Monday, 31 October 2016

SUPPLIES NEEDED! COMING SOON! Fence art/math task!

Around the end of November-ish, students will be completing a fence recycled art project. 

We will be making fence murals outside using a huge swath of fence. (see examples of other fence art below to get the idea!).

This is a math/art project that has a planning/implementing/reflection phase. 

It uses old materials, woven in through the fence to create a design. So materials need to be around 20 cm long at least for it to stay tucked.

I could use some help with supplies!

If you've got any of the following lingering in basements etc, please bring it into me over the next 2-3 weeks!

plastic bags of all kinds
plastic tarps and old raincoats we could cut up
old xmas ribbon

old clothes, fabric swaths, drapes, table cloths, towels, we could cut up
yarn and ribbon odds and ends.

Or anything cloth or plastic that you think might be easily woven into a fence!

Our fence art gallery would be up for about a week or so, then dismantled and tidied up.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this art/math project develops! Here are some examples from other schools.

Mrs. J

Friday, 28 October 2016


Many thanks to my awesome students who planned, organized, implemented this Shanty Bay tradition.

You kept your cool in spite of a few logistical mis-steps :) and were so incredibly responsible, dedicated, mature, and considerate.

You really put your heart into it (along with A LOT of effort) and I know the school is appreciative!

Next week, we will tally up our money totals for our donation to the food bank!

Great job everyone!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Writing & Change Agents assignments: DUE SOON!

Two assignments are coming due shortly...

1. A revision of the Life Event students (a creative autobiography) *Due Nov 4.*

We have studied the 'writing traits' by looking at various, numerous examples of effective ('good') writing.

We have looked in student samples, ministry exemplars, and also by examining the books we've chosen for personal reading...good writing is everywhere! (Let's see what they are doing right! Or what needs to be improved, as the case may be!)

Now students are being asked to turn that critical eye to their own writing and use that vision, along with my feedback, to improve. (I wrote specific feedback to each student in their google docs.)]

Here's the checklist we have created in the classroom.

This checklist of criteria is similar to the one we have posted in the classroom and students can a;lso use it as a guide.

 I look forward to seeing your improved pieces!

2. Change Agent research and plan. *Due NOV 3* and onward *students, please make sure you have signed up for a conference time using the link in the side bar!

Over the past two months, students have been working on a long term Change Agent project.

We started with exploration of various Change Agents and issues, and have now asked students to narrow in on a topic.

Students have been given a lot of class time to research and plan in relation to their chosen area and they will be conferencing with myself and Mrs. Czarnota starting Nov 3 to clarify the details.

Parents, we ask that you talk with your child about their Change Agent plans, partly so you can hear more about what they are doing, but also so they can practice explaining their research and ideas in anticipation of the conference.  A letter was sent home today in regards to this, and you can also find it online: HERE

Once their plan is completed, and confirmed and approved by us, students can work on making their plan a reality.

For more information about the specifics of the Change Agent project, please see the class blog page above on the Change Agent project.

Monday, 24 October 2016

STEAM Challenge: Slow Marble Role

During our last STEAM Challenge (last Thursday) students were asked to create a free-standing slow marble roll...

That was also TALL and ARTISTICALLY pleasing

Here were some of the marvelous creations!

You will notice the active application of art elements: colour, shape, line. 

As to results, here's the tally!

A&J     85cm                  3 seconds
K&E     100cm             16.63 seconds
L&E     30cm                 8.61 seconds
M&L     73 & 75 cm      4.69 & 12.13 seconds
R&H     72cm                5.85 seconds
M&B     82cm              11.97 seconds
L&N     110cm              4.17 seconds
A&B&B  52cm             5.30 seconds
K&G&C   140cm          7.77 seconds
N              77cm             9.11 seconds
C&N         77cm             4.33 seconds
C&F         20cm              4.58 seconds

I'm thinking a scatter plot would be a great way to show this data! Let's create one this week!

ART: Observational Drawings

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an ART PD session that focused on a topic I was keen to learn more about: observational drawing.

