The End of the Line…For Now

What a season, what a season. If I were in person for this blog, I’d probably applaud myself and cheer rather pathetically, as is my style.

This blog post is designed to be your one-stop shop for all of my learning project posts in case you ever need to lose a few hours to me bumbling around, trying to find math in the most interesting places. All baking related, of course. I learned a lot in the ten posts that I made during this project, and I got to eat and share a lot of yummy things, too!

My friend, my sister, and I made pies this weekend, and I instructed both of them on how to properly mix the custard-y fillings, and how to make whipped cream. And how to separate eggs, so I really did feel that I made progress in my cooking. My sister even said, while we were baking, that she thinks I have come along way because I no longer look terrified when I am baking something. So that’s a plus! Below are the blogs I made wherein I learned to bake.

 

One-Stop Shop for all Your Blogging about Cooking Needs

  1. Intro – the first thing I did was decide that I was going to bake for this project. Honestly, I mostly just wanted to eat tasty things and tell everyone it was for a class. I didn’t expect much from it other than that. I added in the mathematical knowledge on top of it, for two reasons. As I mentioned in the post, I did do a baking project with my Grade 8s (I saw all of them a week ago, it was amazing, but also sad because I missed them so much, and I wish I could just stay there, but alas, I have to Film Festival it up, yo), but also because I wanted to prove to myself that I could find math in anything, and make it tangible and worthwhile to me and to my imaginary students.
  2. Salted Caramel Cookies – in my first post, I started with cookies becuase I thought it would be easiest. But it turns out I actually learned a lot from the experiement. I learned that cookie dough thickens depending on the temperature and the amount of flour proportionally, and that caramel like, evaporates in heat. For this math lesson, I did Grade 8 proportions, based on those two learnings.
  3. Salted Caramel Cookies – Revised – this post was more for me to actually learn from my mistakes of last time, and to try something new. That is, to put more caramel in smaller balls of dough. Not a complete success, but definitely an improvement.
  4. Cheesecake Brownies – I learned that my biggest impedement to cooking is my self confidence, as evidenced by my being wayyyy too stressed about how long to bake the brownies for. I decided to then make the math lesson revolve around Grade 9 linear realtions so students could find ways to graph and understand those baking times I struggle with.
  5. Cupcakes – This was when I made so many cupcakes it was like, the worst decision, there were 60 cupcakes, send help. The learning I did here was incredibly valuable, because it helped me gain confidence in my baking skills. I had to work hard and perservere when my recipe for the fillings didn’t turn out. And I learned to trust my judgement and not be afraid to try new things. Once again, my math lesson revolved around my learning and mistakes, with it being Pre-Calc 20 linear inequalities, and working with adjusting amounts of variables in an equation to make the best baking even if the recipe asks for different numbers of cups or amounts.
  6. Cake – Super fun one where I baked with my Mom. I love my Mom, she’s great, and she was a big help in me making the cake that I always make her make me for my birthday. Not much learning here, except again, gaining that confidence with baking times. I decided that the math could fall into Workplace and Aprenticeship 20 or 30, with surface area and volume. Mostly because it facinates me that the poke cake increases it’s surface area with the holes, but decreases its volume.
  7. Cooking Videos – The week of no kitchen because my parents were doing renovations. So I watched some videos to help inspire me for weeks to come. This blog will forever be known as The Time that Sarah Decided She was going to Separate an Egg and Talked about it for Literally a Million Years before She Actually did it. I hope I capitalized appropriately there.
  8. Pie – Probably where I learned the most, to be honest. I learned about how pie filling thickens, and to trust the recipe when it tells me these things happen. I learned about how meringue is formed by egg whites, and I learned how to make every part of a recipe from scratch. This lesson was for pi day, and so I used Pre-Calculus 30 as my lesson, as I thought it would be kind of cool for students to use a pie to introduce and look at the unit circle. Not because of any actually mathematical relevance the pie would have, just because it would look cool and be fun to cut in to.
  9. Brownies – The time I lost a bet and had to blog about it, because it involved baking. The best part of this blog was that I got to take one of Carmelle’s awesome suggestions and make it – which was the best idea! The Oreos in the recipe made me think it would be cool to ask Grade 7 students how many cookies could possibly fit into the recangular shape without losing any part of the cookie. Of course, you can break the cookies and reshape them. But in my math class, we don’t waste any of that cookie, it goes on that brownie.
  10. Mousse – The be all end all of the project. I learned to separate an egg (I DID IT) and I learned how to fold in ingredients. It was a super fun part of the project, and I felt like I had actually learned a lot when I got to this point. Especially in the way of confidence, because though I thought I had failed, I just kept trying, and working at the recipe, where in January, I would have just given up and asked someone to just do it for me. So that was the biggest step of all for me. I also learned a little bit about baking and how air is useful in baking. I am still not 100% sure how mousse is made, but I do have some better ideas due to the beating of the eggs and heavy cream.

