Episode: COVID-19 – How to Move Forward?

Mar 27, 2020 | Podcast | 0 comments


In this extra episode of the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast we’re sharing a recording of our Monthly Live Q and A call with the Make Math Moments Academy members. In this live chat Jon & Kyle discuss the COVID-19 Pandemic and how it’s affecting our home-work life and the home-school life of our students. They answer questions from the community around teaching online, engaging students with math when working from home and resources that can help you do that. 

You’ll Learn

  • What should we prioritize when working from home?
  • How can we engage our students when teaching online?
  • What resources are helpful when engaging students online with math?


Download a PDF version | Listen, read, export in our reader


Jon Orr: Hey, there. Jon and Kyle here in this extra episode of the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. We don’t usually post an episode outside of our regular Monday morning schedule, but this is an unusual time and a time that we need to hear from our peers and a time we could all use some guidance.

Kyle Pearce: This episode is also unusual because it’s a recording of our monthly live Q&A call that we hold with the Math Moment Maker Academy members. In this live chat, Jon and I answer questions from the community around teaching online, engaging students with math when working from home, and some resources that can help you do just that.

Jon Orr: If you’re interested in joining us live for the next live Q&A webinar, visit makemathmoments.com/trial. You’ll be also welcomed in for a month to dive into our academy professional learning modules and problem-based tasks.

Kyle Pearce: We’re not doing our usual intro with the music. Let’s not waste any more of your valuable time. Here’s our latest live Q&A chat from this past Wednesday. We’ll see on the other side.

Jon Orr: Hello, everyone. How are we doing this afternoon? This is a new one for us. We haven’t done too many afternoon live Q&As.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. We have quite a few joining us today. It’s possible that they have a little bit more of a flex schedule. Some people don’t. Some people are right into it. It seems like some areas where schools are closed, and they’ve kind of been thrown in the deep end with online learning. Some people are probably on a Zoom call with students right now. Then in other places, we haven’t really been given much direction at all. That’s like the boat Jon and I are in. I’ve been helping with my district trying to get things organized. It’s really hard because there’s not a whole lot of direction coming from our Ministry of Education.

Kyle Pearce: At least, the one thing we can all feel comfortable in is that we’re all in this together at varying stages. Hopefully, we can riff on some of those ideas today during this web call. What do you think, Jon?

Jon Orr: Yeah. That’s exactly the plan. I would love to hear any questions that you guys are having. Throw those in the chat as we go. We’ve got a couple questions that were put into the Google Form that will start with if we need to, but, yeah. Kyle, we can start by doing a couple things. First one is if this is your first live Q&A with us, we do these monthly in the academy. As academy members and workshop members, we do a monthly live Q&A where we hang out. We chat about the struggles that you’re having.

Jon Orr: Sometimes, they’re submitted in advance. Sometimes, we just do them here live. We record these so that they also go back in the academy, but, yeah. Kyle, before we get into the questions, let’s just maybe chat a little bit more about what do you feel? What’s going on with you? Do you feel nervous? I know that we both traveled out of the country, and Canada has a 14-day mandatory self-isolation period when you returned. We just got back from trip down south. We are shut in the house for the next, I guess, it’s now 12 more days. It’s only been a couple days getting little stir-crazy. Kyle, how are you feeling?

Kyle Pearce: I’m feeling a little bit lost. You and I both lead pretty busy schedules between family, work. All of this stuff that we like to do is well on top. I will say that I felt a little less free just in the sense knowing that I can’t go somewhere. Yesterday, I wanted to go to the bank for something. Not only was the bank branch closed in my town in Belle River, but also, I couldn’t actually go. I wasn’t allowed to because we’re in this self-quarantine state. Things are a little tricky right now, something that I hope you’ll take away because I think one of the big pieces here is a lot of us are wondering like, “How do we teach online?” This is new for a lot of us.

Kyle Pearce: We’re hoping to talk about what that could look like, sound like. First and foremost, we should say this tool that we’re in right now is Zoom. Zoom is actually offering free licenses for teachers right now during this time. Some districts have their own tools that you have to use Microsoft Teams or some other tool, but if let’s say it’s open season, you get to decide what you’d like, this is one of those options, a tool, Zoom. You can set it up in a bunch of different ways.

Kyle Pearce: It could be with a webcam or you can actually share the screen like you saw just a moment ago so that you can be sharing some of the work that you’re doing with your students, so just some things to consider if you have a document camera at home, that could be helpful as well where you could share your document camera on the screen so that as you’re writing, you can do a little bit of that as well. What do you say, Jon? Where do we go next? Do we want to dive right in here? Do we want to get a few people to say hello and get us started? What [crosstalk 00:05:03] saying?

Jon Orr: Yeah. People are saying hello, and they’re letting us know where they’re from, how they’re doing. I think there’s a lot of chatter going on right now. We’ve talked about Zoom. There’s some of us, Gabriele’s saying that their district is not allowing Zoom, but I think they’re doing Google Hangouts which is similar. There’s going to be a lot, I think, chatter of what people are using. I think that’s a great thing for us to do here too. It’s like, “What’s going on?” We want to hear from you, guys, because like Kyle said, “We’re all in this together.” This is a new experience for every single one of us. We’re not going to have all the answers here today, but we do just want to hold and host this kind of chat, so we can chat about that and other questions that you’re going to have.

Kyle Pearce: That leads us to our first question. I see Melanie is in the chat. I don’t know if it’s the same Melanie or not that submitted this question who said, “Now that we are in lockdown mode and we’re teaching virtually,” her question here, I’m going to share it up to the screen. It says, “What suggestions can you give for us continuing learning in mass?” Jon, what are we saying? Now that we’re in this lockdown mode, what sort of suggestions might you have [crosstalk 00:06:08]?

Jon Orr: I would say it depends. I think right now, there are lots of us in different timelines of this. For example, Kyle and I had said that this is only really day three for us because we were on break last week. No one was really thinking about this. As teachers, then, we’re trying to enjoy the break even though we were going through all this with you. There’s some of us that are only on day three. There’s some of us who’ve been doing this for a week or two weeks already. I think we’re all in different places. I guess it’s hard to say like, “Where are we and what can we do?”

