Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Information in Education

I am just a huge fan of the way the internet makes information available from so many sources in such an easy way.  I use this in all areas of my life and I think education needs to change so as to allow students to become better at exploring their own interests in this way.  I am learning how to be a fully engaged internet citizen, I hope to be able to interact with my students in such a way as to make this a valuable component of their education.  The ck-12 book that I've shared here is one aspect of this, the information I'm teaching in class is available online at any time with additional resources for self teaching embedded.  I'm exploring other things with a new STEM teaching assignment I have, hopefully that turns into a blog as that unfolds.

Last summer, I was a little overwhelmed by this model, but it's coming together now.  I like cloud computing, Google, Dropbox, Spotify, etc.  I have the same model for most things, I find online sources of things I like and then I store them in the cloud in whatever format is best for that particular content.  Feedly brings me other educators ideas, those are stored in Diigo or Mindmeister.  YouTube brings me all sorts of things from all over the world, that is stored in YouTube playlists.  I also have a YouTube channel if the need to broadcast ever came over me.  Spotify music streaming is awesome, I follow people with similar musical tastes and make playlists of a wide variety of music.  Pictures are stored in Dropbox for easy access anywhere and sharing.

It's fun to find people that are broadcasting what I want to know and then learning from them.  It seems to me that this is a whole new model for people to learn from each other.  Isolated nodes of higher education seem like a thing of the past, I chose my own experts and learn wherever I want.  I imagine there will always be well documented education paths for things like open heart surgery, but it seems like the whole Ivory Tower, I've got the knowledge and you don't thing may become less powerful someday.

Bottom line, it's about finding sources of things you like and storing them in the cloud in a way that is easy to retrieve.  I have a Chromebook and a Galaxy S3 phone which allow me to access all of this fun and I enjoy it.


The cool thing/annoying thing about the internet is the non-stop stream of information that is available.  When I find an idea that I like, one of two things happen.  If it seems like it might be useful someday, I give it a Diigo tag so I could find it later.  If it fits immediately into the framework of an idea I'm working on, I put it in a MindMeister mindmap.  It really works for me to string ideas into a framework like this, you can attach links, notes or files to any node in the map.  This way, the new ideas build into a coherent whole, not just a sea of thoughts.  Here's a screen shot of my current algebra mind map.  Each node with a "+" next to it has subnodes, I minimized some so that the picture wouldn't be too busy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CK-12 Book and SBG List for the Full Year

Ok, the temperature was in the mid 90's in Northern VT today and I decided to just hide in the cool basement and crank out Algebra 1 curriculum materials all day.  Here's a full year version of the book, I'm sure there will be changes later, but this is close to the finished product (Dec 2, 2013, updated to latest versions)

Here's the standards list for Standards Based Grading

CK-12 Book, Second Draft and SBG List

When I was making my list of standards for SBG, I noticed that I had left some topics out of Unit 2, Linear Equations.  They are added into this revision of the book ( I deleted this old version from Scribd, see the post just above this for the most recent standards list)

I have also come up with a list of standards that goes along with this book, there are 22 of them.  I sketched out the semester on my electronic planbook at, I think this lines up well if I leave each standard on for three weeks of quizzes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SBG list for Common Core Algebra 1

I am thinking carefully about which standards to use for SBG in our new CCSS Algebra 1 curriculum.  The semester 1 book I wrote incorporated all of the concepts that our department wants to use in the order we will be using them.  The question though, I think it's a very important one, is exactly which concepts do I deem "Standards Worthy"?  I searched around on Dan Meyer's blog and found that he had featured a post by Mathy McMatherson that does a great job of explaining how important they think this question is.  If anyone reading this has any input on which standards they grade in a  SBG 9th grade CC Algebra 1 course, I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

There is a very nice listing of math blogs at I found several nice algebra blogs by using their index.  claimtoken-51e2aeda304bf

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Some of you came to this page from Twitter, I tweet my blog posts to @SmithTeach.  @lasvt has received some tweets recently, but that's not my education account, please use @SmithTeach instead.

Friday, July 12, 2013

CK-12 Book, First Draft

I've finished the first draft of this year's Common Core based book.  I've posted the first semester on Scribd.

Each section of this book has a section called "What You Will Learn", I've made a list of those items and I will use it as the basis for Standards Based Grading.  Each section of the book has an embedded video, I hope that will help students master concepts that they don't get the first time.  I also planning on using CK-12's Braingenie and Flexmath for additional online practice materials.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

CK-12 Book

The first thing I'm doing to get the curriculum straightened out is to create this year's ck-12 book.  I had a book from last year, so I'm starting by taking the concepts from last year and moving them around to line up with Common Core.  I'm also adding more statistics, exponential functions and modeling.  As I put the book together, the main standards that I will be using for SBG are starting to line themselves up in my head.  If you haven't heard of ck-12, here's a webinar that will get you started.

CK-12 Webinar

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The start of 2013/2014

Okay, so here's how I am going to continue to expand Algebra 1

  1. This will be our first year of the Common Core Curriculum. Last year, the dept created an outline of what topics would be covered and in what order. Now, it's time to put that into practice.
  2. Last year, I wrote an online ck-12 book for Algebra 1. I am going to realign this book to new CC Curriculum
  3. I plan on Implement Standards Based Grading as a first step towards personalized learning plans
  4. Continue making information available anywhere, anytime.  Last year, I created a website that I put all classroom materials on, including SMART Board notes from class. I will expand this to include videos of major topics to enhance SBG. The plan is to make it easier for students to retest a topic by allowing them to access the lecture over again on their time. I plan to make videos, I learned how to use Camtasia and a Bamboo tablet at the Anja Greer Conference on Math, Science and Technology at Phillips Exeter and I want to put those skills to use. If I run out of time, I will post someone else's videos.
  5. Increased use of problem solving activities. This type of thinking is at the heart of Common Core and I will make greater use of the wealth of activities that have been made increasingly available over the last few years.