Archive | July, 2012

National Aboriginal Day

16 Jul

This year to celebrate National Aboriginal Day I was able to give a workshop to grade four and seven students in the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division in Moose Jaw. I did an art workshop on Birch Bark Biting. I am fortunate to have done a Birch Bark Biting workshop when I was in elementary school, and it was so memorable that I remembered how to do a workshop myself. I began by showing them the following video so that they could see someone in the process of biting the birch:

I then showed them some examples of art done by a Saskatchewan artist Sally Milne. Sally Milne is a Cree woman from La Ronge, you can read more about her here. I showed them some of the intricate designs that have been done by Angelique Merasty from the ArtSask website. After seeing the intricate designs that could be done, it was time for them to start doing their own. I showed them my attempt at biting:

To make this you need only three things: a piece of tracing paper, a piece of carbon paper, and your teeth! To do this you take a piece of tracing paper (which you can buy from walmart in a package for under $5) and place the carbon paper directly on top of it with the black of the carbon touching the tracing paper (I got carbon paper at staples, also inexpensive) Then you make different folds in the paper to come up with different designs. What was nice for the students was that the carbon paper could be reused many times, so many kept it and tried it for themselves later. This is not the classic birch bark biting, done on actual birch bark, but is a similar process and much more convenient to do in a classroom setting.

We discussed symmetry and how we could make different shapes. The students had a lot of fun trying different designs and trying to make shapes form. This could be easily adapted for numerous Shape and Space units in the math curriculum across a few grades. This is a lesson that has been done by some peers at the university on the Aboriginal Perspectives website.

Along with the other workshops done, and the dancers and performers that came to the school in Moose Jaw for National Aboriginal Day, I had a wonderful day, as did hundreds of students in Holy Trinity.


Discovering Your Direction

16 Jul

The second great experience I have experienced this summer came from doing another math workshop. I was asked to put on a workshop for the First Nations University for their student conference Discovering your Directions. This event had grade nine First Nation students from local schools and school divisions. There were many great activities, and I was to lead the education and math workshop.

For the workshop I focused not only on an interactive math activity, but also speaking about my own education experience as well as the education program at the university of Regina. When the group came in I could tell they were not very excited that they had to “go to the stupid math” activity. I totally understood, everyone is aware that most people don’t have the most positive attitude towards math.

I chose to do die hard math, an activity I have done with Math on the Move before, because it was interactive and exciting. As soon as I started the clip I had them hooked and they had a much better attitude. They finished these quickly so I started my second game, the math alphabet. For this activity I put the alphabet on the board and an integer beneath it. I then put a sum on the board and they had to come up with a word that added up to that sum. This got even more of the students involved as they started competing for the longest word, or who could make the best sentence. Finally I ended with my new favourite puzzle, the rebus. I put 20 puzzles on the board and they were very competitive finding them out to see who could answer the most.

The most rewarding part of the conference was when a student asked if I was a real teacher, and if that’s what my math classes were always like, because they have never had a math class like that before. I laughed and was relieved that I could make math interesting for them.

The last part of the conference that I participated in was a student panel. Myself, along with four other university students in different areas, were asked questions about school and university. I answered questions like what my favourite subject and classes were, what my biggest struggles have been, what high school classes are important, and how my culture has affected my university experience. This was a wonderful opportunity to share things that I have learned over that past years with many young and eager minds.

I am so grateful and fortunate to have been apart of such a beneficial program for youth in our province, and would be eager to do so again.

Summer of Math

15 Jul

I haven’t blogged in a very long time. I haven’t been over the top busy, so I can’t even use that as an excuse. I have fallen out of practice, which is unfortunate.

Fortunately, though, I have had some very exciting experiences this summer and want to get back into the habit. First I have been hired as a math teacher at Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw. This is the high school that I attended and I am ecstatic to be able to work there in the fall. This is one of the main reasons why I want to continue blogging, as I wish to reflect on my work again the way that I did before.


Math on the Move team 2012 via

The first amazing experience I had this summer was being employed by Math on the Move for the second consecutive summer. This is a program run from the math department and education department at the University of Regina that takes math workshops to rural Saskatchewan schools for a half of a day. It is very similar to the Math Camp put on at the university every September, but a mobile version.

Through this activity we were able to reach seven different communities working with grade 9 and 10 students. We had jam packed days where, on same days, we did a workshop in the morning then again in the afternoon in a different town. Being able to be a part of this program twice has been extremely beneficial for me. Not only have I been able to visit numerous schools and school divisions in the province, giving me a new insight on how different schools run, but also I have had to think of innovative activities to do twice.

This year we had a program much similar to last years, which I blogged about here. We had four different stations that lasted 20 mins each, and the students rotated to all of them. At each station they were awarded points for their team, then at the end we had a final round to compete for points to see which team won.

All of the activities done this year were well planned out and fun. One station was playing the game of nim and creating a strategy. Another station was a stats baseball game that was made where you used the stats of a baseball player and simulated a game. The other station was a life size version of the app Rush Hour.

My station was also based on an app that I play often called Crossmath. The game is very similar to Sudoku but much different as it incorporates mathematical operations. I made cross math boards by getting two different mobile white boards which were 18″ X 24″. I then used electical tape to make the outline for the board and used white board makers to write in the different problems.

Cross Math Board without problem written on

Some students were able to finish these problems quite fast, and others it took some help. After doing this workshop so many times I knew the problems off by heart, and knew where the kids would get stuck and how to best help them. The problems end up turning into a simple math equation that they can solve, but they use their own reasoning skills to come to the answer. I am going to put these boards in my classroom for students to use! Examples of cross math worksheets I made are below.

Easy Cross Math

Medium Cross Math

Hard Cross Math:

The final activity consisted of many math problems that we had put together that the students had to accomplish. The rules were that they could only have one question out at a time, and if they discarded the question and wanted a new one, they could never get that question back. There was strategy involved with how they chose their questions! An element that I incorporated into the final questions was rebus’. I love them and I used them many times in internship with my students to fill time gaps. They make you think about problems from a different approach, which is why it was the question I started with during the final round. A great website to find rebus puzzles is Fun With Words and an app that I use on my phone is Rebuzzle. Below is the final activity that we used.

Answers to above questions