Jon Orr: For me being only on day three, I think, and having my own kids at home, I think… I had tweeted this out the other day like yesterday or the day before, it’s just like, “If you can just make sure that your kids are alive by the end of the day that I think we’ve got a win, my own kids,” because we’re all trying to balance teaching my kids or making sure that they’re on task. My kids are pretty young. Kyle, your kids are even younger than mine. I know that that’s a huge balance to all of a sudden now, we’re expected to work from home and do all of that, but our kids are right over there.

Jon Orr: One of the things I think we definitely want to consider is I think that it’s okay. We’re used to going into a lesson. Kyle and I have always said this. The learning goal we should always make sure our learning goal is present. I think that’s still true, but I think it’s okay if we don’t and this time teach the way that we were teaching before getting across the same amount of learning to the students. I don’t think this is going to be the same. I think it’s okay to first have that mindset that it’s not going to be the same. It’s okay that we don’t have the same effect that we had before.

Jon Orr: I think you should be taking care of our families for sure in this time. If we can reach out to our students, this is one of the things that I think I have already done, but we think we should do first and foremost when you’re expected to be like now is the time you’re back from break. Let’s reach out to our kids, send them an email. Send them a message to say, “How are you doing, and not maybe make the focus learning right away.” I think it’s almost like think of a day one of your class again. Can we build community? Can we build trust?

Jon Orr: I think that’s an important thing to do with kids, your own family. There’s a lot to balance here. I guess the big message here, I’m saying, is let’s not just go back and going, “Let’s get as much learning as we can in this new format, but let’s go back and make sure that everyone’s okay first.”

Kyle Pearce: I like what you’re saying there, Jon. Actually, as you were talking, it reminded me of this post that Dan Meyer had shared yesterday. In that post, he referenced an article by Rebecca Barrett-Fox. Basically, the title of this essay was Please, Do a Bad Job Of Putting Your Courses Online. Really, the whole idea is, right now, and the quote that he pulled from that essay was, “Your class is not the highest priority of their, so, of your student or of your life right now so to release yourself from high expectations right now because that’s the best way to help your students learn.”

Kyle Pearce: I thought that really resonated with me because I think anyone who’s in this chat right now, anyone who has joined us in the Math Moment Maker community, these are the people who take their job the most serious out of our industry. I think it’s fantastic that we hold such high standards, high expectations of ourself, but at the same time, we also have to give ourself a little bit of a free pass that this just sort of happened. It landed on our lap, and we want to make sure that we’re sleeping well at night. We’re not so stressed out that the time we spend with our family right now which really, in many ways, has been gifted to us.

Kyle Pearce: I know that sounds a little bit, maybe that might be controversial to say, but it’s almost like the universe has said, “Hey, let’s slow down for a little bit. Let’s figure this out, and let’s try to take advantage of it a little bit.” I thought that was really interesting. I think this is also if you give yourself this permission to not hold these high, high, high expectations of yourself, I think it also allows you to maybe try something different that maybe you were too scared to try when you were in the classroom.

Kyle Pearce: What I mean by that is let’s say you are so burdened by the curriculum. In some places, maybe the curriculum is still going to be front and center. Everyone’s working in a different place. I know that in many of the places here in Canada or many of the provinces have said that you’re not to assess the content, but you do need to provide learning experiences for students. That may or may not be true in some of the different states or different countries around the world, but something that you now have is if you’re in that scenario, you have the freedom to take that curriculum burden off of your shoulders. Put it to the side and maybe continue doing what you were doing or maybe it’s that opportunity for you to say, “I always wanted to try this, and I felt restricted to because of that burden on my shoulders.”

Kyle Pearce: It sounds like two different messages there, but don’t do it because you feel pressured to do it. Do it because, now, you’re free to do it and now, you want to do it. To me, I think it’s a great opportunity for you to try something that maybe you didn’t feel you had time for before meaning like curriculum time. Maybe, it’s an opportunity for you to engage in more problem-solving like, let’s say, you’ve been doing a traditional format lesson, and you just want to give students a provocation to try.

Kyle Pearce: These are things that you could try, but don’t overburden yourself and put the expectation on yourself that you have to try or you have to do something differently. I think it’s like you now have the freedom, so you have to dig within and think, “How can I do this so that it’s going to resonate with me, with my students and it’s going to be manageable for me and my family as well?”

Kelly: Can I jump in or-

Jon Orr: Sure, of course.

Kyle Pearce: Absolutely, and I’m happy you did.

Kelly: Central Illinois here. We’ve been on lockdown. We’ve been out of school. Last week, we were out of school, this is our spring break. I think you bring up a couple really good points. I keep thinking the board that some of us don’t like to hear which is privileged. We have privileges in the United States and Canada too, I imagine. I can’t speak as a Canadian, but as far as consistent internet access, our big worry with our kids was are they going to get fed? Are they going to be in warm houses? Are they going to really be in places that are safe from COVID, and are they going to be taking the precautions?

Kelly: You hit the nail on the head. It’s like we got to gain some perspective. Thank goodness, and I’m saying this in front of God and everybody, but our president actually canceled state testing country-wide [inaudible 00:13:00] the information from one of the testing giants that they were going to keep the testing window open for state testing all the way up to the end of school. I was like, “Are you crazy?”

Jon Orr: Yeah. What a horrible idea.

Kelly: Going to get the kid who’s been off of school for months. If we’re lucky to get back, we’re going to want to test them. I’m glad there’s some, I don’t know what it’s like in Canada as far as who did [inaudible 00:13:24] what, but that was one of the first things all of us teachers were like, “My god, we’re getting the machines ready for state testing. What are we doing now,” because they do judge us by [crosstalk 00:13:34].

Jon Orr: Yeah. To give you a little background on us in Ontario, we have a standardized test in grades three, six and nine. Not right away, when we postponed school for the first two weeks back after March break so this week and next week, but during March break, so they came out and announced that all of our standardized testing would be canceled for this year too. Similar boat. I wouldn’t expect the kids who’ve been off for two weeks that this is going to happen. This gap between students who are doing more at home versus not at home is going to widen immensely. It’s going to create this huge inequity in learning over this time.

