Saturday, February 25, 2017

Data Management, Elements of Music (by way of Orff), Math homework

Math:  Data Management

We will be spending some time reviewing our most recent test and having a second test, after I return from my workshop.  In the meantime, you would have done some initial brainstorming around our new unit on Mean, Median, and Mode.

We will take a look at a couple of videos here, as we usually do, to help our understanding.  Also, I have posted up a link to a number of Math game sites, relating to this next topic.

We will have some textbook work today and spend some time taking it up.


In Music class, last week, Ms. Bunston introduced us to some elements of music and we had to listen to a couple of pieces and record our observations.  You will be getting back your answers today.  Here is the answer sheet she provided for me:
We will review some of the concepts used in the answer sheet and then listen to the original pieces you heard last week.  

Review:  Staccato versus Legato and an explanation of Glissando:

Carnival of the Animals selections:

The second:

Ms. Bunston suggested that we look at some contemporary music to see if we could identify some of the elements mentioned on the chart.  Here is a sample review of  Meter and time signature using a couple of "pop" artists and a piano teacher who offers up a tutorial.

For the following video, only watch up to 2:03 after the woman finishes playing the piano and talking about time signatures.

Ms. Davis-Spinks suggested a song that could be used as an example of a Media text to discuss issues of body image, self-harm, and maintaining a healthy self-esteem.    I thought the song could also serve our purpose for learning about the elements of music.  For now, we will take a listen to the song and see if we can track the items listed on the chart:  Meter, Tempo, Instrumentation, Articulation

On another occasion, we will look at the official video and deconstruct some of the messages and how they relate to the song's lyrics.

Math Homework:  for those who dread the heavy textbook

Friday, February 24, 2017

select Algebra answers from homework & a Pretest

There is a lot of information here.  Sometimes, when you look at the board, there may seem like too much information.  So, I photographed a few questions from the homework for you to check and review on your own.

In most cases, except for the model question I did, I put modeled another approach to solving the equation.  I have used the balance method for my demonstrations like Rob did from the Math Antics videos.

All questions are from page 9 of the handout sheet.

This is from Charlie's homework and an example of one of those "tricky variations" I mentioned.

#2 f

#2 b

#2 a

#1 f

#1 c

#4 b

#4 a

Practice Test:

I gave out this test for students to assess their progress on what we have been doing so far in Algebra.  I am going to post 2 different approaches to solving the answers.  

Employing the "balance" approach.
A variation on the "balance" approach.  Pay attention to the circled and highlighted operations; notice the pattern.

In both examples, I am attempting to push the students toward the more complex understanding of isolating the variable by "undoing" the operation attached to the variable. This was an approach used in the Math Antics videos and an idea that will be used more widely in Grade 7 & 8.  


Test on Monday:  Algebra (based on the work we have been doing in class)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

providing some Historical context for "The Spirit of Harriet Tubman" (play), Algebra review

This afternoon, we will be watching a play about the a key portion of Harriet Tubman's life and the role she played in the Underground Railroad.  Who was she?

While she did not establish this elaborate network of escape routes, she was active in the resistance against the brutal institution of slavery.
The enslavement of Africans (, most of whom came from the West coast of the continent, was part of a system, supported by nations, for profit.
The first account of people from the African continent arriving in the Americas was in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.   This initial group was thought to be from the Caribbean, but it turns out they were originally from Angola, which would eventually be a Portuguese colony, and then stolen by some British pirates.

So where is Jamestown, Virginia?,+VA+23185,+USA/@37.2067772,-76.7806799,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89b061b14059fff3:0xa3e93d204d2fda86!8m2!3d37.2082678!4d-76.7740897

This video from Khan Academy provides some history of early settlement and slavery in what would become the United States of America:

While this was going down, and the early seeds of American slavery were being developed, Mathieu Da Costa was visiting Canada with the Portuguese.  Originally from the Benin Empire and a member of the Edo people, he was known as an excellent translator who was fluent in French, Dutch, English, and Portuguese.

