Archive for the ‘Tom’s Reflections’ Category

Fun with multiple choice?


I have been frenetically finishing out my courses, prepping my MPM1D students for their EQAO asssessment, and prepping my MPM1D and MPM2D students for their final exams. Throughout January, I was using the TI-Navigator extensively. I had students submit their individual responses to multiple choice sample EQAO questions, and I could then collect, analze, and act instructionally on the patterns of their responses in real time! Incredibly powerful. I then let students discuss each item in groups of four, after which I shared their class responses and discussed the thinking that led to various responses and strategies for success. This was truly assessment AS learning. Check out my class notes posted on under MPM1D-01 and MPM2D-02. I archived our experiences in Notebook files. The discussion and learning that flowed from these lessons was incredible. I have not historically been a fan of multiple choice. The way I managed to use multiple choice instructionally the past month has really made me rethink this.

So… my last MPM2D group is writing their final exam, and they are all submitting their responses to the 20 multiple choice questions using their TI Nspire CAS handhelds connected to the TI Nspire Navigator. I am actively monitoring their progress using Class Screen Capture.

Rather than use Press to Test, I chose to send out the latest OS and delete all files on their handhelds before the exam. This way their handhelds are clean for their next semester. At the end of the exam, I will collect the file with their multiple choice responses, save it to my class portfolio, and export it to excel to analyze.

Lots of presentations coming up …

- Presentation to the Ottawa Catholic School Board at the Feb 14 board meeting
- Presentations at the T^3 International Conference in Chicago March 2nd and 3rd.

It sounds like we have an interesting focus of MPM2D, MFM2P, MCF3M teachers for semester two.

Sorry for the long absence of posts through December and January. Teaching truly has its ebbs and flows. The last two months have been incredibly crazy. Time to recalibrate and refocus for second semester:)

A lesson I am truly proud of:)


Today, my period one MPM1D class lesson was an incredibly rich learning experience for me and my students. Check the lesson out (Dec 9 Lesson 6) by opening the notes file and watching the lesson video.

Why was this lesson so amazing? Our learning goal was that students would be able to use the balance analogy to isolate a variable in a linear equation. It was incredible how it was student thinking that drove and ultimately taught the lesson. We have “Shelagh’s” approach to solving equations with fractions. We then had “Gia’s” idea that the x-intercept of y=mx+b was -b/m that was a wonderful launch pad to our lesson. Lastly, we had Jun’s idea of how to isolate y in ax+by+c=0 that prompted a student to doodle some ideas that drove the final part of the lesson. All the while, I was discreetly freezing the screen to spy on who was struggling according to my intermittent quick polls. I had an incredibly good handle on who in the class was understanding the lesson and who was struggling and was able to zoom right in on the two or three struggling students. Nowhere to hide and learning is not optional:)

Grade 9 Lesson Video


So … where is the time going? Chris and I are just beginning our final Grade 9 Unit (Symbol Sense). We met to map out the unit in terms of formative assessment opportunities the TI Nspire Navigator afforded us. We decided to focus on our intro lesson for videotaping. I taught the lesson today (video screen capture of lesson and lesson notebook file)and will debrief the lesson with Chris later today (videotaped debrief). Chris will then teach the same lesson Monday, with me videotaping the lesson. Chris and I will then debrief the lesson (videotaped debrief). We will then cobble together a video of our lesson story we will use in our upcoming Chicago T^3 International and OAME conference presentations.

I was pretty excited about how the lesson was driven by the student thinking, not the technology.

More on this in the coming days …

Nowhere to hide … not learning is not an option:)


This grade 9 lesson had me experimenting with sticking with something until I was sure everyone was on track. I used the class screen capture feature in TI-Nspire Navigator. I continuously refreshed to “see” if everyone was on task and successful. The context was a beautiful Summer Olympic data file that allowed students to build linear models for men’s and women’s gold medal winning performances over time (modern day Olympics). The task was to find, according to their linear models, when men and women might share the same 100 m times.

I began the class with our normal homework Quick Poll:

After taking up a sampling of problems from #3,7, and 19 from the homework, I sent the Olympic.tns file to the class through the TI-Nspire Navigator and modeled the 100m event for the class:

Below is a class screen capture a few minutes into the activity.

