Welcome to the first installment of Taking Learning to the Cloud! This is the first in a series of posts that highlights web 2.0 tools. Today I am highlighting websites that have some type of online sticky notes. The webslide show below features these sites. The sticky note and the webslide show seen below are both examples of things that can be done using two of the featured sites.

This webslide was created in Diigo. To see my annotated notes of each website, click here. My notes highlight key features of each of the websites in the slide show.

I hope you enjoy these sites. I will make future posts highlightingmath activities that can be done with specific sites.

Last Sunday, 60 Minutes had a story about a new discovery in brain science. It's called superior autobiographical memory. The subjects of this story have the ability to recall all the events of their life. It was a very interesting story. I'll be exciting to see what happens with this discovery in the future of Neuroscienceand Brain-Based Learning. I'm attending an Eric Jensen workshop in January, and I can't wait to get his take on this news!

60 Minutes Episode (Go to the 15:50 mark on the video to see the Lesley Stahl story. You'll have to watch a commercial before the story clip.)

Lesley Stahl interviews the handful of individuals known to possess the skill of near endless memory.

Extra Clips from story:

Marilu Henner, who has what is called superior autobiographical memory, tells Lesley Stahl how she uses her extensive memory to "time travel" and recall moments of her childhood.

Lesley Stahl puts Louise Owen's memory to the test. Owen has superior autobiographical memory.

In a recent TED talk, Rachel Botsman discusses the move of society towards collaborative consumption. Even though this talk is not directly related to education, it does speak about the increasing need for teachers to provide collaborative educational experiences for students.

Today's 21st Century learners are living in world where collaborative sharing is the norm outside of the school setting. It is beginning to become the norm in some classrooms. Many teachers are currently using Skype, Wikis, Blogs, Social Networks, and other collaborative tools with students. The potential for providing students with rich, relevant learning experiences has never been greater than it is today. There are so many useful collaborative tools online that will enrich teaching and learning.

I'm planning on sharing some online collaborative learning and tools in a future blog series titled "Taking Learning to the Cloud". This series of posts will contain descriptions, links, and math lesson ideas for using various online tools that allow learning to take place in the Cloud. We'll also discuss the advantages of going to the Cloud with students, parents, and other educators.

The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators was recently published. It showcases some great resources for teachers of all grade levels. There are also some resources for ELL. I especially like how they divided the sections by elementary school, middle school, and high school.

One of the biggest advantages to teaching in the 21st Century is all of the tools we have available at our fingertips. We now have the ability to share everything we use with our students in formats that can be accessed from any computer. How amazing is that!!! Uploading and/or embedding your documents, power points, videos, pictures, links, etc. have many advantages.

Here are a few of the advantages of going to the Cloud with your students:

all of the materials for your lessons are in one location

students and parents have access to the materials used in class

students are able to collaborate

students are likely to be engaged and motivated by using these tools

students can continue working on assignments after school (For example, they can continue to make posts about a topic or concept even after you've moved on to a new topic. This could be a great way to have ongoing review of previously taught material.)

students who are absent have access to the materials missed

There are many other advantages of taking your students to the Cloud, but we'll leave it with these for now. I've created some online post-it notes in Wallwisher that give links and explanations of some great online tools for teachers.

Find The Best.com is a great site for comparing things. The video below gives an overview of the site. This site lets you view comparisons of data in tables and graphs. There is no end to the mathematical problems that can be posed and solved using this site.

Right now, the #7 comparison on the site is McDonald's Big Mac vs. Burger King's Whopper vs. Wendy's Double Stack.

The question to pose to students is: Which burger is best? After students debate which burger is best based on their opinion, begin discussing what factors (calories, fat, and sodium) may influence someone's decision about which burger is best. Then have students go to the site and look at the comparison chart to further explore the question of which burger is best.

The table gives all the nutrition information for each burger. It lists the percent of daily value of saturated fat, protein, sodium, etc. In addition to answering the question above, students could use the information in the table to calculate things like the number of fat grams for saturated fat, protein, and sodium.

The United States Census has a new interactive map that lends itself to many mathematical explorations. Students can explore statistics, various forms of data, interpreting graphs, finding percents, etc.

The site also has a multimedia page that contains a video titled Statistics All Around Us. This video explains why we need Census data. The video could also be used as a teaching tool by using some of the statistics given to form and answer math problems.

For example, they state that 1 in 4 deaths are due to Heart Disease. You could pose questions such as:

Based on its population, how many people in Texas would you expect to die of heart disease in 2010?

Which state would you expect to have the most deaths from heart disease in 2010? The least? Why?

This site lends itself perfectly to the type of math problems discussed in the videos of Dan Meyer and the Problem Based Learning video by Buck Institute of Education, BIE.

The Buck Institute for Education, BIE, has a video on Project Based Learning. They had the animation company, Common Craft, create the video explaining Project Based Learning. This video revels the importance of teaching and developing the 21st Century Skills of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking through Project Based Learning.

Here's the description of the video from BIE. In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking).

This video from BIE goes hand in hand with the TED talk I posted yesterday from Dan Meyer. By simply taking away the mathematical framework and given information that we usually provide students in math problems, we create a totally new problem solving situation that invites collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. In the process, we also get students excited about problem solving and discussing mathematics by involving them in more realistic, "real-life" problem solving situations.

Last night I was looking for an interactive graphing tool to make a scatter plot. In my search, I came across this one from NCES Kids' Zone. I liked it better than most of the others I've used in the past. The tool allows you to create various types of graphs. You can make bar graphs, pie graphs, area graphs, line graphs, and scatter plots. I only tried the scatter plot, but was pleased with what I was able to do. Mainly, I needed to graph several different sets of data on the same graph and this tool allowed me to do it.

