This pretty much sums up my philosophy   " Since every man of whatever race is endowed with the dignity of a person, he has an inalienable right to an education corresponding to his proper destiny and suited to his native talents, his cultural background, and his ancestral heritage. At the same time, this education should pave the way to brotherly association with other peoples, so that genuine unity and peace on earth may be promoted. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person with respect to the good of those societies of which, as a man, he is a member, and in whose responsibilities, as an adult, he will share." - Saint John Neumann"

Masters Blog Post III:
  • Professional Development Plan.  Write a instructional technology professional development plan. The plan should be 500-750 words. Include plans for how you will stay current with the ever changing world of instructional technology. Include links to professional organizations’ websites and other relevant resources. Click on the "Week 7: Assignment 6" link and provide a note to the instructor that your professional development plan has been posted to your blog.  Then click the "submit" link.

 I must say that I am to the point where I am sick of writing about technology. I love the subject, don't get me wrong, but I feel like this last blog post for my masters class is reserved for a clientele that I don't associate myself with. I have never been one to shy away from an assignment, but in a way I find this one a bit redundant and insulting. We are to "write about an instructional technology professional development plan so that we can stay current with the ever changing world of instructional technology." I watched the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPO_HGafBsE&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL37BCE64C1E931D67 (sorry I couldn't hyperlink it for some reason.) I totally agree, I our world is changing, and we ARE experiencing exponential times. However, why is it assumed that a teacher doesn't have a technology plan in place for his or her own students?

I am constantly connected, as a teacher, to the latest technology because I realize that this is the wave of the future. This is not the first time I have watched the video "did you know" (most of which was created by Scott McLeod who works at the Iowa State University and who has created many of these videos including one exclusively about Iowa (https://mycourses.sxu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_16853_1%26url%3D ) I have watched these videos, and shown them to my students probably ten times. I just wish that as future master teachers, we were not required to write out some "plan" that we should have been doing anyways.

It is no surprise to any teacher that our students need to be exposed to technology, including the newest technologies on the marker. The internet has made it increasingly easy to follow the track of technology in education using tools such as Twitter and Facebook. I follow probably 80 different educational leaders on Twitter that send me dozens of pertinent and relevant links to my classroom every single day. I follow anyone from the head of the national D.E. (Arne Duncan) to the head of our state D.E. (Jason Glass), to a former U.S. teacher of the year from Iowa ( Sarah Wessling ) Twitter is an incredible social media resource that sends you technology links everyday. If you are on Twitter, you would have known Osama Bin Laden was dead before even CNN announced it (that's how I found out!) Twitter is incredible, and the sooner your make Twitter work for you, the better. In a nut-shell, you have stuff sent to you, so you don't have to constantly search it out.

I have recently been exposed to a source sharing/personal archival site called "Delicious." Scott Mcleod (the "did you know" guy) about 3 years ago, but this summer in my technology class was the first time that I was exposed to its' power. What a great site that incorporates all the power of social media, with the application of knowledge sharing. I will continue to use this program to catalog websites, as well as have my students use it to share sites as well. Good stuff.

I feel like I am jumping around, but it is necessary to quantify the statement from paragraph 1 ( "but in a way I find this one a bit redundant and insulting.") What I meant by this statement is that I feel every teacher that is worth what they are paid should be current with the trends and patterns in education. If this where the case, then every teacher would have a plan as far as technology integration in the classroom where concerned.This is nothing new, and nothing shocking. Technology exposure is a must for our current and future students, so to disregard it is down-right irresponsible. I have a grandfather that is almost 90 and just bought an ipad, so any teacher that says it is impossible to stay up-to-date with technology is a fraud and in my opinion, not dedicated to the craft. Years in the profession is not an excuse not to give your students the latest and greatest.

Other important resources in the arsenal of teacher besides social media sites, should be the news.I read a minimum 5 news websites (ALWAYS The Muscatine Journal, The BBC, CNN, Fox News, The Sun.co.uk, a day to stay current on what is happening in the U.S. as well as the world. This also gives me a healthy dose of technology news and trends. The news is a clutch resource.