So that’s it! There’s the whole project! I hope you enjoyed being a part of the learning, and I hope  you try out some of the recipes yourselves. If you take anything away from this experience, I hope it’s what I learned the most – to be confident in yourself and just keep trying, because failure is not the worst thing.

Oh, and also, math is totally everywhere, I bet you can find it. Learning is everywhere, I bet you can find it.

 

Have a great, amazing, splendid, and worthwhile day, you are all wonderful humans, probably.

Inspiring Creativity through Education

I have a lot I want to talk about and this will probably all be a huge mess. I apologize in advance for the slog this will be. I will try and break parts of it up with photos or videos if possible!

…buuuut it’s still going to sort of be a wall of text, so I don’t blame you if you take a pass on this one.

This week, we talked about some of the “hot button issues” related to technology in education and what our own opinions and experiences led us to believe on the topic. I admit that I am far too passionate about this, so this is why it will indeed result in rambling, but I chose to comment on the discussion we had in class surrounding the question of why we teach what students can Google, and the question if curriculum needs to be abolished or changed altogether with the rise of technology and information being readily available at our fingertips.

My opinion is this. I think we should by all means be changing how we teach and how our students learn with the changing environment of our world. I believe that the way we have taught for years is not the best way, and is not the system of success, but the system of the privileged, and the system of the mundane. We do not teach students to learn, we teach students to recite. And this is why I think that technology can shape the world for the better by forcing us to not teach our students what can be found on Google, but instead to teach our students to Google, to be curious, and to want to learn.

         This photo is a gift from me to you called “I      searched creativity on Google with photos that are               allowed to be shared and this is what I got”

         What is the Problem?

School Kills Creativity

I know I saw Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on this topic in my first year of University, so I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has seen it, but I think this video works nicely as the opening point to my opinions on how our education system perhaps does need to change and be adjusted to account for some of its failings.

Here is the video as well, if you want a YouTube video, instead of the TED Talk website.

Basically, the idea is that school encourages students to stop trying new things, to stop thinking outside the box. He states this by talking about how young children are unafraid of being wrong, and are unafraid of failure. And then we give them the consequences for failure that mean that they’ll never want to not succeed again.

And while it is true that failure needs to have some form of acknowledgement, it doesn’t mean that students need to feel as if they are a failure simply because the answer was incorrect, or different than expected.

We teach students that there is only “yes” or “no”, and there is no “maybe” or “let’s try it” or “what about this?” and, in doing so, we give them that black and white idea that one is good and one is bad.

I think that absolutely school kills creativity and it is our job as future teachers to do something about it.

Behind Every Successful Person there is a Feeling on Education

Now, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m being a terrible person, and I’m not saying that education is terrible. Because honestly, I read through about a million different quotes from famous or “successful people” and what they had to say about education, and I disagreed with a lot of what they were saying. So I am perhaps providing a bit of a biased look by choosing the quotes that prove my point, but I admitted to it, so you all know that there is a large amount of bias being shown all over this blog.

But I want to emphasize why I chose to include this part. I made this choice because if our education system was perfect and the way we have organized the system worked then there wouldn’t be legitimate criticisms of the system. Everyone’s heard the list of people who dropped out of high school or university to move on to greatness – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few straight, white males – and people use them as examples. To let people know that they can achieve greatness, that they can do good things, that they are capable of anything, no matter their grades or how they did in school. We hinge self-worth and importance on school, we elevate people by their perceived genius because they excel. But then when we take a look at the people who have played a large part in what has made the world what it is today, we see so many of them denouncing the education system.

