Stay in school; learn math


I remember this just as if it was yesterday.

It was something that we talked about in Grade 9 Introduction to Business and got the typical Grade 9 response…

Siiiiir, this is Business, not Math

It was a topic that I thought might inspire some interest in advertising and promotion. Also, the importance of knowing your market.

You can read a quick summary Why No One Wanted A&W’s Third-Pound Burger. Long story short – the potential market figured that a 1/3 burger was actually smaller than a competitor’s 1/4 burger and yet priced the same. Informed consumers wanted the most beef for their money and didn’t buy into the new product.

So, A&W (at least south of the border) is taking another run at the concept. The video above is frank, pokes a little fun at themselves, and might just make a stronger message this time around. In Canada, as far as I can see, the big deal is the $1 coffee. We don’t have an A&W in our town so will have to check if I’m out and about. Maybe Sadler’s Pond this afternoon?

We did, eventually, have some fun with it in our class and mocked up our own advertisements to see if we could convince an audience that it really was a good deal.

As we look back on this, there’s a big opportunity for education and particularly those who teach and learn mathematics to learn from the experience. We’re getting better about bringing in real life experiences and digging into the mathematics.

For example, using a measuring tape to talk about fractions.

or using a measuring cup.

In the classroom, we’re getting better at making the connections and, hopefully, finding a way to make these things relevant.

Of course, there are books that you can purchase that explain all of it but I’ll bet your parents were like mine and had us using mathematics in our everyday lives. I can remember Mom doing her best to make my brother and me cooks and all the mathematics that goes into a recipe. Mess up the measurements and you’ve got problems. Level 4 – we have to modify the recipe because our cousins are coming. We were a family of 4 and they a family of 5 so we couldn’t just double it. Similarly, I can remember Dad having us estimate the length of time it was going to take to reach our destination in the car when we’d see those mileage signs at the side of the road. The Level 4 question has always “what happens if I speed up?”

For the sake of A&W because they do have great root beer floats, I hope that society has learned from the mistakes of the past and even if people can’t do the math, they’ll be intrigued by a humourous commercial. It’s my understanding that there isn’t a great deal of profit margin in the fast food business and that any profits are made up with volume. In that respect, I suspect that the competition will be out with their own commercials to counter this mathematics lesson.

Here in Ontario, we are fortunate that we have some mathematics loving people that share all kinds of inspiration. Alice Aspinall uses her @EveryoneCanMath Twitter account and website to spread the message. David Petro is all over mathematics with his Twitter account @davidpetro314 (and you’re not worthy if you don’t see what he did there) and his blog.

In your future, we’ll be changing the clocks – is there a mathematics lesson in there?

Census Day activities


I got my Census information in the mail last week and got right on it. In the past, I haven’t been this quick but, carpe diem. It was a very short activity and something that you have to do. (It says so on the form) I couldn’t help but think that, as a country, we’re really seizing on the pandemic by moving this online. I guess we just expect that everyone has a computer and is connected.

To be honest, I had the Census done and it actually took longer to re-read and find that there was an option to do the Census without a computer. I thought that the whole electronic process was well thought through and implemented. My congratulations to the developers.

The value doesn’t stop there by doing one’s civic duty. If you start poking around at the menus on the Census, there’s a gold mine there for educators looking for something relevant to the day and helps answer the mathematical question “Why do we need to learn mathematics?”

There is a “Resources for educators” page.

I worked my way through all of the sections and was quite impressed. While the instructions suggest downloading and printing, that’s probably not the best option these days. However, online works nicely. You get a chance to use those new found digital skills.

While May 11 is Census Day in Canada, the activity doesn’t generate any data that would have to go outside your classroom. So, it doesn’t necessarily have to be done today. I thought that the layout made a lot of sense including addressing what expectations could be addressed with the activity. Since it’s a cross-Canada activity, don’t look for the exact wording from the Ontario Curriculum.

Thinking of the bigger picture, you may wish to download all the resources and tuck them away to use in future non-Census years. The activities are really worth the effort.

How tall?


One of the things that you can see for miles and miles around here is the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. I’ve been there a few times over the years for conferences in Michigan and I stand in awe (and dizziness from looking up) just outside as you go in. Actually, if I stand across the river in downtown Windsor, I still stand in awe!