Jon Orr: It’s going to be like this giant science experiment. Our Minister of Education, here in Ontario, I know that you guys in the States are more district-level with decision making whereas here on Ontario, the whole province is structured and run by the province itself. The Minister of Education is saying like, “You can have kids do work, but you can’t grade that work or count it as a mark for these next two weeks.”

Jon Orr: I think until we figure out what we’re really going to do. What’s happening, I think, right now and this is true for my own kids, this week, we’ve been doing what Kyle suggested. It’s like what can we do now that they probably aren’t doing in their classrooms? We are doing some art and math with some triangles. We have played the Skyscrapers game that’s on BrainBashers. It’s a fun game. I saw Kyle that you had sent out a tweet that you guys were working on that too. It’s like a fun little puzzle that has some great problem solving. It’s kind of Sudoku.

Jon Orr: These things that we’re doing here because we’re saying like, “We’re going to maximize the time here with our own family,” but that’s just going to widen the gap between the families that aren’t doing anything. It’s hard because that’s going to happen. Yes, they cancelled the state tested, but this opens up so many crazy things that are going to happen over the next months.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. Something too is I really appreciate you sharing that and giving that US perspective. Also, something that resonated with me, I was on a web call earlier today with a publisher just through our district. I’m in a role. Jon’s in the classroom right now. I’m currently in a role. It’s like I’m still a teacher, but I’m in a role, kind of a special assignment to work with my district. In doing so, I’ve been trying to help figure out like, “How do we help the teachers in our district and the parents in our district?” How to navigate this maybe, with a little bit of a lack of clarity around what it is we are supposed to be doing and what this will look like moving forward?

Kyle Pearce: I was on with a publisher this morning. They were asking for like, “How could they support the district?” I was giving them some ideas and something that came to me, and I think it’s going to be the approach I take with my own children and what I suggest here for many of you as well is thinking about if you’re in a scenario where, let’s say, state testing for us standardized testing is cancelled for the year, for us, the actual formality of the curriculum currently isn’t happening. Again, that loads off the shoulders.

Kyle Pearce: What I might suggest doing is trying to think of like what are the areas that students are already struggling in? I think one of the number-one concerns that Jon and I get when we do these question-and-answer periods and when we get even just topics for the podcast is how do we work with students that are working at different levels of readiness? To me, my mind exploded when I realize that, “Wait a second.” We should be thinking differently about normally I go to class tomorrow, and I try to continue advancing the program. I continue trying to advance through content.

Kyle Pearce: Right now, we’ve been gifted this opportunity to stop and go, “Okay. I’m always saying that my students struggle with this, this, or that.” I could probably guess many of them, multiplication facts and fluency. I can guess that they struggle with conceptual understanding of fractions if you’re teaching in maybe like a higher more in the middle grades like thinking like integers. Maybe, what I need to do instead is maybe my lesson isn’t a lesson at all anymore, and maybe it’s providing opportunities. Like Jon had mentioned, that Skyscraper activity is such a great spatial reasoning activity that’s great for young children and for older children as well.

Kyle Pearce: But building spatial reasoning is something that a lot of students struggle with. How can we maybe select activities, things that are still going to happen at home? I’m going to maybe provide a context around it, but we’ll give students the opportunity to dig into something that they’re struggling with. In mathematics, it might be, “I want to provide you with a really cool game.” It might be a card game that will allow students to work with integers or I can provide them with a hand-out, the magic squares handout for them to play with their family members and do the multiplication tables and try to blank out as many squares as they possibly can.

Kyle Pearce: Trying to think of maybe instead of advancing your curriculum you had planned to do, today, tomorrow, the next day in our long-range plan, maybe this is an opportunity to say like, “Wow, we just essentially pause time on a course,” and maybe I can offer opportunities that are interesting for students enjoyable and will provide an opportunity for them to maybe close those gaps rather than us potentially widening those gaps with those students who… Let’s be honest, there’s going to be parents out there, the ones that really push their students. They’re going to continue to push of their students whether we do anything at all or not.

Kyle Pearce: They’re going to find a way to carry that on and that gap is going to continue to increase. Maybe, our focus is a little bit more around the individual students in our classrooms and trying to provide them with activities that could really benefit, really remediate some of those issues that they’ve had along the way.

Jon Orr: Right. I really appreciate that idea to share with everyone here. I read something the other day too. It said another large disaster was when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Those families were displaced. That terrible disaster took out the school system for a long time. People who had lived through that were saying, “Our kids were fine in the end. We still have doctors. We still have nurses. We still have teachers. We still have people who survived life and are successful.” It’s that huge window of not doing school didn’t really hurt that group of people all that much.

Jon Orr: Going back to that main idea. It’s like this is a great suggestion from you, Kyle, to like, “Let’s explore things we would not normally explore and also beef up some of the skills that we normally say we don’t have time for.” Great tips there for sure.

Kyle Pearce: I was just going to say for those who are hearing you talk about that Skyscraper puzzle there, it’s on BrainBashers. If you just Google called Skyscraper puzzles. I know Mark Chubb has shared a lot of his experiences using them. That’s a great resource as well. This was my first time actually using them. I had actually shared with some teachers saying like, “This is a really cool based on what I’ve read and seen, but I actually hadn’t done them with students before.” It was fun. My kids, I posted because actually, I printed them. There’s for my daughter and my son. They went off to count Easter eggs. Instead of doing the puzzle and me and my wife did a challenging one together and I won. It was okay. I was happy about that, but yeah. That’s a great resource.

Kyle Pearce: Again, maybe this is an opportunity for us to maybe think a little differently about how math class looks and sounds.

Jon Orr: For sure.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome.

Jon Orr: For sure.

Kyle Pearce: What’s going out there, friends? Is anybody else out there interested in turning on the mic and maybe sharing a perspective or maybe a problem of practice or just looking for a little bit of guidance from the Math Moment Maker Community here?

