Week of October 26th – Patterning & Algebra

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 Exploring Resources

This week involved an exploration of Patterning and Algebra. We explored patterns to familiarize ourselves with the concepts of pattern rules, pattern cores, and describing and extending patterns. These concepts are important in the junior grades. Since it is Halloween time, our learning activities had relation to that theme. For example, we were asked to create and extend a pattern using Halloween candies.

Tom creates an “AABBAA” pattern with chocolates and caramel

Ontariomathresources.ca has a good collection of patterning and algebra resources that could be useful to junior level (grade 4-6) teachers or parents. They are almost all in relation to the Ontario context.

We also explored some higher level patterning and algebra. In grade 7, the Ontario curriculum for math emphasizes “representing linear growing patterns using concrete materials, graphs, and algebraic expressions” (Ontario, p105) in the Patterning and Algebra stand. Graphs give a great visual representation of the relationships between variables. Grade 7 student also must “develop and represent the general term of a linear growing pattern, using algebraic expressions involving one operation” (Ontario, p105). One of our presenters, Henry, showed us this activity that could be useful. Students have to match a word problem with the appropriate algebraic expressions.

Rabbit Reproduction Patterning: For some more intermediate level fun with patterning and algebra, I would like to highlight an activity we used in class. It is a bunny reproduction problem that requires students to think critically and uncover a pattern. Click the link to read a nice explanation of (and solution to) the problem! The question is an excellent way to get students into a patterning mindset. When we used it in our class we found it to be very valuable to assess the current levels of our students. Although it is unrealistic, it is quite fun to explore with the students!

Edugains has a TIPS4 Revised Math document that could be useful for intermediate math educators.


Before today, I was not familiar with patterning for junior grades and would have been uncomfortable teaching them. I think that because patterns seem so obvious to me, I would lack the language to try to explain it to younger students. I found this week’s exploration to be a really useful review of patterning and algebra. It was beneficial to have these demonstrated to me during the learning presentations and also during my own explorations. I was exposed to the language and manipulatives needed to give me a higher confidence in the classroom should I start teaching younger grades.

Patterning should be an exciting strand of math to teach. I want to try and bring some real life applications to this strand as often as I can. We naturally look for patterns and try to categorize things as we go about our day. I’m hoping to continue to explore more resources to keep patterning relevant and interesting to my students.


Ontario. (2005). The Ontario curriculum, grades 1-8. Mathematics. Toronto: Ontario, Ministry of Education.


Week of October 20th – Proportional Reasoning

Exploring Resources

This week was my learning presentation on proportional reasoning. I was responsible for the Proportional Reasoning section of our course. Due to some time constraints, I was not able to cover the “percent” part of the chapter, but I was able to reasonably cover strategies for teaching “ratio” and “rate”. Here is my presentation:

Proportional reasoning can be really fun to cover with students in the classroom. Lets take a look at some more resources that cover ratio, rate and percent.

EduGains – Big Ideas and Questioning K-8: Proportional Reasoning. This resource is a general document that looks at key concepts covered in each division. It demonstrates a good overview of proportional reasoning and gives some help with creating a three-part lesson plan. This is a great starting resource for educators and even for parents who wish to help their kids with their homework. I believe it is important for parents to have access to resources like this so they can understand what the teachers are teaching and looking for from their kids. It can help them reinforce these concepts in home situations.

IXL Learning (click here, use Ctrl + F and type “Proportional Reasoning”). I talked about this resource before. It has example problems that are directly related to the Ontario curriculum. These are great for extra practice for students or for educators to get ideas for their lesson plans.

LearnTeachLead.ca. This is a website with resources that are build around the Ontario Ministry of Education’s curriculum expectations. This link leads you to the beginning of a three-part lesson plan example that is about proportional reasoning. Three-part lesson plans are an excellent research based method of lesson delivery and this example is an extremely valuable resource not only for proportional reasoning teaching, but for three-part lesson teaching as well. On the left bar you can also access detailed pdf documents that outline what is happening during each of the three sections of the lesson. I like these videos because new educators can look at how the students are processing the information and how the experienced educator frames her questions to create high level connections for her students. A must visit resource!


As I prepared for my presentation, I consulted a variety of sources to extend my learning. As I presented, I felt I had a great grasp over the content I needed to share with my peers. Upon reflection, this is the feeling that I should always have going into a lesson with my students. This is similar to our class discussion about how teachers need to do the problems before they present them to the students. I should be able to use multiple resources to consolidate my learning and take a complete set of strategies and problems to my students.

