Monday, 29 October 2012

New Pins!

New Pins on Pintrest! Read my post about it here
Check them out! Search for MissM or click here to go straight to my Pintrest Page

Roll the dice - build a cell!

Not my best lesson, but definitely had potential. Aim was to introduce the parts of the cell to my Year 7 class. I was looking for some interactive and fun stuff on the internet to use with the IWB. I found it difficult to find the correctly pitched (main parts not all the organelles) and something other than a simple drag and drop IWB interactive.
I found this "Game" on the TES website - Cells Beetle Drive (by gregodwod).
Beetle Drive... yes, I thought it was a strange title too.... supposedly it a British Thing. According to Wikipedia "it is a British party game in which one draws a beetle in parts. The game may be played solely with pen, paper and a die or using a commercial game set, some of which contain custom scorepads and dice and others which contain pieces which snap together to make a beetle/bug", or well in this case a cell.

I used it "as is". Will use this again for sure, but with some minor changes. One to include the mitochondria as part of the role. Definitely change the title and images to fit the Aussie audience. I might also tweak the instructions as my students are not as familiar with the concept as the authors class. Other than that, really impressed with the idea and how well it went in the class. Who would have thought the old dice and some friendly competition would work in todays tech obsessed world!
Lets hope this will prevent any of my students answering like this, haha

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Visual Vocabulary

Glossaries are great way to help explain or give meaning to a term.  In the past I have made students create their own glossary to explain scientific or mathematical terms. This has worked for some students - and hasn't for others.
I came across this image on Pintrest recently.
It inspired me to try a visual vocabulary. I trialled this in my Year 7 Science class in the unit of Ecology. This unit used and exposed students to many different terms - producer, consumer, biotic, abiotic, ecosystem, population, community, food chain etc. I thought this idea of a visual vocabulary was a great way for students to not only recall but to also apply their understanding in a different way (referring to the Blooms Taxonomy) as well as catering for the visual learners in the class (Multiple Intelligences).
My criteria for their Visual Vocabulary consisted of three parts - the term, a definition and a picture of or illustrating that term. Summarising the term or creating a diagrammatic situation challenge their thinking and hopefully in turn made the word easier to remember.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

"Fill in the blank" worksheet

I used this a bit in my Year 10 Big Ideas in Science Class. It was the first year this course was running. It just so happens that there was quite a bit of supplementary material and sheets. At the conclusion of the topic, this "Fill in the blanks" worksheet was a nice way to encapsulate main points and give some structure to their revision.
It was a way to reflect on their learning and make connections back to the content. It acted as a simple summary where students could collaborate and refer back to their theory notes to bring together all the things thay had been learning.
The sheet prompted them to go back to their vocabulary and see what they knew about the missing words and definitions. In the process it also made students re-read over parts of sheet to trial their missing word - this reption in turn could help commit some of these understanding to memory more easily.
Overall, this proved to be a quite successful. Students reation to thus activity was very positive. It also proved to be a good activity for students to collaborate, share knowledge and discuss their understanding.
How to create one??
This type of sheet does require a bit of preparation. I found it easier to write it all down as a paragraph. Save that version as my solutions. Then open it up a new document where I would take out the words, create a list of missing words, do some formatting etc and saving it as the student version. After my first few attempts I had the process down pat and didn't take much longer to produce one that it did to type it up.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Don't let the maths stop you from doing the physics! Speed and other physics formulas untangled

Our unit was on Physics is Sport (perfect timing with London Olympics and the Paralympics!). We were working with formulas, such as the speed formula:
Having taught both Year 10 Science and Year 10 Mainstream Maths course, I was well aware of the variety of maths skills in y classroom. Usually maths isn't too much of a hurdle in science - but with rearranging and substituting values into formula I thought this might be one of those cases.
What could I give these kids who were getting tangles in the maths a straight forward method?
The speed equation can be translated into a triangle:

Use your finger to cover up what you are trying to find, which shows you what you must do to calculate it. This can be seen below.
Image from here
Students received this alternative really well and were grateful I understood their difficulty with maths. They too in the end believed my motto of "Don't let the maths stop you from going the physics!" :)
This was subsequently used for other equations in physics like acceleration and velocity. In mathematics this can be applied to the Trigonometric Ratios.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Teaching Channel

Today I got on to Teaching Channel. I watched a few short clips on different areas of teaching. One thing I liked is the clips were short. And when I say short I mean 1 minute (some are longer). How much can be said in one minute? Well, quite a bit. These clips a straight to the point and highlight main points or rationale.
With its motto Teaching Channel: Great Teaching, Inspiring Classrooms, I hope to explore and utalise this resource a lot more.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Linear Equations Graphing: Stained Glass Window Activity

This ready-to-go activity was from "Love Maths" website called "Stained Glass Window - Graphing" (you might need to scroll down a little bit to find the Word Doc) or via Scribe here.
This was a great activity to practise drawing straight lines in the form y=mx+c. My class really enjoyed it and they looked great hanging in our classroom (bonus that it was colourful AND maths related!!! :) )
As I wanted them to take it seriously and do it well, I coloured in the solution to visually show them what kind of expectation and standard I wanted the work to be. This was good as it really motivated the kids to take pride in this activity, but also the weaker ones who wanted to "get it right".
Here is my example that I showed the class. It also doubled as the heading for the display on our classroom wall!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Not very educational but I enjoy playing around with it anyway. Can be quite soothing making your own "mix" or see what a picture sounds like.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wrap Up Activity: Exit Pass

A simple and effective strategy to wrap up a class and summarising main points. This can be done individually or as a class. You can get students to write it down or verbalise it as they walk pass you out the door. I like this strategy as it makes EVERY student accountable - no student could slip though the cracks.

 The Exit Pass.