Jon Orr: Otherwise, we will go to one of our queued-up questions here from the forms. All right. Kelly says, she was wondering if we were also having to teach outside the classroom here in Canada. They’re on week two already. We already said that. We’re in day three, but she’s on week two. As an interventionist supporting students who struggle in math, it’s been learning curve thing the best time to help students online without interrupting their other academic teacher’s times as well as offering links that I hope they will check it when they need it.

Jon Orr: It’s difficult to figure out how to best help our students because the relationships they have in the classroom are harder to push through when we’re digital or on Zoom here. Thanks, Kelly, for that question. As we’ve been talking here today, it’s definitely something to consider about how can we reach our students when they are not in front of us that you can’t tell them to put something away, but how can you help struggling students at home? Another question that I don’t have the answers here for, Kelly, is how we help kids who [inaudible 00:22:20] trying to access the computer yet or their email or jump on Zoom? What supports are going to be in place for those?

Jon Orr: I’m not sure yet, but I’d love to hash on that here today is to talk about that. But Kyle, what are your thoughts here on helping kids who already struggle in math? Usually, relationship building is a huge one for us with those kids, but it’s hard to do when we’re not sitting in front of them or working with them one on one.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. I think in a regular scenario, and by regular, just this regular in-school scenario, this can also still be a struggle. Here, I think this isn’t a new struggle. I think it’s something we constantly struggle with. My number one wonder I would have is I would come back and ask Kelly or whoever is struggling with this idea and to just reflect on how helpful the regular programming is helping that particular student

Kyle Pearce: For example, if a student’s in the regular classroom, but they’ve already been struggling significantly, are they actually benefiting from that experience? They definitely could be if we’re doing low floor, high ceiling tasks, if we’re doing problem-based lessons where students are able to access using the tools, the models, the strategies that they can actually use. Then, we can ask them purposeful questions and nudge them along.

Kyle Pearce: But if those things aren’t happening, if, let’s say, it looks like a pretty traditional lesson where here’s the content, we’re going to cover today, I’m going to essentially guide you through the lesson and then, the students are going to work, I wonder whether that student is actually benefiting from that experience or not. The answer may be yes or no. I’m going to say if the answer is no, then I would say giving you an opportunity to maybe go back to this idea I had mentioned before where we’re providing those students with these opportunities to meet them where they are, I always talk to teachers that are in a learning support kind of role.

Kyle Pearce: I’m always advocating to not put that pressure. I find the learning support teachers, special education teachers, and anyone who fits into that category while the classroom teacher feels the pressure of the curriculum on their shoulders, the intervention teacher feels the pressure of trying to get that student to where the teacher wants them to be, when in reality, developmentally, that’s probably not possible for many students in a short period of time. If they truly have a large enough gap where they are getting this additional support, it’s unrealistic for me to think that, by pulling them or whatever, that I’m going to get them to that point.

Kyle Pearce: What I want to reframe my mind around is what’s a realistic place that we can get this student to over a given period of time and trying to be realistic about that, not because a student can’t get there, but if a gap is long enough, for example, if Jon starts running right now no matter how hard I try, I might not be able to catch up to Jon especially if I’m a slower runner than Jon. If Jon’s a fast runner and he’s already got this huge headstart, in that same amount of time, I’m not going to be able to catch Jon.

Kyle Pearce: But I can still jog as far as Jon. I can still do what Jon does, but I just have to be realistic about how far should I expect to get with that particular student. I think, here, it might be trying to have those conversations with teachers and especially if curriculum has been taken off the burner, then, maybe it’s about having that group discussion with your staff, with your administration and your teachers to try to figure out what’s our goal while we’re out of school right now. Is it to advance the curriculum or is it to maybe provide students with the opportunity to close gaps to give students some of the students who are maybe on track or maybe even ahead of some of the students in the class? Given them inquiry opportunities and then help some of the other students who are trying to close some of those gaps.

Kyle Pearce: These are all questions, obviously, we can’t answer with any definite answer, but, hopefully, giving people something to think about in terms of how they might approach it from a perspective anyway.

Kelly: Well, that’s actually my question. I was going to say that since I wrote that, I did communicate with the other teachers because some of those kids want to talk to me, but they weren’t sure how, and they would have conflicts with other teachers. I came up with the idea of just having office hours. Yesterday, I had a wonderful time. I was just on Zoom for two hours. I had two sixth-graders pop in which told me they were two that felt like I was actually going to help them because some of them, like you said, don’t need my help. Some of them aren’t going to ask for it anyway.

Kelly: We always have that unfortunately. One of them wanted to go through what they had learned. The other one wanted to sit and do their assignment. Just ask me questions while they were doing it. I was multitasking, but it worked out. It made me feel better because I was really worried about not being able to help them like they needed it, but some of them don’t have the capacity to use the internet. Some of them do. Some of them are a little on time. Some of them have to watch their younger siblings. It’s complicated, but it’ll be an ongoing issue. It’s just it is what it is.

Jon Orr: It’s a great idea to have office hours where it’s just drop in when you want. It’s like what we’re doing right now actually. It’s like we have this kind of set time where we’re here just talking about whatever you guys want to talk about. You can just hang back and watch, or you can volunteer up your question and work it out together. That’s a great suggestion to build that relationship, but also work one on one or one on many. Thanks for that, Kelly.

Jon Orr: Now, I know I’m not the first person here to use this tool which is called Flipgrid. I know that some of you have used Flipgrid before. For example, I’m not going to show you all of those. I just don’t want you to look at all my kids’ videos here. What I did was to also build that. Kelly was talking about like building relationships too which goes back to what are we really going to do with our time here? Something to ease our kids in is one thing I just left the message in Flipgrid which is just a video, quick video message that you can do on your phone or your own device or your computer. It was just me saying, “Hey, what are you doing? I’m back from break. I’m at home. I’m sure you’re at home.”

Jon Orr: You can see my face. Let’s build some community here. Their instruction was just to leave another message on that board or the Flipgrid, the grid, so that we can all see each other and let each other know how we’re doing.