One of the sources I relied on was my associate teacher at my placement school. She allowed me to test out the questions on the students during a math review period. This experience turned out to be extremely valuable because not only did I have the students tangible work, but I was also able to question them about their thinking. This allows me to find gaps in the way I explain or demonstrate proportional reasoning in the future, because I now have better understanding of common misconceptions. The resources of fellow teachers and actual experience are components I cannot overlook as I continue to expand my knowledge of teaching.


Exploring Resources: Teaching Reading in the Ontario Classroom

In my last “Exploring Resources” blog post, I looked at “Media Literacy”. This week, I will examine resources for the “Reading” strand of language arts and, like the previous post, it will have strong connections to the Ontario curriculum.


Debi Ridpath Ohi – inkygirl.com

Reading Resource

ReadWriteThink is a resource founded by the NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) an American professional association for educators of English studies, literacy and language arts. ReadWriteThink resources can be sorted by the learning objective that educators or parents are looking to find. Reading Fluency and Vocabulary are two of many “reading” related objectives that can be found.

I discovered an amazing lesson support tool called the K-W-LCreator. A KWL chart is a tool that helps activate a student’s prior knowledge before a reading as well as consolidate information after reading.  Students list what they already know (K), what they want to learn (W), and then summarize and reflect what they actually learned (L). This chart is something that is typically completed on paper or chart paper in the classroom. The advantage to this online tool is that students can embed links inside the K-W-L chart, giving it another dimension of interaction that is very useful.


IRA/NTCE, 2011. ReadWriteThink: KWL Creator. Online too. http://bit.ly/1e8gnhn

The tool could be used by individual students, by teachers to model on the projector for the class, or both. It is really easy to use and students can also save their work after the “K” and “W” sections so they can complete the “L” section after reading. I highly recommend you check it out!

To further illustrate the usefulness of ReadWriteThink I want to share a very detailed lesson plan that involves reading and reading strategies. This lesson is called, “A Prereading Strategy: Using the Vocabulary, Language, Prediction (VLP) Approach” and is targeted towards middle school students. This five class, 45-minute period lesson plan uses a nonfiction reading about forces of nature to cover vocabulary, prediction and summary skills. The lesson plan explains the goal of each session and gives the educator an extreme amount of detail and all the necessary resources to execute it. The plan also highlights points for assessment and student reflections. I really like this lesson plan because of it complexity and extensive resource availability. Even if an educator didn’t want to use the whole plan, reading the objectives and activities are excellent anchors for a lesson that may be more specific to prior events in that teacher’s classroom.

The Ontario Context

The NCTE is an American resource, but the contents can still have very strong Ontario curriculum connections. Each lesson plan resource, like the one discussed above, has a “Standards” section that shows the curriculum connections across each state in the USA and also the NCTE’s National Standards for the English Language Arts. These expectations can be easily matched to the Ontario Curriculum K-8 Language.  For example, the VLP lesson I discussed above has key reading standard for informational text that conform to the Grade 7 common core standards for New York state. Such standards include:

  • Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events)

(NTCE, 2015. ReadWriteThink – Common Core Standards. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1Rwk7yH)

If we compare to some of the Grade 7 Ontario standards for reading, we can see common standards. Such connections include:

  • Comprehension Strategies (pg127)
  • Demonstrating Understanding (pg127)
  • Extending Understanding (pg128)

(Ministry of Education, 2008. The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8 Language. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1Lep545)

There are many resources that can help educators and parents with their child’s reading. It is important to remember that any step towards helping our students is an important step, but for educators in Ontario it is important to crucially evaluate our resources for their connections to our curriculum objectives.

Extended Resources for The Ontario Context

The Ministry of Education in Ontario heavily supports the reading strand of the Ontario Curriculum for Language.  Here are a few resources that are Ontario connected:

  •  E-workshop is an Ontario online teaching resource that contains many learning modules for reading that are aimed at junior level students (grades 4-6). The example above is a learning module for shared reading, which is a very useful reading instructional approach to use with students. Head on over and watch the videos to gain some tips for shared reading.
  • EduGains has a list of documents and webpages that are connected to the Ontario curriculum and are useful for educators. Topics include, “Inferring During Reading”, “Literacy Assessment” and “Reading Fluency”.  There is also a specific reading section that is for Classroom Learning Grade K-6 which would be useful for junior level educators.
  • The Ontario Teacher’s Federation website has a lesson plan resources section. This specific lesson plan document I linked to has 48 lesson plans for various grades that are based on the book “Reading With Meaning” by Debbie Miller. It covers all grade levels. I think this is valuable to educators who are getting familiar with Miller’s technique.