I also subscribe to many blogs through blog spot and have actually connected to people using Skype through this media. I actually Skyped with the lead writer for the Chicago Tribune's religion page and my students to talk about plagiarism and how writers fight against plagiarism in their field of work. These are connections I never would have had without my diligence on staying current with technology. 

To make a long story short, the use of technology in the classroom depends entirely on the subject area of the material and the ambition and willingness of that teacher to stay current with the ever-changing trends in technology. I plan on using Twitter, Google Suites (sites and drive), the news, Skype, and Blogspot to further my students technological exposure this year. I am excited for what the future brings, and expect that my classroom will ALWAYS be on the cutting edge of technology, because that is what my students deserve, and because I expect nothing less from myself.

(note to the professor; Google Sites would not let me hyperlink any of my websites at the time I wrote this post, that is why I included the URL's for some of the first few links. My apologies.)

Masters Blog post II:
  • Read chapter 10 and reflect on how you can use technology to differentiate instruction in your own class.  Reflect on the big issues addressed in the chapter, summarize the issues, and state what you may do to differentiate instruction and how you might use universal design for learning with your own students based on what you learned from chapter 10.  Also, visit the following websites and browse the extensive collection of free, professionally made instructional material that you are free to use in your current classroom.  Consider the technology that you have available to you and what you can do to provide differentiated instruction to your students. 

Hello again, we are finally back in the States and it feels good to get back to a sense of normality, it is time for another blog post so I hope you are ready. Our assignment for this week is to blog on how we can use technology to differentiate instruction in our classroom. This is a very applicable topic especially for my wife and I because our district decided to go to a 1-to-1 program for the upcoming school year (a laptop for every child in the district 6-12 grades.)

Differentiating instruction is a key component to becoming/being a master teacher. Differentiation means to tailor the curriculum appropriately so that every student can be an effective and contributing member to the classroom. Differentiation acknowledges that ever student is different and there-fore every student deserves curriculum that is delivered in a manner that is tailored to their individual learning needs. Some of the main entrances to differentiation include multiple means of representation, (giving students varied/multiple ways of acquiring info) multiple means of expression (allowing students multiple pathways to demonstrate what they have learned) and multiple means of engagement (providing students with the appropriate challenges that will challenge and interests the students as learners.

Multiple means of representation is a key element to education. As Howard Gardner talked about, every student has their own, best way, of learning. Gardner identifies these specific learning styles as Multiple intelligences http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html. Technology is a common-sense way to approach this theory. When students have access to technology, teachers are able to reach any type of learner through text, video, audio, pictures, demonstrations etc. The internet allows teachers to provide students with multiple ways to organize and learn the material at hand. I look at this as students being given a buffet as opposed to a set menu provided by a chef. For instance, a teacher instructing his or her students on the concept of cyber bullying can create a Glogster that allows students to look at articles written on the subject, videos, pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, and audio, all on the same web link. This approach insures that all students are provided withe the proper style that is appropriate for their way of learning. At the end of the Glogster, an assessment forcing the students to demonstrate and apply what they have learned is provided. This is a great example of Multiple means of representation.

Multiple means of expression can be achieved in a number of ways using technology. Technology can span from low tech (whiteboards, reading materials, lectures using examples, and manipulative etc.) to high tech ( laptop work, tablets, smart boards, audio books, word prediction software, interactive technologies such as Glogster, Photoshop, Garage Band etc.) Teachers have an obligation to provide students with opportunities to demonstrate what they know besides the archaic use of worksheets, quizzes, and standardized tests. I will not say that these aforementioned means of assessment cannot be useful, however, we are doing our students a disservice if we do not provide alternative forms of allowing them to show what they have learned. For example, teachers can have students use their aquired knowledge on a certain subject to create a song using Garage Band software. This allows students to put their learning into a form that most students especially love and embrace at the middle school level, music. Photoshop can also be an effective tool for students to demonstrate what they have learned through a visual media. I have my students demonstrate what they have learned about the concept of statistics and extrapolation through visual public service messages. This has been a very effective way for students to demonstrate what they have learned about the unit.

