Dot Art: An easy and inexpensive art activity

As I returned to work after an extended leave, I found my students were working on an art project that was quite amazing.  My students were exceptionally engaged and they exhibited pride in creating their own masterpieces.  I thank Mr. Anthony Natalino (a fantastic co-worker) for implementing this activity.

Dot art entails creating a design with hole punched paper confetti.  Students are required to hole punch the paper, then apply it carefully to a sketched out design.   Student use a popsicle stick or a blunt pencil to apply the hole punched confetti onto their design.  Some students completed more than one piece of art as they enjoyed it so much.  I will definitely be utilizing Dot Art in the upcoming year!  The only material required is a variety of colored construction paper, a hole puncher, popsicle sticks or blunt pencils, a sheet of paper to sketch and apply the art to, and glue.  Super inexpensive with great results!

Find below pictures of completed projects and I am looking forward to seeing your projects as well!

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Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do {FREE POSTER!}

Hello and welcome to another edition of Words to Live by Wednesdays!

This week’s {FREE} poster is a all about accountability. Often, students complain about the outcome of tests, feedback from projects, and marks received on report cards.  Sometimes, the complaints are substantiated, but more often than not, these students are upset they did not reach their goals when they really have invested minimal effort into their work. Some students are not willing to put in the time, effort, and determination to complete their work to the best of their abilities. It is important for students to understand that only through hard work and determination will they achieve their goals and reach success. If they decided to avoid studying for a test, produce a lackluster project, or submit incomplete assignments, then they are responsible for the poor marks they will receive.  By teaching students that they are responsible and accountable for their achievements, then they will begin to understand that they have the power to change their actions and reach their goals.

Just click on the image below to open up the free poster!

don't be upset poster thumbnailDon’t forget to check back next week for another free poster on Wednesday!!

Guest Post: Producing Engaging Lesson Plans via Social Media Trends by Albert Roberts

Hello readers! We have a special guest post by Albert Roberts that we thought you might like! Our students are always on social media, so why not use social media in the classroom for educational purposes?  Read on to find out how!

What are some of the ways in which we can make use of social media in the classroom? When used properly, social media can allow us to engage students with topical discussions, while getting a perspective on issues like bias and how to use different sources. One way in which we might try to use social media in productive ways for lesson planning is to look at social media trending tools that allow you to put together a lot of different responses to a subject.

Perhaps the main challenge for using social media with Middle Schoolers and other age ranges is that they’re usually already familiar with social networks, but don’t always know how to use them as part of their assignments; there’s often just too much content to sift through. Which makes social trending sites like so useful, as they provide a search engine where you can bring together all the times that keywords are mentioned on different social networks.

For example, run a search on World War II, and you get Twitter messages linking to recent news stories about memorials and veterans; you can also find Pinterest links to World War II books, and Twitter and other social network links to photographs. You can take a similar approach to searches on Barack Obama, or on controversial debates (although you may want to be careful not to end up with offensive material). What you have, then, is a lot of content that can be filtered and turned into examples that can be shown to students.

Bringing all the content you can find on social media together into something tangible and relevant can engage students. Social network trend searches can make older subjects more relevant, or can put current debates into a real-world context; this kind of access to debates can then be combined with other uses of social media for students, from carrying out Twitter polls to writing blogs and posting class photos.

If you’re putting together lesson plans, selecting sources from a social media trend search can lead to a series of questions and projects for students. Some areas that you might focus on include:

Debating Bias – show students examples of how a topic they’re looking at in class is being debated – what are the key arguments that are coming out, and do they reinforce or contradict what they might already know?

Relevance – discuss with your students why some social media sources are more useful than others: why is a well-researched blog better than someone making their case on Twitter? Similarly, question how far we can trust commentators’ reliability, and what sources they use to back up their arguments.

At the same time, social media trend searches can be discussed more directly with students as a way for them to carry out work in their own time. Look at what results they would receive if they searched on keywords when in class, and why what they find could be seen as useful or not for assignments.

Social media trends can be an excellent way to identify relevant and topical debates beyond your usual sources, and can make students more aware of how they can improve their knowledge online. However, a big part of using these resources should be about instructing students on bias, and how far they can trust different sources.

Author Bio:  Albert Roberts is a teacher in the UK and loves thinking of ways to improve student engagement via social media and technology.  He would love to see more inspirational teachers signing up for English teacher jobs in London and improve engagement with this vital subject. He’s an advocate of sharing information amongst teacher communities.



What Does a Good Mathematician Do? A Seven Poster Set!

After the success of our six poster set “What Does a Good Scientist Do?”, we created a corresponding math poster set!

This bright and colorful seven poster set helps teachers introduce math process skills to their students. The following math process skills are included: problem solving, reasoning and proving, selecting tools and strategies, reflecting, connecting, representing, and communicating. Each poster provides prompts and keywords to help students understand the skill.

We have been doing a lot of research in order to begin working on our TLLP project this upcoming school year.  One of the key components of our project is getting students to think mathematically and communicate their ideas.  Having students learn these seven key mathematical process skills will be instrumental in improving their understanding of math concepts.

An excellent addition to your classroom! Just click on the image below!

thumbnail mathematician posters

And here’s a link to our science skills posters!

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The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Resources for Math Teachers to Read

Welcome to another addition of The Tuesday 12! Since Lisa, Elita, and I will be working on a TLLP math project this year, we will be using our blog to review useful resources, the progression of our project, challenges to overcome, and successes we achieve.

The following list of resources is on my summer reading list (haha…it seems to be quite an endeavour, but I hope to check off as many as possible).  If you’ve read any of these resources or if there are others you can recommend, please leave your comments below!

1. Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction (K – 8) by Marian Small

2. Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses (2011) by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron

3. Communication in the Mathematics Classroom (September 2010) by the Ontario Ministry of Education-Capacity Building Series

4. Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2-8 (1995) Marilyn Burns

Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2–8

5. Big Ideas and Understandings as the Foundation for Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (NCTM Journal, Spring-Summer 2005) by Charles Randall

6. Teaching Student-Centred Mathematics (2013) by John A. Van de Walle, Jennifer M. Bay-Williams, LouAnn H. Lovin, and Karen S. Karp.

7. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (2011) by Todd Whitaker

8. Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction (2012) by Christine Moynihan

9. Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics (2012) by Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez

10. What’s Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving (2011) by Linda Gojak and Laney Sammons

11. Supporting Numeracy (Special Edition #28) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

12. Asking Effective Questions (Special Edition #21) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series



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First Nations and European Colonialism

Every time we find great resources, we feel that it is vital to share them with you.  Well, in preparing a lesson on the settlement of the North West Territories for Grade 8 History, we came across a video that provides a fantastic visual to deepen students’ understanding of how First Nations people were forced to adapt to the changes that were brought forth by European Settlement.  The video is a slide show presentation which demonstrates how the assimilation process imposed upon the First Nations people left a contentious mark on the history of North America.   Furthermore, the slide show is correlated with the song “Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band.  The lyrics help students critically analyze the historical context.

Just click on the links to find the video and the lyrics.  We hope your lesson is much more powerful by using this presentation prepared by Sam Richards.

Please preview the slide show, as there are several images that are quite graphic in content.