hard practice’ and not allowing myself to be complacent or comfortable. 

Beyond the textbook – Meaningful resources.

This week I chose a post called beyond the textbook by Christopher Danielson called “Beyond the Textbook” from March 27th, 2013 (


This is an interesting and relevant post for me as I have been struggling with textbooks both in the classes I have taught and the classes I have taken.  I am going to break this post into three sections, the first being my experience in teaching with textbooks, the second being my experience in learning with textbooks, and lastly thoughts about Christopher Danielson’s post.  

Teaching with textbooks:  I found the stigma attached to textbooks the school I taught at interesting.  Many students were anti-text because the automatically assumed text=boring (this information I was not surprised at), I was however shocked at how many students loved the textbook and workbook.  The first evaluations I received from students in my Science 10 class there were a large number of students (7-9ish) who said they wished I used the text and workbook more.  

Learning with textbooks:  The reasons the evaluations surprised me is I like most of my students either dislike or are indifferent towards most texts.  I have found very few texts to be engaging and extremely relevant in my education career.  I also do not prefer to learn through textbook reading, but I know that not everyone prefers to learn the same ways as I do.  I have an online class this term where all of the learning is from a text and I do not like it and I am getting way less out of the text than I am from looking at other sources of information (journals, other online sources etc.).  


Thought’s on Danielson’s post:  The one sentence that really resonated with me was “So for me, it is important for us to remember that going “Beyond Textbooks” does not have to mean abandoning books, nor texts.”  This is a great point, as a teacher I need to make sure everything I do in class have relevance and is the best resource for teaching a certain topic.  If the best resource is a textbook than that is ok, but I can’t allow myself use a textbook just because it is easy or there.