Multiple means of engagement is one of the last major barriers to student learning that technology can help overcome. The typical student now-a-days requires varied forms of media to maintain their engagement. Technology can be a huge help to filling this engagement gap. I have used websites such as Youtube and the Khan Academy to engage my students on basic mathematical concepts including the Pythagorean Theorem and the order of operations. Providing students with different channels to learn is extremely important to success in your classroom. We have all sat through a boring meeting or lecture that would have been 10 times more effective had the presenter decided to use varying forms of media in their presentation. It is not enough to put your lectures on a PowerPoint and expect students to be instantly engaged because the notes are typed as opposed to written.Teachers must use pictures (Google images etc.) videos (Youtube, Discovery Education, TED talks etc.) and demonstrations (PurpleMath, PBS.org etc.) to spice up student learning and to increase engagement. This is a paramount concept for teacher because we are dealing with a generation of students that are used to tvs in cars, cellphones that are connected to the internet in their pocket, and easy/seamless access to information whenever they want it. Teachers must raise the stakes when it comes to their delivery of material and their isn't a single media that can be discounted.

There are so many challenges that face a teacher now a days, however, the teacher must understand that the challenges facing a student and their future employments are much greater than what we faced. As teachers we must embrace the fact that our students are growing up in an increasingly interconnected and globally competitive environment. We need to embrace this concept and provide our students with the necessary tools to succeed and excel in our every-changing society. Engagement, expressions, and representation are the three pillars that all teachers need to appropriately develop their curriculum around if they want the students to succeed in the future.

A quick reminder of why I love what I do: (masters assignment)
I feel like I am visiting an old friend with this blog post, I am taking a technology class right now through my Master's program and we are required to comment on a video about project based learning http://www.edutopia.org/kindergarten-project-based-learning-video (right up my alley). This also got me really excited about maintaining a digital presence again. blogging is a great release for me and also provides another nice way to network and communicate with parents and colleagues in my profession. I have a lot to say, and I promise that I will be keeping this blog current so that others feel it is beneficial to check it out on a consistent basis. Now on with the assignment...

It was hard not to smile when watching this video, I am lucky enough to teach in a project-based system so I get to see the excited faces and engagement on a daily basis. Being an 8th grade teacher, my experiences are obviously a little different than a kindergarten classroom. However, I can see how project-based-learning (pbl) would fit perfectly into a classroom where creativity and curiosity are often found in abundance. It is clear that students are engaged in this video because they see meaning in what they are doing. More importantly they see a connection between what they are doing and their everyday lives. The bug funeral was a classic example of this, the teacher took a pertinent/current topic for the class and creatively worked the required standards and curriculum around that theme. The students had ownership for what they were doing, and the learning was evident. One important thing the video left out was the process of student reflection (either by themselves or with the teacher) to understand and digest what they had been learning. Often times I have found that PBL can be so fun and engaging that students don't realize all that they are learning because if "it's fun, it can't be learning!" How sad that our education system has gotten to the point where students don't think that learning can be fun.

Technology is a key element to any PBL classroom because the whole goal is to connect what students are learning to their everyday lives (making it real-life and relevant for them) and as we all know, technology is a huge part of this generation's life. Technology can help students visualize things better, make topics come to life with audio, video, pictorial, or 3D modeling. It can increase engagement and show students personalized connections that might not be available in a one-size-fits-all textbook. It is important though that technology aides in supporting the learning because sometimes technology can become a hindrance when it used just for the sake of "using it."

The main elements of a project based unit are as follows:
Units must be tied to the local and state/national standards that are required by your school district.
There must be room for students voice and choice in the project. This means that students have a way to individualize the project so that it really does become something that they own. That doesn't mean carte blanche freedom, it's more of what I like to call choice within a very set and well-paced structure.
Units must also incorporate some sort of partner collaboration as well as working in other important 21st century skills http://www.educateiowa.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2332&Itemid=4344
There needs to be an application to real life so that students can see how the material relates to what they might encounter in the future.
Lastly, it is important that there is some sort of exhibition for the project so that students understand that what they are creating will be put under the microscope by the public. This is important because then students feel more accountable for their work. When they know that what they create isn't going to just get graded, stappled on the board for a month, and then thrown away or sent home, they tend to put more of themselves into it.

