Category Archives: Math-Science Connections

Perseverance, Tenacity, Risk-taking – #LL2LU with @k8burton

Kate Burton (@k8burton), our science goddess, and I have been discussing assessment.  One of the many things I love and admire about Kate is her willingness to experiment to learn and grow.  The label science goddess makes many giggle, but she approaches everything through the lens of a scientist.  What if we experiment with an assessment plan? What if we use the Leading Learners to Level Up philosophy to communicate expectations and a path to grow? What if we experiment with a system of feedback that includes self-assessment, peer-to-peer and teacher assessment?

Kate and I met Wednesday morning to talk about Leading Learners to Level Up and how she might incorporate it into her assessment plan.  It was awesome!  I’m sure I expected to talk about the scientific method and the content of her course.  Kate came with a list of what she areas of growth for her student-learners.  Her list included persistence, tenacity,  curiosity, attitude, communication, open to constructive criticism, and the ability to ask questions.  She uses science content to teach and model these learning targets.

Using an interview method, she talked and I took (messy) notes as fast as I could write.  Kate started with her list and elaborated to offer me context and additional information.  The interview protocol really calls for me to listen and reflect back what I hear.  I should not interject my experience. I should listen for what is important to the interviewee.  I failed twice and told a story.  I am not the interviewer I will become.

After collecting lots of notes, we noticed two areas where Kate added more detail while we were talking.  Together, we discussed perseverance and tenacity and what Kate would like to encourage in her learners.  Our draft for the target for perseverance and tenacity is that every child will be able to say (and d0):

I can keep working when things go wrong to learn from the process.  I can learn from the experience and try again.

But, what if I can’t? What if I am not there yet? What can I do to get on a path to success? And, what if I’m already there? What can I do to level up?  Here’s our first draft of a learning progression to lead learners to level up.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 5.12.55 AM

We also worked on risk-taking.  Our draft for the target for risk-taking is that every child will be able to say (and d0):

I can risk being wrong to test my ideas and strategies and appreciate what I gan through my risks.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 5.20.26 AM

What if we post these where our young learners can see and refer to them?  Will they be able to calibrate where they are and ask Kate questions to learn and grow?  Will they begin to coach each other? How will having a common vocabulary and understanding influence this learning community?

These are drafts.  We intend to ask our learners for their feedback. We’d also love to know what you think.  Please leave us a comment if you can and will add to our thinking.

Caine’s Arcade #PBL #DoDifferent #STEAM

Do you still wonder if we should make time and space for project-based, student-directed learning? Can you spare 11 minutes to watch Caine’s Arcade?

Can you find the content that you teach in Caine’s learning? I found design, engineering, math, physics, art, problem-solving, creativity, communication, strategic planning, perseverance, and many other important, fundamental, essential learnings.  I have to say that I just love his built-in security system with the calculators.  Amazing!

If you have 8 more minutes, please watch the next step,  Caine’s Arcade 2: The Global Cardboard Challenge & Imagination Foundation.

Who are the learners in this project? What was learned?

#PBL Must See: Brittany Wenger – Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer Detection – #TEDxAtlanta

“The more you know, the more you wonder.”
~ Brittany Wenger

This is must see if you are interested in PBL and integrated studies.

Meet 17-year-old Brittany Wenger:

We have got to ask:

  • What if we listen more closely to what interests our learners?
  • What if we strive to hone our skills as facilitators and coaches of learning?
  • How do we acknowledge that a learner’s interests and passions can drive them to learn and grow in ways we cannot predict?
  • How do we makes space in the day for choice, research, design, inquiry, investigation, failure, and success?  
  • How do we support personalized learning?

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Many, many thanks to TEDxAtlanta and Unboundary for the joyful and challenging day of learning!  If you have not already, you should check out the rest of Edge of the South.

Practicing to be a TLC student leads to learning and questions

I am very intrigued by Steve Goldberg’s use of Google Earth for education and empathy.  Yesterday he posted A typical morning at TLC middle school.  For context, here’s what Steve predicts a day might look like at his school, opening in fall of 2013 in North Carolina:

In the spirit of learning by doing, I thought I’d practice being a student at Triangle Learning Community middle school and follow the typical morning plan for the Morning News Discussion…with a Synergy twist. In Synergy, we wanted to work in ripples – local, national, and international. I gave myself the 45 minutes to read and investigate. This 45-minute exercise turned into the entire two hours! It is the most concentrated news reading I have done in a while!

I started with the AJC to read and learn more about Atlanta. The article Three options for the ‘Gulch’ caught my attention. I noticed the “Gulch” just last week. I used Google Earth to see the area. I immediately thought of how to use the map view in 6th grade math when we teach the area and perimeter of “funny shapes.”

I was intrigued by the vocabulary and meaning of “multimodal passenger terminal” because I have just been reading about how car-oriented Atlanta is which can be frustrating for cyclists. The search for multimodal passenger terminal lead me to atlantadowntown.com’s Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal page.  I did not know Atlanta was planning to have a street car.  I also did not know about Bikes and Bites on July 21.  Bikes and Bites is billed as a car free initiative during Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week where Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) are encouraging diners to ride their bikes to dinner at more than 20 Downtown restaurants.  What positive environmental outcomes are predicted?  Wow!  Bo’s Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes a PBL to Me! is so true!

I read and researched and connected these ideas for quite a bit of time.  I wanted to “go global” with my news reading too.  I returned to A typical morning at TLC middle school. After watching the video again and reading the linked article about child brides in Niger, I wondered what the headlines were from the paper in Niger.  Did they have a daily paper? I found Le Républicain Niger using Newspaper Map, a new-to-me resource suggested by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Thankfully, Newspaper Map would translate this newspaper into English (from French) so I could read the headlines.  Talk about a lesson in perspective!  Not one mention of the plight of child brides, the hunger crisis, rapid population growth or infant mortality in the headlines of Le Républicain Niger.

