COETAIL Project Reflection

Last week was Khan Academy-style Video Making Week in my two grade 7 math classes (otherwise known as KAVMW. j/k) The students were given two 55 minute periods to make a video that teaches a concept/skill that they have learnt this year in math class. The video was to be no longer than three minutes in duration and was to be of a similar style to the videos up on Khan Academy. (In fact, the latter was really a non-requirement as the app we used, ShowMe, only makes videos in a Khan Academy-style.)

Here’s the link to the UbD planner and assessment rubric for this unit. (They’re not quite finished yet.)

One of the big questions I need to ask myself is, in this unit, does the use of technology reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model? That is, in this unit, does the use of technology allow for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable?

In my last post, SAMR Model Revisited, I discussed two fairly straightforward uses of technology that reach the redefinition level of the SAMR Model: using technology to enable collaboration and publishing media to social media sites. In this unit, students are publishing their videos to the social media site, ShowMe. There, the videos have a real audience, potentially in the thousands. So, yes, the use of technology in this unit does reach the redefinition level.

It’s worth pointing out here that a use of technology that scores redefinition level today may not and probably will not score redefinition level in a few years time. All uses of technology slowly slide down the SAMR Model.

Stay tuned for part two of this reflection.

Image Credits:

  • Untitled by me

Weighing Up My Project Options

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog – roughly two months I think. Anyway, it’s good to be back.

In the style of my other posts, let’s get straight into it.

Over the past week, my project has undertaken some major changes. (It feels really good to be blogging again, by the way.)

Originally, my plan was to have my grade 7 math students make imperial to metric converters (and vice versa) using Google Forms. Next, the students would embed their converters into either their own blog or into the class blog.

I feel this task would score quite high on the SAMR model, as the use of technology is transforming the task itself. In fact, this task would be impossible to complete without the use of technology.

Students would also be learning how to use Google Docs and WordPress – two things I’m a big fan of.


But then some time this week, a better idea came to me – have the students make short two minute tutorials using ShowMe on their iPads and then upload them to some video sharing site. The plan is to then embed these videos in a site called Kids Academy, which has yet to be set up.

I’d like the students to make a video, or a couple, on something they’ve learnt in Math since the start of the school year – operations with negatives, HCF and LCM, prime factorisation, and sequences are topics they’ve learnt about thus far this year.

This idea scores high on the SAMR model too, in my opinion, as the use of technology in the task transforms the task itself.

I also really like the idea of this Kids Academy site – a site where kids can teach other kids (and no doubt adults too) practically anything.

Anyway, it’s been good getting these thoughts down on blog.

Any comments and/or questions, please leave below.

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Course Reflection

Final Project
Next academic year, I’m intending to do a number of flipped classroom lessons and Dan Meyer-esque lessons with my two grade 7 math classes. Considering flipped classroom lessons require videos and Dan Meyer-esque lessons require “visuals” (as he calls it), I decided to make a blog, for my final project, that would house all this media… and add to it a couple of posts.

Before I forget, here is the link to the grade 7 math blog. Please note that most of the posts on the blog are works in progress.

Dan Meyer-esque Lessons

Dan Meyer brilliantly observed that math textbooks, or rather the chapters in math textbooks, are laid out in the wrong order. The order is this:

  1. Structure
  2. Visual
  3. Question

He thought the order should be more like this:

  1. Visual
  2. Question
  3. Structure

So what I’ve done is created a number of posts which deal with the 1 and 2 of Dan’s order. It is my intention to introduce the structure when, and only when, the students understand what it is the visual is communicating and what it is the question is asking.

One Step Further
I’m thinking of taking Dan’s order one step further and letting students create their own visuals… and even their own questions.

If you go to the blog and, in particular, take a look at the posts dealing with bearings, you’ll see a couple of maps I’ve created followed by a question. Why not let the students do this?

The Adjusted Order

  1. Visual (by student)
  2. Question (by student)
  3. Structure

Fantasy Footy in the Classroom

What I’ve Been Reading:

This Week’s Question:

  • Write a blog post reflecting on your understanding of reverse instruction, game-based learning, or play and how how it applies to your curricular area, grade level, and own theory on technology in the classroom.