Other strong suggestions for the units are:
Cross curricular
focus on technology
projects that solve a problem

That is all for now!

All the Trashy Art Images are posted here. Check them out. https://picasaweb.google.com/105984996546073643060/December7201102
All of the Physical Art Pieces from exhibition night https://picasaweb.google.com/105984996546073643060/Dec72011Exhibition

Great article on exhibition night! Way to go WMS 8th grade g2

December 7, 2011

It has been a tumultuous start to the year, some deaths within the district family have been a challenge for everyone to stay focused. Having said that, I can't be more proud of our group of 8th graders so far this year. They have risen to the challenge of a new learning style and seem to be eager to learn. I am excited for some potentially awesome projects this year. The students are beginning to be quite fluent on the new computers and we started our first day of digital portfolio building this afternoon. Our ALEKS (online algebra class) is up and running as well and the students have started work on some mock POL's (presentations of learning) that will be used as semester evaluations when we approach the end of our grading terms. Tomorrow is going to be a great day of team building outside, it will be neat to see how the kids come together to work as teams and solve problems. The process of building a tight "family group" has begun, and I can't wait to see where we are at when the year ends. I will keep this site up to date as the year progresses, so be sure to check in frequently.

Mr. N

Gardens of Geometry

Gardens of Geometry project pictures

This guy is a true inspiration, and I think for educators as well as parents, we can all relate to this sense of math. I haven't quite been able to articulate it the way that he so simply does, however, we all know that this is true. Many people have, for years, taught math in a way that elicits very little "true problem solving." It is amazing, looking back at these text books, (the same ones that I used, and struggled through, as a middle schooler) their is a clear code language that they write them in...and you can tell the kids that have figured it out. But what are we really teaching them? That the world is always going to give you cute little problems with a nice sequential formula....WE HAVE TO DO BETTER...I HAVE TO DO BETTER! Of course, this will be more work for us as educators. However, it is essential if we are going to leap back to the forefront of education in this country. Our system of education was created in a time where information was gained by going to school, if you didn't go, you didn't get the info. Schools were the "installers of knowledge." Now, a 4th grader has more information within the cellphone in his pocket than people 30 years ago could dream of. We, as educators, have to teach kids how to USE this information, to apply it, to be creative with it, and to see how it all fits into a bigger puzzle. The days of students being good at "jumping through the hoops" have to end. If not, we will just continue a huge injustice to our kids. Watch this guy and tell me you wouldn't have liked to have been in his math class.

By the way, parents, I am back at school as of Monday April 11th. Thanks for your patience while I was out with my surgery. I look forward to finishing the year strong! Exhibition night is just around the corner.
Mr. N

This was a pleasant surprise to come across at 3:30 in the morning when you can't sleep from the pain of an operation :)
Congrats boys!  http://muscatinejournal.com/news/local/article_1b09ea16-5cdd-11e0-8225-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=comments

Well, the "Systems of Linear Equations Rock" project is now complete, and all the songs and podcasts are posted on REVERB NATION. Some of the songs have the podcast on them and some are separate form their podcasts, either way, check them out...They turned out really well. I will soon be posting the details of our next and final project "Math in Monet's Garden" a joint project between math and science. I am currently recovering from complete ACL reconstruction, and osteotomy, and a complete break of my femur....so I will have a little time on my hand. Thanks for the continued parent support with all of this. I look foward to seeing and talking with you all soon!  (Reverb Nation link is below)
Mr. N

Up another spot to number 5 on the ReverbNation charts...Bob Nolan, WMS is coming for you number one spot!

