031: Math Masterpiece PBL

Project based learning is hard. Anyone who tells you differently has not done a high quality projects that leads to deeper learning. The reason in implementing project based learning so difficult is that the mindset has to change. There is a massive upfront preparation phase of mapping out the project with all the necessary elements, determining the authentic audience, how to weave in experts, and figuring out the final place for the project to reside. This all requires an invested time and energy focus months ahead of time. It requires the teacher(s) to do the the project, map things out, and have all bases covered knowing things will change and adapt based on the development of the students.

However, I have yet to meet an educator or student who has been part of a quality project that has not been changed for the good after completing and being part of a quality project.

As we explore projects I think many people would agree that math is probably one of the most difficult to create a high quality learning project, let alone integrating it with other subjects.

Recently, my wife who teaches 8th grade algebra and pre-algebra completed a project that was a pivotal moment for her, the students, and the school where she teaches. I know this seems quite dramatic, but it is true. Let’s cut into the project(pun intended).


 

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She was trying to find a way to enhance her math instruction and learning. Her department is already doing some great work to get to this point. They don’t use a textbook and essentially have created their own curriculum from scratch and other resources to enhance instruction. They also have a powerful PLC established where the teachers and instructional coaches have some high quality conversations about data, instruction, and how to constantly improve.

The general challenge of this project was to create art using the Desmos website by creating vertical and horizontal lines and lines with positive and negative slopes as well as multiple other functions that allowed students to create their desired masterpiece. This may not seem like much, but have you ever tried to create a minion or logo of your favorite team or coffee using nothing but math? I thought so!

Students were also given the parameter of a minimum of 75 lines. As students began to brainstorm and come up with their designs they had to have approval of their plans from the teacher. Once they were good they were given time to write their “code” to bring their art to life.

Students had to think. They had to teach one another, brainstorm, and do additional research as their ideas developed. How do I stop the line from going on endlessly? How do I create a curved line? What if I want to do this? or that? Many things were left open for them to explore and solve on their own. This is where the power in learning took place.

As they began to finish their designs the prints were then formatted to be cut in a vinyl cutter. Students would email the teacher their Desmos graph. From there the grids and all backgrounds would be removed within the software.

Art with all grids

Art with all grids

Remove all grids and lines from background

Remove all grids and lines from background

 

Clean background

Clean background

Choose the "Image" option

Choose the “Image” option

Save this file and load to your vinyl cutter

Save this file and load to your vinyl cutter

We use the Silhouette Cameo to do all of our cuts. It is a very easy to use vinyl cutter that makes great cuts and is very easy to learn.

For the sake of costs(vinyl is not the cheapest) students images were printed within a 5 x 5 in square so we could get 4-6 prints per 12 x 12 inch vinyl sheet. This was also large enough to see all details and small enough to add to computers, cars, and more.

Once they were all printed, students were given a day or two to pick all the pieces out. We had them do this part because it is their design and they understand what they want to be removed. Keep in mind that allowing students to do this will lead to mistakes. We had to cut several more than once. Students had a hard time understanding what to pick and what to leave. I would suggest having examples to show them so they can understand negative space.

In the end all students were able to take their designs home. However, this was the not the end. She decided to host her own exhibition during the day. We went back and cut out  about 40 of them again for a display. We placed colored cardstock that matched the vinyl behind it.

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We also made a poster of every single design(even the ones partially completed) using collage.com because we needed a site that would allow us to upload over 100 images. After several various exhibit design layouts(some were amazing) time got the best of us and she ended up with this very nice looking display at the front of the building.

 

(If you are interested in other layouts reach out to me)

The next step was to have the students own the learning. This is something that they have not had to do before. She invited staff to her room for a showcase day. She also emailed a letter to all parents inviting them to the school. For her exhibition day, staff and parents came during the class period. The students took on the role of the teacher and taught the adult how to write math equations and formulas to make simple shapes. This allowed them to showcase how difficult their own art was to create, gave them a sense of pride by how the adults struggled and really gave everyone a chance to bond over math. So often parents see kids doing work, but have no concept of what they are doing or how to engage with the content. My wife teared up several times watching the kids and parent interact.

 

This Sway has a massive amount of images to help you understand what was all created.

Despite the kids and teacher being super nervous, it turned out to be a glorious day. Since this project has ended(just a few weeks ago) she has already developed and launched a bigger and more massive project and is already sketching out plans for another project.

Just when you think you cannot do a project or thinking that pbl does not fit your curriculum, I challenge you to think again. It can be done. It is simply a matter of putting in the time, effort, and planning. It is finding people who can help you. It is removing the mental barriers you have placed on yourself as well as the limitations you have placed on students by deciding what they can and can’t do.

Nothing is impossible once you decide it is not.

