Monday, June 11, 2012

Thank you, Quebec Ministry of Education, for Beaucoup de cool student projects!

In Quebec, up until 2 years ago, all grade 11 students were required to produce, by the end of the year, a math project, called the Independent Assignment. It was to be based on their own interest, of course related to math somehow, and it was to be done mostly during class time, in 10 sessions, with guidance from the teacher. This was so that it would be good training on how to do a research project as well. (We were given some excellent scaffolding for implementing this.)

I griped and panicked about how I would fit these project sessions into my classes AND still cover everything on time, for this was pre-flip, when classes were all me, me, and more me yammering away. But I dutifully had my students do the project anyway for the first time in the school year 2009-2010. They pretty much all made powerpoints, which was fine. The projects were great, and even though they had taken up a lot of class time and energy, I found it was worthwhile having my students do something that interested or inspired them mathematically.

Then I went to ISTE in Denver, and I heard about all the bazillion other tools there are out there. And I heard a casual reference to something called "flipping the class" during a session about something called "Twitter." Hmmmm", I thought, "interesting," blissfully unaware that, in that moment, my entire world had just been rocked to the core.

Well, back to reality, the next year, Quebec dropped the project as a requirement, but I decided to keep doing it, partly because, I really wanted to have some PBL in my course, but also because I really wanted to try out some of the tools I had heard about. That year's projects were a tiny bit more varied, I think I had one or two videos and the rest powerpoints. It had still been a challenge to fit in the sessions. Plus I started flipping late in the year, when many of the projects were already well under way.

This past year was my first full year flipping. And just like that, there was zero issue about fitting in the sessions. Class time was all about what THEY were doing, not what I was saying! I could discuss with them about their topic, they could discuss with each other, show what they'd found, experiment....I even had a period at the beginning of the year that was all about investigating the various tools, which was inspired by Terie Engelbrect's brilliant blog, which I had found on Twitter. Yup. Rocked to the core.

Well, it's two years after the government started it all, and here is the latest batch of projects, just handed in after a year of working on them in and out of class. The variety alone is blowing me away - voicethreads, videos, glogs, googledocs, prezis, AND powerpoints! If, two years ago, in Denver, you had told me that my students would soon be producing these kinds of projects, uploading them to their blogs, and never mind the fact that I have a blog and I'm embedding the projects on it....I would have looked around and said "Me? You mean me?"

Most of these are embedded, but some you have to click on the link to see the actual project. Enjoy! I know I did, in fact, I have this math rap song stuck in my head now:

Arnold's rap video:

Brett's intro video to his project:
....and the guitar math voicethread:

Emilie's googledocs presentation:

Kaily and the End of the World:

Kaitlyn's stepdancing voicethread:

Katerina's sizes of infinity video....definitely channeling Vihart here! ;)

Laura's mathitecture glog:

Madison's origami video:

Olivia's snowboarding prezi:

Ricky's sizes of infinity slideshare:

Taylor's energy glog:

Melissa's hockey math:

Joey's drum math:

In my dreams

So now off they go to CEGEP, which is the Quebec equivalent to college. A small, selfish part of me hopes that at least one of these students will next year submit a project using one of these tools, or something equally cool, to an astonished professor, who will then ask:

"Who are you really, and what is this amazing thing you have done, and where on earth did you learn how to do this?"

And they will say, "Oh I had to pick a webtool from a googledocs list, and learn how to use it so I could embed it in my blog, for my math teacher, Mrs. McGoldrick."

The professor will eventually regain the ability to speak, then he/she will exclaim "BLOG? GOOGLEDOC? How have you come to know all these wondrous things?"

And then he/she will learn about all these wondrous things, from one of my students, who will get to be their professor's teacher, at least for a few minutes.

How cool would that be? Beaucoup de cool. Merci MELS!


  1. I enjoyed each of these wonderful student projects and, as always, your wise and witty commentary, Audrey! {for some reason my livejournal and wordpress credentials weren't accepted in this posting but it's Susan Regan speaking!)

    1. Thanks, Susan! (I wonder if that's why I get so few comments here, that something doesn't work and people give up?) Well thanks for persisting, and checking out the projects, they are amazing, aren't they? But then I did have amazing students. And by the way, you could not possibly play the role of the college professor here, you are ahead of everyone in Webtools, I know!

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  3. Wow! I wish I had been allowed, encouraged to explore math this way. They certainly understand the relevance of math to their lives. Still exploring these as each one impresses me both for the understanding and the articulateness of the students. Bravo to you and them.

  4. Thanks Susan! Wow beaucoup de Susans too! It helped that I had the scaffolding from two other teachers, Sujata Saha and Kelly Anne Voneschen, that was designed to take a whole year. The kids really had time to work on it. Next year I'll build in way more feedback, peer and me, and have them post more often on their blogs about their research.

  5. LOVE!!! It is so amazing to SEE and HEAR the students and learn about how they have made connections between math and their personal interests.

    I am sure that they will spread the gospel according to Audrey as they move on to CEGEP!

    1. I agree, actually seeing these little ones we've been teaching all year has such a huge impact on us onliners! Tks Dianne!

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