Sorry about the delay in posts, I feel like I was crawling across the finish line and into spring-break. However, it is here now and the excuses are gone right?
So, the students went into the break charged with the task of completing their "math rocks" projects. We had a solid two weeks of collaboration and work time leading into the break and I must say, the work coming from the sessions was brilliant! The songs are absolute quality and make my song sound like a bad William Hung remake of a Ricky Martin song. I guess that's the way it should be though. Projects are due the Tuesday after students get back from break and they shall then be posted on the following website

Right now, the only song posted is mine. However, the cool thing is that we started at number 18 on the popularity charts for the local/everything category (which for what I can tell encompasses the Burlington through Clinton area as well as areas of Illinois) and are now up to 6th spot...I want to go number 1 though, so we need your  help. You can get our chart ranking higher by checking out the above website. If you want, you can also become a fan or just have a quick look or listen. Remember, the students songs should be posted by Wednesday, March 23rd. We might have some band merchandise for sale as well, we will keep you posted. Thanks for all the parental support and remember, if you need to contact me with questions or comments my email address is danietze@mcsdonline.org. Enjoy the break and keep checking back for future posts. I will try to have some new videos up on the site very soon.

Davonte explaining his advertisement design...Looking good!

YouTube Video

This is a video at the end of class, Trenton was showing off his beat to Juan (not in his group) and Juan decided to sing the beginning verse of his song...I like how Juan tries to imitate a country singers voice. I feel like this beat is a mix between Hootie and the Blowfish and Nickleback...These songs are going to blow you guys away! Stay tuned.

YouTube Video

This is a sneak peak of Becca, Anna, Noryly, and Maria's song that will deal with X and Y intercepts. Like usual, I am interrupting some quality collaboration time.

YouTube Video

Great video of period 5 working hard in their groups to complete the "Ghost Campaign"

YouTube Video

First student video loaded, more to come. This is a silly video from our "Ghost Campaign" (creating "buzz and mystery") around the school for our upcoming album releases. The students also had to create a right triangle off of the side of their advertisement and figure out the slope of the triangle using the basic rise over run formula. They were given a ruler and a flip camera and instructed to write down the slope of their advertisement. They then had to film the completed advertisement hanging somewhere around the school. I think Emilee was a little embarrassed.

YouTube Video

Check this out...can also find him on TED talks

YouTube Video

Below are the lyrics to my math song...beat is almost complete as well, also a link to the rubric the students will be using for the song if you are interested

 A Function-ing Relation Is the Best Kind

Song by: DJ-Funk-tion (A.K.A   Mr. Nietzel)

Before I get too deep, you better hear D.J. Function speak:


-A functioning relation is the best kind

just ask your teachers, I bet they won’t mind.

-A relation me---eeee-ans that one thing just depends upon another

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X


In the study of math-a-matics, functions give instructions for x.

They can be written a number of ways, but F of X is what we usually say

Don’t get confused, by this code language…

It only means,

we gonna find out-

what happens to X

after the function spits it out!


Much like a factory, a function starts with an unknown quantity…we call this X- a variable, also know as the input.

Watch out now we going strong, just put the input into your function.

Ready now, just tap your foot, through the function comes the output.

The output is our F of X, but is also known by some intellects as our Y.

Remember what I said, now don’t forget…after the chorus, we’ll get clearer yet.



-A functioning relation is the best kind

just ask your teachers, I bet they won’t mind.

-A relation me---eeee-ans that one thing just depends upon another

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X


Back to the action, here we go, let’s use real numbers, making sense of all these variables!

 I’m thinking of a function, now keep it straight,  F of X (f(x)) equals 2x minus 8.

Remember now, for our starting point we need an input, how bout 1.

So, X equals 1 in this function…go on now, replace every X with a 1.

Now that’s done, were having fun, tell me now your new equation…

Tell me now, just don’t be late, we have F of 1 (f(1))  equals 2 times 1 minus 8!

From here on out, you know the situation, you got’s to use order of operations.

Multiply first, you get a two, minus the 8, and our output is….(record skreetching to a halt in the background)

NEGATIVE 6? That’s right, give me the chorus.



-A functioning relation is the best kind

just ask your teachers, I bet they won’t mind.

-A relation me---eeee-ans that one thing just depends upon another

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input of X


So, what’s this all mean? Lets wrap this up, listen very closely, as I sum it up.

A function relates an input (X) to an output  of (Y) or F of X

So if a tree grows 13 centimeters a year, the height of the tree is related to its’ years.