Pros of this interactive graph:

allows you to graph different types of graphs (bar, pie, area, line, and scatter plots)

allows you to adjust the # of grid lines on the graph

allows you to graph up to 6 sets of data on one graph

allows you to color code each set of data

allows you to plot up to 50 data items in each set of data

allows you to vary the type of points on the graph (circle, square, rhombus, triangle, plus, or no shape)

allows you to set min and max values for x- and y-axes

allows you to Title Graph

allows you to include a legend for the graph

allows you to save the graph for editing at a later time

allows you to print, download, and/or email the graph

easy to use

Cons of this interactive graph:

does not allow you to scale the graph (I had to adjust my max values for the x- and y-axes in order to get it to scale the way I wanted it to.)

does not allow you to graph equations (I was only able to graph points, not lines. I would like to be able to graph just equations, or to graph equations over data sets to see if they are linear.)

Over all, this is the best graph I've found for making basic graphs and for graphing points if you don't need to graph an equation. It is great for teachers and students. Teachers can make graphs for use with class and put them into documents or other media. Students can create graphs to put into documents, media, or email to teacher.

This video was sent to me recently. I found it interesting because it clearly represents a couple of issues we face regularly with students. Boredom and Inattention! This video is a perfect example of what we can do to help eliminate boredom while capturing our student's attention.

Text from email about the video: Can you change people's habits and attitudes? Can you take a hard task and change people's conduct and attitudes by making a hard job seem fun?

Watch what a group of scientists did using fun or pleasure to get people to use a long staircase with a moving escalator right next to it. At first no one took the stairs; almost 97% of the people took the escalator. Notice how scientists changed how people reacted to climbing a long staircase as first choice. Now 66% more people took the stairs. This is not a joke but a practical value in life. In the video, you can observe what the scientists did and how they completely reversed human behavior by inserting fun.

They are saying that more people took the stairs because they made it fun. That's true, however, it was much more than just fun. People didn't only take the stairs because it was fun. The piano on the stairs was something they'd never seen before so it was Novel. Novelty captures the brain's attention! If someone takes that route every day, they would probably go back to using the escalator once the Novelty of the piano on the stairs wore off.

So what does this mean for us as math teachers?
It means that we canuse Novelty to help capture student's attention and help eliminate boredom. Remember, something is only novel for a short time, so we have to continually find new ways to introduce novelty into our lessons.

Here are a few suggestions for using Novelty:

show a video clip (Ex. If you're teaching Circumference, find a short video clip of someone doing the hula hoop. Show the video to introduce your lesson on circumference.)

bring in a new object that relates to the lesson (Ex. If you're teaching Circumference, bring in hula hoops of different sizes. Have students use string and rulers to find the circumference of each hula hoop.)

play a game

have students make up songs or dances to go along with a skill or concept you're teaching

use a new kind of manipulative

use a new method for putting students into groups

have students interview each other about the topic they are learning (Ex. Have students pretend to be a talk show host or news reporter. Have them write questions they would ask about Circumference. Then have them take turns interviewing their partner about the given topic.)

have a guest speaker or teacher (If another teacher in the building teaches the same thing as you, try trading classes for a day. Or, ask the principal, counselor, or someone else in the building to come in and work through a problem with students.)

have students text their parent about the topic/concept their learning

tell a story that relates to topic you're teaching (Ex. Tell a story about an experience you had on a Farris Wheel before teaching a lesson on Circumference.)

use a new type of technology

Stay tuned for more suggestions and lesson ideas for using Novelty in future posts!

I've been researching questioning stategies recently. It turns out that I'm learning a lot more than I thought I would. As part of my research, I've come across some fantastic examples of questioning by math teachers. These examples got me thinking about our expectations of students and how our questioning techniques reflect these expectations.

What do we expect from our students? Do we expect them to wait for us to work through the problem for them? Or, do we expect students to think through problems on their own?Do we expect students to communicate mathematically?

The way we question students is directly related to our expectations of them. The questions we ask, or don't ask, imply our expectations. The following examples demonstrate questioning strategies of teachers who expect students to think and communicate about thier learning.

Check out this masterful questioning of an Algebra student by David Cox. He uses a series of questions to get his student past "I don't know how to do this." How often have we heard that one?! He helps the student focus on what they do know in order to answer the given problem. His questioning techniques speak volumes of his expectation that the student do the thinking. I would also guess that the student felt much more satisfaction and confidence at the end of conversation than they would have if David had worked the problem for them.

Tom Woodward's videos (see videos below) provide another example of excellent questioning in a math classroom. This teacher is a master of facilitating mathematical discourse. She continually requires the students to do the thinking and communicating about the problem they are solving. What struck me was that whether the students were right or wrong in their thinking, the teacher never stopped asking questions to get them to communicate with each other. At one point a student is speechless when asked a question by the teacher. A few questions later, he is jumping right in with his thoughts.

Here's the problem that is being solved by students in the following videos. In his post, Tom said the teacher had the questions more clearly delineated. I would also suggest reformatting the question before using it with students.

The teacher in this video expected her students to discuss the problem among themselves. Everything she did in her conversations with students indicated that expectation. I noticed how excited the student's were about solving the problem. They really seemed to be enjoying the process of problem solving. Wouldn't we all love see students enjoying problem solving in math class?!

My take away from these examples is that we must align our expectations and our questioning techniques. If we expect our students to problem solve and communicate mathematically, we should use questions to help guide the way rather than giving in and doing the thinking for them.