All documents for the project can be found here

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030: November 2015 Month Goals, What Are Yours?

My podast is back! Check out this episode where I discuss my four goals for the month of November. I have 4 big goals

  1. Weight under 230
  2. Donation of 500 books
  3. Build a robot that delivers coffee to teachers
  4. NaNoWrimo nonfiction style to finally finish my book!


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029: Kristin Galle – 2014 PBS Digital Innovator and Therapy Classroom

Towards the end of 2014 I put out for a challenge to help spread the positive vision of educators. I asked educators to nominate themselves or others to help share the amazing things in education

Increasing Teacher Voice: Challenge and Nominate a Teacher 

The first episode for this season is with an amazing educator named Kristin Galle from Wisconsin.

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Kristin is a 2014 PBS Digital Innovator and is doing some really intriguing things with therapy, mental health, and more in her classroom. It really is something worth hearing.

I hope you enjoy this first episode. Remember if you know someone who would be good to have on the show make sure you nominate them so we can get connected.

Increasing Teacher Voice: Challenge and Nominate a Teacher 

Shownotes

http://www.symbaloo.com/

 

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020: Living On The Edge of Chaos: Season 2 Episode 2 – Mini Thought on Courage

This is something new that I am trying with my podcast. I am adding a new bit called Mini Thoughts where I will share an unedited, uncut idea from my iPhone. Often times when I drive I record my ideas to develop later on. I thought perhaps this could be something worthwhile to share as I work to polish these ideas.

Additionally, I have shared these bits on YouTube as well. It is good to test out new avenues of growth. I will see how this works out.

 

You can check out previous podcasts here

 

Shownotes and Credits

Music created by 8th grade student Dennibro

Additionally, if you would like to be on the podcast and talk about this topic please let me know as I will be creating a follow up podcast on this topic.

As always, I welcome all ideas and feedback.

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019: Living On The Edge of Chao: Season 2 Episode 1 Opener

Coffeechug Concepts Podcast is back for Season 2 of Living on the Edge of Chaos

This season opener is a short podcast about what you can expect from the episodes this season.

Enjoy and as always I welcome any and all feedback!

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016: Living on the Edge of Chaos: Courage PBL

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This episode is designed to do two things.

1. To showcase another amazing project created and developed by a teacher here at Bettendorf Middle School on the topic of courage. We hope that as we continue to share out our projects that it inspires others to develop projects, connect with us, and share out additional ideas and resources so everyone can improve.

2. The students have podcasts and they need an authentic voice. Below you will find a link to their blogs and podcasts. We would love it if you checked out their work and left them a few comments. If you have a class it would be awesome if your students left some feedback. If your students have work we would love to return the favor!

Enjoy this episode. Let me know your thoughts. If you have any questions, ideas, resources, etc. please reach out to me at aarmau@gmail.com or Rachael Dierickx at rdierickx@bettendorf.k12.ia.us

6th and 7th grade: http://kidblog.org/BMSHonorsEnglish/
8th grade: http://kidblog.org/8thGradeHonorsEnglish-2/

Here is a condensed document to give you a sense of their blogs and why they are writing what they are writing

Enjoy the show

Shownotes and Credits

Music created by 8th grade student Dennibro

Additionally, if you would like to be on the podcast and talk about this topic please let me know as I will be creating a follow up podcast on this topic.

As always, I welcome all ideas and feedback.

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015: Living on the Edge of Chaos: 8th Graders Talk Social Media

We have an 8th grade language arts teacher conducting a project right now around digital footprints. As students are navigating their way through their project I was asked to be interviewed by four students for their project. Their project is focused on helping to educate 5th graders about social media.

During the interview I decided to flip this run of the mill interview where students ask questions that they just want a straightforward answer to get the job done into a conversation. I love social media and I share and discuss my ideas and opinions on social media all the time whether it is here on this site, other channels, or at school. After talking with the students I realized that this conversation needed to be shared. Not because we have answers, but because this chat opens up a conversation that needs to be had. I love talking to students about social media. When you listen to the podcast you will gain a sense that the students were not sure how to answer some of the questions or perhaps they were not sure how they felt on the topic because they perhaps have not thought this way before.

I hope that as I flipped their interview into a chat we spark a movement. I am so excited to see what they develop for their project. Yes, I will be sharing what they create, but in the meantime I hope you reach out. What are your thoughts to these questions discussed in the podcast? What is your opinion about social media?

I would like to open this conversation up to other educators and students. I would love to run a Google Hangout and explore this in more depth. This podcast is the start, the catalyst. The rest of you are the ones that can keep the fire going. We look forward to hearing from you. I will share their work. While we wait, what are other things they should consider? The more perspective the stronger their work will become. I guess in many ways this whole podcast is a social media test and campaign itself. Let us take a listen.

