Tag Archives: problem solving

Earn & Learn

Source: http://www.robvingerhoets.com.au/images/EarnAndLearn.jpg

Source: http://www.robvingerhoets.com.au/images/EarnAndLearn.jpg

Another post I’ve been meaning to finish off for a while. This topic came about following a conversation I was having on twitter with another teacher about creating online bank accounts for students.

Earn and Learn is a financial awareness program developed by Rob Vingerhoets. This program sees students operate in a way similar to a small town or community.

Initially, students receive a base weekly payment for the work they complete. Students who undertake leadership roles or have extra responsibilities within the classroom are able to receive additional payments. Such resposnibilities might include taking the lunch orders to the canteen, cleaning the class library, setting up the computers, turning on and off the lights when we enter and leave our room.

Students also pay tax through the money they earn, make weekly “rent” payments for their seat and locker, take out insurance policies against forgetting their homework or receving an injury, contribute to superannuation and make purchases. Students operate businesses within the classroom and organise their finances through credit, debit and cheque accounts at our class bank.

This book was originally published in 1990’s and utilises a lot of black line masters. Wanting to incorporate 21st century learning, I took many aspects of this and transfered them across to computers; the main one being the setup of the students banking accounts through a series of excel spreadsheets. Students also created sales ledgers and the sign writer used publisher to create the signs for the various businesses  (I don’t have 1:1 in my school, but imagine the possibilities !)

This program encompasses many domains of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards and reflects a variety of attributes of PoLT. Students need to ensure that necessary documentation is completed each week to ensure they are paid; this encourages and supports students to take responsibility for their learning (Principle 2.1). Students work together in teams to manage and operate their businesses and to seek support and clarification; this uses strategies that build skills of productive collaboration (Principle 2.2). Students use their visual art skills and publishing applications to generate signage for their businesses. Spreadsheet applications are used to monitor their income and expenditure. This capitalises on students’ experience of a technology rich world and has students using technologies in ways that reflect professional and community practices (Principle 3.4 & 6.3)

Since introducing this program, student attendance figures within my class increased, and quality of work and assessment results improved. I have also supported colleagues to implement this program within their classes. As a collective, we are now discussing the strengths and weaknesses of this program and looking at how we can develop this program as we move towards an open plan learning environment for the following year. This links with our school Annual Implementation Plan goal of increasing student motivation towards learning….

It’s been great fun !

Do you run Earn & Learn in your classroom ?
Have you made modifications to the program to suit your needs ?
How have you incorporated the use of ICT to assist you in managing the program ?

The bus stops here


Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53297933@N00/1293671906

Earlier this year, I posted about some challenges and frustrations I was having with the way I, my team and my school was going about the teaching of Mathematics.

To summarise:

“We teach Contiki Tour Maths”, I proclaim.

I go on to explain. “The way we teach maths is just like travelling on a Contiki Tour. We climb on a bus, travel around, take a look round and the good stuff and before you know it, we jump back on and move on to the next town. That’s how we teach Maths. We pick a topic, do stuff with it for two weeks then move onto the next topic.”

Through Twitter and other online reading, I discovered the work of Dan Myer through the TED Talk Videos. His post on developing good problems provided me with a good starting point.

I shared Dan’s work with my numeracy coach and used the opportunity to discuss and reflect on what I was finding.

This lead to the creation of the Dog’s Breakfast Project. Using the Xtranromal online video editing software, she created a video to engage students with the topic. The multimedia engaged students in the task and featured a great deal of data required to solve the problem. This lead to talking about what information matters (also mentioned in Dan Myer’s work)

The tasks were presented to students in the form of a menu. Students were required to complete mandatory components, other sections required students to select from a range of tasks whilst other tasks were option. This allowed students who experience difficult with maths to still experience success and exit the task at a point they felt comfortable with whilst those who excel at maths were provided with additional challenges.  

The task also featured a rubric that made explicit to students the expectations of the task and what they were being assessed on.

Instead of getting “the answer” the focus was on the process. Many of what we would have considered our best maths students really struggled with this concept. When we asked them to explain how they got the answer common responses were “I just did it” or some form of grunted responses “Ehh-Ha-Huh” that was the equivalent of “I don’t know”

What we learnt from this process though was the need to scaffold the students through the process. This approach was a big change for us as teachers but also for our students who had become used to our style of teaching. Additional projects we have undertaken now include graphic organisers and templates to assist students with recording the information. It is our hope that over time we can remove these tools from the task and have students develop their own means to record and collect data.

What I’m  loving about the way we have changed our teaching is that it now encompasses so much more. The work we are doing is based on ‘real-world’ problem solving. No longer are we touching on a ‘topic’ in an isolated 2 week block, never to be touched again until it comes up again in the 2 year cycle. I’m enjoying the teaching of mathematics so much more and I can see my enthusiasm transferring across to my students.

We still have a long way to go. Creating such projects is not a simple task – No longer can we open up our Teacher Resource BLM book and pick out activities that explore a topic. That said, some tasks in these books do assist in providing a starting point; it’s the process of finding the problem and taking it that extra step further into a richer task that is the challenge for us; one that I’m sure we will improve at over time and with experience.

The Contiki Tour bus stops here.

Contiki Tour Maths

Editorial Note:  This blog post has been sitting in the draft box since 22nd May. With reports, professional development and life in general, I put it on the back burner for a few weeks…..

contiki_busIt’s a Thursday morning and I am working with my numeracy coach.

It’s nearing mid-year report time and I want to confirm my judgements about students on the topics we have covered earlier in the year.

I run my eyes over the students assessments. Many of areas are blank. Many of the areas we had “covered” Topics we had covered early in the year.

“We teach Contiki Tour Maths”, I proclaim.

I go on to explain. “The way we teach maths is just like travelling on a Contiki Tour. We climb on a bus, travel around, take a look round and the good stuff and before you know it, we jump back on and move on to the next town. That’s how we teach Maths. We pick a topic, do stuff with it for two weeks then move onto the next topic.”

Our discussion didn’t solve anything. Instead it left me asking more questions.

If I know the way I teach maths isn’t working, what does good maths teaching and learning look like ? How is this structured ?

Is it better to not to teach some concepts deeply and develop solid understandings . Who then decides what gets left out ?

How does this work come reporting time when you need to assess across all of the dimensions (number; measurement , chance and data; space; working mathematically; and structure)of mathematics ?

So, how do you teach maths ?