Saturday, May 20, 2017

DIY "Owl Miss You" Candy Jars for Graduates



Mason Jars for my seniors that say, "Owl miss you!" on the cap.

I had very hard-working seniors this year, and when I saw Elissa's tweet below, I thought, what a cute gift!
I thought about using Mason Jars and looked on Pinterest and got some good ideas:
I loved the owl idea and right away thought of Owl Miss You...my students know I love puns and use them too much...

Anyway, the Pinterest idea sparked some ideas, but I didn't have the time to paint the Mason Jars and really wanted something a little less complicated given the time I had.

I went to Michael's and either picked up or had the following:
  • Mason jars
  • Stock paper, multi colors
  • Googly eyes (self-adhesive if possible, but not necessary)
  • Two-sided tape or glue gun
  • Orange stock paper
  • Circular stickers to print on (I happened to have these at home ) Sorry I did not get a picture of the top down, where the stickers were. Circular stickers are not necessary - any size stickers will do.
  • Gold glitter paint (I used fabric paint.)
  • Tassels (actually found them at Target)
  • Gift Tags
  • Candy.
First, fill the jars with candy. 

Then, cut strips of stock card to wrap around the lid. I taped where the ends met, leaving a bit of overlap. I actually bought owl graduation stickers and placed them over the tape, but this part isn't necessary. 

Cut out a square cap from the same color you used for the wrap around. I actually used self-adhesive foam for the caps, but I wouldn't recommend because the tassels kept sticking to it. So, I would glue the stock card cap directly onto the mason jar cap, which already has the stock card around the lid, placing the string for the pre-written gift tag on the lid, before you glue the cap so it will hang on the side. One option is to make the lid paper a bit wider than the lid so that students can pull the cap on and off to retrieve their candy. If you do this, then the square would only be glued to the circular paper that is a bit over the lid.

Place the printed stickers on the top of the "cap" and put the end of the tassel under the sticker so it would stay in place and the tassel part would hang over the edge. I used the glitter paint to paint around the sticker to reinforce it...plus it brightened it up. If you don't want to use the stickers, click https://www.skiptomylou.org/graduation-cap-gift-card-holder/ to see how to make tassels and use a metal brad to attach it to the cap.

Use the glitter paint to paint each student's name, but then I leaned the jar on its side for a good 30 minutes so the paint wouldn't drip.

Cut out orange noses using orange stock paper.

Using the double-sided tape or a glue gun, glue the eyes and the nose on the jar, and you are done!




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Find Student-Taught Math Lessons and Riddles on Padlet #StudentTeachingStudents


I blogged about my Ted-Ed Project here, but I used Padlet to create a visually pleasing and easy way to sort the student-made videos. Click below to get a glimpse at all of them. 

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Good Final Project: Students Creating Videos to Teach Other Students

I am launching my Ted-Ed project #StudentsTeachingStudents, and I think it was pure luck that I had such an amazing group of students to work with this year. Each of my Algebra 2 Honors students created a short video of a concept of their choice that they learned in my class this year. They used Stop Motion, time lapse, iMovie, Explain Everything and Premier among other things. They edited and re-edited so that their videos could be watched by other students who would use their lessons to understand the topic at hand. They dropped their videos in the Ted-Ed “Create a Lesson” format, and came up with multiple choice and free response questions and included links that viewers could click on for enrichment or practice.

Here are a couple of examples.






Here's where to get these videos:

This YouTube channel, #StudentsTeachingStudents, hosts all of their videos. There are more to come. This will not be limited to just math, but right now, it's a start. 

This spreadsheet contains all of their Ted-Ed lessons, though some are still a work in progress.

This is a snapshot of what this student's particular Ted-Ed lesson looks like. Your students can watch the video, answer questions, and then find out more about the topic in the Dig Deeper section. You can customize the lesson how you would like, and you, as the teacher, can see their answers to the questions as well.

Dig Deeper example
Multiple Choice example - will tell you if you are correct.
Feel free to use these videos or lessons to help your students who were absent or who want enrichment or if you would like to flip your classroom. 

Also, if you would like to add to the library, no matter what your discipline is, please email me at lisa.winer@saintandrews.net.

