I came out of my meeting with Danielle, grade 9 and 10 math teacher at Blessed Mother Teresa, simply exhausted. I had promised her a three hour meeting to get her flip in order and she could have easily kept me hopping for six. What strikes me most about this bright young teacher is her ability and more importantly – willingness to recalibrate, even at the expense of her own comfort. As we worked through her slope unit, she constantly asked herself, "Why was I teaching it this way to begin with?" over and over.
Taking elements of the text book, a rich resource available to teachers in Ontario known as the Ontario Educational Resource Bank which is full of learning objects, elements from a ministry-driven homework help site, YouTube.com and her own recordings, we began piecing together a plan that looked practical and engaging! The plan looks something like this:
1. Understanding the Cartesian Plane
This will be supported by a self-made video about the basics of the Cartesian plane that students can review at home. Danielle’s video coupled with two learning objects provided in the OERB provide a very effective ‘kit’ for the students to engage with at home. Here is an example below:
The in-class portion will consist of group work deciphering several examples of Cartesian planes that demonstrate understanding of plotting, quadrants, negative integers, labelling etc.
2. Learning Slope – What are Rise and Run?
The second chapter will focus on the simple definition of rise and run as they pertain to the Cartesian plane. The ‘kit’ that the students will receive will consist of YouTube.com videos chosen by Danielle in conjunction with three learning objects from the OERB and homework help website.
3. Understanding Differences
Danielle mentioned quite explicitly that understanding differences was often a challenge for grade nine students. Many students struggle with calculating differences of negative integers and even more so – negative fractions. Danielle has endeavoured to create a short five minute video of her own that focuses solely on subtracting negative integers and understanding how to subtract negative fractions. The in-class portion will be an exercise of redundancy (which we still need by the way!) where students will work together to calculate differences of negative fractions. The goal of the exercises will be to understand that the fraction is not affected by whether the numerator or denominator are negative – the outcome is still the same.
We parted as Danielle turned her focus to developing her first recording using JING by Techsmith. Look for it on my recommended apps page.
Danielle has quickly learned that she can bend all materials and mediums to her will and I am confident that her students can only benefit!