Photo by Jameson Draper on Unsplash

Just looking up and down is so impressive. Wait a few minutes and the People Mover will go by. Like most big buildings, it’s well lit for a nighttime view and the colours will change depending upon events of the day. I absolutely can’t wait until the Tigers win the World Series. There will be a lot of orange, to be sure. At present, General Motors and the Detroit Marriott are major tenants.

But just how tall? I can tell you from personal experience, “really tall”! Research indicates that it is 73 stories tall.

It would be nice to put “really tall” into some sort of perspective and you can at The Measure of Things. According to the Wikipedia, it’s 750 feet to the top of the antenna. The Measure of Things offers suggestions as to other things that might be that tall.

For this old football coach, the one that really rang my bell was the comparison to a football field.

Now, if you’re staring up at the Renaissance Center, it’s just normal to look at things on this side of the Detroit River.

Back to the Wikipedia and the tallest building in downtown Windsor is the Augustus Tower at Caesar’s Windsor with a height of 364 ft.

Of course, it’s half the height!

I’ll be honest; it’s fascinating to go through the results and look at the various descriptors used to help visualize the height.

The Measure of Things isn’t just for heights. Check for area, pinches, pennyweights, pints, or any type of measurement that you can think of.

This is a really rich resource which should be able to spawn all kinds of ideas for classroom use.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to this blog and a regular post around here. Friday mornings are an opportunity to take a look at a number of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. They’re always inspirational so let’s go…


Educational Bourgeoisie

Tim King was the guest host this week on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show on voicEd radio. We talked about this post, inspired by a podcast that he did with his wife Alanna and his reading of Starship Troopers.

Tim sees a lot of parallels between the book and his life and shares them with us. In particular, “Everybody works, everybody fights”. Does that apply to education?

Tim uses this as an opportunity to think about teachers in Ontario that aren’t in classrooms. He estimates this to be 20%. He feels that when cuts come along, they apply to the classroom and the 20% bourgeoisie are unaffected.

As a person who spent part of my career in that 20% group, I know that we all have challenges in education. When you’re not providing a viable service to those who are in the classroom, it’s only fair that stones are thrown.

I wonder though … given that there is a desire for student population in classrooms to be at 15 … are there enough teachers available to hire or will the districts use those bodies at the board office to help with numbers. It will be a real statement on how a system values those in those positions.


Stunt Riding is Easier Than You Think in Ontario (and everywhere else evidently)

Tim actually has a couple of blogs. In addition to Dusty World where I pulled in that first post, he also blogs at Mechanical Sympathy. A recent post there has me thinking and wondering even more – on a different topic.

Tim tells a story about a motorcycle outing (complete with pictures) which lead to a discussion with another biker.

There was someone that ended up getting a Stunt Driving ticket for standing on the pegs of his motorcycle. If found guilty, the penalties are pretty severe and expensive.

Until this point, my understanding of stunt driving had been about those who get caught on the 401 particularly around Chatham for doing excessive speeds.

It never occurred to me that standing up on the pegs was problematic. I’ve seen it all the time and just figured that it was a chance to “unstick” yourself or, er, um, air things out. I would have thought some consideration would have been given to what the person was actually doing while in this position. I could see if you were swerving or driving dangerously otherwise. A ticket for that makes sense.

Tim takes on the situation and the Ontario laws in this post.


Scared, But Certain

Aviva Dunsiger is a person who I would suggest is one of the most positive and upbeat educators I know. Read her blog and you’ll see that she generally loves her job and enjoys her interactions with children.

In fact, at times, I wonder to myself if she’d feel the same way in a Grade 11 mathematics classroom. She makes reference to a blog post from here where I had noted that hugs are often currency in the younger years. I can honestly say it isn’t in Grade 11.

Teaching is an acquired taste!

School re-opening in whatever shape it occurs in Ontario and Hamilton-Wentworth will undoubtedly be different.

So, back to her title – in the post she lets us know that she’s scared and for sure questioning things but she’s certain that she’s going to make it work.


Black Hands Doing Mathematics

This post from Idil Abdulkadir left me with my mouth open just a bit when she described an observation made by her students.

Using a document camera to demonstrate things in her classroom is a way of getting the job done. I get that. I used to use an overhead projector all the time. It’s a great way to do things; you never turn your back on a class and you’re able to recognize hands that go up or puzzled faces immediately. Personally, I also found it easier to write neatly than on a chalkboard. My older technology didn’t try to do anything fancy; it just took what was there and projected it.