When I first thought of the idea, it made me have a little chuckle. Fantasy football in the classroom? You’ve got to be dreaming, Jamie. Indeed, I thought the idea was that chuckle-worthy that I slipped it into a few of the conversations I’ve had of recent with fellow COETAILers and teachers from my school.

But, in all seriousness, is there a place for fantasy football (or fantasy footy as we Australians like to call it) in the classroom? In particular, the math classroom?

Red Football - The 365 Toy Project

Let’s take a look at some of the knowledge/skills that one reenforces by being a member of the fantasy football community. (This is by no means an exhaustive list.)

Interpreting Statistics
I wouldn’t say statistics are at the centre of fantasy football, because the real game is. Statistics are that layer that wraps around the centre. That doesn’t sound right. What I’m trying to say is, statistics are central to fantasy football. They are what drive it. To master fantasy football, you need to first master the statistics. Point averages, point projections, break evens, estimated price fluctuations, trades remaining, cash in bank, you name it.

Weighing Up Options
Understanding what these statistics mean is the easy part. Things get tough when one of your players gets sidelined for six weeks with an injury forcing you to trade him out and bring in someone new. Do you upgrade? That is, do you use some of the cash you have safely stored away to upgrade to an even better player? Or do you downgrade to a lesser player and in the process generate a little bit of cash?

Was that the right move or wasn’t it? Should have I used two trades or just one? (You’re only given 24 trades to burn over the 19 week competition.) Should have I gone with that player or not? Should have I upgraded or downgraded? These and many more are the questions each fantasy football coach asks themselves in the days succeeding a weekend of footy.

So, fantasy football in the classroom. What do you think?

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Mathematical Concepts Through Images

What I’ve Been Reading:

I’ve been putting off this post for a long time.

I’ve never used images in my teaching before; nor have I, before, really considered using images in my teaching. So, because of this, it was tough to get started on this post.


The following animation I came across one day on Wikipedia when I was reading about pi. It demonstrates the relationship between diameter, circumference and pi………. very effectively.

This (the relationship between diameter, circumference and pi), from my experience, is something students have trouble understanding/visualising.

The current book we’re using in class doesn’t do a great job of explaining this relationship. And, to make things harder for the students, I too have a tough time explaining it.

It’s (the animation) something I’m definitely going to use next school year when I teach area of a circle again.

The next image, I’m planning to use when I teach functions again next school year.

In many ways, a function is comparable to a machine (or at least this type of machine) (and by the way, I have no idea what this machine does.) They both take an input. They both do things to this input. And, finally, they both give an output.

I might need to photoshop input and output arrows into the image. Input on the left and output on the right. I might also need to photoshop a function into the image (just above the machine) so that students better understand the analogy.

Image Credits:

Infographics in the Classroom

What I’ve Been Reading:

I really like this infographic. One reason is because, more so than other infographics I’ve come across, it communicates its dataset effectively. At a glance, you can clearly see the regression of Palestine over the decades.

This infographic, on the other hand, while having a nice design, fails at communicating its dataset effectively (in my opinion). To learn anything about Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, I really need to examine the infographic.

The data behind the second infographic appears to be unrelated, a random bunch of statistics, and maybe it’s harder (I’m guessing it is) to communicate all this effectively in a single infographic.

Back to the Point
In my grade seven math class, currently, we’re learning about functions, plotting functions, gradients and y-intercepts.

I was thinking, once the students have learnt about positive and negative gradients, a nice exercise might be to give them an infographic, like the one above (the one of Palestine), and have them plot the data.

The exercise could be extended by asking the students to find the equation of the resulting slope or line. (I might need to remind them before they start the exercise that their graphs need to be linear.)

I’m thinking, the complete opposite or the complete reverse could happen also: students are given a plotted function and then asked to go ahead and make an infographic that represents this data.

Second Idea
I haven’t really given this idea much thought. At least, not as much as the idea above.

A very relevant infographic exercise/project for my students (and for other international school students in Japan) would be to develop an infographic that shows Japan’s declining population.

At first, I thought the exercise/project would be best suited to geography. But now, I’m thinking it could work in math and technology too.

It could even become a cross-curricular project where, for example, students are given time in geography class to gather the data (and make sense of it) and then given time in technology class to create the graphic.

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