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate  plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. – Albert Einstein

The fact that ideas, that inventions, that science, math, poetry, everything in the world was discovered and created due to someone having an idea or a passion is no secret. Math spent most of its time being manipulated by people with the desire to see more. Scientists like to blow things up in the name of SCIENCE, poets like to see if they can write a poem about having no meaning and artists like to see if maybe driftwood has a hidden figure in it somewhere.

My point is that a lot of what we teach students in classrooms today was discovered by someone who wondered why. Who asked questions. Who tried things. Who failed more than they succeeded. And then we sit there, and tell our students they are destined for greatness. They are destined to be like the ones they learn about who created everything they love. And then we teach them in a system that does not nurture and cultivate the skills needed to do the things they did.

By the way, random aside, I was trying to find the poem I was referencing up there. I could not find it. So maybe Google is not that useful after all……..

Here is, from her best recollection, what the poem sort of looked like in my sister’s memory. Not totally related, I just promised there’d be pictures, so here’s a screenshot of my skype.

         What Happens Next?

 

 

Rediscovering Mystery

Those of you who are in my EMath class already heard me talk about this, so I apologize for the repetition. I found a documentary online the other day, called Rediscovering Mystery. Gonna give my props to Danny O’Dwyer, the video game journalist and documentary creator who made the documentary. He left his old job to start a Patreon so that he could make an in depth series of videos that explore the inner workings of game creation and development. He’s really awesome, you should check him out, look at his YouTube channel if you have any interest in video games in general.

But even if you don’t, you should totally watch the documentary on mystery.

The reason I include this is because I find that the lessons highlighted in the video can also be easily drawn to education and how we should be adjusting, shifting, and changing our direction in teaching. They talk about how creativity in games is dead because of the rise of the internet and strategy guides and FAQs on the internet meaning that it is easier than ever to just give up on a puzzle. They talk about how game development has moved in this direction as well. That if a player can’t solve a puzzle in five minutes, the game will pop up a little hint at the top directing the player. Games hold the player’s hand to an extent where no one wants to figure things out on their own anymore. And the developers discuss how they made their games – Frog Fractions, The Witness, and Spelunky – in spite of these stipulations. All those games are amazing, by the way, check them out. Frog Fractions is also free, Just saying.

In school we hold our student’s hands. We give them hints if they get stuck on a question. We give them a step-by-step guide to do a math problem. We give them multiple choice on tests. And when a student gets something wrong, we shut that line of thinking down, sometimes before they even get to their wrong answer. We work so hard to garner student success instead of thinking about how success should look and feel.

This is why inquiry in the classroom is so important. Because it encourages students to try things, to experiment, to not worry if they get the answer wrong, because often, there is no one right answer. I am a fan of this idea and this doctrine because we are then teaching students to not be ashamed of something that they’ll spend more of their life doing. The majority of people (like, I’d say over 90%, but that’s a made-up stat, sooooo) fail more than they succeed. It took me a long time to learn to make mac and cheese. I still am not a perfect baker, but I can make a mean meringue, who knew? You start every task with attempts and losses, and you work toward the success that means you’ve mastered a skill, idea, task, or concept.

That is what the documentary is alluding to with solving puzzles and mysteries in games. Games like The Witness give you no walkthrough, just a very simple straight line of about five or six puzzles before the game literally opens up into an entire world and you can go wherever you want. I spent my first four hours of the game literally wandering in a village where I didn’t solve a single puzzle because I had unwittingly found the area of the game you should probably do last. The game has puzzles you can go the entire game without seeing, and it blew my mind when I knew there was so much more to explore (literally so much, you can beat the game in the first ten minutes, and like, who knew?).

Frog Fractions has that last idea in it. That there is so much more to it than meets the eye. It is not what you think it is. And sometimes you can play the game and never move past the first section because you don’t know what the game is hiding. And Frog Fractions 2 is so crazy, I can’t even describe it.

Spelunky has a secret boss that is literally an eggplant monster that is literally so impossible to get to, only one person has ever done it without a partner, something even the creator thought was impossible.

That was the obligatory games rant. To show you the lesson these games can teach us.

  • You can figure something out even if someone doesn’t give you guidance or instructions
  • You can try new things and see what works
  • Not everything is how it seems, and sometimes you need to look at information from a different angle to see the bigger picture
  • Something may seem impossible, until you try hard enough

Technology and Exploration

We give students opportunity. We stop using our curriculum to create a hive mind with singular opinions and ideas and instead we teach our students to explore, to want to learn, to desire the answers, to fail, to learn from their failures, to then succeed.