– A

Week of October 5 – Order of Operations & Integers

“Why did the integer get mad at his wife? … Because she was being irrational.”

– Unknown

Exploring Resources

This week we had professional learning presentations on order of operations, perfect squares & square roots, and integers. We discussed methods for teaching introduction to integers and operations with integers. Number lines and colour-counters were two popular visual representations of integers. For our perfect squares activity we looked at a common math problem called “The Locker Problem” which you can explore by clicking the name above. We also used snap cubes and geo-boards to visualize perfect squares. These tools can be helpful for introducing the concepts to grade 7 students and as a refresher for grade 8 students.

An example of using snap cubes to represent perfect squares.

A new resource I explored this week is IXL.  IXL is an amazing site that offers sample problems targeted towards topics in math. In fact, you can even find sample problems linked directly to the Canadian provinces math curriculums, including Ontario. This is a link to the topic of integers from IXL for all grades. Before you view the sample questions you can see an example of the questions and after clicking, students can complete the questions/problems and keep track of their progress. The pictures below are sample problems from “Grade 7 – Comparing and Ordering Integers” on IXL. This is definitely a must see resource.


Images: IXL Learning, 2015. Compare and Ordering Integers. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1Ra3itj

Last week, I introduced the Ontario Association for Math Education. I would also like to share the OAME’s Grade 7 and Grade 8 integers pages because they are such valuable resources.


As I continuously explore math resources, I can reflect on the different uses of each resource. Last week (and included this week as well), I looked at resources that can help the teacher with lesson plans. This week’s exploration of IXL was a valuable resource for students to practice. It is very important for educators to explore resources that they can pass on to the students, such as games, apps, or practice websites. This concept is also relatable to my discussion on valid and reliable resources. It is the educators responsibility to thoroughly explore the resources they pass on to their students to ensure quality and proximity to the curriculum objectives. Finding valid and reliable resources such as IXL prove valuable. There are endless options with how educators can choose to use extra resources for their students, from assessable assignments to optional at-home practice. I think students will feel supported if they know they can get extra problems that are relatable to the curriculum and I think parents will also feel confident in an educator that is supportive in that way. Parents play a key role in a student’s success and their happiness with you as an educator is important.

Next week we will explore rate and ratio.


Week of September 29 – Fractions & Decimals


Last week we explored whole number operations. This weeks learning sessions, we moved forward and started to explore operations with fractions and decimals. Our activity sessions consolidated the resources, teaching methods, and learning strategies that are found in Making Math Meaningful to Canadian Students, K-8 by Nelson. I also chose to explore some other resources for fractions and decimals.

Learn Alberta has a Math Interactives page that contains a “smoothie making” activity to review fractions in an obvious practical application. The player is shown a recipe for a smoothie and is asked to turn the dials on the measuring machine to help create the right combination. Questions proceed to get more difficult, asking for the lowest common denominator, ordering fractions and adding fractions. This resource also has Print Activities and Learning Strategies files that can be used to guide lesson plans and help educators teach the principles of fraction and decimal operations.

Another amazing resource for fractions and decimals comes from the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education or the OAME. They have an abundance of math resources separated by grade and organized by unit. Since I am in a grade 7 classroom, I chose to explore their Unit 7. Fractions and Decimals resource for grade 7.  I highly recommend this resource for any pre-service or in-service math teacher in Ontario. It makes relevant connections to the curriculum, offers teaching strategies and offers and abundance of examples and activities to use in the classroom. Click the link above and check it out!


Looking at the fraction and decimals resources, it is evident there are an abundant of tools educators and parents can use to further their student’s learning. The “Exploring” section above only scratches the surface of a sea of resources that are available. This is comforting to myself as a pre-service teacher. I am going to be teaching grade 7 math and as a new teacher it is great to not only know resources are available, but have a chance to explore them and perhaps try them out in the classroom to judge their effectiveness. Just looking at the OAME resource section, an educator can start to feel a little more supported as they plan lessons and assessments.
Valid and reliable resources contribute to my knowledge base as an educator. There are many resources available, but the goal is to curate quality resources. The accumulation of these types of resources become invaluable to teachers because they prepare them for a variety of situations. Are your students in need of vast differentiated learning techniques? Are you teaching math at a new grade level for the time? If these are true, educators can consult their reliable resources and feel confident they will be giving their students an equitable chance to succeed in math.

