Using Google Classroom for class collaboration and effective feedback

This is an aggregation of the tips and ideas presented in the school PL session on 20/9/17.

  1. Tag posts – use the topics to help students organise the content
  2. Distribute notes – rather that using class time for student note taking post the notes in Google classroom – students can then discuss (using online or face to face), or summarise
  3. Flip the classroom – upload a video to google drive – link to it in a question so students can reply and you know they have viewed it
  4. Share each days work as an assignment make it worth 1 or 0 so completion only! Upload the materials from that class – students can upload their work (photo?) and you have a permanent record of student work for particular concepts
  5. Put links to Google Drive Folders rather than files if you link to the folder rather than the file then every time you update the folder with more files then the students can see it!
  6. Don’t overload the “About” tab – link to folders in the announcements and use topics instead – only all class important stuff
  7. Use assignments
  8. Post a Question to facilitate discussion
  9. Differentiate – posts, assignment and questions
  10. Calendar – Classroom automatically adds anything with a due date to the classroom calendar (which appears in the student portal)
  11. Reuse Announcements, Assignments or questions – for next year
  12. Bump posts
  13. Attach Google Forms to Posts – self graded quizes!
  14. Encourage students to create digital portfolios
  15. Share across multiple classes
  16. Digital Exit slip – with Google Forms
  17. Share to classroom – Chrome extension

A nice summary of some cool features!

How do you use Google classroom? Post in comments

Day 1 2016 – Staff Development Day

Well one of my new years resolutions was to be far more active on social media – including this blog, which has been suffering over the last couple of years.  In fact I have found that since I moved to Killara High School, my blogging and tweeting was the first thing to be left behind –  ironic as they were the best source of self reflection and innovative practice.

After the usual congratulating one another on an outstanding year of academic results we spent the first few hours working on what it means for students to be successful learners – directly linked to our school plan. As a faculty we have been discussing how we can encourage our students to be more independent learners. Late last year while working on the PDP goals for 2016 and reflecting on the process that new scheme teachers have to do in providing evidence we threw around the idea that perhaps students can be given the outcomes (kid friendly) that they need to demonstrate and provide their own evidence that demonstrates their understanding – this can be anything they believe demonstrates their understanding.  Our goal is to trial this approach with Year 7 in 2016.  Today’s session gave me the idea that perhaps students could use their work and give self reported grades , or +, – and = to record whether their work was better,worse or equal to their previous attempts.

A couple of other key things stuck with me:

  1. A quote from Simon Breakspear “Education is richly social but intensely personal”
  2. I don’t give enough time in class to go over feedback, and often the feedback given is not personal to a student but more generic
  3. Detective marking – give the students a mark and they then have to determine why they got that particular mark…
  4. Metacognition is like programming the Google self driving car – see TED video below
  5. Title pages as a concept map, on the title page for each topic, students are asked to write down what they have learnt at the end of each lesson and at the end of the unit they have a summary of what they need to study. Alternatively, the teacher could provide students with a summary of the concepts and skills the students are expected to have learnt by the end of the unit. Students can then tick off as they go.
  6. “What did you learn in mathematics today? Provide an example to demonstrate your learning?” as homework


An old favourite reinvigorates a textbook focused Year 9 class

I have recently made a big move from Coffs Harbour High School to Killara High School on the north shore in Sydney. I made this move for a variety of reasons one of which was the opportunity to teach in a bigger and very high achieving (Mathematically)  school. I have been at my new school for almost 5 weeks now and am loving the new challenge. But…..

One thing is annoying me!

How much Killara students LOVE their textbooks!!!!!

I don’t like rocking the boat to much to start off with  – you know when in Rome do as the Romans do… and all that – but only for a little while!

I have great classes – a lower mixed ability Year 8 class, a top Year 9 (5.3 class) a newly created Year 10 Advanced (5.3) class and a Year 11 General class. The kids are fantastic – they say please & thank you and listen when asked! 🙂

But….they buck a bit when given something out of the norm (i.e not in the textbook). The first topic I did with Year 9 was probability – so lots of fun, less structured activities there – they loved engaging with the birthday paradox and the Monty Hall problem – a great video explanation of the Monty Hall  is here

We then moved onto Polygons. A bit more reluctance to engage with an activity investigating interior and exterior angle size using Geogebra and a great deal of reluctance to do what I thought was  a fun investigation Year 9 Tesselations and Shapes project 2013 looking a tessellation’s using Google SketchUp.

I was then quizzed by a parent at Parent Teacher interviews as to when I was likely to start teaching real maths again – I asked what she meant, to be told – “you know lots of textbook exercises”. Hmmmm……at least the parent was genuinely interested in what their child was doing in Maths!

Next topic Consumer Maths – lots of opportunities to do real life applications. But the kids still reluctant…..I lightened the mood by showing the duck song as a model of how a stall keeper learns to work with his customers.