Our visual arts program is very much about NOTICING. For example, we have started really noticing how artists use the various elements of design (like line, shape, etc) to create a mood/feeling/message. (This will lead us towards a sophisticated and complex analyses of artistic works. See the visual arts page for more details!)

On the flipside, we, as artists, need to start noticing our own choices around the elements of design (in other words, become more self aware of how we use them).

This involves developing a more conscious 'artist's eye'.

Nothing helps develop that artistic eye quite like observational drawing.

In my drawing examples here, you will see how I first drew the person sitting across from me as something like a cartoon. I was looking at her, but not really picking up the finer details.

In the second example, I had to draw her by looking really closely...and I wasn't allowed to peek at what my hand was doing! I was just to pick a point, and let my pencil follow where my eyes went...

In the third example, I was asked to draw the person across from me again, but I needed to go slowly and, while I could peek at what I was doing, I had to mostly keep my eyes on my subject...

The third example is the one that is more specific, more finely detailed, less cartoony, and more authentic.

Each session took ten minutes. So I went from drawing #1 to #3 in about half an hour.

Observational drawings help build our 'seeing' and 'noticing' muscles. They are like scales for musicians...the more you do, the better you get. You don't have to do a lot of them, but if you do them consistently, over time, your ability to notice will improve!

It can also be very relaxing. :)

Needless to say, once our sketchbooks arrive, we will be doing some observational drawing in our class.

The Adaptable Mind: The Skills We Need to Flourish in the 21st Century

I came across this video during Friday's PD and it is exactly in tune with my own teaching philosophy/priorities.

The Adaptable Mind from The Moxie Institute on Vimeo.

Students, what is the main message? How do you know?

Also, where do you see these qualities in your educational experience? What areas need more development and attention in edcuation? How might that happen?

How does this relate to Change Agent? What other connections can you make?

We will definitely be watching this video this week and I'm eager to hear your thoughts!

Mrs J

Friday, 21 October 2016

Math Thinking

At our PD day session on Friday, Laura Gini Newman (@LauraGiniNewman) was our guest speaker. I live tweeted the event. These are some of the awesome things she said about math...
  • No matter what you are doing in life you need to be math thinkers!
  • Our ultimate goal is 2help students help themselves. How to get students to be self regulated, independent learners.
  • Nurture habits of mind to promote #math learning: perseverance, attention to detail, flexible mind.
  • Making mistakes is a productive part of learning #math.
  • Really good #math students can think, act and communicate well mathematically
  • Rigorous thinking is critical, creative, collaborative!
  • Do not rush to the 'right answer'... pause for conjecture, prediction, reflection, create the environment.
  • Students are not engaged unless they are personally committed to it.

She also asked these great questions:
  • How can we support students in developing competencies to think critically, creatively and conceptually?
  • Ask: what is the thinking that I'm doing? Need to make the thinking explicit.
  • How to make best decisions possible? This is one of the questions #math raises.
  • What thinking would you have to do to make a good mathematical decision

These are all things to keep in mind as we move forward in our math learning!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

End of the School Year Trip: CAMP WAHANOWIN

Last year the grade 8 class went to Camp Wahanowin and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive! They really really really enjoyed it. They liked being in cabins together, and having time to spend with each other, being active and outside

It involves a lot of different, unique activities (like trapeze! high ropes! a dance hall with a DJ booth! etc) along with traditional camp activities (hiking, volleyball, archery, arts and crafts, biking etc). It's also relatively close, so a day isn't wasted in travel time.

Keeping those factors in mind, we thought we'd return again this year!

Cultivating Deep Learning

This is an image from a slide show presented during our first Outdoor Education Pilot Project meeting at SCDSB.

I liked it so much I thought I'd put it on the blog.

Research indicates that this is the way people learn. Not just kids of all ages but adults too.

The more rich of an experience you have...using your whole self...doing, acting, seeing, feeling, thinking, questioning, talking, connecting...the better you learn. This is true across all curriculum.

The idea behind the pilot project is to connect learning (especially math) with a sense of exploration and inquisitiveness. Rather than being told what you should know, you discover it and you live it ...outside.

