Archive for the ‘GAFE’ Category

Using Digital Tools to Explore Conics in Math

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Recently our school district, LBPSB hosted our second annual EdTechTeam GAFE Summit.  During the Summit I was fortunate to hear Tim Lee Amplified IT (@AmplifiedIT) | Twitter talk about the graphing calculator Desmos.  I was enthralled and a little later looked into it further.

Before I continue with the story of our  Desmos Desmos | Beautiful, Free Math journey, I think it is important to share that when I look at technology tools, my overriding framework is one of pedagogy.  I always ask myself:

  • How will this enhance student learning?
  • Will it provide teaching and learning opportunities in different and improved ways?
  • Will it allow students the opportunity to publish their work?

Well, the answer to those three questions was a resounding – absolutely!

Not being a Math teacher I sought out a teacher at one of the schools I support.  I asked Jane Preston from Lakeside Academy if she would be interested in meeting with me so that I could show her Desmos.  She was pleased to have an opportunity to learn something new.  Jane and I met and WOW!

Every year Jane does a Conics project with her students.  She explained to me that normally it takes three weeks and the students do it with paper and pencil.  The past projects have been very successful but the questions remained: Where their creations shared with a wider audience?  Where they able to animate their creations?  If they worked on it at home how were they able to collaborate and help each other out?

Well, the answer to those questions led us straight to GAFE and Desmos. Jane was thrilled with what it had to offer her students.  We developed a lesson plan and Jane created her very first screencast explaining to her students what Desmos is all about.

For the past couple of weeks the students have been borrowing the set of 20 Chromebooks that I have and they have been actively designing and creating their Conics designs.  Below I have attached two videos from her students explaining what they have been doing. They will be exploring sliders and different ways to add colour to their design.

They will be exploring sliders and different ways to add colour to their design.


You could hear a pin drop

This blog post was written by Kim Meldrum – Consultant at Lester B Pearson School Board.

Digital Citizenship in the Math Classroom

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

A lot of Math teachers are not interested in Digital Citizenship; their subject is very paper based, they don’t see how Digital Citizenship could possibly fit into their subject area, or they simply don’t think that it is their job. I think that they are wrong.

Why? Well it’s fairly simple, given the right tools and few ideas you can actually lead your schools Digital Citizenship Curriculum from your Math classroom.


As we all know a lot of Math is all about thought processes. If the thought process doesn’t make sense, then often the work on the paper, and at the end of it all, the solution doesn’t make sense. Students are inherently bad at showing that thought process, because all we ask them to do is show their work (i.e. the mathematical steps) but not to show why they did this. But by blogging, we can get students to do a problem, and then write a blog post about what they had to do, how they solved the problem, and why. You can use whatever blog platform you want, but if you’re using Google Apps for Education, it makes sense to use Blogger.

Once you begin blogging, you can now open up conversations about appropriateness of content, and about freedom of speech.

Digital Portfolios

Students spend a lot of time in Math working on activities with manipulatives, completing work on paper, or completing exercises from workbooks. The problem with this is they have no evidence for the future, the number of times that my classes have completed a puzzle to just put all the bits away, with no record is shocking.

The solution is easy though, use a Digital Portfolio to get students to record what they did, they could take photos with a phone or tablet, and record their accomplishments. This gets them to reflect on their best work, and to showcase it for the future.

There are plenty of ways to do this, but a Google Site, or a blog are the simplest methods. Using a website is teaching your students important web design skills.

Online Communities

Using an online community in Math can be rewarding, it’s easy to set up your own, using tools like Google Groups, or Classroom (if you prefer you can use Edmodo, or Schoology). This is a great way to begin Math conversations, and to talk about appropriate use of discussion forums, and how to stay safe.

The inclusion of Digital Citizenship is an important one, in all subject areas. No matter your experience and knowledge you can help your students learn.


GAFE and Creating Reflective Learners (Part 2)

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Following on from Part 1 of our series of blog posts on using GAFE and Creating Reflective Learners, Kim Meldrum, Educational Consultant at LBPSB, talks about using ScreenCastify in Part 2.