Jon Orr: Then, thing that I really liked about this program was that if this was a student right here, I can click reply and then I can make a quick reply to that student also on video or I can leave video feedback that only that kid can see. It’s like I can click that and go. I know only you can see this. I’m going to make a quick video or you can write something in feedback form written that only they can see.

Jon Orr: I’m finding this really nice to get into community building to get my students back so that we get in this habit of, “Hey, we’re going to check in with each other on a regular basis. That’s a quick way that can open the door is to building that community back up again that we had before we left because now we have to rebuild it. It’s just in a different way.

Jon Orr: That was Flipgrid, and I know that some of you guys are using Flipgrid, but check it out. There’s Kirsten saying, “With Flipgrid, do they all need an email address to sign in. Is it all connected or are we able to connect to the Google classroom?” I think you can login with… I log in with my Google email. I know you can connect it to Google classroom and share. It made me download an app so that I could do it on my phone, but I think you can do it through the web if you have your computer tools.

Jon Orr: You don’t need an app if you’re on your computer, but I had to download the free app that I just used with my Google email, and our school has a Google account. It all works through that, and the kids are leaving messages all through that. I know that there’s probably pros out there, but I’m new to this because I had never used Flipgrid before, but I’m finding that pretty helpful for my classroom. [crosstalk 00:30:07].

Kyle Pearce: Nice. Awesome stuff. Awesome stuff. Well, Jon, while we’re talking about some resources while you were talking there, I just put together a quick little slide here based on our friend, Dan, who’s willing to hook you all up with a license. I’m just going to share my screen here for a second, but, Dan, from Brainingcamp, if you’ve never seen Brainingcamp, it’s virtual manipulatives. One thing that I’ve found particularly challenging in this scenario, it was like, “Okay. We promote this idea of kids showing they’re thinking conceptually.” You know what? I would argue that teaching through Zoom or through Google Hangouts or whatever tool you choose to interact as we are here, I would still probably prompt students with something interesting.

Kyle Pearce: It doesn’t necessarily have to be, but it could be like a video. I could give them a link to a video of a three-act math task or it could be an image that I put up on the screen or I could share it, but then, when they go to solve the problem, one thing that they likely don’t have at home is manipulatives. Jon and I are very, very big into this idea of students showing their thinking conceptually, being able to access the thinking. Oftentimes, it’s hard to do without actual manipulatives.

Kyle Pearce: We’re in a scenario now where kids probably don’t have base 10 blocks sitting around their house or maybe even linking cubes. Brainingcamp is a great website that actually will help you out with that opportunity. I’m actually going to reshare my screen a little differently here. It’s a little easier for me to navigate. I’ll share the whole desktop, but, yeah. Brainingcamp is a great tool. They have all kinds of different virtual manipulatives that you can use. Here on my screen there, you can see that this is their number pieces tool. There’s their algebra tiles tool where now they’re actually doing some multiplying of binomials.

Jon Orr: Kyle, there was a question I think we should address right now. We can give away up other resources here. I wouldn’t mind talking about Knowledgehook before we go because I think that can be a great resource for people to have their students work through practice problems like purposeful practice problems while they’re away from school. I wouldn’t mind talking about that, but before we talk about any more technical and online tools or internet kind of tools, Robin poses a really interesting question that I’m going to try to copy and paste. I’ll just read it out loud here.

Jon Orr: I think she’s bringing up something that I think a lot of teachers are trying to worry about or think about. I know that we don’t have all the answers for this, but she’s saying like, “What’s the best way to connect kids in your class who do not have access to the internet?” I think that’s where that kind of gap is going to get bigger, is that not all kids have reliable access to the internet. Not all kids have a computer to access it.

Jon Orr: Even if they did, how many computers do you think a family has? If you’ve got three kids in your household and everyone’s expected to do learning all day long on those computers, if that’s what your district is asking them to do, how many computers do you think they have access to do that? For me, if I think about my three daughters, I actually have one computer in the house that we share. They’re young right now, but if I had, all of a sudden, say that we’re all going to do work online with their teachers.

Jon Orr: We’d have to share that one computer. There’s definitely access issues that we have to think about. That’s Robins question like, “What are ways that getting resources to kids so that they can be doing what’s Kyle suggested,” like exploring new concepts, strengthening old concepts, not necessarily hammering out the curriculum that I was supposed to teach, but how can we help those kids who we can’t access through the internet? I don’t know, Kyle. What do we think about that? We can’t give tech to every single kid probably in the whole country so they have a device at home.

Jon Orr: I know that our school district tries to go one-on-one with grades seven and up, but my kids aren’t even there yet. It’s like, “How do we do that?” Not only with kids who don’t even have that at home because of their family life, but even families that do have the internet, it’s likely that they don’t have say one device per kid for everybody.

Kyle Pearce: This is a great question because, again, when we talk about equity, that is one of the big divides between different socioeconomic status also even just like proximity. Some rural areas don’t have internet, let’s say. Our district, we are compiling ourselves doing something like this trying to put together different packets and handouts. Actually, what I’m going to do is I’m going to write down so we don’t forget. I’m going to write down putting up a discussion post inside the academy where we can share these more like non-tech resources.

Kyle Pearce: I just saw, I think it was Jackie. [crosstalk 00:35:00] Yeah. Jackie was saying, “We’ve been creating packages that create joyful experiences. Math games with dice cards for those students who do not have access to digital resources or Wi-Fi. What will get students to do math even when some of their parents are working?” If anyone out there is able to even just sharing that like so, for example, like Jackie copying and pasting that into the discussion community is going to be really helpful for others who maybe weren’t on the web call today, but then even more so, I don’t want to put too much pressure on you because I know that a lot of people are really overwhelmed right now.

Kyle Pearce: But if you do have your district, your school or maybe yourself, you’ve put together packages of things to share it up to the community area, you can actually upload files. You can post links. All of those things, I think that would be really helpful for those who are just looking for a starting point. Something for us to consider, for sure.