So if height is a function of age, a 3 year old tree’s function would be H of 3 equals 3 times thirteen!

Now, you could figure out any height of the tree, as long the age, a.k.a. X and the function H of X equals X times 13.

That’s all I got for this function business.

If you stick to my song, you will have great success

Just remember….



-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input-X

-Functions are relations, meaning the output-Y depends on the input-X


I found a great Chinese proverb that hits project based learning right on the head...
"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand."

Busy week on tap for G2 students in my math class, we are finishing up the last two concepts of linear equations and functions. Then we go into full-on work time to finish up the project. The students are coming up with some great ideas, I can't wait to see them executed (the ideas that is :) I hope to have my math song posted by Wednesday, keep an eye on the page for some upcoming student videos as well! Happy Valentines Day to all.
Mr. N

This is why, what we are doing, is so important. Great article on the future of education...sounds pretty familiar:)

Also, reminder to those that are interested; here is a link to our newest project in math:


Below, is an update from the high school on G2 availability for math students next year. Plain and simple, this means that as incoming Freshman, students will have a choice within the program. For students that took algebra in 8th grade (through ALEKS) there will be an enriched geometry class through G2 next year. Meaning, students will not have to use an elective to "get the geometry." this "two math system" will continue for their careers at the high school. This will put them on track to complete Calculus as seniors. The rigor of the G2 program will more than adequately prepare the students for the challenge of Calculus. If you have any questions, please get in contact with me. (563) 506-3527

-Mr. N
Updates to the Course Selection Process for Parents/Guardians of 8th Grade Students:

For families interested in Global Generation (G squared) - There has been an additional math course added to the Global Generation (G squared) curriculum, Enriched Geometry (1009647) will now be a course that can be signed up for within the Global Generation Program. If your student had previously signed up for Enriched Algebra 1 (1009627) and signed up for Enriched Geometry (1000647) as an elective, they will need to sign back into Power School and change their math selection. Below you will see a statement and outline for the math opportunities within Global Generation:

The enriched math offered in G2 is rigorous and provides the conceptual skills needed to progress at any level in the area of math. If a student is on the accelerated math route, the G2 program will prepare them for future levels of math. The following table outlines the Math options within the G2 program.

All of the Trashy Art images have been uploaded to my Picasa Gallery, check them out down below. I am currently working on my own song for the "Linear Equations Rock" project. I have been at it for over 5 hours now. I am doing a mix between an '80's pop song and techno. My band name is D.J. Funk-tion. As soon as the song is recorded and "drops" (launches), I will post it to my website. Go Packers.

Mr. N

Congratulations to Kreg Warren and Josh Meyers. Their "Trashy Art Image" was chosen by the City of Muscatine and Allied Waste, to be used in an advertising campaign for the new recycling program. I am very proud of these two very talented young men, as well as all of my students for their hard work and dedication to this project.

Mr. N              

Hey Everyone,
Bellow is a link to the students "Trashy Art Pieces" that were created first semester, I hope to have them all uploaded by Friday. Enjoy!

Trashy Art Photos

Also, for those that are interested; I have linked below, to the new project for part of second semester "Linear Equations Rock." In this unit
Students will be assembling their own musical groups (four in a group) to form a band that will produce the next “hit” math single. The groups will decide on a math-inspired band name, a group logo, design album artwork and produce a real math song based off of a chosen pre-algebra or algebra math topic. The G2 students will then vote on the top ten or twelve singles that will then be produced into a real “linear equations” math CD. The CD will be made available for purchase.

Enjoy the snow!

Mr. Nietzel

Dear Parents,
Sorry that the website has not been updated as regularly as I would have liked it to be. I am going to do my best to stay diligent with updating so that it can become a resource for you, as well as your student, to stay up to date and in "the loop" as far as what's going on in G2 (our new name for PBL, it stands for global generation).
Here is a recap of some of the highlights from G2 math this first quarter. Feel free to get in contact with me at any time. danietze@mcsdonline.org.