Shownotes and Credits

Music created by 8th grade student Dennibro

Additionally, if you would like to be on the podcast and talk about this topic please let me know as I will be creating a follow up podcast on this topic.

As always, I welcome all ideas and feedback.

Follow and Subscribe to my podcast on iTunes

I finally made it to Stitcher so please follow here if you use Stitcher

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I recently read a book about social media with teens by Danah Boyd 

Coffeechug Reads It’s Complicated by Danah Boyd http://wp.me/p4covo-NV

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013: Living on the Edge of Chaos: Student Entrepreneurs – Frankie Ballard

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 5.12.59 AMI am so excited and proud to share with the world this podcast. I was pumped when I introduced everyone to Dennibro a few weeks back to help showcase the power of students and sharing the stories of students who have the courage to chart their own path.

This episode is amazing and not because I am involved. It is amazing because this student continues to inspire me as I follow her journey. Today I share with the world the AWESOMESAUCE Frankie Ballard who is a high school student currently on work on her third book.

What is amazing is that I never directly taught Frankie in my class, but she has been part of my blogging world when it first began and we connected that way as a Teacher – Student. Through my book reviews and various other things I would share on the blog and things I would offer in school it felt like she was in my class at some point. I still have my NANOWRIMO coffee mug that I sip my coffee from weekly.

I had a chance to catch up with her to have her share some insights into the mindset of a young writer. Her story inspires me to get going and finally publish my book I have been working on for years.

The goal of this podcast series is to bring more exposure to the students who are doing amazing things outside of the classroom. These might be the students that go unnoticed at school. They might not get straight A’s. They might not have perfect handwriting. They might not fill in every blank on a worksheet. Frankie is exceptional. She actually does many of the things mentioned above, but what I love about her and students like her is the ability to be their own person and not for attention, but because they are strong in character and mind to see above the artificial world that exists as we try to figure out who we are.

But what they do have is a skill set. What they do have is a mind that can take them places. I view them as entrepreneurs who have the world at their fingertips.

As this continues I would love to chat and interview students from all over the world. If you have a student in mind I would love to have the chance to share their story on this podcast.

You can reach out to Frankie through her Twitter

https://twitter.com/frankiesername

And you can check out the book referenced in the podcast that she has published on Amazon. You will read the book and  not believe it was written by a student!

Rebecca

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Additionally, if you would like to be on the podcast and talk about this topic please let me know as I will be creating a follow up podcast on this topic.

As always, I welcome all ideas and feedback.

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Talking Google Glass with Don Wettrick #ggee

In Your Face: The Future of Teaching With Google Glass
Don Wettrick with Aaron Maurer

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I just wanted to shamelessly share a podcast I just did with Don Wettrick where we talk Google Glass. It was awesome talking and chatting about Google Glass with Don.

I connected with Don a few months ago and am in complete awe of how real he is. As I continue to network and reach other educators to learn from and enhance my learning I have not met someone like Don in quite some time.

He asked me to jump on his podcast show to talk Google Glass. What I loved best about this podcast besides talking about Google Glass which I love is how honest we could be. It was a good old real talk with no sugar coated fluff.

I hope you take listen to the podcast and let me know what you think about our thoughts and ideas. I am always seeking out thoughts and ideas of others.

This has been my second time being asked to be on a podcast and just love talking about all things education. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed talking.

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008: Living On The Edge of Chaos – Goals, Systems, and Resolutions: Effective or a Waste of Time?

Coffeechug Art 1

Welcome to the second season of Living on the Edge of Chaos.

I am kicking off this season talking about goals, systems, and resolutions. It is that time of year where everyone is jumping on board to create plans and goals to accomplish great things in 2014. However, many people fail at these goals within a month or two.

This podcast is discussing what exactly is effective at attaining goals and systems.

As I post this podcast I am developing a system to accomplish great things in 2014. I am trying to stay away from “goals” in the sense that they are end all, be all.

Listen to the podcast and let me know what you have found to be successful.

Additionally, if you would like to be on the podcast and talk about this topic please let me know as I will be creating a follow up podcast on this topic.

As always, I welcome all ideas and feedback.

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Show Notes

Michael Hyatt Best Year Ever Program – http://bestyearever.me/register/ – I have not paid for this system, but I have used his other work and it was great. If you use this let me know I would love to know what you think.

I will be reading up on James Clear http://jamesclear.com/

In particular you can read http://jamesclear.com/goals-systems

I will also be tracking down content from John Maxwell http://www.johnmaxwell.com/

Quote from Scott Adams can be found in his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. You can more on his blog http://www.dilbert.com/blog/

Here is a post based on the quote http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/systems/

 

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