Class Update

Lastly, I would like to give a little update on my class’ learning of math! My associate teacher and I designed a workstation review activity to explore rate, ratio, and BEDMAS. Here are a few of my own pictures from our activity. (All pictures used with permission of school, teacher and student.)
Girls attempting a rate question.


One of the student’s solutions to the rate question.
– A

Exploring Resources: A Closer Look at “Media Studies”

In my “Exploring Resources” blog posts, I will be looking at some key resources in literacy studies that can be useful to educators and parents. It will mostly be in relation to teaching in the Ontario context and the Ontario Language Curriculum.

ipad of trees

Ohi, D. & Carroll P., 2013. Ipad Made Of Trees. Illustrated comic. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1OdNupY

As 2015 nears completion, it is more and more obvious that technology and culture studies have become important tools/avenues to increase student engagement. Today, I would like to examine a resource I found that looks at one of many ways to bring media and popular culture into the classroom to achieve curriculum objectives. Middleweb is a website targeted towards educators and parents of students between grades 4-8. It is primarily a blog-based interface. The content is separated into five major streams: Resource Roundups, Themed Blogs, Guest Articles, Book Reviews, and Interviews. The specific resource post I chose to explore is, Media Literacy: Learning from the Oscars” by Frank Baker. This is an article submitted by a guest writer who shares ideas about using film and movies in the classroom. I would like to start with Baker’s film resources and extend the exploration of media literacy into movie trailers/advertisements while highlighting relevance to the Ontario Language Curriculum.


The Oscars is a very popular award show in the United States, and the same goes for Canada. Bell Media reported that 13 million unique viewers watched some or all of the 2015 Oscars. The Ontario Curriculum encourages examining the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture by examining such texts as films, songs, video games, advertisements, television shows, and more.

Where to begin with film? Some starting points:

  • Educators should stress an importance on the steps they use to introduce film.

Baker’s own website offers A Teacher’s Guide to The Academy Awards which gives a set of preparation activities and questions for an Oscar related lesson.

Here is a different sample from Baker’s guide to reading visual media for intermediate students. In the lesson, he exposes the students to film Wall-E for passive consumption first. Secondly, he gives them guiding questions to focus them on things to look for during the second viewing. After the second viewing, the students can share their observations.

  • Educators should also be aware of the multiples of ways we can analyze visual media.

The Academy Awards website also has a series of guides for middle and high school teachers to help facilitate lessons about films and motion pictures. These guides are great for studying film critically. Students can explore animation, lighting, sound, costume and make-up, and more. There are so many aspects of film to study, it is important for students to have clarity on what they are trying to identify and explore.

Baker also has an extensive resource catalog called “Language of Film” which curates resources, readings and recommendations on the many angles to analyze film such as editing, directing, costumes, production, scriptwriting, etc.

  • Is the end goal to simply analyze, or also to create?

After students have completed their analysis of film, it will be effective to introduce media creation as well. Let’s look at movie advertisements as a way to not only anaylze media, but also create it.


Almost every successful movie is boosted by it’s movie trailer. Movie trailers can also be critically examined media texts that can help achieve curriculum objectives.

Baker links Movie Trailers as Persuasive Texts, an article on his own website. This is a fantastic multi-link resource to check out. It includes an introduction to movie trailers, links to websites with movie trailers (including archives), links to NTCE resources on film trailers, and more!

After examining the elements of movie trailers and movie posters, teachers might be able to use certain media software such as Photoshop or Glogster to create their own posters. Students could also use apps such as iMovie or iMotion HD. (See this EduTopia post for app reviews.)


How can we use these resources effectively? Many of these great resources do not highlight their significance to the Ontario curriculum, but that is ok. The curriculum goals can easily be met by these resources. As an example, let’s take a look at the overall expectations for media literacy for Grade 7 in Ontario.


Ministry of Education, 2008. The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8 Language. Retrieved from https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/language18currb.pdf

More specific objectives include,

  • interpreting messages of media texts
  • identifying conventions and techniques used in a variety of media forms
  • producing media texts, such as a movie poster or scene from a film

All of the above resources can help educators achieve these specific objects, and many more as well.

Another Canadian resource educators can consults is A guide toeffective literacy instruction, grades 4-6, volume seven – Media Literacy. There are examples for lessons such as “Lesson 1: deconstructing movie ads” and “Lesson 8: designing a movie poster” that satisfy curriculum expectations and can be greatly enhanced by combining structures with our other resources.

Lastly, I will leave you with a link to Media Smarts – another Canadian website that has great lesson plan resource with Canadian context and social issues. This is a must-check-out resource for educators as they start to craft lesson ideas for media literacy and film!

– A