But then I tried an old favourite (while half the class was away on an excursion)

the kids loved it!  So much so that those who were away yesterday came in demanding to see it.  For some reason they then willing engaged in today’s lesson – investigating deferred payment schemes – they had to find their own on line and look for the hidden costs working out how much it actually costs! So I rewarded them with another of Vi hart’s video’s as a treat just before the bell

on the condition that doodling was to take place more in all other subjects – not so much in Maths! 🙂

Rich Tasks, PBL and PrBL


Some PBL Websites

SOLE – Self Organised Learning Environment

I was really inspired by Sugat Mitra’s prize winning TED talk – Build a school in the Cloud

so I started thinking about some big questions to try. My bottom Year 10 class are doing permitter, area and volume (again!) so will try these questions this week”

How many people can we fit in our classroom?

If the classroom was sealed – how long will they survive?

I’ll take some footage and report back on the success or otherwise.

I am also experimenting with SOLE and my own children (Sam 7 and Matthew 9) (after all one’s own kids are a perfect experimental environment!). They have recently discovered “Cool Maths Games” and are really enjoying it.  So I downloaded Scratch and told them to create! They have already found tutorials on YouTube and the user forum on the website as tools to assist them in their discovery. Oh and when I searched on my old laptop to find the program it came up with an introductory guide (pdf) that I have used with students before – Sam quickly said that he wanted me to leave that open and Matthew wanted me to transfer it to his computer as well.

What a great way to start a Sunday – watching inspirational TED talks!

Staff Development Day Term 3 2012 – The National Curriculum, Feedback, Deeper Thinking & Rich Tasks

National Curriculum and Feedback

This presentation gives an update on the national Curriculum, discusses the importance of feedback as part of the teaching and learning cycle (including a practical example applying feedback to student work).

The content on Feedback was taken from a CLiC presentation – originally by the Curriculum Corporation

Other stuff is below:

Some Deep Thinking

I am using TED-Ed a fantastic initiative from the creators of TED.

They allow a very easy FLIP teaching model for using video to stimulate deep thinking. (Well easy when YouTube is ever unblocked!)

The example we worked through is presented here Kevin Slavin: How algorithms are shaping our world (Join in! – You will need to create an account on TED-Ed)

Some student examples

Bonus Rich Tasks

I have included some rich tasks I have either created (or modified! – thanks to those who came up with the idea initially!) and used in the classroom. Some suggestions about links to the syllabus are provided. The size of the file is next to the link (for the big files!).

NS 4.1  -Operations with Whole Numbers, PAS4.2 Number Patterns

An investigation of the patterns in Pascal’s Triangle including application to real life situation. Extension looks at further patterns.

Pascal’s Triangle Investigation
Pascal’s Triangle  Extension

Pascal’s Triangle Extension Solution
Pascal’s Triangle Template 
 (For those who wish to do the Pascal’s Triangle activity electronically)

DS 4.1 Data Representation, DS4.2 Data Analysis and Evaluation

In this Smarties Project students take a sample from one box and compare it to the whole class’s samples. They then conduct a survey to determine which colours are preferred and make recommendations about how the composition of a box of smarties should be changed to improve sales. As an extension students could design an advertising campaign for the new and improved smarties boxes!

Smarties Project

MS5.1.2 Trigonometry

This is an entire unit that introduces students to trigonometry through investigations using Geogebra. Included are screencasts that explain how to conduct the investigations and how to apply the concepts. I have used it as a Moodle Course  but all the files imbedded in that course are below.

Trigonometry Unit  (Big File 118MB)

Non Linear Functions (PAS 5.2.4, PAS 5.2.5, PAS 5.3.4) – really designed for National Curriculum

This is a unit of work that investigates non-linear functions created for the Curriculum Collaborations Project. It specifically addresses ” Linear Relationships and Non-Linear relationships pages 240-242; Outcomes 5.1.3 and 5.1.6″ – note the page numbers may be incorrect in the second draft of the syllabus.

The unit consisted of 6 activities commencing with some investigative work adapted from “A graphing matter” – Mark Illingworth, into which we explicitly instructed students in Mathematical report writing skills.  Students were also explicitly introduced to 2 visible thinking routines (Project Zero) to promote more explicit discussion about the thinking being undertaken. Specific Geogebra skills were then included in the unit with clear links to investigating the properties of non-linear functions. Final assessment was through an extended task that incorporated the use of skill and content knowledge obtained over the course of the unit.

Non Linear Graphs Unit (13.3 MB)

Angles (SGS 4.2)

An investigation that looks at maximum possible angle for a milk carton to lean before it falls over. This activity has links to fractions, decimals and percentages as well as cross curricula links to science

Leaning of Life

Fractions (part of NS4.3  -but only really an introduction)

Egyptian Fractions

Geogebra Investigation – Roots of Multiplicity Ext 2 Polynomials

Rather than just guide my students down the garden path tommorow when we are starting the Polynomials Topic for Extension 2 Mathematics I have prepared a guded investigation in Geogebra that encourages them to make their own conjectures about roots of multiplicity and polynomials. Hopefully it will jolt their brains back into gear after the summer break (Yes I know it is still holidays – but we miss the first doulbe period of Ext 2 in Week 1 and I can’t get behind (besides they wanted to come in and promised me coffee!).  It will be interesting to see how this goes – Coffs High students don’t like not being told the answer straignt away! 🙂

Roots of Multiplicity Geogebra Investigation