Mr. Nietzel

This Link Will gives a detailed agenda for this semester-----> https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TsedaV-RJYyaAsoRI4UfrZZKBcT5-Rr0ZQoVfU3O82U/edit?hl=en     

Our first exhibition night is scheduled for the night of December 9th from 5-7 P.M. at the Bandag Learning Center (behind the Muscatine Mall, off of Colorado Street). Exhibition night is an extremely important piece to the G2 learning structure. It is a night where our students take center-stage to demonstrate and show off exactly what they have been doing over the past couple of months in math and science. More importantly though, it is a chance for students to interact and engage in a dialogue with their peers and adults to “exhibit”, or demonstrate their learning. It is extremely important, that our students attend this exhibition, (think a very important job interview!) as well as having you show up so that you can experience their learning in person.

Order of operations mini unit
This was a warm-up unit that lasted about three weeks at the beginning of the year to review important number concepts and operations that the year’s projects would build from. This included work with powers and variable expressions as well as multiple step equations.

Trash Art: Data introduction unit:
One of the three major math “focal points” for 8th  grade math is analyzing and summarizing data sets. Students are asked to use descriptive statistics, including mean, median, and range, to summarize and compare data sets, and organize and display data to pose and answer questions. They compare the information provided by the mean, median, mode, and range to investigate the different effects that changes in data values have on the measures of center.

Team story problem:
This was one of the first activities of the unit in which students were introduced to their partners for the unit and asked to develop their own story problems incorporating the mean of data set which they created. Students were asked to identify their data, their data set, and to find the mean of their data set. They were required to incorporate a digital image that fit with their story concept and then present it to the entire class. The catch was that they had 25 minutes to draft, create, solve and then submit their problems to google docs. This forced the students to work efficiently as team and work under the constraints of a strict timeline.

Below, is one of those examples:
(Avery Miller and Betsy McDonald)

Every day Bubbles goes to her grandparents house and gets chased by the neighbors pet bears. On Monday they chased her 5 miles, Tuesday they chased he 3 miles, Wednesday 4 miles, Thursday 5 miles, and Friday they chased her 4 miles. What is the average of miles the bears chased Bubbles?
Data: 5+3+4+5+4
Data set: Add up all of the numbers together.
                5    Answer: 4.2 or 4.
Walking to school.......

Walking to her grandparents house.................
Probably shouldn’t have that fish huh?

Average World Temperature Challenge:
After continuing to master the concepts of organizing data and drawing conclusions from it, students were given this 40 minute challenge. A list of 30 major cities from around the world were listed on a single piece of paper presented to the class. Students were told that they had 40 minutes to figure out what the average world temperature was going to be for the day, (represented by these 30 cities.) Students were told that they could use any resource that was available to them, including cell phones, computers and the large dry-erase boards in the room. This activity required extreme amounts of teamwork, communication, conceptual data knowledge, and leadership. The prize was a pizza party for any class that could figure out the mean, as well as the mode, median, and range of temperatures for that day. It was amazing to see how each class attacked the challenge and worked together, to try and solve the challenge. At the end of the day, only one class completed the challenge successfully, but all of the groups took some very important lessons away from the activity, as well as continuing to build their working knowledge of data and data sets.

Data Collection Survey:
As our unit began to shift away from core data concepts to statistical analysis and extrapolation, I asked the students to show how data could be used to answer questions or make assertions about issues we deal with in our daily lives. Essentially, students were to grasp that many statistics are averages or trends that are constructed from pieces of data. Therefore, students were given the task of posing a question, and then collecting data to help answer that question. Students were required to gather at least 30 pieces of data to use in answering their questions. The data could be collected through any means the students decided to use. Most students chose to survey individuals, however, we had many students that sent out mass text messages, emails, and even used Facebook as ways to gather their data. Students were required to complete a three page packet that forced them to draw conclusions from their data as well as asking them to answer hypothetical questions about manipulating the data and interpreting it to determine concepts such as outliers, clusters, and skews.