Be sure to follow the project along on Twitter with the hashtag: #scdsboutside

Slide by Crystal Carbin0, SCDSB Designated Early Childhood Educator

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Math Outside: Graphing Stories

As part of our data management investigations, we have been using the website to look at graphing real world scernios. In other words, figuring out ways to represent real life mathematically.

Check out the site to see how a graphing story works.

Today, students were asked to create their own graphing story.

They had to choose a real life scenario, video it, and then translate that scenario into a graphical representation, following the media format of a typical graphing story video. This is the typical format.

This is the list of criteria we came up with after viewing some examples of the site:

And here we are, giving it a go outside!

And here's an example! Check out the rest on our youtube page!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Math Quiz #1

For our data management unit, these are our objectives:

Tomorrow we will do the quiz on math terminology and mean, median, mode and range. We might also finish up our analizing of graphing stories during an in class assignment. Tomorrow, we will do our graphing stories videos. And, perhaps,we will complete our final task...analyzing a graph (quiz #2), using both observations and inferences. If not, that will be next week.

As mentioned in class today, students may find these charts useful for tomorrow's quiz so I've posted them here. Also, remember students, you can always check out our math blog resource! Click on the Data Collection and Mean, Median, Mode and Range pages. Everything you need is on there! Including some practice work for mean, median and mode, if you feel you need the additional practice.

Also keep in mind there is a data management component to your Change Agent project so we will be revisiting some of these concepts again very soon!

Friday, 14 October 2016

ATTN: PARENTS & GUARDIANS! Re: November Conferences


On Meet The Teacher Night, there was an opportunity for parents to sign up for student led conferences in November.

This list has been transcribed to google docs so those that did not sign up can easily do so via the internet. Also, if you need to change your time, you can easily do so!

The link for the google doc is HERE

It is also on the sidebar.

Please sign up! I look forward to speaking with you then!

Any questions, concerns, comments please do not hesitate to email me

Julie Johnson

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Recently, students completed a reading assessment called a CASI. I took all the (anonymous) marks for each question and sorted them into data. We made some observations and some inferences based on this data. But I think there are some additional 'math tools' that can help us more.

These math tools are 'mean, median, and mode'.

Now students are asked to find the mean, median and mode for each question.

Once we have completed that, we will look at the 'm, m and m' and see if that additional information helps our analysis (hint: yes, it does) and, if so, HOW. What new insights are gained by having this extra information?

Also, it works in a bit of mean, median, mode calculation practice. :)

Students, if you have not yet completed this, please have it finished for THIS THURSDAY.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Outdoor Pilot Project: Math Outside (Among other things)

I'm delighted to announce that my class has the opportunity to be part of a yearlong pilot project with SCDSB, investigating the benefits of outdoor education (aka learning outside) as regards math and also other curriculum areas! That means we will be taking our learning outside on a regular basis!

Earlier in the year, we started taking math photos for our Instagram photo challenges (based on those from @mathphoto16). Today, with our iPads and devices, we took all those challenges outside..and then some! Here we go, outside...

We realized that math is all over the place! Area, perimeter, volume, height, width, measurement of all kinds, symmetry, reflections, shapes (3D and 2D...hello, geometry!), lines (and of course angles), fractions (and where there are fractions there are decimals and percents! and ratios!), patterns (which leads to algebra!), scale, numbers of all kinds (operations! Estimation!)... and so on!

Lots of math to explore just in the yard! And that's on our first look around.

Students documented their math observations using our Instagram account. See if you can spot the above list of math ideas (and more!) in the photos on our Instagram page. Snapshots are also below!

Sunday, 2 October 2016



We have been exploring data management in math. Here's what you can expect as regards upcoming tasks and assignments this month as we complete this unit!

  • a mix and match quiz on data vocabulary/terminology/graph types
  • graphing, individually, a response to a 'graphing stories' scenario of Mrs. J's choice
  • in a pairing/triad of your choosing, create a graphing stories video
  • a short quiz on mean, median, mode 
  • submit, individually, an analysis of a graph (type specific to gr. 7 or 8 specifications) indicating observations and inferences

All shall take place within the class. This will make up your data management mark. :)

Mrs J