But her students noticed that something that was happening in Ms. Abdulkadir’s class that wasn’t in others. The camera was adjusting the colour balance because of the colour of her hands. Let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a lot of ways that this could be interpreted but she felt that it means something.

I want my students to see Black hands doing delicate work.
I want my students to see Black hands solving equations.
Black fingers counting.
Black hands doing mathematics.
Black hands making beautiful things.
Black hands and Black people thriving.

To that, I would add “I want students to see Black hands writing computer programs”.


Tents

Lisa Corbett missed the opportunity to talk about her son being a “child of the corn” when making an emergency pit stop. There were trees though.

The tree in question was near the community arena’s parking lot and that led to some observations and some social understanding during this time of COVID. Like every arena in the province, there was no ice, and the facility was used to give the homeless a place to isolate.

Now that the municipal plan of using the arena from April to June is over, those who would normally use the service have to look for other places. Lisa uses the opportunity to talk about the invisible homeless.

They’re there in every community. COVID has eased but has not gone away. Perhaps this will force communities to come to grips with this issue in a more permanent way.


AVOID THE SUMMER SLUMP: FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS

Although I had talked about this post from Alanna King in a previous post, it never was done on the TWIOE podcast. Tim wanted to give his lovely wife a shout out, so we did.

In the post, she offers three recommendations for secondary school students for the summer.

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian
  • Buy yourself a new notebook

You can’t argue with that logic so it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. As I rethink this post, it may be even more relevant. As Tim noted during the show, he noted a drop off in student engagement with the Minister of Education indicated that marks wouldn’t count.

So, perhaps the Summer Slump started for some students even earlier than usual.

C’mon students – take her advice.


Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 24th, 2020

I’m guessing that I’m part of the choir that David Petro preaches to. I enjoy his Friday look around at the world of mathematics. I do wonder about his abbreviation for July though.

This time, he’s encouraging engagement in a couple of Twitter discussions in addition to his regular collection of:

  • Resource Links
  • Video Links
  • Image Links

The discussion and images in the Image Link is a reminder that skillful people can make statistics say just about anything – including incorrect things.


Please take the time to click through and read each of these wonderful posts. Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter for further engagement.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tim King – @mechsymp
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Idil Abdulkadir – @Idil_A_
  • Lisa Corbett – @lisacorbett0261
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This post was originally posted at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, it’s been a bit of a cooler week but it sure was warm out. I hope that you were able to take advantage of it. I hope that you were also able to enjoy blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I know I did and here’s some of what I read.


Questioning Experts More Than Expertise

Noa Daniel was guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio and we had a chance to talk about her latest post. It reminded me of a quote from a former superintendent to those of us in the Program Department.

An expert is someone from out of town…

I don’t know if that was an original quote or he was sharing it from someone else. His context was about paying big speaker fees to bring in someone to talk on Professional Development Days when we had the capacity already within the board. Those of us in the Program Department were to find those with the expertise and encourage them to share it with others. Why pay to bring in an “expert”?

In the post, Noa takes on her view of this and I enjoyed her thinking. I also thing that it’s more important than ever with the lack of travel bringing in “experts” to address educators. Why not work with the expertise within a district where they can address local issues directly rather than some hypothetical situation somewhere else?

Does COVID push us away from outside of town experts and towards celebrating the expertise that we are developing locally? Something to think about.


Two Approaches to Building Online Communities

Diana Maliszewski’s post follows Noa’s very nicely. I think that most of us understand the power that can come from online communities. So, how do you build that community?

Diana identifies a couple of different ways.

One is modelled by the work from Matthew Morris and Jay Williams with their #QuarantineEd initiative. It’s an online community of learners, building on the efforts of the group of contributors with a direction by Matthew and Jay. Matthew talked a bit about it when he guested on This Week in Ontario Edublogs and shared the numbers. It’s grown from an experimental conversation with TDSB educators. And, it’s caught the attention of the Toronto Star.

The second scenario is something that many of us have seen many times. An existing user will tag you or plead to the masses to follow this new account. The prudent social media user will, of course, check that person out before inviting them into your community. Many times, that person has contributed nothing to date. Why would you want to embrace them? My rule has always been “You’ve got to be interesting”.

Diana includes here thoughts; she’s a skillful navigator of social media and I think you’ll find her advice incredibly helpful.


What ARE Kids Learning?