How often do we not see problems in our own community?  How can we find (do we seek) new perspectives to see and observe what is happening in our neighborhoods and larger communities?

Passionate Motivated Learners: 2011 Google Global Science Fair winners

Meet this year’s Google Global Science Fair winners:

  • Lauren, 13, studied the effect of marinades on the level of  carcinogens in grilled chicken. (Google n. pag.)
  • Naomi, 16, proposed that making changes to indoor environments to improve indoor air quality can reduce people’s reliance on asthma medications. (Google n. pag.)
  • Shree, 17, discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. (Google n. pag.)

Listen and watch as they share their thinking and learning at TEDxWomen:

The idea that sticks with me comes from both Lauren and Shree.  Lauren said she emailed approximately 2oo different people for space to work to work in a lab, and she got 1 positive response, 1.  Shree says she emailed all the professors in her area asking to work under their supervision in a lab and got rejected by all but 1 professor.

It makes me wonder about PBL in school.  How often do I fall in the 1 positive response category?  Can we mobilize teams of learners to do meaningful project work? Work and learning driven by the questions, passions, and interests of the learners?  Will our disciplines serve their projects?  How can we configure time to accommodate rich meaningful project work?

Check out the photos posted on the Google Science Fair Facebook page.  Talk about presenting to an authentic audience, wow! Look at the panel of judges.  The list includes Nobel Laureates, scientists, and technology visionaries.  Notice the technology at each station; these presentations are dynamic and interactive without trifold display boards.

We should also celebrate the 15 finalists from Mississippi, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Calgary, Singapore, Texas, Chennai, Cape Town, and New Jersey.

From Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair by Rachel King published by ZDNet:

And from Matson, John’s article Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair published by Scientific American:

We are in the positive response category in several ways.  Bo Adams (It’s About Learning) and I co-facilitate Synergy, a non-departmentalized, non-graded, transdisciplinary, community-issues-problem-solving course for 8th graders.  Our 8th grade advisement program, LEAP (Leadership Experience Advisement Program) engages in a year-long experience to take on a global issue or social-justice concern with a locally enacted project.

We would love it if you would share your positive response actions to help us add to our toolkit of ideas, strategies, and actions.

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Google. “Hats off to the winners of the inaugural Google Science Fair.” The Official Google Blog. 12 Jul. 2011. Web. 11 Jan. 2012

King, Rachel. “Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair.” ZDNet. CBS Interactive. 11 Jul. 2011. Web.  11 Jan. 2012.

Matson, John. “Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair.” Scientific American. 11 Jul. 11. Web.  11 Jan. 2012.

Enrichment Activity: The Fibonacci Sequence & Series

What do we do with or for learners that enriches their view and learning of patterns and math?  How to we inspire learners to connect math and patterns to real things?

In our Algebra I team, we’ve been discussing how to offer enrichment learning and activities to promote growth for learners who master topics quickly.  We don’t want to make it “harder” or a “higher pile” so what do we do?

While I was researching video for my previous post, If a picture is worth 1000 words, what is video worth?, I ran across Nature by Numbers:

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The Nature by Numbers video then made me think of Vi Hart and her post Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3].

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The combination of these two videos is awesome.  Which is more engaging to you?  Could we design enrichment opportunities that promote communication, collaboration, creativity, and investigation of real world patterns and beauty? Could these enrichment opportunities lead to project-based learning and integrated studies?

Meet Aidan, Grade 7, Young Naturalist Awards, 2011 and read The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees to learn about his redesign of solar panels based on his observations of trees and a connection he made to Fibonacci.

Wow! This is the type of learning – PBL – that I want for my learners.

How do we use the December exam as formative assessment?

Our learners took exams (summative assessment) prior to the Christmas break.  But, can’t we use the exam as both a summative assessment AND a formative assessment?

I’m interested and curious about different strategies and methods used to help learners process and reflect on their exam experience and the accumulation of what they know.  Since each learner will have different bright spots and strengths, what strategies are used to differentiate for intervention and enrichment?

In Algebra I, we aim to get “in the weeds” about this reflection and intervention.  We want every child to reflect on what they could demonstrate well and where they need additional help.  We do not want them to move to high school and geometry next year with any doubt or weakness if we can help now.  But, how do we know who needs help?  We collect data, but we let our learners do the data collection.  We need to be informed; they need to be informed.  We are a team working toward the goal of mastery or proficiency for all learners.

Our process:

  1. Return the exam to the learner on the first day back.
  2. Have each learner complete the exam analysis and reflection form (shown below) to identify strengths and areas of need.
        1. Circle the number of any missed problem.
        2. Begin, and possibly complete, correcting missed problems to review the material and determine if any error was a simple mistake or if more help is needed.
        3. Write the reflection about strengths, struggles, and goals.
        4. Report results on our team’s Google doc. (This is a copy; feel free to explore and “report” data to see how it feels. You can view the results here.)
  3. Meet in team to review all results and analyze for groups to design and provide necessary intervention and additional learning experiences.
  4. All assessments 2nd semester will have questions from first semester essential learnings to offer learners the opportunity to show growth and to help with retention.

Okay…so I am a member of the Algebra I team, but it important to note that all members of our math PLC in the junior high follow approximately this same strategy for exam correction and reflection.   We are also shooting for this level of analysis with our science PLT and our US History PLT.  We have made it to stage one, having a table of specifications, and we hope to start working toward using the table of specifications for student reflection and growth.

We would love it if others would share methods and strategies for helping learners grow from an exam experience.  How do students reflect on their work?  What opportunities are offered to help students carry the essential learnings from first semester through second semester and/or into the next level of learning?