Day 109- Printing a Pokeball


Math 11 – Here I’m trying to print a Pokeball that one of my Math 11 students modeled.  The first couple of tries at printing didn’t work too. I’m using Cura, and I found on Reddit that Cura allows the user to view the layers as they will print. Using this function and by modifying the support parameters, I was able to anticipate what changes I should make to get the sphere to print.  The supports aren’t needed for overhang, it’s needed to get enough material touching the buildplate so the part doesn’t slip while printing.  It worked.

103 – Printing 3D Scaled Models



Math 11 – I’m slowly chipping away at printing models that the kids designed.  This student was pretty excited to try and print his Acropolis.  It worked out pretty good!  The idea with this project was to have students use 3D design software to practice visualizing and exploring 3d shapes. As well, I added small component of calculating scale to the assignment.

Day 100 – TRU Bridge Contest


Engineering Physics – Students are now challenged with designing their own truss/bridge, which they will put in the Thompson Rivers University Bridge Contest.  Some students are experimenting with Bridge Designer software, others are working on their own designs based off of what we’ve already studied. Some groups are doing web searches for past TRU contest winners…

Day 81 – Quizzes in Math


Math 8 – A classic day of assessment in math class.  Although I try to have the students do some other assessments via projects, most of our assessment is through quizzes. I’m ok with that.  The classes are getting a good selection of projects/problems/knowledge/skills.

All my quizzes in Math (and physics) are used within a Standards Based Grading (SBG) system.

Day 74 – First 3D Prints

Engineering Physics – The first couple of groups starting printing their designs today. We are all learning with this process together. I wasn’t sure what kind of resolution we would get with the printers and it looks like many of the students are designing features that are less than 1mm in size. I know the resolution of the printers is better than 1mm but I don’t think it is good enough to print extrusions that are 1mm in size. It’s close though. This should lead to some good lessons on tolerances and limits of fabrication.

Day 60 – Quantitative Force Diagrams

Physics 11 – This year I’m doing some deliberate practice with quantitative force diagrams. I realized last year that many students had problems with unbalanced forces because they would hit a force diagram and say they didn’t know “how to calculate applied force.” They said they didn’t have a formula for applied force. So I want to reinforce that forces can be found via force diagrams.

Day 32 – Pro D SBG Workshop


Today was our provincial professional day. I attended the science conference and gave a workshop on Standards Based Grading.

There were 32 attendees and a lot of interest. I think perhaps 6 people there were already using SBG in one form or another.

One thing that seemed contentious to people new to SBG is that I don’t really do unit tests.  I actually give goal-less problem tests, which I will hold up to any unit test in terms of drawing out the different topics of physics and how they fit together.  I could also give unit tests, but they would have to be scored separately outside of the SBG system and treated more like an in-class assignment/assessment. I’m ok with that except that I think neither the students nor myself will get anything out of it.

Another question raised was how does SBG help prepare students for university, because in university kids will get a couple of big tests and no re-tests. My answer to that is that university is so far different from high school that it’s irrelevant. A mid-term and final in high school has almost nothing in common with a university mid-term or final in terms of timing, size, scope and level of difficulty. My stance is that the best we can do is help students learn as much as they can in high school and take what they’ve learned about themselves to help them in university.

One regret I have about the workshop is that I didn’t collect a list of attendees and their email addresses. Collaboration is key for changing assessment practices and I feel bad that I didn’t help pool people’s contact information together.

My “professional” blog at has the SBG workshop materials and other blog posts on SBG, grading, etc.

Day 20 – Four 4’s





Math 8 – Today we worked on the Four 4’s problem to check and practice our understanding of order of operations. The photo above reveals one of the most common mistakes: working from left to right without first doing division before addition/subtraction.

Today was a good example of how things can slow down progress. Getting kids to properly build a Table of Contents has not been smooth. So while this happens to be a math class, students are also learning fundamental organizational (life?) skills.



Day 7 – Adding Integers


Math 8 – Classes started off as a quick review of adding integers but it turned into an in-depth review.

The class was asked to give examples and non-examples of natural numbers and then integers.  They were then asked to give examples of equations with integers.  I then formed groups and asked each group to come up with at least one strategy for solving an equation with integers.  All names and groups were generated randomly.

The most common strategy the kids came up with was using a number line, along with some examples using modeling/grouping.  Several kids say they “just do it using my brain.”  They have a harder time explaining their strategy as they learn proper language to describe what they do.  We then went over the strategies together.

It was common to see students solve something like 3 + (-8) using a number line.  When I then challenge them to do 3 – (-8) it gets much more difficult.  I encouraged them to use an inverse operation so that 3 – (-8) = 3 + (+8).

Using proper language is awkward at times, since it is easy to say “instead of subtracting, add the opposite”, but that doesn’t quite describe what is happening mathematically.

At the end of the day we had bad news: all of the grade 8 classes are being rescheduled.  So the first three classes we did with problem solving and creating a thinking classroom has to be re-done.