PSA and Trashy Art Piece Projects
These two projects are the crux of this unit, the PSA (public service announcement) and the Trashy Art Photo Shop piece are both based off of a trash statistic the students were required to find with their group mates. The statistic needed to deal with some aspect of human consumption (oil, paper, food waste etc.) Before students were tasked with finding their stat, we had Chris Steinbech, the editor of the Muscatine Journal, come in and speak about finding reliable and accurate statistics.  After students determined the statistic they wanted to use (it needed to tie in with their science lesson plans) they were asked to develop a concept for a PSA that would discuss their consumption stat. and offer a suggestion about how people could alter their habits to lesson their consumption. These concepts were critiqued by their peers and scripts were then developed. The PSA is meant as a supplement to bolster the message their Trashy Art Pieces will send. Not all students will take their PSA through the filming process due to time constraints, but all students were required to develop a concept based from a rubric, have it critiqued, and turn in a typed script. Some groups will be completing the PSA once they finish their Trashy Art Photo Shop piece and will be entering it into the Volvo Adventure Contest for 13-16 year-olds, for the chance to win up to $12,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Sweden to accept the award.
The Trashy Art Photo Shop piece is the main project of this unit, students will create a way to visually represent their consumption statistic using either the concepts of weight, distance, area, perimeter, or volume to “shock their audience.” Before students were allowed to develop their concept, they were required to learn the concept of extrapolation so that they could convert their statistic from a world or national level, to both their state and city levels. Students were first required to learn time conversions so that they could figure out how much their statistic was consumed on a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, minutely, and secondly basis. Students then had to figure out how to determine population percentages so that they could then extrapolate their statistic to local levels. Students were then required to combine the concepts to extrapolate their statistic to local levels and then figure out how much was used for said time conversions.  Students then had to pick one of their extrapolated pieces of data and figure out how to visually represent it using the concepts mentioned above. These images will then be digitally created into 20 x 24” posters using Photo Shop. The City of Muscatine then wants to use these images to help advertise for the new recycling program it will be instituting this year. So the plan is for you to be seeing your students work around town in an advertising campaign.

ALEKS Program:
This is the online math program our algebra students have been using to make sure that they are still getting all of the algebra concepts needed to be prepared for algebra II next year at the highs school (or possibly geometry, depending on how far students progress in the program). Algebra students have been given almost 15 full class days to work on this program at school, as well as having access to it at home. At this point, the end of first quarter, every algebra student is on pace to complete the program on time (having mastered at least 72 of the 288 algebraic concepts the program requires) Some students are even on pace to complete algebra by semester and then hope to finish algebra II by the end of the school year. The ALEKS program has been extremely impressive for both me, as well as the students, and I welcome and questions or comments you might have about it.

Today is the day that we kick off our first project, the full lesson plan is linked below under Day 19 September 20.
Important Links for today:
http://www.storyofstuff.com/        Story of stuff
Here We Go
This week we will be starting our work of introducing pre-algebra concepts into the project based format. It as been an eventful past couple of weeks with lots of self discovery and team building exercises culminating in our downtown scavenger hunt last Thursday. I have a ton of videos I would like to post, but still trying to sort out parent permission slips to make sure that we can legally use all of the images (don't want to go against any parent-wishes) Here is the article from the Muscatine Journal. Parents, be sure to check out my daily lesson plans at the bottom left-hand part of the page to stay up to date with what is going on in the classroom. Have a great week!
-Mr. N

The Start

This artist, Chris Jordan, is the basis for our first major project this school year. Our project is called "Trashy Statements" and the students will be using the math concepts of time, length, area, volume, and mass conversions to extrapolate and interpolate data from a major "trash" statistic, (of their team's choosing). Students will then create a photoshop image conveying the enormously complex problem their "trash stat" poses to society in a way that is visually powerful. Students will then work on possible fixes for their trash stat and propose meaningful solutions to their problem. All of this will culminate at an exhibition night when students will be able to present their work to the public (Working on reserving the Muscatine Art Center)

YouTube Video

The last two minutes of this are the best, the perspectives are incredible.
(Worth checking out as well; just click on the large circle image once, and let the auto zoom work) http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/epu/#e-pluribus-unum
Quote of the Moment:
"3 out of 2 people have problems with fractions."
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