Kyle Pearce: The other thing too, I was thinking about, is for the tech piece, assuming let’s say they have access to some sort of internet at home, but maybe not devices, our district’s going through a process right now where we’re trying to work out a tech sign-out agreement or opportunities. That is obviously going to be out of our hands as teachers, but it’s something that maybe could be mentioned to your administrator or to your superintendent to maybe put that on the radar that, hey, maybe this might make sense for some sort of sign-out program and, obviously, they would have to think through some of the technical challenges there. But that could be something to think about also.

Jon Orr: Yeah. For sure. It’s definitely something that I’ve been thinking about. Even when I put in that Flipgrid, not all my students are responding. Whether they’ve accessed communications with me, right now, the only way that I can get ahold of my students is through email. I know that maybe we’ll be passed… We left. I don’t know about you, Kyle, but when they cancelled school and they said schools are closing, we had one day to go in, and we didn’t know how long that was going to be. It was like, “Whoa, we’ll be down for two weeks, and we’ll come back.” It was during those two weeks, we weren’t going to do anything, but now, it looks like we’re going to be out much longer.

Jon Orr: Everything is at school for me right now. We’re not allowed back in the building. I can’t go back in and get, say, my class list that has phone numbers on it. I can’t go back in to get, say, my sheets that have recorded their student’s grades on them. It’s like we’re definitely in a holding pattern about that. I get worried about what are my kids doing that I haven’t heard back from. I emailed them, but I haven’t heard back from them at all. It’s something that’s been on my mind. I’m really hoping that, like you said, it’s out of our hands at this point. What happens with kids that can’t access the internet or not accessing the internet?

Jon Orr: I know it’s out of our hands, but I’m still down the forefront of my mind.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. For sure. For sure. Awesome stuff.

Jon Orr: All right.

Kyle Pearce: Anyone out there? Anyone willing to hop in there? While we flip around some slides, feel free to just shout it out something that I think we’ll do based on this question. This question here is from Tara who says, “What kind of tasks do you suggest for distance learning when we aren’t allowed to grade anything? I want to get my students motivated to engage, but they know we can’t grade them on anything.” This is something that I explored this with a few colleagues I also had this chat earlier this morning with the publisher. You might want to think about this structure as a few different things.

Kyle Pearce: First of all, you might have, like we heard earlier, about this office hour thing or maybe you might choose. It depends how flexible your schedule is based on your district or your school, but you might have like this option where you say, “Hey, listen. I’m going to do a math task with you. Anyone who wants to join me is great.” Maybe, you have some offline things like games and some of those little packages that I hope people will be sharing into the community area like the Skyscraper gam, great fun activities that are also they have mathematical benefit as well.

Kyle Pearce: But, if let’s say, you’re looking at specific math tasks like, for me, I would be thinking like, “Hey, I’d be inviting my class whoever wants to join. If it’s only four kids, if it’s 10 kids, it’s 15 kids to come join.” I would do it the way I would normally deliver a task in my classroom. That’s just me. I would try to give them a curious situation. I would give them some time to work through it and then share it on their webcam and allow students to convince one another. We’re big into this idea of students sharing and showing they’re thinking conceptually.

Kyle Pearce: I’m not big on the calculator anymore. I used to be. I used to almost be maybe addicted to it where it was like, “Just give me the answer, and we’re good to go.” Now, I want to know how do you know the answer you came up with? How are you representing it? How are you modeling it? Then, how are you going to convince me that it’s actually correct?

Kyle Pearce: My favorite line when a student comes up to me and says, “Is this good or is this right,” I always say, “I don’t know. Is it?” It puts it back to them to create an argument for me as to whether this works or doesn’t. Oftentimes, what that leads them to have to do is to draw or build some sort of model to be able to talk me through it or they’d have to be very clear with their explanation verbally if they’re going to try to do it without some sort of models. That to me, I think, is a really, I guess, an approach that I definitely want to be doing with students and it’s possible.

Jon Orr: Right. If you think technically the specifics, logistics of that, Kyle, for example, we’ve done that and modeled that on our webinars. We’ve tried to run tasks through, say, Zoom in the webinars from our previous webinars. You can actually find those in the academy. We’ve got those webinars in there. We’ve got to try to model tasks that way. We’ll be saying like, “What do you notice? What do you wonder? Type it in.” We’ve definitely done that. Those tasks also that we’ve modeled are in the academy. You can go to the tasks section. We have the slideshows ready to go that you can download for many of those tests, if not all of them, that you could say stream to your students through Zoom or a similar service.

Jon Orr: Like you said, Kyle, it’s like you could be presenting that as if you were in front of them, but asking them to notice and wonder in the chat asking them to show their pictures. We’ve also used a couple different tools for that. One is from Knowledgehook called the Snap. Kyle, is that true? The word is Snap, Snapchats which allows your class to link up and the kids could take pictures of work. It basically gets uploaded to Snapchats. Then, you can show those on the screen if you want. It’s really nice way to connect each other.

Jon Orr: Another tool that does that if you’re familiar high school teachers or middle school teachers would know more about Desmos. Desmos also has a very similar tool for taking pictures of student work in Desmos. You don’t have to run a Desmos activity. I guess, you could run one that’s just blank and ask them to log into that same code and take pictures, but Knowledgehook has a very easy tool to do that and the whole purpose is to just grab pictures very quickly or have kids take pictures of their work very quickly and send them to you in one spot which is really cool.

Jon Orr: Then, you can show them when you screen share on Zoom or that similar service. What I would do to answer Tara’s question here is I think I would. Run those tests the same way whether it’s going to be exactly the same way, no, but the first time you do it, you’re going to get your feet wet. You’ll learn as you go. I think to build that community back up, I would choose tasks that are maybe just nice tasks that get kids used to that process and used to that learning environment. I might not give you tasks that kids aren’t going to be able to solve questions right off the bat. It might be like, “Oh, man. I don’t know exactly what to do here. Let me try something.”

Jon Orr: I might start a little easier for them and then move into tasks that could help us gain some understanding on different solutions. That’s definitely a great way to keep things going and keep that curiosity building going. You’ve been doing this in your class already that you want to, all of a sudden, maybe like, “Hey. I had this great class going this year. My kids were engaged. We had a lot of curiosity. We had a lot of feeling sense-making here.” But then all of a sudden now, I got to go back to packets. I don’t really want to do that either. Some good suggestions.