It was great to see Stephan Pruchnicky back at the keyboard sharing thoughts again. It was kind of sad to read about why he wasn’t and I hope those days are behind him.

He’s got one message in this post and it appears in big letters.

I think it’s a great reflection point for teachers, students, and parents.

Are we so focused on teaching being covering materials specified in the Ontario Curriculum that we’ve turned a blind eye to other important things that might have been learned?

Something to think about going forward.


Forward.

I had to smile at Beth Lyon’s comment that it was only towards the end of June that she finally decided on her word of the month. You’ll recall that she didn’t choose a year long “one word” and instead opted to do one per month. Given all that’s happened, it has turned out to be a genius move.

It’s easy to lose track of time. I bought a Lotto Max ticket last Saturday and kept checking it with my OLG app, getting messages about it that seemed bizarre. Then, after a bit of thinking, I realized that it was for a draw on Tuesday and not Sunday or Monday when I was testing it. Keeping track of time is a challenge these days.

Beth makes reference to a couple of excellent blog posts from other Ontario Educators, Lisa Corbett and Amanda Potts, and uses that to force her thinking and come with a new direction for the month of July.

The post is dated July 3 so I hope she’s nicely back on track.


How To Make Math Moments From A Distance

From Kyle Pearce and Jon Orr, a really, really long blog post under their MakeMathMoments umbrella.

I’m not sure that I can truly sum it up in a paragraph or two but I really found the content interesting. It should serve as a reminder that mathematics is everywhere; it’s beautiful; and it’s really relevant.

Many of us grew up with mathematics being the stuff that is covered in mathematics textbooks. There was content, questions, and answers. For me, it was third year with Ross Honsberger in a course called “History of Mathematics” where he showed us the fun, beauty, enjoyment, and the relevance of mathematics being everywhere.

It’s such an important concept and one that lives with me and it’s easy to see mathematics everywhere. In the post, these gentlemen give us some great examples that go far beyond the typical questions you might find in a textbook. Bookmark this for future inspiration and resource.


Distance Hugs: My Self-Reg Stumbling Block

I kind of knew that Aviva Dunsiger wrote this post on the Merit Centre blog even before I read through the article.

I know Aviva to be a loving and caring teacher and I would suspect that displays of affection have a home in her kindergarten classroom. Things there are so much different from the students that I taught. My students might have had gestures of emotion but I would never expect a hug to be part of the mix.

In the offing for her and her teaching partner at the close of the school year was a thank-you gift from a student and a parent. Aviva wondered if there would be enough control for her not to hug the child or the child not to hug here. It’s an interesting and certainly relevant wonder these days.

She describes how hugs are like currency in her classroom.

  • Kids use hugs to connect with others.
  • They greet us in the morning with a hug.
  • They look for a hug when they’re sad, scared, angry, tired, or hurt.
  • Hugs comfort many of our students, especially in that first month of school, when leaving home is one of the hardest things that they have to do.

You’ll have to read the post to see what happened and Aviva’s musing about what things might look like in the future.


WRITING: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It takes a brave person to write a summary about a blog post talking about writing but here goes…

On the TESL Ontario blog, Milica Radisic takes on the topic of writing and I found this observation interesting.

Second, since almost 90% of my students are highly educated, have done a number of university courses and presumably read a number of books, I wonder why they make mistakes that, at least to me, seem basic.

Gulp!

In the post, she shares her thoughts about

  • Run-on Sentences
  • Commas
  • Transition Words

I wonder about my own writing. Quite frankly, the last time I took an English course would have been in Grade 13. There were the odd essays that I was required to do in some subjects but I missed most of that because my course choices were largely Mathematics and Computer Science. By their nature, there is writing but it’s more technical than anything else.

Since I started writing for this blog, it’s been a return back to those secondary school skills. I find that I’m using a semi-colon more than ever and I did do some research to make sure that I was using it correctly. There’s always the nagging feeling that I just might make an error and, because it’s so public, everyone would see it.

I found reading this a really reflective activity and, as a regular blogger, I do want to do my best. I hope that I can live up to this standard.


Please take some time and click through to read these posts in their original form. They’ll get you thinking.

Then, follow these writers on Twitter.

  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Stepan Pruchnicky – @stepanpruch
  • Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Kyle Pearce – @mathletepearce
  • Jon Orr – @MrOrr_geek
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Milica Radisic – @milicaruoft

This blog post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.