From failure you learn. From success – not so much. – Aunt Billie, Meet the Robinsons

Technology gives us immense opportunity to work with exploration in the classroom. Like, I said earlier, give them a reason to Google, instead of teaching them the facts they can look up.

Here are some of the ways that technology can help us in devising change and opportunity in our curriculum, and how we can rediscover that mystery that is missing.

  • We can use the internet to explore math games with students – my table group and I looked at two websites yesterday in my EMath class – Math Hombre and Plastelina that have various math puzzles to explore and learn from.
  • Of course, there is Desmos and all the graphs you can explore there, and the art you can create.

  • You can do a flipped classroom and have your students watch the content of your class at home, and come to school for help or enrichment – gives you more time in the classroom for exploration, challenging questions, real life applications, and trying new things with the work.
  • You can use resources on the internet to find more interesting and creativity inducing lessons – use pinterest, twitter, any resource that will share ideas with you.
  • Encourage students to use Google, to look up things in class when you don’t know the answer, to research for an inquiry project responsibly.

These are my ideas on how we can instill creativity and mystery into our classroom, on how we can still use our curriculum we have, but teach it in new fun ways that inspire students to fail more than they succeed because that failure is worth it. There is something worth learning in being wrong. That even though you can Google something, doesn’t mean you know the context, or know why it is important. It is up to a student, a class, and/or a teacher to tell us why what we’ve Googled is relevant, and where we go from here.

That was my blog, if you made it this far, you are a very determined soul. I apologize for the length.

Birthday Week 2 – Cake

Team, team, team, TEAM! I had my birthday! It was my birthday, I am the best.

I get a little bit too excited when it is wonderful birthday time. I maaaay have reminded my family it was my birthday more than ten times.

So I made my birthday cake, but I didn’t use an online resource for this week’s baking project, because this week I learned from a real live human resource – my  Mother.

How special, me and Samantha cooking a whole two cakes together. And we didn’t even fight!

The cake we made is called a “push cake” according to my Mom, which I guess basically means that you poke holes in a cake and fill them and there’s whipped cream and chocolate-y caramel-y goodness.

I did most of the actually baking, my Mom just directed me in the steps. Her first bit of advice came when I was making the cake. Cake from a box again, next time, I am going to bake some form of thing from scratch because I want to learn how to separate an egg, as this is mysterious goal #1.

She adds 1/2 a cup of milk and 1/4 cup of half and half cream to the recipe instead of the water the recipe asks for because it is more creamy and less healthy, so clearly it is much better.

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I mixed the cake. I actually used a timer this time instead of just counting in my head, so it was probably mixed better than my cupcakes. Of which I still have some. So many cupcakes, why did I do this? I made a mistake. A pretty delicious mistake, but now I have cake, too. This baking project is helping me learn my own ability to estimate how much food I need.

I also got to have the batter off the beaters, which is bad for you, don’t do it!

 

…but I totally did, it was great.

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The cakes went in the oven for about 20 minutes before we took them out, poked a ton of holes in them, and stuck em back in. This point taught me an interesting lesson. Remember with the brownies, where I was like, not sure how long to bake them and they weren’t baking and I was distressed?

One of the cakes, which was smaller, baked quite quickly. The other was hardly baked when we pulled them out to poke them with holes. The one was a little over 1/2 the size of the other, so  it was interesting to see how much the size of the cake affects how quickly it will bake. The larger cake baked for 15 minutes longer than the smaller cake, that’s a huge difference, in my opinion.

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The holes we poked were filled with dulce de leche which sounded so fancy, I was impressed. It was caramel flavoured. Which they don’t usually have, Sarah, so this is very exciting, it will taste so good.

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The cakes were put back in the oven after the dulce de leche moment.

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After they’ve been pulled out, we had to wait for them to cool, which takes so long, let me tell you. I think the worst part of baking is the waiting, I am not a fan. 0/10, would not recommend. Unless you want cupcakes and/or cake, then I guess it’s worth it.

After it was cooled, we covered the top of the cakes with cool whip, caramel sauce, and chocolate chips. And there we go! We did it!