1. Preprepated Exit Pass Template. Some may prefer a creative and realistic approach where students are given a "exit pass" and have to hand it up as they leave. These templates can be created using word or bought.
2. In Class. No reason you cant do it even if you have no cards ready! . I made my own version by drawing it on the board and getting them to respond in their Summary Book. These are examples from my Year 7 maths class
3. Verbally. I usually only do this after the class has seen this strategy a few times. Where as they leave the classroom they have to give me an example or fact or idea from the lesson.
Image from here

Monday, 1 October 2012

Arvind Gupta

WARNING: Prepare to be utterly inspired.

By chance I clicked on a link that took me to an article about Arvind Gupta in the Economic Times. Please have a read of it here.
Quicker that the speed of light I was looking up and reading the Matchstick Models and Other Experiments as referred to in the article. Next click of my mouse I was on INK Talk watching Avind Gupta talking about Toys from Trash and Learning.

Pictures worth a thousand words...

We have all heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words..."

There are a few programs out there that can help us take words and make pictures with them. This can be great to highlight important words in a unit, different themes in a text, a way to summarise, an opportunity to connect with an image and a chance for our visual learners (or a students who likes big ideas broken down) to connect with text in a meaningful way.

This post was inspired by Wordfoto. I got really excited when I stumbled across it. I was attracted by the vivid colour and photo presentation. I was then quickly disappointed that it an iphone and ipad app (good news for ipad and iphone users though!). There seems to be an Android version called Word Cam that looks similar.

But not all schools (students or teachers) have access to this technology, so what other web based programs are out there?

The follow do not require downloads, emails or log ins to be used.


The first one, which I am sure most people have heard of or seen is Wordle. It can take slabs of text or a website (can copy and paste a url) and creates a word cloud. I decided to copy and paste my final year teaching philosophy essay from uni in it as an experiment. You can see my cloud below. Wordle is very straightforward to use. You can change font, layout and colour schemes. It's easy enough to take a screen capture like I did below or there is the option to print it (you cannot directly save it :( ).

The next one I have come across a few times was Tagxedo. As you can see from my screen captures I had a bit of fun playing with it. Tagxedo had a very user friendly interface (image below left) and users can choose design shapes (speech bubbles, animals, shapes etc); as well as font, layouts and colour schemes.
Yes, I got carried away....

TagCrowd Beta
I am not sure if I am using this right, but this is what I got using TagCrowd Beta

Things I didn't know about Adobe Acrobat

Most people know PDFs to be an alternative document type compared to Word etc. Most of us know PDFs as the type of document that is not easy to change or manipulate. Its the type of document we open for newsletters or published works.

Did you know there is more fun to be had?!?!? :)

I have slowly been expanding my skills with Adobe Acrobat. Originally when I first used Adobe, I just thought it was a platform to open my pdf documents, and that was pretty much it. I have by no means know all the hidden tricks, but have been pleasantly surprised every now and then when I discover a nifty little function I never knew existed.

1. You can create your own PDF files from Word.

Yep, that's right. You too can create your own worksheets (or anything) as PDFs. This might be important when sending a document containing format you don't want changed, or a file that should be read "as is". Bonus to this is it is SOOOO easy.
How do you do it? Well, open your finished document - lets say its a Word file. Go to File, then Print. This will open a pop up box. From the list of printers choose "Adobe PDF". This will not print a hard copy, but a digital PDF version for you to save. How easy was that!

2. Extract Pages

The was an instance where I wanted to send a friend of mine just one page of a document and not the whoooooole big document. After a Google search (thanks Google!), I found that you can "extract" pages from an existing PDF document and save them separately. There is much scope how this can be used - especially in teaching.
How do you do it? Open you PDF document. Go to Documents along the top. Select Extract Pages and a pop up box will appear. Unlike the image below, mine also has the option of saving as a separate file. Now that I know this little trick I use this a lot to extract parts of documents - very handy!

3. Type on to PDFs

This one was only a recent find. A colleague found that he could type on top of a PDF. Out of all the people in our office - no one knew this!
 In our office we have mainly used it to add a textbox containing extra instructions to a worksheet. Today I used it to "black out" sensitive information on a document. I am applying to work overseas and had to show proof of my current address. The last bill I had was my credit card bill and I didn't want to send my account number. So I edited my scanned copy by putting an opaque textbox over the numbers and then created a new PDF (File - Print - Adobe PDF) to ensure the boxed couldn't be moved! VoilĂ !!! :D
How do you do it? Open your PDF document. Select the "Review and Comment" tab at the top right. You can select to "Show Markup and Comment Toolbar" or just go straight to "Markup and Comment Tools" and select Textbox. This now enables you to essentially create a textbox on the PDF. The properties of the textbox can be edited (border, transparency, size, etc).

4. Review and Comment Toolbar

After today's success with th textbox, I realised there were other features in the "Review and Comment" tab I haven't used (sticky note, text edits, stamps, highlighters, call out tool, pencil tool, shapes and arrows). A snap shot of there can be seen here. As you can see in the image below I have had a little play already :)
How do you do this? Open up a PDF, go to the "Review and Comment" tab to the top right and have a play!! The INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs is a good spot to start with examples and know how.

5. Merg more than one document to create one PDF

While in my Google search travels I also learnt that it is possible to merge files to create one file. I have yet to do this - will pop it way as no doubt it will come in handy soon.
How do you do it? When the time comes around for me to give this a go, I will be using How to Merge PDF Files
Refernces and resources:
Maggie DeBaldo, INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs from the University of Texas – Austin, School of Information, Fall 2006. This is an online tutorial broken up into topics. At the bottom is a PDF file covering the tutorial.
WikiHow, How to Extract Pages from a PDF Document to Create a New PDF Document
WikiHow, How to Merge PDF Files