Kelly: Now, that was actually my question. I thought I’d follow up a little bit with that.

Jon Orr: Sure. Thank you.

Kyle Pearce: [crosstalk 00:43:26].

Kelly: Now, I really want to check out Knowledgehook and everything, but my students have never seen that before.

Jon Orr: Got you.

Kelly: Is it something that I should definitely still do even though I haven’t seen them in almost two weeks now?

Jon Orr: Knowledgehook, is [crosstalk 00:43:39]?

Kelly: Yeah. Would they be able to figure things out without me in front of them?

Jon Orr: I think so. It’s pretty straightforward on, say, getting all that setup.

Kelly: I have the website put up on my iPad.

Kelly: Yeah. Once you get your account, I’ll show you, for example, from the teacher’s side, obviously, you have to set up your account. Right now, they’re giving it away for free for the remainder of the school year.

Jon Orr: That’s the premium stuff too.

Kyle Pearce: That’s premium. They actually have a lot of free tools like Snapchats is free. Even next year, if you don’t choose to do premium, you still have access to that. You have access to a bunch of content, but basically, students just enter a class code. Once you’re in, I’ll log in to my account. You’ll notice I’ve got a bunch of… [crosstalk 00:44:19] Jon.

Jon Orr: Yeah. I was just going to say as you do that, they don’t need accounts at that point to do that. We’ve just given the code. You can check off whether they need an account or they can just be a guest. You could say, “Hey, just go here.”

Kelly: [crosstalk 00:44:32] iPad. Our kids all have their own iPad.

Jon Orr: Yeah. It’ll work. Obviously, the picture taking is great for that.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. You’ll see that when you get in there and you create an account or a class, you can do it two ways. You can create your own accounts. I’ve always just had kids do this. Basically, this is all they need to do. They go here.

Kelly: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:44:53].

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. Then, you’re done. You can send them the instructions or post it to Google Classroom or whatever tool you want. Honestly, I think it’s pretty, pretty self-led for kids. You can assign work and activities yourself or you can actually just leave it open and kids can explore however they choose. Me, personally, I would probably maybe assign something first just to kick it off and give them a little direction, but I mean, really, it’s totally however you choose.

Kelly: They have the beautiful math. [inaudible 00:45:25] website.

Jon Orr: They have some really great kick-off missions. It’s like they have a mission built in so that you can just assign that one right away. That’s all pre-built for that particular grade. They have content from grades three through grade 10 here in Ontario, but they also have other stuff from other places. They have visual math built in. Kyle’s been a consultant with them because they’re a really great company. They’re an Ontario-based company. They got some of that in there, but they also got questions from Which One Doesn’t Belong and Would You Rather Math.

Kelly: My kids are used to that. Actually, even this week on canvas, I posted something different every morning on a discussion post. They’ve done which one doesn’t belong. This week, estimation 180. Would You Rather. [crosstalk 00:46:07] home.

Jon Orr: I’ve been using Knowledgehook in my class for the number of years now as purposeful practice to do at home and then Then to strengthen skills up. That’s one of the things our students are doing while they’re gone for this break is they know that they’re to log on and work through some of the missions to keep some skills going.

Jon Orr: I’ve even had, and I know that all of you teachers are probably on Facebook, and other parents are wondering like, “How do I help my kids?” I’ve had parents reach out to me knowing I’m a math teacher saying like, “How can I help my son or daughter who’s in 10th grade on trigonometry?” All I do is just click up an account and go, “I’ll just make a grade 10 account and share that code with them,” and, boom, they have access to all the content inside there to practice, but also, the nice thing is that for each one of their missions or their learning activities, they have worked examples on video format to show them what to do too.

Jon Orr: It’s a helpful tool to keep learning going, I think, while we’re on hiatus here for a little bit, but I find it good for the practice portion.

Kelly: Thanks for sharing that yeah.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. No problem. Just of like on that task front as we mentioned inside the academy, when you go into tasks you explore some of the tasks that we have. Many of them are being extended now into multi-day tasks. For example the donut delight task which brings you right to our spark tab you’ll notice that our tasks are kind of set up. You can kind of run them in a nice flawless sort of way. For example, if I’m running this on Zoom like we are now, I could just share my screen or share this window and actually run the video from here.

Kyle Pearce: Alternatively, I could actually give kids the link, for example, and have them run it on their end, but if I want to have that continuous experience, I could be running this task here. At the end, we’d give them a Notice and Wonder, and the prompts that we end up giving is how many donuts are in this box. They do some estimates. After their estimate, we then give them a little more information or a sense-making tab is like, “All right. Now that you’ve estimated, now that you’ve shared out some of your estimates, I want you to update your estimate.” But most importantly, I want you to convince someone that the quantity you come up with is reasonable without the use of a calculator.

Kyle Pearce: A lot of students will end up resorting to things like using base materials. You’ll notice that we have some sample responses in here where students can see how multiplication actually works. Eventually, at the end here, I’m not going to show the whole thing, but the area model we use, we actually start to show why the stacking method of multiplying two digit by two-digit actually works. It’s actually based on base 10 model. You can see that I approach it backwards. I do it developmentally.

Kyle Pearce: Usually, people handle the big numbers first instead of the small numbers like the algorithm, but in these tasks, what we try to do is we try to keep it conceptual. We try to make it as interactive as possible, and we want to make sure that you as the educator are as supported as possible throughout the process. We also give some consolidation prompts. When they leave this experience, you could send them away and just copy and paste this text as a consolidation prompt. Okay, now, we’ve got a different size box.

Kyle Pearce: I want you to use area model to make the following sentence a bit easier. What might your strategy be? Use an array concrete grid or open to defend your thinking. Then, you might be thinking like, “What are kids going to do?” Well, before this entire experience begins, there’s actually a guide and we’ll take you through showing the intentionality of the task. It’ll take you through and guide you through the things you might want to say and do.

