I played with eduCanon for the first time today. The webtool allows you to take a screencast that has been uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and insert multiple choice questions to create a flipped or blended learning lesson.

Update: This is the remix of Karl Fisch‘s one step equations video. He does a terrific job explaining the concept. Originally I had thought to keep the remix private, but I think crowd sourcing for feedback on how this tool can improve learning is important.

Here’s a screenshot when in the editor mode.

The ? above the timeline indicates where questions have been inserted. I spent more than an hour thinking up about 15 questions and multiple choice distractors. And that doesn’t include the time creating the video. Look. I’m “complaining” and I didn’t even make the screencast!

And here’s a screenshot of the students’ view when watching the lesson.

The product is incredibly worthwhile. On the other hand it can be incredibly time consuming. It’s easy to use, a downside is the question editor doesn’t automatically position the question next to the video. You have to scroll down to line them up. Before you know it, you’ve spent several hours polishing a short video.

I’ll be interested in learning how long the product will remain free to content creators.

Lesson 1: be flexible when grouping students.

Earlier in the week I posted on my 180 math post-its blog that students were pre-assessed on fractions. I was disappointed to see that only two pre-tested out of many of the concepts. Given the caliber of this class there should have been at least five more ready for enrichment on the skill of adding and subtracting fractions.

I probably should have started the class immediately by differentiating for the two students, but I didn’t. I had enrichment ready for them,  yet I launched into a whole class whiteboard/quick check activity of adding and subtracting fractions. I admit I short changed those two girls, but I’m glad I did the whiteboard work because within 10 minutes five more students revealed to me that their pre-assessment was a signal that they simply forgot.

It troubles me that students do not retain their learning, but that’s for another post. In this instance I truly believe those five kids had, as they say, a brain fart.

For the rest of the block they worked at two tables on challenge problems. Which leads to…

Lesson 2: Students can be completely engaged with non-real world problems.

The kids loved the challenge. I know there is little context with these problems, yet they were engaged for the entire block. You can’t describe them as puzzles, but for 7th graders the problems were puzzling and they wanted to solve them.

By the way this same class is enjoying the NCTM palette of problems I’ve been using for determining importance.

Recently I’ve been presenting them at the start of class. Students work independently then we share solutions, discuss their “arguments” etc. Some students want me to do this everyday.

Is it coincidental or by design that our school’s reading initiative is taking me one step closer to a math workshop model? If you’re a regular reader you already know I’m introducing a “reading strategy of the month” using think-alouds. October was monitoring. November is determining importance. Next month the math department will present to our staff how we implemented determining importance during the month of November.

I’m realizing that my determining importance think-aloud closely resembles a targeted mini-lesson–the centerpiece of math workshop. What solidified it for me was reading this graphic from Minds on Mathematics.

I have to admit I didn’t have the math practices in mind when I created the think aloud but they came through anyway.

On a separate note I want to thank bloggers Diana Fesmire and  Mr. Dardy, as well as commenter Alisa Carter for stretching me.

Yesterday, I returned an ungraded pre-algebra assessment to the students. Their job was to analyze and discuss each problem at their table.  After ten minutes I handed out the key and discussion continued.

I feel so small. I should have begun that practice long ago. Their discussions were incredibly valuable. The students were talking math and I wasn’t the center of attention or the knowledge keeper. Most of class loved the idea of discussing their work with each other. Plus they were able to control the pace. One student thought holding back the key for a period of time added a bit of suspense. On the other hand one student felt self-conscious–concerned that she would be wrong and her classmates would know.

On Friday I became a much better teacher, inching closer to a math workshop approach.

Our December staff meeting will be devoted to the reading (thinking) strategy determining importance. The math department has been asked to present examples of student work and ways this strategy was implemented in the classroom.

I created this think aloud and worksheet for my pre-algebra students. My thoughts are to present and walk through the steps to solve the problem.

I’ll continue modeling how I solve the problem, then the students will have a turn solving this problem:

The sum of the ages of Elmira, Geoff and Rae is 82. If Elmira adds 6 to Geoff’s age, subtracts 8 from Rae’s age, or doubles her own age, it will equal Doug’s age. How old is Doug?

I’ll be curious to see how well they determine what’s important in the problem. Also, the age problem doesn’t prompt the students to create an equation.

We are almost at the point of introducing two step and multi-step equations so this problem will be good timing.

Thoughts?

Technically the image isn’t trick photography but the gap in positioning makes you think the size of the missing wrench must be between $\frac{1}{2}$ and $\frac{9}{16}$ of an inch. It may be a form of trickery but could a student argue the missing wrench size is  $\frac{17}{32}$? How would they justify the break in the pattern?

One of the wrenches is indeed missing. Would students think to mentally close the gap and consider the possibility that the first or last wrench in the sequence is missing? What would be those sizes?

The idea is to let students explore common denominators and the patterns they discover in this task.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you were asked to examine your practice, what would you keep, what would you toss, and what would you invent or re-imagine? In so many words our math department has been asked to do just that.

Adaptive challenges are difficult because their solutions require people to change their ways. Unlike known or routine problem solving for which past ways of thinking, relating, and operating are sufficient for achieving good outcomes, adaptive work demands three very tough human tasks: figuring out what to conserve from past practices, figuring out what to discard from past practices, and inventing new ways that build from the best of the past.–Adaptive Leadership

We’re deep in the muck trying to figure out how to raise student achievement and move students forward. We’re an upper middle class suburban district and our kids should be doing better. MAP is our yardstick. Like it or not that is the tool we use to measure growth.

Regardless of the yardstick, how do we move students forward? How committed are we to ensuring that student learning is maximized? We’re not super heroes, but what does it take (without killing the love of learning via excessive testing) to make sure students learn?

I’d like to limit the conversation to instructional decisions that are within our control. Besides a viable curriculum and the art of reteaching and reassessing, what else do you do? How do you differentiate for the capable student, but who is not ready to be placed in a higher track? Do you enrich or accelerate, and how?

I wrestle with these ideas as well as how to incorporate spaced vs. massed practice so the concept has a better chance of getting into long term memory.

What are the high leverage moves you’d recommend? I’m all ears.

I began class today showing this pattern on the screen:

The students had been previously exposed to some pattern problems but a partially completed input-output table was taking focus away from the pattern itself. Frankly, it didn’t occur to me that using a table makes the visual irrelevant until I read Fawn’s post on how she conducts her math talks. Another thing I realized was that Fawn is asking her students to read and interpret a pattern. If they are reading a visual, what’s important information for them to solve the problem?

Our math department is scheduled to present the reading strategy determining importance at next month’s staff meeting. Instead of a typical word problem I thought it would be interesting to apply that strategy to a visual pattern.

I asked, “What’s important in this pattern that will help you predict how many dots are in the 100th figure?”

Students stared at the screen for a good ten minutes. Several had no idea where to start, a few had random guesses with no math to support their claim, but one got it.

Student: I saw that the bottom row in the first figure increases by 1.The middle row is always two more than the bottom row. The top row is always one more than the bottom row. So the 100th pattern will have 306 dots.

I didn’t ask for the equation; I probably should have to see how they would have come up with
t = 3n +6.

In any event, at least one student reasoned and persevered through the problem.