Want to do this project with your students? Here are some resources:


  • What Makes a Good Student Taught Lesson? I created this, but I must thank Rushton Hurley, of Next Vista For Learning, who happened to be running a contest just as my students were making the videos. He helped me a lot with copyright issues (students should only use creative commons music, etc.), citations, and he has a great eye for how to make a lesson better, i.e., hold a slide for a few seconds if it has a formula on it. 
  • Form 1:  Students fill this out before they have finished their lesson. You may need to copy this and make it your own. I had students upload a picture of their outline, but I think you can only do that for your own Google group. It is KEY to getting students to commit to their outline and write it out - a script, if you will - so that they don't waste time shooting a video that you won't accept.
  • Grading Rubric - again thanks to Rushton for his guidelines, which helped me to format mine. 

Here is a little history on the project. 

A number of years ago, I went to the Anja S. Greer Conference on Mathematics and Technology at Philips Exeter Academy. This conference is phenomenal - I've been twice and would love to go back again. Alan November was a keynote speaker and spoke about students creating videos to help other students learn. It stuck with me in the back of my mind, but it seemed like a lot of work. I was right.

I am the faculty sponsor of a math club, and for a few years, I suggested that students create teaching videos instead of peer tutoring for community service. No one did.

Then last year, I saw an application for the Ted-Ed Innovative Educator (TIE), Cohort Three, and I decided to apply. I filled out everything very naturally, and then the question came...what project would you like to pursue if you became a TIE? In the back of my mind, I always envisioned students learning from other students. Even though it had been a few years and I hadn't done anything with my own students, I decided it was something I had really wanted to do, and the words flowed. 

I got the invite to be a TIE, and now I actually was nervous...this sounded so hard! But we had monthly video meetings and an amazing get-together, and over the course of about a year, the project evolved. I can't even tell you how every video call changed just one bit of what I wanted to do. And the Stop Motion workshop at Ted-Ed was mind-blowing...this never would have even been in my mind in the past. Almost one year and 12 one-hour conversations later,  here we are.  Special thanks to Sting and Lisa, from Ted-Ed, who helped me tremendously with my vision. 

It's not been easy for me nor for the kids. Students are used to turning in a project and being done, not being emailed half a dozen times to fix this or that. But I want their work to be accurate, and I want them to be proud.

I have a student who is fact-checking for me for community service. He told me that he wishes these videos were available to him when he was in my class - that they were so helpful. I've shown a couple of the videos to my classes and it's neat to see the students interested in the topic, knowing that their peers made it, and it's also great to see the sense of pride that comes across the student who made the video.

I'm really excited about this project, and I ask you to join me in having your students create videos for each other, and maybe even for the world.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

On Learning Grit from a Student


I recently discovered that Popular Mechanics, a magazine I remember hearing about from when I was a kid, has a riddle of the week, given by Jay Bennett. I used to love Click and Clack's riddle of the week from Car Talk (anyone remember Dewey Cheetham and Howe? I am dating myself again!), so I was pretty excited when I found Jay's puzzles.

I decided that we would dedicate a day to going through the problems in my Honors Problem Solving Seminar. It was pretty cool to see that we had already solved a majority of them, and even cooler that there were a plethora of ones that we haven't solved yet.

When we got to "The Airplane Problem," I saw it was deemed "hard."
I remembered when this came out as a Ted-Ed Riddle (see video at the top), I heard it was one of the hardest riddles. So I never watched it.

It's interesting, considering that on day 1 of Problem-Solving, we talk so much about grit and struggling to work through a problem, and yet, I really did not want to tackle the airplane problem.

There are definitely times when we can't solve a problem in class, and we have to look it up. I think it's good for students to see that the teacher can't solve every problem, and sometimes there is a twist that we just never would have thought of. 

Well, my students dug into the problem. We talked it through for a while and after about 15 minutes, I said, are we ready for the answer?

K, a great thinker, said, "I need more time." She was on to something. OK, I said and started shuffling my papers, cleaning my desk, graded a question or two...I was done. I couldn't do it, so I stopped.  A few times, I stopped the students, feeling bad that the problem was deemed so hard and maybe they were 'wasting' time, thinking maybe it was one of those impossible ones that you just don't totally understand even after watching the video, i.e., I'm still lost on the three gods riddle.

I said, "Should we watch the answer?" K said, "Wait, I need more time." OK, I said and really began to look at her work. Within a few minutes, she stepped back, admired her work,  said, "I think I finished", and proceeded to explain step-by-step, how to solve the problem that I gave up on. 

SPOILER ALERT! Here is her work:
As we watched the answer on the video, K nodded at each step, as it matched her solution. I thought, wow, K just taught me a thing or two about grit today. K put the "possible" in "impossible" for me. 

I am so proud of K's accomplishments in this class. It's great to learn things from your students, both knowledge, and perseverance! 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Having a Unit Circle Tournament Using Purpose Games


If you want students to know their radians, sines, and cosines quickly, then this is the game for you and your students--especially if they are a competitive group like mine.

Students will be given a radian, point, quadrant signs, or an axis label and they have to click on the blue button quickly that matches it. And it's timed! I ask students to shoot for their best time with 100%. One of my students made top 5 of all players in the world with 37 seconds. We have no idea how she could do that!!

Click here for the link at Purpose Games. In the past, my students have logged in and played the game to try to get their names on the leaderboard. I assign it for homework the night after teaching the unit circle and give a bonus point to the top 3 students. But this year, I found the tournament section!

I discovered that there are lots of things to do on this site, but all I have tried so far is to click on CREATE at the top and create a group.

I entered in all of the info and I actually did make it public because when I initially tried invite only, I couldn't get it to work right. No one else joined other than my classes, so I think it's fine to do it that way.

You can name the group whatever you want and even can add a picture. Then click on create a tournament, in the yellow box. On the original, I did write some clever things, but for show here, I didn't. 

Enter the name, description, and when you want the tournament to start and end. Save the tournament.


Search for "unit circle" in the search box below and click enter.

Lots of choices pop up. I choose the one by felliax08. Click on "add game." Then click "publish" at the bottom. You will get a link, and you can share it with students and the tournament is on!
A few things to note: π/2 is not on there. Also, "x-cosine" means click on the button that is the x-axis, and "y-sine" means click on the button that is the y-axis. There is a glitch for quadrant signs. x,x means +,+, etc, so the plus signs come out as x's. Otherwise, it's all good, and my kids really enjoyed playing it. There was a lot of chatter about it the next day in class. AND they know their unit circle!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ted-Ed Virus Riddle

My third Ted-Ed riddle was published yesterday. Here is the link to the actual lesson:
http://ed.ted.com/lessons/can-you-solve-the-virus-riddle-lisa-winer.

This was a fun one to do because it required me to research some Discrete Math topics that I learned back in grad school, like Hamiltonian Paths and circuits. The playful ending of the "Traveling salesperson" is a famous graph theory problem that students likely don't know about yet.

It's not a particularly difficult one, but certainly can stump a class for a good five minutes. Show it in class and be sure to show the second part even if kids get it right so they learn a little bit about graph theory and Sir William Rowan Hamilton...no, not THAT Hamilton!

Here are links to my other Ted-Ed riddles:
This one is more "mathy" and great for higher levels, though MS kids do enjoy it, too. 


This one is an easier one that takes some time for kids to figure out. This could be done with all levels and I love having students "act" out the part. 


And here's an all-time favorite that I did not write, but I love to do with kids. Again, having them act it out is very fun!



Monday, April 3, 2017

Algebra 2 Honors Unit Circle Projects 2017

Each year, I give my students a Unit Circle Project to help them to remember the Unit Circle and to show off their creativity. Entries from two years ago were also great and can be found here. This year, students also rocked their projects. I think this is the hardest working class I've had in a very long time, and I am so proud of them. Students are told that they are not allowed to use project ideas already posted on the Internet, as that would be plagiarism, just as copying a paper is against our Honor Code. I showed them some projects I found online and told them theirs should all be original. I use guidelines and the rubric from http://secondarymissrudolph.blogspot.com/2014/07/unit-circle-art.html, and also tell students that they must make their own circles and not use pre-made materials for them. Here are some of their projects:

I've seen these crayon melting effects on Pinterest!
"Arc" Reactor! Such a clever name (Ironman)

Look at the pepperoni, pineapple, and pepper cut-outs. The crust is very creatively done,
and there is real oregano sprinkled throughout!

A play on Dr. Suess

This student drew this by hand and dedicated it to her father. 

Beautiful hand drawn peacock!

This student "made" her own lampshade from scratch!


Though I did get a few dartboards, this one actually works with magnetic darts!
The student put a magnetic sheet under his hand drawn board.
I liked the "Stonehenge" look of this, particularly as I am traveling there this summer!
Stay tuned for my blog on the Unit Circle Tournament, which I will try to blog about later this week!