Kyle Pearce: This is where you do this beforehand. These are some of the things kids might come up with, with their Notice and Wonder. You can create your productive struggle. Then also, we give you student approaches, so like, what students might do in this particular task so that you’re ready for it if a student shares a strategy and you’re not sure what that strategy is all about. We try to notice and name these strategies. Here, this is a student using skip counting to access the task.

Kyle Pearce: Here’s a distributive property using an array or an area model, I should say. Here’s symbolic distribution with an area model. These tasks are all in there. We have lesson tip sheets for you to explore. Ultimately, that’s just day one of the task. You could then go to day two which looks like this. We typically start day twos with a math talk. Here, how many donuts if the box is 50 by 12? Then, we go to 25 by 20. Then, we go to 25 by 24.

Kyle Pearce: You’ll see that we’re actually playing with this idea of distributive property and the associative property. Again, the guides there, all of these tasks are available to you while you’re an academy member. There’s a bunch of them. We’re adding to them all the time. Hopefully, you find this useful either as a guided lesson with your students online or you might be able to take pieces of them, and you can share them through your LMS or however you choose to interact over these next, we’ll say, a couple of weeks, but it might be a couple of months as we explore this distance education there.

Kyle Pearce: I’m wondering from the chat, Jon, you might see or anyone out in the room if you have any questions, reflections, wonders, flip on your mic, and let us know here.

Jon Orr: Right. All right. What do you think, Kyle? It’s getting past the hour. I’m wondering, and I know we chatted a little bit about this in the past is that we hold these once a month, but Kyle, we talked about maybe upping that during this time that we’re all at home. I’m wondering is normally when you’re at school, you get that time where you head to lunch and you chat with your people at lunchtime about what happened in class that day or after school, you might have a group that sometimes meets in your department office or even in your classroom that you get that. You get that chance to decompress with your colleagues.

Jon Orr: But we’re at home. You’re just boom, you’re there. You’re not getting that. I’m wondering if we up this to once a week, what are you thinking, Kyle? We talked about this not too long ago, but would anyone come back if we said, “Let’s change this to once a week?”

Kyle Pearce: Will anyone come back? They’re all like, “Nah.”

Jon Orr: Well, in wonder, once a month, is that enough for everybody? But if you came back next week and we did this again where we just chatted about some questions and opened it up to people to bring questions with them and maybe even just to share what’s going on in their classes there at virtual classrooms, I don’t think there’s anybody here, correct me if I’m wrong, that’s still in the classroom teaching. Is that true?

Kyle Pearce: I think that’s the case. Something else too-

Jon Orr: It looks like we can do this.

Kyle Pearce: … I think if we do that, I think it’s great. Then, something else I think we should all consider is that when we do come back together, if everyone has at least one thing that they felt went well from now till the next time, maybe, I don’t know if it’ll be Wednesday. We’ll have to double-check the schedule. We’ll discuss this after.

Jon Orr: We’ll send you an email.

Kyle Pearce: But, yeah. Come with one thing that you felt went well. Then, maybe something that you’re still working on like something that you’re still struggling, we’ll try to get the group openly sharing. In that way, we can riff on them together because I think these experiences, and Jon, you just nailed it, is when we’re talking with our colleagues, it’s so easy to forget how much we learn through those simple small conversations with our colleagues on a daily basis in the hallway or between classes or whatever it might be.

Kyle Pearce: I think that would be really powerful. Before we hang it up for today, I’m wondering if everyone can just take a moment in the chat. I see a few people have done it already, but maybe to just articulate something today that was a takeaway for you that you might find useful as you continue along in this journey. I’m sure that there’s still questions, but again, something that you’re planning to either do or think about or reflect on as we leave here. I see Brainingcamp. I see Patricia saying some of the resources we’ve shared. There’s some exploration there. Awesome.

Jon Orr: Yeah. Knowledgehook, less is more. I think that’s a big one.

Kyle Pearce: Less is more. I think that one for me is huge. I think if that’s one thing we can all take away is don’t overthink. Don’t try to be the rock star. Let’s try to ease into this and try to provide some value there. Awesome stuff.

Jon Orr: Skyscrapers.

Kyle Pearce: Cool. Some people are saying they’re curious about Teams and Office 365 much like Zoom. Actually, there’s some other features in there as well. If you’re an Office 365 district, definitely, check it out. Yeah. I see Skyscapper puzzles. Awesome. Good. Listen-

Jon Orr: [crosstalk 00:54:53] until next week.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. We are super excited to carry on especially welcome to all of the new members. If you haven’t introduced yourself in the community area, we are going to post a community area about that discussion about sharing some of those packages or those resources for students who might not have access to text. Definitely, get in there. Introduce yourself. We can’t wait to continue along this journey, hopefully, for a long term with all of you.

Kyle Pearce: We will definitely be chatting with you between now and next week. Thanks for listening in to our live Q&A chat from the Make Math Moments Academy. We’re so appreciative of the peer support that you’re all giving each other right now. We’re all doing our part to try to support one another during this difficult time. Let’s keep ensuring that we’ve got each other’s back.

Jon Orr: As you may know as most schools are closed to staff and students, we’ve opened the doors to the Make Math Moments Academy for this month. If you’re craving some community and looking for some guidance and professional development, you can join the academy this month for free over at makemathmoments.com/trial. That’s makemathmoments.com/trial.

Kyle Pearce: In order to ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes as they come out each week, be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform show notes and links to resources as well as my children’s footsteps throughout the house can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode69b. That’s makemathmoments.com/episode69b. Well, until next time. I’m Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.

Jon Orr: And high fives for you.

Start your school year off right by downloading the guide that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!



In our six module (16 week) online workshop you’ll learn how to build and adjust your own lessons that engage students, build deeper understanding of math, and promote resilience in problem solving.


We’ll release one module each week for the first 6 weeks. Then you’ll have another 10 weeks to work through the content ON YOUR SCHEDULE!
LEARN MORE about our Online Workshop: Making Math Moments That Matter: Helping Teachers Build Resilient Problem Solvers. https://makemathmoments.com/onlineworkshop

Thanks For Listening

To help out the show:


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *