Episode #76: COVID-19 Struggles Shared During Our Recent Q&A Webcall
Hey there, Math Moment Makers! This episode is a little different from our usual episodes as we look to give you a glimpse of some of the other places that we’re trying to learn with Math Moment Makers like YOU from around the world.
In addition to hosting this podcast each week and working our day jobs in classrooms, we also host the Make Math Moments Academy. The Academy is a membership site for ongoing professional development and support specifically crafted for teachers who are seeking ways to create Math Moments on a regular basis in their classrooms.
Each month we usually hold a LIVE Q & A session with our members to talk about current problems of practice from the classroom, but right now, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have been meeting weekly!
These chats have been really energizing, so we wanted to share a recent recording of our LIVE Q&A Webcall from April 22 2020.
- Our daily routines during this pandemic.
- What are districts doing with grades, exams, and promotion to the next grade; and,
- What does a 3-act task look like when it’s not in your classroom?
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Jon Orr: Hey there Math Moment Makers. This episode’s a little different from our usual episodes, as we look to give you a glimpse of some of the other places that we’re trying to learn with Math Moment Makers, like you, from around the world.
Kyle Pearce: In addition to hosting this podcast each week and working our day jobs in classrooms, we also host the Make Math Moments Academy. The Academy is a membership site for ongoing professional development and support, specifically crafted for teachers who are seeking ways to create math moments on a regular basis in their classrooms.
Jon Orr: Each month, we usually hold a live Q&A session with our members to talk about current problems of practice from the classroom. But right now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been meeting weekly.
Kyle Pearce: These chats have been very energizing. So, we wanted to share a recent recording of our live Q&A web call from last week. The time of this recording, April 22nd, 2020.
Jon Orr: In this chat, we talked about our daily routines during this pandemic. What are districts doing with grades, exams, and promotion to the next grade? And finally, what does a 3 Act Math Task look like, when it’s not in your classroom?
Kyle Pearce: So, let’s get to it.
Jon Orr: Hit it.
Kyle Pearce: Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.
Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr from mrorr-isageek.com.
Kyle Pearce: We are two math teachers, who together with you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide, who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark engagement, fuel learning and ignite teacher action. Jon, are you ready to dive back into this recorded web call from our Q&A session we had recently with the Academy members?
Jon Orr: Of course, Kyle. Of course, we’re always ready to bring you an episode of great learning and great listening, especially since this one is going to be listening to not only just us, but peers and other educators from around the globe chatting about their experiences.
Kyle Pearce: For sure, Jon. For sure. And as the world is in engaging in remote learning, it’s likely that you’ve managed to piece together the technology to provide students with some learning at home through videos available on YouTube or maybe, even you’ve created your own, like some of the Math Moment Makers from this Q&A web call that we’ll be sharing with you today.
Jon Orr: You’ve also worked hard to plan and prepare methods for your students to access practice problems through online tools and digital handouts.
Kyle Pearce: Now, these are all important and necessary steps to getting your math classroom organized for emergency remote learning, but you may have found that there’s just one thing missing, and that’s moments.
Jon Orr: When we lost our ability to facilitate lessons with our students in a face-to-face environment, we also lost many of our go-to and almost automatic strategies to Make Math Moments for our students.
Kyle Pearce: It might even feel impossible to create math moments that your students will remember for days or weeks, and even better, we’re hoping months or even years. But we’re here to say that it is possible and we want to help you get there.
Jon Orr: Join us during the week of May 11th, for three separate dates and times for a brand new webinar, on how to Make Math Moments that matter from a distance.
Kyle Pearce: We’ll be showing you what we’re doing to Make Math Moments with our students, so that you can do it with your students, while we’re all teaching remotely. Register for this free webinar at makemathmoments.com/webinar.
Jon Orr: That’s makemathmoments.com/webinar.
Kyle Pearce: All right. Let’s get into our Q&A web call replay, with the Math Moment Maker Academy members.
Jon Orr: Hello. Hello. Hello there. How are we today? I am doing quite well.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome to hear.
Jon Orr: It’s been a busy, busy day. I feel I’ve been ignoring my children for too long.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah. I would say, it’s a busy day for me too. I feel like every day now has been super busy.
Jon Orr: Yeah. I think we’ve talked about it before, but it’s seeming that this experience is becoming way more busy than I ever could have anticipated it being. I thought that in many regards, it was going to be a little bit of a break and it has been in some regards, but in many other regards, I don’t know if I’m just not used to it or the routine thing, but it’s been pretty hard.
Kyle Pearce: It’s definitely not what we’re used to. So, I think maybe that’s the hard part too. It’s the trying to figure this out and adjust and manage what it’s like at home. Actually I wouldn’t mind chatting about that with you to start things off today. Just thinking about what’s routine look like for you versus what’s it look like for me, and have you guys as a family figured out, is there some sort of routine? Do you have a timeline on when stuff needs to get done? And do you guys trade off on helping with the kid? I’d want to know. I think it’s a good thing to chat about.
Jon Orr: Now, before we get too much into that, if you are just joining us, because we are starting off with a bang here at 3:00 right off the bat. Kyle and I were just chatting about, what our day’s been like. And we want to chat to start with, maybe what the routine looks like, if there even is a routine. We haven’t chatted about that yet. We’re going to get rocking here today. We’re running the afternoon session. Last week we did a morning session.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, we’re always looking forward to these conversations. We try to either do it like Jon said, early morning was fun to do, so before the formal school day begins. And then right here we’re at that tail end of the school day doing 3:00, to try to hit that tail end so that hopefully people will be able to join us. We’ve got a little bit of a flex schedule now, so we’re kind of doing that tail end of the workday. Jon, why don’t we dive in a little bit.
Jon Orr: Yeah.
Kyle Pearce: What’s the routine sounding like, looking like, sounding like? I want to just say, I think Jon, I think you are being a better balanced person during this right now.
Jon Orr: We’ll see. I don’t know.
Kyle Pearce: Whereas I’m bouncing around all over the place and I’m not really finding too much routine. What’s yours look like here?
Jon Orr: I’ll tell you this. I feel like it’s been broken up into two distinct routine timelines for us. This is, I think, week three for continuing learning from teachers and my kids learning from their teachers. So, when we came back from March break, which was middle of March, we had a two-week, almost like limbo period here in Ontario, where we worked from home but we weren’t [inaudible 00:07:01] as teachers, new material to students.
Jon Orr: So what I felt like is those two weeks we were very, very routine-based. I worked with the kids in the morning. We taught and did a little bit of math. We did some reading. We did some music. We had a routine going. We even wrote it out, so that we could say, “We’re going to make sure we do these things. And then when these things are done, you want to go play outside or watch a show.” I felt like it was very routine then, and we got a lot done, and we had a lot of great discussions.
Jon Orr: And so then when we went back to teachers now providing work, so all the teachers in Ontario where to be like, “Let’s get our classes going on some new things, but also joining us up.” So, then it seems to be like… because then we were to do that with our classes too. And then it got a little bit more scatterbrained for us as a family.
Kyle Pearce: You sort of forgot to schedule that in, right? Oh yeah, I have to actually go back to…
Jon Orr: Yeah, we’ve got to do some more work here on a regular basis all day. So yeah, the kids seem to be handling that pretty well. So, the mornings for us, for my own kids, doing the tasks, usually they’ll check their Google Classrooms or their Seesaw accounts. That’s the other thing that’s happening right now with elementary, right? I got three different kids in my house. One’s using Google Classroom. One’s using Seesaw. And one teacher for the other one is doing both, so they have to check two different things.
Jon Orr: So sometimes it’s like… that first week was like, “Where do we look? Did we miss anything?” And helping the kids navigate that, right? Helping the kids navigate what that looks like, so that I could go off and work with my own students took some extra time there and some extra learning. And I think, we’re kind of getting to it, a nice spot even though it’s week three right now. As I said, the mornings are work and usually the kids are getting their stuff done in the morning. And then, the afternoons it’s kind of playtime and exercise time, and play outside and jump on the trampoline and that kind of stuff.
Jon Orr: For me, I wake up super early, just so I feel like I can get some work done before the family wakes up. You know me, Kyle, I’m getting up at 5:00 a.m. doing some work before school starts on a normal day before all this. And now I’m getting up, it’s still the same time, but doing some work on my classroom. I got about four hours of work before anybody else wakes up, so that’s been my routine. And then, as I said, the afternoons are kind of like we do stuff and have our dinner and go for walks at night time close to our home here.
Jon Orr: But as I said, we had more of a routine before we went back to learning remotely from our teachers. But I feel like it’s okay. What about you? What’s going on with you?
Kyle Pearce: I mentioned at the last Q&A I am definitely fallen off of my routine bandwagon. I feel a little lost like I am a creature of habit and I really have enjoyed being on sort of a schedule where it’s just routine, I don’t have to do any thinking. And I think what’s hurting me right now is because I’ve fallen out of that routine, and I haven’t intentionally set up a new or modified routine, I am sort of falling off my wagon. You know, typically I would get up early, I wouldn’t do work early, but I would get up to run and then I would try to spend that 15 minutes in the morning with the kids just to kind of feel like I saw them, get ready and then out the door for the day. And then I’m walking in at 5:00, 5:30 from whether I’m downtown or whether I’m hanging out with Nicole at Davis or with any other teacher in the district or doing PD.
Kyle Pearce: And even though that was super fast-paced, I always felt like I never had enough time. We do the dinner thing and then it was shuttling kids around or hanging out with them and just spending a little bit of time, and then you and I recording a podcast episode. Whereas now, I feel like I shouldn’t have any excuse, but I find that it’s that lack of routine, that lack of consistency for me is I’m really struggling with. And I think one of the big pieces is that I just don’t feel like I can get into work as deeply as I could when I was at work, because the kids are home, my wife’s working, she’s a teacher as well. She’s definitely taking more of the responsibility with the kids right now as I’m kind of getting thrown around in meetings, and you know, during the day I’ll get a random Microsoft Team meeting I have to jump into or whatever it is. So it’s just kind of flying by the seat of my pants right now.
Kyle Pearce: I think I’ve got my big takeaway from this conversation, which is I think I need to actually commit to getting on a routine, whatever that might look like, sound like. So I’m wondering is there anyone else in the room who’s willing to flip on a mic? Let’s hear from you folks. How is your routine going? How are you handling it? Or are you more like Jon where you’re handling it and you’re dealing, are you more like me where you’ve fallen off the wagon and you feel like you’re battered and bruised? Go ahead and flip on the mic and share away.
Jolynn: … Jolynn.
Kyle Pearce: Go ahead.
Jolynn: How are you guys doing? I feel like it’s interesting that your district, I think Jon you said, Kyle, I don’t know if you guys are in the same situation where now suddenly it’s not just enrichment anymore or it’s not just an improvement, but we are still on improvement and they just canceled the face-to-face school for the rest of the year, and I am having a rough time grasping assessment right now and what my job is. I’ve been teaching 29 years. I’m like, “What’s my job right now?” It’s so ambiguous and I think that that is… I think we are a career of Type A people, and I think that it’s exhausting to me to try to figure out what my job is right now, so there you go.
Jon Orr: Totally. Totally. I hear you for sure. I think other people here can relate. I saw a lot of heads nodding as we were going. Like Laura, she’s still nodding her head. So yeah, lots of wonder what’s going to happen and what our job looks like. Now, Jolynn, you said you’re still doing enrichment.? So that means the year’s canceled and we’re just maintaining?
Jolynn: Sort of. That’s what our directive is, but I’m trying to squeeze little bits and pieces of what… especially what I’ve been doing in your workshop in there, because I’m like at there’s some mathematical thinking. What really am I supposed to go back and review with you?
Jon Orr: Right.
Jolynn: It’s so much I didn’t realize, and I put this in the chat also how much energy I get from kids, and I’m just tired. And then I thought the other day it’s because every day when you go into school you’re tired, and then they come in, and then you’re like… You’re energized by them. But I can’t get that digitally. I love digital learning, but I can’t. This everyday thing is sucking life out of me.
Jon Orr: Totally. Totally true. My wife and I were sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon and we were feeling really, really beat. And she’s like, “Well, we didn’t really do much today.” And I was like, “I think it’s having a toll on us.” We’re used to go, go, go. And like you said, I think you draw energy from those situations and now we’re not. We’re kind of just lost it there. Well, I know sometimes when I do workout it helps me, but sometimes not.
Kyle Pearce: I don’t think we realize how important human connection is. So just being around other people, sometimes it can be draining, right? If there’s a lot of negativity, but oftentimes it’s uplifting and I think the routine and the pace of education face-to-face is so different that I don’t know if it’s just my adrenaline isn’t hitting the same place as it typically is, and that I think is tiring on the body as well. You feel like you haven’t done anything, but why do I feel so blah? And I think it has a lot to do… I mean the weather doesn’t help either.
Kyle Pearce: If you’re in Ontario, like Jon and I, the past couple days, I was trying to do yard work one night and it started snowing on me, so that doesn’t help either. But also just not being in that social environment. And I think these Q&A’s, for Jon and I anyway, have been very helpful to just connect and to feel that a little bit of that energy coming into your body. It’s not the same. You can’t replicate it what it would be like face-to-face, but definitely makes me feel a little bit more alive than I did for other parts of the day where I’ve just been communicating through emails or chats and things like that. Anybody else?
Kelly: I can share?
Kyle Pearce: Thanks Kelly.
Jon Orr: Apparently it’s too hot there for you right now.
Kelly: For me it is because I like the nice snow and we didn’t get any snow this year really at all and yeah, it’s already spring so it’s kind of a bummer.
Jon Orr: Right.
Kelly: But I’ve got a kid in college who had to come home. And then I’ve got a kid that’s a junior in high school and then I’ve got a husband who works for a company and he has to work at home. And then there’s me. And up until that point, all of us left the house all the time to do everything we had to do. So my husband gets up early, goes down to the dungeon in the basement and has his office. And then I get up after he does, probably a couple of hours later and do my thing, and I’m on the main part of the house. Then my sons, most of their classes, they can kind of get up, whatever, so they’ve been night owls for the most part. They might be starting to get up now and it’s Eastern Time, 3:00, but you know, it doesn’t matter.
Kelly: I think my high school kid has a precalculus teacher that’s on at 3:00 every day, so he’ll make sure he’s up for that, and they work on their own because they’re old enough to be able to handle it, so I’m not having to do much with them except just checking in how are things going. And of course the first couple weeks they were kind of frustrated just getting used to how things were. My college kid really hates the fact that he paid for classes where he’s talking to a teacher physically in a room with other students working together, and now he’s having to do it all at home. Physics online is definitely not the same as physics in a classroom, you know, things like that.
Kelly: We seem to be getting in our groove. I mean, we’re sick of being home so sometimes we’ll go to a Chick-fil-A and order curbside and actually park somewhere and just have a picnic in the van. You know, that’s pretty much the gist of our day.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, we’ve done some family visits with the social distancing. Luckily we have kind of an empty space across the street where there’s a little bit of parking. It’s like a little private road we live on and my parents will come by and they’ll park on that side and set up lawn chairs and we’ll have our winter coats on and we’ll sit on the driveway and talk from across the driveway. And even that is much better than not having that connection at all, because usually we’re very close with our family, but it’s a really, really crazy time.
Kyle Pearce: So, I wanted to go back to… Jolynn mentioned just this idea of not knowing what we’re supposed to do and I want to kind of speak and hopefully raise some confidence out there because I’m in a unique situation where I get to communicate with teachers, not only in the Academy and through Make Math Moments, but also through my district, and I’ve been doing a lot of small group sessions with teachers in my district.
Kyle Pearce: The messaging I’m hearing when I go into a session with some of the decision makers in our district is they’re kind of not sure what we’re supposed to be doing either, right? So even though you get that memo that comes out, I know in my district they call it a memo, goes out to all staff or it goes out to secondary or it goes out to elementary, and they’re trying to be as clear as possible. At the same time as their writing those things they’re going, “I’m just trying to do what the Ministry of Education’s telling me and I’m not exactly sure what that is either.” So I don’t know if that makes you feel better or worse, but for those who are out there wondering “What am I supposed to be doing?” I think it always comes down to trying to do the best based on what you know now. And, honestly at this time in particular, I think if it’s the best interest of kids, I think you’re going to be always doing a really great job, and I don’t think there is an answer out there because nobody knows.
Kyle Pearce: Even the Ministry of Education doesn’t understand what’s the right move right now, because it’s like no matter what, when we do one thing and we make one change, something else is affected. So in our district, initially the messaging was, “We want it to be more asynchronous, so make it an environment where students can come online when they want and when they can,” and all of those things. And that was really helpful for equity.
Kyle Pearce: Now, they’re starting to think about, “Well, think of how much better it would be if it was synchronous.” So now some of the messaging is coming out as synchronous, but now they’re leaving equity in the dust. So no matter what change we make, it’s really difficult to find that balance. And I think we’re going to have to just do our best. I know it’s not a great answer because we would rather just know, and some people say like, “We just want to be told what’s the thing we’re supposed to do.” And unfortunately I don’t know if we’ll get there. Hopefully we won’t get there. Hopefully we’ll be back in the classroom at least by September for us in Ontario, that’s when we begin.
Kyle Pearce: But I’m hoping that people are hearing that message because going back to our struggle with routine, it’s really hard to get into a routine when we feel lost. So how do I get into a routine and I carve out time for me to do my work, and I don’t know what that work is supposed to be? I think you really have to be cautious about being too hard on yourself, especially when carving out that routine. I don’t know if I’m helping you right now or if I’m just trying to help myself because I do need to get a little better at carving that routine out, but that’s what’s going on my head right now, Jon. I don’t know if that makes sense for you. I saw a couple of hands go up there, so that’s good.
Jon Orr: You know, things that popped into my mind as I was listening to all you talk about your experiences is the one thing about, it’s like our school year here in Ontario has not been canceled. It’s not like it’s over and we’re not going back. They also haven’t announced that we’re not going back right now. The official date is we might or will or supposed to go back on May… the students are supposed to go back to May the 4th but it’s unofficially though. That won’t happen. We’re still waiting for that.
Jon Orr: Now, for teachers who said that you’re not going back, like Jolynn, where it’s kind of like we’re just maintaining, we’re trying to keep kids engaged and trying to give them some great activities to do to keep math, see the wonderment of math or the joy of math, we’ve talked about that here in the live Q&A before about what are the things you should focus on. I guess I’m wondering about attendance in that situation. Do you notice if parents and students, and maybe I’m leaning towards more middle school, high school wonder here. I suspect that elementary students will have a lot higher attendance than, say, middle school to high school students when they know that whatever they’re doing is extra.
Jon Orr: Right now for me running classes, I’ve got high school students that are told, This is or marks. This is for credit.” We’re still at that stage and I think that language in my guess is it won’t go away. And I’m still having, you know, not a lot of attendance in some of my applied level classes and my essential level classes. I’m sure this is still them getting themselves in order and getting things that they needed before that happens. Like Kyle said it’s an equity issue.
Jon Orr: I know that we just got an email this week or a memo this week that 100 of our students had been given devices by the school board so that they get an access stuff online. The school board has mailed those out or brought them out to them. So if I know that there’s this process that my students will start to trickle in because not all of them are there yet, but I’m wondering, especially when you’ve got a situation where the students are told that the year’s canceled and you are going to move to the next grade and that’s all going to carry forward, what does it look like attendance-wise, and what does it look like for that mindset for the kids?
Jon Orr: I know that we’ve talked about here about look what you would do, but what’s the attendance look like for you guys? I’m talking more high school and middle school too. Anybody have that experience there?
Jolynn: Middle level. They’re pretty smart, you know? Like, “They’re not going to fail us.” I have probably half of a team of 60 that’s regular, and I teach math and science, so I’m just trying to embrace the ones that are there. I really just want to do home visits for the ones that aren’t.
Jon Orr: Yeah, exactly.
Jolynn: Put up a sign like, “I’m working.”
Jon Orr: That’s where I’m at right now too. I want to know more. Right now I’ve had very little information about what’s going on for the kids that aren’t attending or submitting work or letting me know or responding to emails, right? So I don’t know and I’d just like to know, but that’s what I’m wondering about from other people too. Anybody else? I know that Kelly was nodding her head was going to say something too.
Kelly: I can tell you from my son’s perspective in Georgia, the county that we live in, what they decided was your third nine weeks grade is what your final grade is and you have the option of keeping that grade for the end of the year, or you can do extra work to build it up. And obviously kids who were failing, they would work with them.
Kelly: My son had all passing grades and thankfully by luck he actually had already had As at that point. But he has some grades that are low As, and my son on his own decided he wanted to keep working on some of those classes to build the grade up as high as he can because we’ve got scholarships for kids for college if you have a good GPA. But a lot of his friends were like, “Man, I’m done with school. I don’t want to do it anymore.” And they quit. They’re not doing anything.
Jon Orr: That’s the immediate thought I had in my mind. Not everyone would do that. Obviously your son would be one from the group that is maybe intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated for scholarship or whatever it might be, but I only know my own experience and I think as a student I would work hard to get my 80% or whatever the grade was. If I was locked in for that, I have a funny feeling that my friend group would have been like, “We’re good. We’re going to tap out.” And that’s not everyone.
Jon Orr: It really does put students in a position where, and hopefully they’ll learn something from this experience, you know? Hopefully it won’t be too hard of a lesson, but one that just whichever way they go, whether they work hard and they see the value of that, hopefully that’s a benefit. And then if somebody doesn’t take that option, hopefully at some point they reflect on it and say, you know, I’ve actually put myself in maybe a tougher spot. I sort of wish I would have kept up with it.
Jon Orr: You know, same idea, it’s like when I go on vacation and I decide not to exercise for the week and then I get back and I go, “You know, I wish I would’ve just kept doing it because I feel like garbage right now.” Same idea, but yeah, that’s a great perspective.
Jon Orr: Any other folks out there who have had, when it comes to actually getting students engaged, either who maybe had some struggles initially and then maybe have tried something they’re willing to share that seems to be proving positive, doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but has maybe helped you to bring on a few more students along the way. Go ahead, Christie.
Christie: So my school, we’re not going back this year and that was really tough, and in the beginning we were just allowed to do enrichment. So my PLC team, we created kind of like a, “Here’s videos you can watch, here’s interactive websites, here’s Desmos activities and here’s worksheets.” It was very boring. It was terrible. Not many students interacted with it. I would not have interacted with it if I was a student. I just didn’t care. And that’s how my students were too.
Christie: And then I decided I was going to do a 3 Act Math task. Since the weather is beautiful out here in Washington, I made a video of a very tall Douglas tree that I said that I was going to cut down, and kind of showed my house and the tree and said, “What do you notice and what do you wonder?” Many on them wondered if it was going to hit the house.
Christie: We’ve been working on it this past week. I’ve had 85% engagement out of 60 students, and it’s going back to the trait that we learned right before the quarantine. But it was so exciting and I open it up of just this excitement of, “I want to do something different. I don’t want to send you boring videos to do, and if you’re able to participate and come on this learning journey with me,” and they’ve really come together. It excited me because when I heard that we weren’t coming back, it was so crushing and I had a hard time not knowing if I was going to see them again and what to do.
Jon Orr: Right.
Christie: So yeah, it’s been really exciting, but it’s trying to figure out how to engage students in more engaging, real life sort of things than just a video that isn’t personalized to them.
Jon Orr: Right. Yeah, that’s great suggestions too. If I ask a couple of questions about that, I’m wondering more about logistics for you right now. Like what does a 3 Act Math task look like when you’re doing it, say, online and not in class? You said you took a video, but then what does it look like? Help everybody understand what that might look like. Like if they’re going, “Hey, I want to do something like that too.” I mean, we talked a little bit about this in our last webinar a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve got another webinar coming up that we’re going to talk about it, but shat did it look like for you, Christie?
Christie: So this problem has lasted one full week. My students and I are working on one problem for the entire week, which I’m completely okay with, they’re problem solving, so I’m good with that. So, the first day I released the video and they just had to go on Google Classroom and write down anything and everything they noticed and wondered. The following day I compiled their noticings and wonderings and I made a short video highlighting some of the ones that made me laugh, some of the ones that made me wonder about new things, and also things that were mathematically relevant.
Christie: Then I expressed to them that we were going to pursue the ‘will the tree hit my house’ question. And after that video they had parts two and three, which they had to take a survey on whether or not they believe that it would hit the house, yes or no. And then they also had to identify information that they needed to have, what measurements they wanted me to take in order to solve it. So once I had those measurements, I took the measurements that I could, I made a video expressing which ones I couldn’t, and a slideshow with all of the measurements that they needed with pictures so there were pictures and things.
Christie: And then they had two days to kind of grapple with that. And then we did a synchronous Google Meet where they got to engage in conversations with each other and build on their ideas. Then I just took pictures this morning. I took pictures of that and I did a Screencastify for students who weren’t able to be in the Google Meet, posted it for them, and told them that they have two days to try and grapple with it, submit an answer, which it’s not going in the grade book, I’m not assessing it, but get an answer, and then I’m going to make a video with the three different strategies that they developed, because they developed three different strategies to figure it out, which are mathematically sound. And I’ll go through that and release the answer to them.
Kyle Pearce: Awesome.
Jon Orr: That’s a great snapshot. I think I got a really good picture of what that looks like online and that process, so nice job there for sure. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think a lot of people appreciate that.
Kyle Pearce: I’m loving hearing from so many people who are… and the reason why I’m picking on Monica was in the chat she was just saying that she’s using them and it’s breaking up the monotony and it’s challenging students. I think having that undertone, that problem-based undertone to what you’re doing right now, I think is something that not only do we advocate doing it face-to-face as kind of like the core of your program, but then also providing students with some interesting, some curious tasks, and deciding how you want to go about it, whether it’s spreading it out so that you can stretch out the notice and wonder, or whether it’s just kind of having little link offs to places where kids can share their notice and wonder and still keep the curiosity, and then kind of carry along at their own pace.
Kyle Pearce: Both of those I think are great approaches, but just to make it a little more than only focusing on that purposeful practice or on that more procedural based math concept. So keeping it conceptual I think is really important and it’s really hard to do right now. So hats off to those who are trying to make it work.
Jon Orr: There’s a comment here from Pascal about you know, trying to best to her ability to just kind of model the thinking classroom, and I really appreciate what Christie’s shared. What I’ve been doing in my class too about how we can use 3 Act Math tasks, it’s really… You can slow it down in a sense where if you were new to 3 Act Math tasks or if you’re new to the thinking classroom ideas, you can slow it down in a sense that you give kids incremental things to work on, like a small snapshot of it.
Jon Orr: You know, when we’re teaching in our classrooms for our hour, or our hour and 15 minutes, or our 45 minutes class, whatever you have and you’re trying to think, I’m going to teach this concept and I’m going to do this 3 Act Math task or I’m going to get my kids up at the walls to showcase thinking and try things before I tell them to. You have this, and I definitely had this when I first started doing these kinds of things, I wanted to rush it. You know, I wanted to be like, “Oh we got the hour, I want to make sure by the end of the hour we did the notice and the wonders. We tried the problem, we got solutions out and we consolidated those solutions, so that we have this learning goal that we can tie everything up with a nice bow.” And, sometimes I felt super rushed, and I know that that’s one of our biggest questions, right Kyle, it’s like, “How long do I know that it’s the right amount of time?”
Jon Orr: I feel like if you try to do that now, like what Christie said is, you know, she’s chunking it out over time and waiting for those responses to come in, and then you have time. Like this week I did two different classes teaching in high school, and my one grade 10 class got one of the problems, the task problems that the shot put problem Kyle put together and it’s on the task area of the Academy.
Jon Orr: And another problem I had with my other grade 10 class was we were looking at systems of equations and we did a Desmos activity with the racing cars and it was nice to, especially in both groups, to being like, “In this up till Tuesday night, I want you to tackle this problem and send me pictures of your work.” I did that for both groups and then it’s nice to look at what came in and now you can do that five practices select in sequence to say, “Okay, let’s make a quick consolidation video here, connecting video to talk about what strategies came in, how can you sequence them to talk about it when your video that you’re going to send back to the kids before you do the next stage of that activity and ask them to do a little bit more?”
Jon Orr: In this model, we can slow things right down and give you a little bit more confidence on what each stage of that framework that we teach and work with to deliver. So I’ve been enjoying that about seeing that work come in at a slower pace than, say, on your feet at the moment. We lose the discussion, which is definitely not ideal, but-
Kyle Pearce: Or maybe it’s just not as risk-
Jon Orr: No solutions available.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, more like a more like Facebook sort of comment-type experience or something along the ways there.
Jon Orr: But still more refreshing than checking the worksheet and seeing if it’s done or not done.
Kyle Pearce: Right for sure. I think Pam wanted to hop in and then Pascal is willing to share.
Jon Orr: Okay.
Kyle Pearce: So let’s go to Pam there. I think she had something to add to that.
Pam: Actually it’s a question. I’m brand new to this. My role in Toronto is to support ecological literacy, so get kids outside. And of course a lot of our kids are in apartments and a lot of them are not allowed to go outside. So we’ve been really struggling with finding ways that they can. So when I discovered your 3 Act Math, I have a science background, so I’m learning this math about as we go. I just thought, well one of the things they could see was the hawks migrating at this time out the window. We’ve got a lot of red tails, some northern harriers coming by, rough tails or rough legged.
Pam: I just thought of in your spark, you talked about what motivates kids. Well, the hawks motivate me, but I don’t know if it motivates kids.
Kyle Pearce: Right.
Pam: So I sort of was searching around and thought maybe I could tap into your expertise. You know, I could show a big picture of the hawk or maybe that viral video from Montreal where the hawk picks up the child and, you know, scoots it away. Then I’m stuck. I’m like, do they create the wingspan in their living room with socks and recreate the size of the hawk? Do they compare their own wingspan to their height and see if they’re a square or longer? I don’t know, where do you go from there?
Jon Orr: Right. Those are some really nice and great suggestions. Those work for sure. And I think one of our biggest recommendations is when you start to design tasks for students to do, is you want to first think what is the learning goal that I want to do? So yeah, you could go lots of different places there. And so I guess you have to say first what skill or what idea or what mathematical expectation or standard do I want to tackle with this one. And once you know that, then I think that helps you decide what the next step is.
Kyle Pearce: And I think too, just one last point about it as well is when it comes back to what engages, I think this is something that Jon and I speak about a lot, and actually a good friend and colleague of mine, Craig Guthrie, he’s very into sports and he finally after running math counsels, some students told him they don’t like sports. And in his mind he thought he was awesome because he had made all these cool sports questions and he had tailored it and it made sense to him, and it’s going to work for some kids.
Kyle Pearce: But that’s where I think bridging out, and that’s why Jon and I now focus so much on curiosity because curiosity has less to do with the thing you’re curious about. So for example, I’m not into hawks, I think they’re cool, but I don’t know much about them. But if you sparked my curiosity right away when you had mentioned the story about a hawk picking up a student, now is that alone going to do it? Maybe not. But then maybe the next question might be like, “How much weight could the average hawk pick up?” And maybe there’s some information around that, that could then spark something like, okay, now maybe you give them options of like, “Could they pick up this, that?” Do they have to estimate the weight of these different items?
Kyle Pearce: So now I’m going on this I don’t really care about hawks themselves, but now I’m curious. I’m like, “Wow, I wonder if a hawk could pick up an actual human being, what else could it pick up?” And then if the weight of that human being is this amount, what other objects are that same weight? Because that’s something like weight and time and those attributes like those actual measurements, those quantities that are abstract are very difficult to estimate. Right? It’s not like looking at gumballs, and gumballs are hard to estimate too, but when you think about things like time and you think about weight, especially trying to estimate the weight of something, I always find that extremely difficult. So that could be a math concept that you could link to that idea.
Kyle Pearce: But again, it’s not about loving hawks. It’s about the hawk idea kind of sparked you to go down a path and that’s where I’m at now. Because a lot of our tasks, if you look the shot put task, Jon mentioned, I’m not into shot put, I don’t really even know the rules of shot put, but when we take something that you know about, I know about hawks, I know about shot put, and you find a way to put them in a scenario where now they’re curious about it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s actually relevant to their everyday life, it’s relatable and it’s contextual enough that they can actually think about it concretely even if they have visualize it in their minds.
Kyle Pearce: So that for me is something that really changed how I approach things. I don’t talk about skateboards because skateboarding’s cool. I talk about a scenario that just blows your mind and now I’m curious about it.
Pam: That helps a lot. Thanks. I was also thinking about kids don’t know what a meter is and now that we’re trying to stay away two meters using the flight idea of what is actually two meters. So Christie’s helped me kind of figure that out to just figure where the kids are interested, and then… so thanks. That’s great.
Kyle Pearce: No problem. And the things that are so shocking to me, like you were saying, like the length of a meter, when you get into long measures, like long lengths and when you ask students to estimate even things like, “How many centimeters from the desk to the wall, how big of a gap is that? Will a couch that’s this wide fit through?” And when they estimate it’s wildly off, like something you would never imagine. And that has a lot to do with just this understanding of magnitudes. So not only how numbers themselves relate, but then when you actually tie it to a specific attribute, that really is mind blowing it out. We talk a lot about that in two courses in the fundamentals of math course in the Academy. So if you haven’t checked that out, definitely check that out. And then we also have our proportional reasoning course. So that’s that standalone course, but something you might want to look into if that catches your attention.
Kyle Pearce: Pascal, are you ready to share, because I think you had said you were willing to, so we’ll see if we can flip that mic on and keep going.
Kyle Pearce: Yup, go ahead.
Pascal: I can try.
Kyle Pearce: You’re in.
Pascal: So I teach in Ontario. I teach grade 10 in calculus right now, grade 12 calculus, and I’m fortunate enough that I’ve been having 100% attendance for live sessions with the kids, so it’s really wonderful. I think the kids are finding, from my perspective, I see that they really appreciate the routine that that brings. They know that four days a week we take a day off on Wednesday, but four days a week we meet at a set time as a class and then we have a little bit of a social time just updating. I’m really enjoying the fact that I can still greet each student as they come in as I do the attendance. So it’s similar to when I was in my classroom at the door greeting each one as they come in. So I try to focus on that.
Pascal: But my struggle had been for the last two weeks I had to revert to explicit teaching and I thought that was horrible because I had really transformed my classroom to a thinking classroom model where the kids’ voices were the only ones really speaking, and I only explicitly taught maybe five minutes a class, when really the kids were always in random groups at surfaces, working together in small groups and all I would do is hover, circulate, prompt them, keep them motivated. So I really struggled the last two weeks because I had to revert to an explicit teaching model where I was the sage on the stage delivering this product, just concepts. And I mean, kids still enjoyed the fact that we had routine and they were still learning, but I really didn’t like the fact that it was always my voice.
Pascal: So yesterday I was able to set it up with Google Meet and set up multiple different meeting rooms, and the easiest way that I found was to just go in the chat and insert the links to three different meeting rooms. And then I assigned the students to go to a different meeting room, gave them a question, and then I was able to just hover between the rooms and go and encourage them. I had given them instructions on what I thought collaboration would look like, and they’re used to it because they’ve already done it in class, in person.
Pascal: So it was really wonderful to be able to replicate a little bit of the thinking classroom model that way. So I’m hoping to do that over the next few weeks with the younger grades.
Kyle Pearce: Right.
Pascal: We’ll see.
Kyle Pearce: You haven’t done it with the younger grades yet?
Pascal: Well, I did it with the grade 12s yesterday, so on Friday I’ll give it a try with the grade 10s. I expect it’ll work okay, because they’re already used to the model anyhow. It’s just that the format.
Jon Orr: And you have a grade 10 academic?
Pascal: It’s actually applied and academic mixed together. We’ve tried to do that to reduce the social implication of having them separate, so it works. Yeah.
Kyle Pearce: Okay.
Jon Orr: We’d be interested to hear how that goes too. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. A great tip there for sure to create different meeting rooms and have those people just kind of jump in, and you pop in and here and there. That’s great.
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, for sure.
Pascal: Yeah, and Zoom I think offers that option, which is nice, but our school board has actually banned Zoom, so we can’t use that.
Jon Orr: Yeah, we had the same issue.
Kyle Pearce: You should be able to attend as a teacher, but some boards are even saying, “No. No zoom at all.” But especially with students I should say. Definitely an option.
Jon Orr: Our is like that too.
Kyle Pearce: And actually, something that I think is really interesting as well as something that’s possible there and I know that a lot of people feel like they’ve had to resort to this explicit instruction to this more direct instruction where I’m going to kind of maybe tell you, even if I’m showing you conceptually, I’m still telling you how it conceptually works versus kids getting an opportunity. Something as simple as, in my opinion, something as simple as if you are recording anything and sharing it, so whether it’s you want to do it live with students or whether you want to actually record it and share it for students to do at their own pace, something to consider is just giving students instructions in the video, like pause, and then pause for 10 seconds, and all you can really do then is trust that they are going to do that and actually engage in that sort of investigation.
Kyle Pearce: Just like in a classroom where some students don’t put the full effort in to, let’s say a notice or wonder, or maybe even the estimate, here at least you can kind of still promote that idea. So that’s something that I think it maybe seems obvious after I say it, but for a lot of people they’ve been like, “Oh yeah, I guess I could just ask them to pause the video and give them some time to actually do the task and then I can consolidate it based on what I’ve assumed some kids may do,” or like Jon’s done where he actually collects the work and then he does the consolidation the next day.
Kyle Pearce: So you can kind of do a little bit of a lag. That’s more for everyone in general. I know that Pascal’s attempting to get them into different groups and that’s awesome too. So if you want to get to that point, anyone else who’s listening, I think that’s a great opportunity. It’ll actually push them beyond maybe skipping ahead in those videos and kind of getting to the guts of the video. It’ll force them to actually do a little bit of that collaboration. So I love that idea and I’m really curious to see how it goes with your grade 10s.
Jon Orr: So what I want to do is let’s hear from a few people, maybe two, maybe three, any takeaways, and with that take away maybe something that you’re going to think about moving forward into next week. Because I think that reflection piece, we say it on the podcast all the time is really important to share it and say it. And then also it kind of makes you accountable too to continue thinking about those ideas. So any wonderful folks who want to just flip on that mic, hope on.
Speaker 8: Well, this isn’t a takeaway, but I just want to say that we have a 16 year old son and his routine is he loves gaming and eating and sleeping, and he’s able to just do enough work to get his grades to be an A and he’s celebrating quarantining, because he’s like, “Mom, no religion, no church.” He works at Charlie’s Café. “No work.” I mean the guy’s living a dream and he’s like, “This will never happen again.” I might rob him of the experience. But anyways, I just had to share that story. That’s his routine and it’s quite nice because then it’s quiet in the house during the day because he’s still sleeping.
Jon Orr: Yeah, yeah. And then part of you, you’re probably like, “Am I being a good parent by letting him? Do I push him? Do I stop him?” I feel like we’re all having these doubts in our mind about what are we supposed to do because it’s so out of the norm. But I like how you’re looking at it and just kind of rolling with it because at the end of the day, like you say, this is not a routine hopefully that we’re going to stick with for any long period of time. So let him have his fun, especially at that age for sure. All right. Any others? Any others out there willing to say a final takeaway?
Laura: I’ll say something.
Jon Orr: Hey Laura, thanks.
Kyle Pearce: Laura, thank you.
Laura: I was just going to say that no matter what you end up doing, everyone you’re doing it right, okay? This is a completely ‘not teaching.’ This is crisis management at this moment in time, so whatever you’re doing, congratulations. We’re all doing it right, okay?
Jon Orr: Yeah, you’ve got to hear that and you got to say it.
Kyle Pearce: There’s a lot of head nods going on right now.
Jon Orr: Yeah, when you say it, it doesn’t mean it’s still easy to do because I say it to teachers, but then I constantly walk away and I have to keep reminding myself as well. So yeah, Christine, a few other people are giving the thumbs up to that. Awesome stuff. And one last takeaway for anyone and then we will wrap this thing up and get you on with your day.
Speaker 10: I’d share something. I would just like to point it that yeah, things are difficult, but there’s also some positive things coming out of this. I have a student who suffers from anxiety who was missing class for the first half of the semester and now because it’s online, she’s actually, her attendance is up and I was able to meet with her one-on-one and do a little bit of one-on-one teaching, and there’s a lot of pros there. So I’m just going to try to focus for the next week to just think, okay, for that one day, which student am I going to select today to make a difference with that student, and take it one student at a time rather than try to think of all, you know, and be overwhelmed. So one student at a time. And what can we do to make a difference for that one.
Jon Orr: There’s a lot of head nodding going on right there too, but I’m sure… like I’ve got a student like that, that I’ve seen more work from during this than I had in class because they would miss, so probably put your hand up if you’re on camera saying you’ve got a student like that too. And I’m sure that it’s going around. So you’re right, there are some definite positives coming out of this.
Kyle Pearce: And it’s that silver lining, right? If this situation never happened, we’re still educators no matter what. Day in, day out, we’re constantly highlighting the thing that didn’t work and there’s hundreds, maybe thousands of things that worked really well that we’ve become so accustomed to. It’s expected. We expected of ourselves. And I think it’s really important as well for us to recognize the fact that there’s a lot of good things, a lot of that silver lining there.
Kyle Pearce: And I think another one too is we all probably learned something new with how we could use tech more effectively. So I think that’s another benefit too that we’ll all walk away from this going like, “Wow, there’s some tools that I sort of did out of an emergency situation that I’m now going to incorporate into my regular routine.” So thanks for highlighting that. And I think we have to continue to remind ourselves of it and put it into action because it will affect our morale. It’ll affect our energy, and hopefully you’re feeling that as well.
Kyle Pearce: So awesome stuff. Jon, any takeaway for you as we wrap up? What do you think?
Jon Orr: It’s great to hear from the community. I love hearing the different stories that are out there. I don’t get that enough. We have our weekly staff meetings from our school, but it’s still great to be face-to-face here with all of you and hear your stories. So thank you for joining us and we really appreciate it that you are here and you are taking the time to visit with us and everybody else and learn together.
Jon Orr: So thanks so much all of you for joining us this afternoon. I saw a quick question about the recording. This is recorded. We record each one and we put them in the Academy after the live Q&A area. All of our live Q&As… We’re almost at a year, Kyle, the Academy was born in May of last year, so we’re coming up on a year of live Q&As, so you can find them all in there. We’ve got lots in there to check out. I guess we’ll have a big celebration come [inaudible 00:50:58].
Kyle Pearce: Yeah, we’re going to have to think about that. And for the live Q&A as well, when you look through them, we try to sort of create a title for each section so you don’t have to watch the whole hour. There’s little highlights for each one. We chop it up. So head in there, you don’t have to watch the ones that maybe don’t apply to you, but definitely check them out. And we are so excited to hang out with so many of you, many of the same faces, but also some new faces this week. So we’re going to keep on trying to schedule one here, especially during this emergency remote learning. So keep an eye, we’re going to keep on trying to insert one here and there. And then if you can’t make it, definitely check out that Q&A section in the Academy.
Jon Orr: So yeah, we haven’t set a date for next week yet, but we’ve been doing Wednesday or Thursday probably again [crosstalk 00:51:44].
Kyle Pearce: 3:00’s feeling good, feeling good.
Jon Orr: Yeah, 3:00 is feeling good.
Kyle Pearce: So we’ll probably do that, it seems like a pretty good time for many.
Jon Orr: But we’ll send you an email to let you know.
Kyle Pearce: All right. Okay, friends. That’s it from us. Have a fantastic day and keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing a great job. Thanks for joining us again and spending some time to listen in on one of our most recent Q&A web call replays. I’m sure that you could relate with some of our Math Moment makers from the call and hopefully you’ll be joining us in a future Q&A web call real soon.
Jon Orr: As always, how will you reflect on what you’ve heard from this episode? Have you written ideas down, drawn a sketch note, send out some tweets, have you called a colleague? Be sure to engage in some form of reflection to ensure the learning sticks.
Kyle Pearce: And as a reminder from the top of the episode, we want you to join us for our new webinar that’s going on this week. That’s right. During the week of May 11th, 2020 we are diving into how to make math moments from a distance.
Jon Orr: In this webinar, you will learn how to deliver problem-based lessons in a meaningful way, how to reach all students regardless of their mathematical readiness through the use of emerging mathematical strategies and models and how to deliver engaging lessons over the internet synchronously or asynchronously.
Kyle Pearce: Best of all, we’ll be giving away lots of math goodies, including tools and resources to up your Make Math Moments game as we lead conceptual lessons from a distance.
Jon Orr: Register for a date and time that works for you, and you’ll receive the replay sent to your email afterwards. Register at makemathmoments.com/webinar.
Kyle Pearce: That’s makemathmoments.com/webinar and ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes by smashing, smacking, slapping down that subscribe button on your Apple podcast app or in your favorite podcasting app.
Jon Orr: Also, if you’re liking what you’re hearing, please share the podcast with a colleague and help us reach a wider audience by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts and tweet us your biggest takeaway @MakeMathMoments on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.
Kyle Pearce: Show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode76. Again, that’s makemathmoments.com/episode76.
Kyle Pearce: Well, until next time, my friends, I’m Kyle Pearce.
Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr. High fives for us and a high five for you.
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