Below is a class screen capture 10 minutes into the activity that was visual evidence for me and my students, that we were all successful, and could move on:

Pretty powerful stuff! The students knew that I cared enough that they were all on track and understanding the task to not move on until we could see ALL of us were successfull. This really drove home the notion that not learning was NOT an option. Everyone could and would be successful in today’s class.

Let the reporting begin!


We had our first sharing session on Monday. Chris, Maureen, Aggie (our principal), Chelsey (student), Alley (student), and I presented to our OCSB senior executive. It was an ambitious agenda for a 15 minute session, but we were pretty pleased with the outcome. Our goal was to model what learning math felt like for our MTHS students. Each S.O. was given a TI-Nspire CAS handheld they were able to keep (thanks Len:). We had the TI-Nspire Navigator system setup and running. We modelled Quick Poll, make presenter, and class screen capture. We then shifted into a discussion on why MTHS has seen such a dramatic, sustained improvement on our Grade 9 Math EQAO scores.

We recorded a video screen capture video of the session using the SMART recorder:

Making Progress!:)


I am pretty proud of how my MPM1D lesson went today. Check out my lesson notes and video (Lesson 2).

Why am I proud?
- I kept my talking to a minimum
- I started the lesson with having the students reflect on their learning from the previous class
- The students generated the math that drove the lesson
- I had the students predict what they expected before they saw the results of their experiments
- The heart of the lesson had the students engaged with, owning, and creating their own math
- I loved how the TI-Nspire Navigator allowed me to quickly capture student-generated examples that formed their homework
- I ended the lesson with students reflecting on their learning from the lesson

I have always loved CBR2 activities. The fact that students painstakingly had collected ball bounce drop height and rebound height data by hand the class before was significant. In groups, they created scatter plots. This took a whole period. Collecting and representing data with the TI-Nspire CAS and CBR2 takes 5 seconds! The students had an appreciation for the power of what the technology was doing for them. I love the tight feedback loop that exists when students interact with this technology. They get instant feedback that they hold against their thinking, revise their thinking and then try again, and again, until things make sense to them. The Navigator made an already powerful learning experience even more effective, allowing me to capture and share “challenge” graphs the students themselves had created. The class then had to describe the motion that led to these “challenge” graphs.

Beautiful lesson. Beautiful student-engagement. Beautiful student learning. Beautiful teacher learning:)

Lesson Videos


I have begun to video my lessons, using the video screen capture tool in the SMART Notebook software and a wireless mic.

Check out my MPM1D videos

Check out my MPM2D videos

It is interesting watching a taped lesson. It makes me very aware of when I dominate the airwaves during class. I am beginning to make a concerted effort to talk less and the students talk and engage more.

Connecting School and Home Learning …


Last week we held a wonderful parent math workshop at MTHS. With student volunteers, myself, Chris, and Maureen led parents, our principal, and our superintendent through a series of activities that gave them a feel for what learning math in a technology-rich environment felt like. Below is the flyer from the event:

The activities focused on the MFM1P to MFM2P to MCF3M to MDM4U pathway. Chris’ reflection includes the SMART Notebook file we used. We will add a video of the screen motion and presenter voice later.

Modelling for parents how their children learned math was exceptionally powerful. The experience of learning math in school for these parents was vastly different than what they experienced in our workshop. A wonderful start to building a stronger home-school connection. More work definitely needs to be done. Tonight I will be presenting to our School Council.

Test-taking skills reflection …


Yesterday, my MPM1D class wrote a quiz where we discussed pacing on assessments (an important skill for EQAO multiple choice). They then wrote the quiz and responded to the quick poll shown below:

What was wonderful was the discussion that ensued about how the students who ran out of time or finished too soon might approach assessments differently.

I also “Paused” the class on TI-Navigator for the first 20 minutes of the 25 minute quiz, and then started class again for the last five minutes. This meant that the students couldn’t use their handhelds for the quiz – only to verify their answers for the last five minutes.

Very interesting class …

We have progress!:)


So today I re-polled my grade 10 class:

We celebrated that no-one disagreed with the Quick Poll statement. It validated for me that their self-confidence had grown in solving word problems.