ScreenCastify is another Chrome app that can be used with students of all ages.  It is a powerful tool that allows students to explain their learning/creation process.   The student you are hearing in this link made a drawing with Google Draw and is explaining to me how he made it.  This is an example of how you can use Draw and ScreenCastify to provide opportunities for your students to learn how to verbalize the process of their learning.  Another suggestion would be to have your students create a screencast of them reading their written creation and self-checking for fluency.

ScreenCastify is an amazing tool to assist students in developing their oral language skills.  It is critically important for educators to remember that no matter what age our students are, reading and writing develops from strong oral language skills.

GAFE and Creating Reflective Learners

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think — rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men” – John Dewey*

Imagine!!! John Dewey wrote about the critical role of learning from our experiences and developing reflective practice as far back as 1938 and yet we are still working on these two essential components becoming  integral aspects of both teaching and learning.

The great news is that now we have incredibly powerful GAFE tools available to both teachers and learners that will facilitate these amazing practices.  Here are some examples using Padlet.


  • Accessing students’ prior knowledge:  When students enter your classroom have a Padlet page on the screen with an open ended question posted directing them to share any information that they have on a new topic or concept that you are introducing.  This is a great way to find out what your students already know.  It is rewarding to them and allows you to adjust your lesson planning accordingly.
  • Padlet can also be used at the end of a lesson for the teacher to reflect on the learning of the students.  The students can be asked to share on Padlet one new thing that they learned during the lesson.  The teacher will then have a record of that learning and can reflect on whether or not they need to add to their lesson plan, change things up or move on. (checking for understanding)
  • Padlet gives a voice to students to never put their hand up and those who are never called upon.

Padlet – How To by Richard Bryne

Padlet Features

Kim Meldrum, M.Ed. Google Education Trainer and LBPSB Pedagogical Consultant

*”The aim of education should be to teach us rather how … – Mindbloom.” <>

Google Apps For Education Summit at LBPSB – Dec. 2013

Monday, February 10th, 2014

customLogoOur brains hurt!!!  We had four outstanding days of innovative learning with the Ed Tech Team who put on Quebec’s first Google Summit hosted by the Lester B. Pearson School Board at Lakeside High School in Lachine. The four days began with a PreSummit where participants were engaged in a number of sessions that included becoming a Google App Certified Teacher to learning the technical life of Google Apps and how to become an expert on YouTube.

Saturday and Sunday were absolutely amazing!  More than 500 participants arrived before 8:30 am on Saturday to begin their learning.  The buzz in the building was palpable!  It was incredible to be able to host such innovative and advanced professional development.  As we look back it is outstanding that we at LBPSB are pioneering Google Apps for Education.  We hosted the first Google Summit in Quebec and had participants from as far away as California.

The day began with a bilingual keynote by Lisa Galuga (@lisegaluga) who talked about how the lives of her young children are positively affected by technology.  It was an important context to begin the two days.

The summit sessions ran for 60 minutes and were jam packed with incredible ideas.  The enthusiasm in the rooms was incredible.  Participants were engaged and the talk between sessions was all about how to use what they learned in their classrooms.  People were connecting with like minded teachers from outside of their own school board.

A true sign of a successful conference is the fact that on Sunday the sessions were also jampacked!  Jennie Magiera (@msmagiera) was our keynote on Sunday morning and wowed the over 500 participants with her enthusiasm and expertise.

I attended the two day session on becoming a Google App Certified Teacher and was amazed at all that Google has to offer an educator.  Now it is time for me to explore those apps and to think about how they can be used in our classrooms to improve student learning.  One of the first that I would like to pursue is Google Sites.  I think that this offers teachers a wonderfully creative and not complex opportunity to have their students create individual blogs where they can share their learning and open their educational environment up to receive feedback from people all around the world.  What a wonderful vehicle to use to engage students and to reinforce learning!

Check out Jennie Magiera’s Blog: Teaching Like It’s 2999

We would love to hear what your great takeaways were from the summit.  Please comment below.

Kim Meldrum (DCP Consultant)