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If anyone wants an actual recipe, I can post it as well with my best attempts at describing all the steps and ingredients!

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The cake was great, I am fond of birthday cake, and I sure sang to myself as I ate the whole thing. Cause I am great.

There is a picture of the cake, but it looks extremely ugly, so I’m not going to post it, I was not the best photographer at that moment.

 

For the math lesson I went with the inquiry approach again. I am surprised I am finding so much opportunity to bring in inquiry , I thought I would mostly include face-value, very basic word problems. But I think they are little more in-depth than that, things that I could legit see myself using, so that’s exciting.

My question would be regarding surface area and volume. Asking students the question “how does poking the holes in the cake affect both the volume and the surface area?” and then letting the students use whatever methods they’d want to measure surface ares and figure out how they could find the volume of the irregular shape. I found two outcomes directed toward surface area and volume, and both also involve units of measurement.

I think it would be cool to see what students could come up with in measuring the cake, what tools to use, what units to use, decimals, or fractions, things like that.

I’d imagine the easiest way to do both the volume and surface area would be measuring the tools used to make the holes in the cake rather than the cake itself. But we’d see if students would come up with that idea.

That’s the idea I have, I think it would help students learn to add and subtract shapes from each other, to break down irregular shapes into shapes they do understand, and to work with estimations and exacts with tangible volumes.

Outcome: WA10.5

Demonstrate using concrete and pictorial models, and symbolic representations, understanding of area of 2-D shapes and surface area of 3-D objects including units in SI and Imperial systems of measurement.

Outcome: WA20.3

Extend and apply understanding of surface area, volume, and capacity using concrete and pictorial models and symbolic representations (SI or imperial units of measurement)

 

Let me know what you think of the math, and if you’d like me to put out a recipe, I am totally down to write out an awful version of what I did to make a cake.

Good Questioning

It seems that, as I progress through my EMath class, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that being an effective and efficient math teacher revolves around one’s ability for questioning. How to make good questions is the focus of problem solving. Students should be asking themselves why, and they should not be relying on their teachers to provide every answer for them. Asking questions means harboring curiosity, which means that students have the ability to wonder, and reflect on what they are learning and, in turn, the students will then desire the knowledge and skills needed to come up with an answer to their questions.

One of the biggest reasons that math has progressed as far as it has is because of the question of why. You have examples of great mathematicians who were simply curious. Fibonacci who studied nature and its patterns, Gauss with his work in statistics and various other fields. Math is a study of connections and the ways in which we use the connections to solve more and more complex questions.

Now, after that great moment of introspection and worldly discovery is over, it is time for me to discuss how we simplify the notion that math is a great part of the universe, and apply that to a simple classroom.

We have begun to explore new ways in which to inspire creativity and insight in the classroom by creating lessons and questions surrounding different outcomes and indicators we get from the Saskatchewan Curriculum Guide. As mentioned in previous posts, starting with the bigger picture and then finding activities to fit what needs to be taught is a very helpful way in which to ensure the curriculum is being followed and to have a starting point for what you want to teach in your lesson.

An example is when we had to come up with a lesson around currency exchange and unit pricing. There is a very obvious way in which you can apply the scenarios to real life. Ask students to research prices of the same item in different stores. In different countries. And then research why the costs differ. When a student is able to produce results that are directly applicable to real life, then they leave a math class feeling accomplished, and as if they learned something. Teaching a student a complex math formula can also lead a student to a feeling of learning and accomplishment, but without giving them a feeling of usefulness, that accomplishment may be diminished.

One of the points we also discussed in class was the fact that students like to feel like they are intelligent. A way of making them feel good about themselves is to balance a question between knowledge the students already know, and knowledge they have yet to learn. If you give students a way to apply past learning to a question, they will have a starting point with the question, and it is easier to encourage deeper thinking. If a student gets a question that is an entire page long, has words they don’t know, references cities they’ve never heard of, and the first part of the problem requires math they have never learned, they will become easily discouraged, and will give up before even trying. If a question has simple instruction, is brief and to the point, and slowly eases the students in to learning, then they will feel better, and be more willing to work, knowing that they at least know how to do the first part of the question.

The purpose of teaching is not to scare students, or make them try to be smarter than they are capable of, it is to challenge their skills, and give them motivation to succeed.