The 28 Day Memory Challenge: Rhyme & Reason

24 May

So Here’s The Challenge:

  1. Watch this video
  2. Attempt the experiment for 28 days…(check out this video here: Matt Cutts: 30 Day Challenge )
  3. See if I can memorize all the students names in the school by using different techniques or strategies.
  4. Research and blog about it.

Day Zero:

So why this challenge? If your asking my wife she would tell you about the time I forgot the date to our wedding anniversary, and if you are asking my sisters they would tell you about my traditional phone calls to remind me of birthdays and important dates (that includes the wedding date!!). The list of forgotten memories is long and it is past due for me to start relying on my own memory instead of loved ones.

Jeremy Foer (video above) amazed me. He got me to imagine and memorize things that I never knew to be possible. With a clear mind and a little bit of confidence I was ready to make an attempt at ‘fixing’ my brain. In order to make this challenge attainable I thought that memorizing 300 students first and last names would be an attainable goal (enter laugh track/sarcasm sign here). So am I really memorizing 300 kids names? Well technically…no. I averaged that I probably know about 60 students names already. That number varies depending on how much coffee I have left in the tank or the amount of hours I played on my computer the night before.

If forgetting my anniversary wasn’t enough reason their is always the motivation you have as a teacher. Is there any feeling worse than when you have to ask a student what there name is when they know what yours is? Sure I have mastered the language of ‘horrible memory’ and you will catch me using terms such as:’hey buddy’, ‘hows it going man’ or my personal favorite ‘whats up yo?’. All are in a my repetoire and replace the real names that were given for these children by their parents. Another covering agent is the nickname. I am a big fan of the nickname, which is probably my saving grace a lot of the time. At the beginning of the year teachers will decide on good nicknames for the students, and as a team will come to an understanding (usually in the hallways when we catch one another screaming set nickname at student)on what nicknames will work for certain students. I am always on the front lines calling out names and fighting for bragging rights. The kids love getting nicknames and the teachers love making them even more, but I don’t want to sit in on the parent-teacher meeting when the teacher has to ask the parent “which one is yours again” and “what was your son/daughters name?” This is not reality for some and for others it is not a stretch of the imagination. To think that it is easier to give a nickname then it is to memorize the real thing is horrifying me and so I am making it a point to remember not only the nicknames, but the names that came before them. Here’s hoping.



Penny Pyramid: Modeling Real World Math

16 May

In Dan’s blog post “Teaching With Three-Act Tasks:  Act One” Dan clearly indicates the importance of simplicity for gaining engagement and stresses the importance of using questions that will lead all students to become part of the discussion.  He states:

“Students are asked to to watch a video. Students are asked to pose a question. (But if you don’t have one, that’s okay!) Students are asked to decide if they find someone else’s question interesting. Students are asked to guess at a correct answer. Students are asked to decide what an incorrect answer would look like. No one is throwing a hand up saying, “I don’t know where to start.” I don’t know how to make it easier to start a modeling task than this”.

I located Dan Meyers blog a while ago and is the only blog that I consistently check (at least for now) to see what’s new and exciting in the world of mathematics. His blog contains lots of great materials and lesson ideas that are not only his own, but others as well.

I have organized and accumulated (by using Evernote) A LOT of different resources for teaching  that I need to dust off and start to look at with a critical eye.  I share the common interest of math (primary focus is on middle school ) with Dan but I am hoping to explore different outlets in education such as psychology and technology.


Since posting this, Dan has put up both “Teaching with Three-Act Tasks:Act Two” and “Teaching with Three-Act Tasks:Act Three


Ted Youth Conference Fort Garry

12 May

This is one of several different speakers that are available here.

What a motivational tool.  If you ever wanted to question today’s youth…fear no more!!  Just watch these local speakers and know that these students are sitting in your classroom.   They all have different passions and it becomes a teachers PRIORITY to get out of the way and stand behind your students to guide them to their passions.  We have room for this in are already busy life’s.  Taking the time to find what makes your students tick is a win-win.  This is a personal “note to self” to remember that I am physiologically engineered to care and find enjoyment in life.  We have a say in this, and that should not become a burden but a match that we use to ignite our own passion to teach.

IFTTT: What Can’t You Do For Me Evernote?

10 May

20130510-055018.jpgI was on my regular jaunt through the vast world of http-ville when I came across a website called IFTTT. My mindset lately (thanks to several of my peers) has been to focus my time in creating integrated technology services that translates well in the classroom.

Here’s what I’m Thinking:

-I want to use evernote more without having to use it at all.
-I want Evernote to be my primary source for all stored information collected from http-ville
-I dont want to have to clip, email, or copy all great resources when i find them (yes I am lazy)
-I want to transfer my resources to a public domain (classroom, blog, website).
-I want to be the finder of everything amazing and holy in the world and Evernote shall be my tool

IFTTT is PART of the solution. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That”. Once given permission IFTTT will access your accounts, create specific tasks or events, and place them in the designated areas.

For example: Often I will find YouTube videos that have been posted on Twitter and think how great it would be that if i added a video to a specific folder in my YouTube account that it would automatically show up in my Evernote account as well. PRESTO!! That happened. I tested it out, and sure enough it created the folder that I wanted in my Evernote (labelled “youtube”) and now will have access to that video not only in my favorites folder, but also in my Evernote. I also connected pocket so that when surfing Twitter I wont have to email my Evernote account every time I find something I like because it does it for me.

In the realm of education, I am not sure where I would go with this. There is always SOO much you can do and I guess the real struggle for me is when is it too much. For now I am going to focus my concerns on how i can use evernote as a multi-faceted tool. How much easier is life if I create a RSS feed for my blog which connected to a shared folder in my evernote and all I ever needed to do was just move my thoughts from folder to another. I found an interesting YouTube clip that, although brief, discusses some shared interests on this and has really projected me towards exploring the possiblities of using Evernote in the classroom. Of course I also have an evernote shared folder, that if interested, you can check out and will be updating.

I am sure that their must be some fall backs on this (pessimist I know but sue me if technology hasn’t always been my best friend) but I am hoping that using IFTTT will help me dial in my tech skills so I can start to focus my life in http-ville with more clarity.

So whats next? Perfecting the blog and life of the RSS feed i’m guessing.

Zero-Knowledge Proofs

Random thoughts about teaching math

Educational Consultant: Humanity - Pedagogy - Technology

Digital maverick, revolutionary pedagogue educator, scientist, explorer and teacher of science through extreme sports. @natkin

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