Since the institution of slavery was set up to make money, Da Costa's excellent translations skills came in handy.  Unfortunately, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade would be spearheaded by the Portuguese.  As I mentioned before, the initial arrivals in Jamestown were from Angola.,8.8356067,5z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x1a51f24ecaad8b27:0x590a289d0d4a4e3d!8m2!3d-11.202692!4d17.873887

To dispel some myths of what a major city looks like on the continent, here is a link to some images of Angola's capital city, Luanda:,+Angola/@-8.845504,13.192774,10.69z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1a51f15cdc8d2c7d:0x850c1c5c5ecc5a92!8m2!3d-8.8399876!4d13.2894368

As a reminder to all, Africa is not a country, but a continent made up of 54 nations, originally comprised of very different ethnicities and people:

Map (contemporary and historical) of African continent and Pre-Colonial contact:

Over the course of the school year, I have always aimed to dispel stereotypes on a number of fronts.  For me, being able to articulate and elaborate on the diversity and richness of African people is important.

Being able to see slavery as an institution that was concerned with money making and the dehumanizing of African people is important.  It shares a page of history with Canada's Residential Schools and the Holocaust of World War 2.

A key component to this lesson, and the play today, was to get a sense of the spirit of Harriet Tubman.  Like countless others, she resisted, strategized and fought for what she believed was just and proper.  I am sure this conversation will continue.

Algebra Review:

I held off on an early Algebra test so we could be together, as a large group, for a final review.  A small group of the class is off at the Quarter-Final Basketball playoffs.  I did some review today and will post up the pictures of some questions.  I will come back to them, once again, tomorrow.

Straightforward questions:

Review of "Fish question" using the Balance method

Variation:  Requires a little more concentration

Checking older posts (at least in the past week) will provide you with helpful links to some videos from both Math Antics and Khan Academy.


Please complete the Math from last night (p. 9, # 1,2,4) as written on the Homework board

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Algebra Homework, film progress, developing Study habits

Homework from last night:

I plan on touching base with the Grade 7/8 Math teacher to see if there is a particular method they use for solving Algebraic equations.  I have been using the "balance" method, but I know there are other approaches.  Some of the students in the class have been using them.  In the last photo, the answers completed by Alex show one method and I wrote in the "balance" method on the side.  Both approaches yielded the same results.

Tricky question:  Part 2

Charlie and I did this together.  Three things may stand out for the viewer:

1. x-44 and 44-x look similar but have different meanings
2. In the first question, we swapped the order of the question, so the variable was on the left side of the equal sign.
3.  In the second question, we added x (+x) to both sides of the equation.  This allowed us to get rid of the subtract x (-x)

For a number of students, this approach to Algebra may be new and a little overwhelming.  We will spend some time reviewing this work before any quiz takes place.

Film Project:

The two classes are on their way with planning the film project.  At this point, each group has narrowed an idea down and we will now move forward on planning the next phase of the film project.  Here are a few photos of our planning sessions:

I may or may not have mentioned the issue of Studying.   When there is a test, I was surprised to hear that many students do not prepare for a test, so I thought we should take a closer look at the matter.  I am going to post this video on the right-hand side of the blog and right here:

There are countless videos on YouTube on studying, but I thought this was a good place to start.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Planet in Focus film project, Orff activities, introducing Badminton, some Algebra Homework help

The Grade 3 and Grade 6 class of Ms. Bernaus have teamed up to create a film for the annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival (  At this point, we are in the planning and brainstorming stage of the project, but I will give you a little bit of a hint as to the idea we are exploring.

Although the price appears pretty cheap, it is not, considering Nestle's cost is a fraction of what we pay!
Our cost= about $.22/litre
Nestle's cost = about $0.00000371/litre

I did some further calculations and wanted to see how many litres of water I could buy for $1.00.  If my Math was correct, I came up with this:

A litre is about this much:

A 250 000 litre container would look like this:

This information, based on Canadian data, will introduce us to the film we watched, The Story of Bottled Water.  

The Grade 3 and Grade 6 class of Ms. Bernaus have teamed up to create a film for the annual Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival (  At this point, we are in the planning and brainstorming stage of the project, but I will give you a little bit of a hint as to the idea we are exploring.


On Tuesday, I plan to put up the images from the Music class from a couple of weeks ago.  The class was split into small groups to create some sounds.  I will have to get more of the technical information tomorrow, but here are two photos of the sounds they mapped out, along with a short video of the presentations.

some music that Ms. Bunston wanted us to look at:

This particular music was used for the initial lesson a couple of weeks ago by Ms. Bunston.  Pay attention and you may remember one of the tracks you heard.

Here is the inspiration for the Art extension you explored:

Physical Education: Badminton

This is my first year where I am teaching Physical and Health Education to my own class.  Our next unit will be exploring Badminton.  As we get further into the unit, I will be learning more and sharing this with the class.

I am sure I will refer back to this video often.

Here is a sampling of the sport at its best.  This is the final from the Women's Gold Medal match from the 2016 Olympics:

Algebra Homework questions

For each of the questions, I will provide a brief summary of the steps involved in solving the question.  More time needs to be provided for you to work on the questions in class.  This is only fair, in case you have questions or need to the support of your peers or your teacher!

In all but 1 question, I have done a "check,"by plugging the value of the variable back into the original question to see if both sides balance.

This one requires us to isolate the variable (n) and get it by itself.  We do this by
subtracting 4 for both sides of the equation.

At first, this looks like more of a challenging question.  At first glance, we can't seem to get rid of the 22 to isolate the variable (t).  So, we have to eliminate the first subtract t by adding t.  When we do this, it must happen to the other side of the equation.  You will notice (on the third line) that we now seem to have the variable on the other side of the equal sign. At this point, you may flip the question around so it looks more like first example we have (above).  I can now proceed to solve the question as I have done.   

This question is similar to one pictured above.  For brevity, I will not type out all of the steps.  See if you can follow the logic.
A final example, where I did not do a "check."

Another example where the variables cancel each other out on the left side of the equal sign:

Have a pleasant evening.  We will look at the Homework questions and I will provide you some more time tomorrow for you to work in class.

Update: Paying attention to what the question is asking

Even though questions may look similar, what they are asking are often different.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Khan Academy & Algebra, Some revisions to a class note, and the Commutative Property

The Khan Academy was an online community created by Salman Khan for people to learn (  As I was looking for examples of questions for the class, I noticed that they have some great videos and online tutorials.
Originally, I had a really great Khan Academy page on the Math we will be starting, but I lost the WIFI signal and unable to find it.  Once I do, I will post it.  For now, since I think this is a good place to start, I will post this link on the right-hand side of this page.

Once I find the page that I was working with, I will repost it.

While we did watch the Math Antics video, Rob, who is the host, mentioned that we need practice what we have learned in the video.  I agree and this is what we will do when we come back on Tuesday.  It will be the aim to solve these sorts of questions using the operations of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  The next video, by Rob, will look the last two operations I have listed.

In both videos (the first one may be found here:

You will probably here Rob talk about the Commutative Properties in the examples.  As you will see, some of the Algebra questions we do will be easier than others.  They are easier because of this simple rule which is this.
For the more visual among us:

I went back to the original two questions the students were to write in their books and made an adjustment.  It is also important to know that these examples follow the COMMUTATIVE PROPERTY.

I altered the way I set up the division question.  I used a fraction, which is consistent with most examples you will see in books and online.

Sometimes, when we do not have the ease of this Commutative Property, things become a little more challenging.  This will become a separate note and something we will explore a little more next week

Have a super long weekend!