Course One Final Project

I started my COETAIL journey just as I was starting a new unit with my ninth grade students. They are a unique bunch, as they are first cohort to move through Graded School’s new integrated maths program. They all aced Algebra One as 8th graders and I’ve come to appreciate that they are super quick in algebra, they know all the tricks in the book (insert #facepalm) and they love their textbooks. So, the challenge to peel them out of the comfort of the book and into the wide open land of (other types of) mathematical thinking is mine. And over the course of almost 1.5 semesters I think I’ve got them, most of them.

I decided to look at ways I could improve the planned stats summative assessment task and make it my Course One Final Project. The original plan was for the whole class to do a series of experiments (timed reaction tests was one example) and surveys about time (or something else that was easily quantifiable). We would then use the data to look at measures of central tendency and then we’d graph it all and make it pretty. For sure the task was a step outside of the textbook and we would certainly be using technology to collect data, sort it and graph it. But at best Prensky would have said I was doing old things in new ways and Puentedura might have found justification to place the task in the augmentation range. (Side note: Think I just showed that Prensky and Puentedura aren’t really all that aligned as I suggested in my last post.)

So, I really wanted to think about how I could remain focused on the same standards but look at redefining the unit and the summative assessment task. The old task in the old way (textbook)and the old task in the new way (whole class investigation) will get the kids to the standards, but at what cost? No creativity, no voice and (perhaps at best only) limited feedback from anyone. 

Untitled designSo, inspired by the learning space that is COETAIL, I decided to incorporate blog posts and blog comments into the project and hand it all over to the students. By moving the whole task and all of the student work online and with the help of Hapara Teacher Dashboard I was able to manage individual student projects – their posts AND comments. The result was that my students had more opportunities for creativity, personal engagement and ownership of their task. Students came up with their own research question (not unlike the IB Maths Studies Project), find their own data sets (through surveys or experiments) and then blogged about the whole process. It’s not quite at the passion project stage that I eventually want to reach but I think that it is a big step for my students toward that end goal. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process and I think that my students did too. We probably used more class time than I had originally planned but to have my kids actively working in class, collaborating and sharing ideas was a far greater learning experience than the handful of lesson I had originally envisioned.

Here’s my plan (and course one final project!):

Below are some links to student work and the project description on my class site. Overall I was really pleased with their final products especially considering that mathematical writing is new to these students as is being assessed on this type of thinking. It was so easy for me to drop comments on the kids’ blogs and guide them through their writing and thinking (giving support to those who needed it and extension ideas/questions for others). The peer feedback really pushed students to produce high quality work and I could see the improvements in each post.

Thanks for the blog/comment set up COETAIL! Goodbye textbook!

8 comments to “Course One Final Project”
8 comments to “Course One Final Project”
  1. In a strange coincidence my final project for course 1 is an eerily similar unit with Year 7 (Grade 6) students. In what now seems like a missed opportunity I had my students present their final report on their blog and share their process with me through a Google doc, having them blog about the process would have made a lot more sense.

    • Alastair, total coincidence! I’m going to leave a comment over on your blog but I really love the purpose behind your project. Mine kind of ended without much fanfare and I would have liked there to be a bit more purpose to it – like sharing it with incoming students. The goal behind the project was to find out more about the students in the Graded community but maybe I need to expand that and see if we can find out more about kids around the world? There is no reason to only send the surveys to students within our domain.

      My students are really new to any kind of mathematical writing so it’s a learning process for them. I would love to show them some of the work that your kids did, would be nice for them to see the quality of work that 7th grade kids are doing!

  2. Ange and Alastair,

    It’s so inspiring to read the exchange of ideas and finding ways to collaborate!

    I’m starting to get more into twitter and am loving all of the dialogue. Perhaps, you could create a twitter hastag to bring students together and continue dialogue, sharing, reflection and collaboration? Just a thought…

    • It’s a great thought Andrea and I think that I am going to make it happen! My next post is actually all about how I am really starting to expand my PLN through social media but I am leaving my students behind. I should be finding ways for my students to create their own PLNs (what could we call them?) so that they can learn in the same ways that we are learning right now. I might start with Google+ and see where I end up. I’ll see if Alastair is keen to work something out.

  3. By sharing your work here, you’ve not only inspired others but helped someone else add even more to their idea – awesome! Great work Ange – I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself (you should be) and your students!

    • Thanks Chrissy! I am really happy with how it worked out and I’m excited about how it might look next year (maybe collaborating with Alastair!). I’ve got kids going through some drafting stages now after I gave them their feedback. The whole process really is pretty new to them and they are still getting the hang of reasoning/communicating etc in maths. I love how the blogs allow for easy edits and updates.

  4. Hi Ange

    I hoped you enjoyed Carnaval! The big idea behind Coetail is helping us become networked educators so we can help our students to be become networked students. Having them share their work, peer evaluate, peer comment via Blogs is a great way! I would definitely call this the modification stage, if not the redefinition stage. There is some talk on Twitter about having students’ work being assessed via Social Media. Yes, that would be “strangers” helping evaluate our students’ work. That’s a source of feedback that we experience as bloggers, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of students experiencing. I think doing that would move things in Redefinition.

    I also came across this link through Twitter. Someone is compiling a wiki of real-world math problems to solve: I thought you might find this useful.

    Thanks for sharing your final project too.


    • Thanks Vivian! I saw that link on Twitter too and checked it out and it seems to be needing some input of HS maths problems. I love the idea behind it so I think I will contact them and see how I can get involved.

      The modification to redefinition stage seems to be an endless journey! Just when you think you have made it, the end goal shifts!

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