Archive for March, 2011


small and subtle feedback

After a number of requests I thought I’d better write up the Minificates and provide a template idea for others to adapt. The idea is simple – you make some very small (and subtle)  certificates – a little bigger than a thumbnail for all the achievements and behaviours that you want to reward – then as the targets are met you leave a minificate on the desk – a voucher page can be made (with outlines) for students to stick them in (a la Green Shield Stamps)  and reclaim against rewards or they can go straight into their notebooks along with an annotation as to why it was awarded. Minificates also have a roll in formative assessment and could combine with the four word feedback idea written up last month. How do your minificates look? Why not get students designing their own minificates ? Less paper used for more feedback and celebration. Send me a sample of your ideas and I’ll set up an exchange forum on Google Docs.

click here to download Minificates as a PDF

Some reflections on typethetalk

During a recent visit to the Czech Republic I had the pleasure to be involved in a wonderful math’s lesson at the International School Prague. Students were divided into three teams and the leaders were emailed the task (to work out the area & length of hypotenuse of three triangles drawn around the school grounds in Google MyMaps) After a short planning session and some desk-based research the teacher, Anne Flaherty set the students free to choose their location and method. I watched as they then went on location and deployed over 10 different learning tools in their problem solving – from hand calculators to laptops by way of measuring tapes & metre wheels & iPhones. I have rarely seen such effortless and appropriate use of learning tools.

At the end we gathered back in class for a perceptive 10 minutes dialogue on the methods used and the results found. To make myself useful as students discussed their findings  I started to type in what they said – using the word processor and a large font size connected to the class projector  so that the students could see their views and the views of others in text in an almost live stream up on the big screen. This typethetalk approach clarifies and focuses the talk and also helps to hold important ideas and stops them vanishing into the air from which they came. I’d used the approach before but here it really seemed to help develop the ideas and the quality of response.

It struck me that this “typethetalk” technique has much to offer – it’s a sort of live blogging for the room – and of course the results can be emailed to all or even annotated as part of formative assessment. The next time there is a bit of useful dialogue going down why not jump on the word processor – it also moves the teacher to the sidelines as the talk starts to flow and sometimes this in not such a bad thing. Over time you might want to use tools like Cover it Live to broadcast the results on a live blog  – you could also  take it further by pasting in the odd picture etc. 
10/3/11  Thanks to Simon Knight via twitter for the link to the work done by Gerry Stahl and the Virtual Maths Team Project an idea that includes chat in a live collaborative environment

Here’s a sample of some “typethetalk” from the session some verbatim quotes and some general points

Typethetalk 17-2-2011 Maths, Prague ISP
“we presumed right angle
measured it on the ground
Google earth doesnt lie
we used a metre wheel
easy to follow lines”

“we used Pythagoras for right angle triangle\we had problems with terrain
so we redrew triangle in Google my Maps\
team 3”

3 methods
measured in google maps
measured in field from a new point
took co/ords north and east from Google earth then matched them via compass in iPhone
averaged this with our other answers &used calculator

best method ?

“Google is a pro company with satellite tech should be simple for this to be the best method”

“you cannot use measuring tools with map”

“you have to measure from a point the ….there is margin of error with maps..”

“we used an app for Phone using three methods and averaging together”

“Doing both ways a good idea – scientific proof works like this”

“Getting outside was a good way to do maths integration – we got more out of it because I had to go out and do something – when we go out and measure something we saw real life surveyors in front of the school – it clicked it was a real job using maths.”

Read more about the work I got up to at ISP from John Mikton’s Blog and from Patrick Green’s Blog (you can see me typing the talk in the corner of one of the pictures here 🙂

John Davitt March 2011