Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mrs. Claus Pattern Problem

Jaylen 2Emma 1Alyssa 1Teegan 1JaylenEllie 1
Seth 1Maysen 1Emma 2Emma 3Maddy 1Micaela 1
Alyssa 2Teegan 2Ellie 2Teegan 3Maysen 2
Kassy 1Connor 1Connor 2Jerry 1Maysen 3
Mrs. Claus Pattern Problem 1, a set on Flickr. If you are working on patterning and problem solving, this is a great problem to try with your students.

This blog will now be used as a way to share my students math thinking and that of my own. I hope you enjoy the new format. I would love to keep a discussion going about student work. Please feel free to try the problem with your students. I would love to hear what yours did.
Here are some photos of how my students (Grade 2's) solved the Mrs. Claus problem.

Mrs. Claus is decorating cookies for the Elves Christmas Dinner.

She lined up the first 20 cookies and put icing on every second one.
She put a cherry on every third one.
How many cookies will have nothing on them? Show how you know.

Do some cookies have icing and a cherry? How many?
Do you see any patterns?

You write a similar problem......
The students were allowed to use any materials they wanted, paper, white boards, manipulatives, combination of any of these. The first part of the problem took us a class block. I had numbered the photos 1, 2, 3 to show you the order they were taken in as well as the progression of their thinking.

As you can see from many of the photos they were stuck on the idea of thirds. They grouped the cookies into three's giving the middle cookie the place of second each time and the last cookie the third placement with the cherry going on top.

After looking through the pictures and evaluating our discussion today, they did the problem this way to over compensate for not understanding that a cookie could have icing and a cherry on top. Many of them wanted to have a space after the cookie with the cherry on top.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Further Flickr Findings

I would like to return to the tool of Flickr and discuss some of the things I have learned in the past couple of weeks about this social photo-sharing website. Flickr has the ability to impact education in many ways but I feel it has fallen short in others.

I had heard about Flickr from people on Twitter and family members who have sent me invitations to view photos of my nieces and nephews. I hadn't really given it much thought for education until this project. I had remembered our professors saying the images from Google were not always the best to be using for research, Flickr was a better site for being able to reference and give credit where it was due. Upon further investigation into Flickr I because interested in it's popularity among educators and how they use it in the classroom. I also wanted to know more about the tagging and RSS feeds. How did they work and why are tagging and RSS feeds important.

What do I really like about Flickr?
1. Flickr allows you to share photos with Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, and Wordpress right from the actual Flickr site. I tried this feature this week and I quite enjoyed the ability to quickly upload and write about my photos at that moment without having to do extra steps.

2. When you subscribe to a groups photostream RSS feed, it is sent to your aggregator of choice, mine happens to be Google Reader. This is a feature I really like. Having the photos comes to you is much easier and helps to keep you updated. You could then share them to Twitter or make comments on your friends images or tag the picture with a note.

3. Flick has thousands of photos uploaded each day, which makes the possibilities endless for finding a photo. There are so many to choose form. The 'explore galleries' tab was really amazing. There are some amazing amateur and professional photographers around, it a great time waster during crunch time for sure.

4. Discovering the Flickr Uploader on iPhoto makes adding photos so much easier than how I was doing it before. It will be much easier to now upload photos to my photostream, Blogger, Twitter, and my groups using this feature in iPhoto. You can read my blog post about the Uploader feature here.

5. Flickr offers a widget photo stream for your blog. I added one to my classroom blog and one to this site. It shows the most recent photos added to Flickr. If I or my students need to quickly access a photo I can click on it and it sends you to the most recent set I uploaded. I use it a lot in math to discuss student work in the classroom. You could also add images from Flickr and have each student click on an image of choice and then write about about what they see, it would depend on the task and what you wanted them to think about and reflect upon.

What I was bothered by in Flickr
1. If you click on one of the photos from my photostream on this blog,  I thought people could make a comment on the photo. I was incorrect, only contacts can make comments and you must be signed in to do so. For example, I was going to have students explain their thinking about the pattern they saw in their own work. When they clicked on the photo, it opens up to the site and it appears you can comment but it takes you to the sign in screen. This is a definite con especially if I am wanting others to make comments. I will need to create a class Flickr account, share the log in name and password with students and have them sign in. This video provided some excellent ideas on how to use further use Flickr in the classroom.

2. Flickr does not offer an educational feature like Diigo does. Perhaps having a safe place where teachers could upload photos and students could search this data base of images is something Flickr will think of for the future.  But for now, Standen says, the group feature is a way to go around possible problems with the search feature and kids coming across unnecessary photos.
much of what's not kid friendly about Flickr can be eliminated by skipping (or greatly limiting) use of the Search button. One way to do that is with Flickr's Group tool. Flickr's groups are small pools of users who pull photos from across the site and organize them into categories accessible by group members
This would mean, creating a group and posting the link on a wiki or blog where students had access to it.

3. Due to the huge number of uploads each day, Flickr has the potential to be an unsafe site for students. Who is controlling all of those uploads? This photo shows how many photos are uploaded in a minute.
This is an amazing number in one minute. In 2008, Educause reported over two billion images to be on Flickr,  the amount of images present three years later is astronomical. The report goes onto state: 
Flickr largely depends on the community to police itself for copyright violations, and opportunities for libel or invasions of privacy around.
This can be a frightening thought for a teacher who does not want to take the risk of students finding an inappropriate photo.

4. Searching for photos can become daunting. I found searching to be quite difficult. It could be that I am not using the correct words or tags but I often feel I cannot find what I am looking for. If I find it difficult, kids could potentially experience the same problems. A teacher may need to search photos ahead of time and upload them to a group site, students could then search through the site. It seems like a lot of work. It would depend on how many photos one was looking for and the tags and subject of the photo being used.

5. I couldn't find a group that I really wanted to join, so I created my own. You can take a look here. I am hoping to have conversations about student work in math. If I keep adding to the group and posting updates to Twitter I am hoping to engage in some great discussions about student thinking. I think these group discussions will be a way to collaborate with others using authentic photos and actual student work. This is something I feel is missing in math instruction. In order to really reflect, we need something to reflect on. Sullivan (2000) stated it nicely when she said this:
I still have ideas that I think are uniquely my own, at least in part. But I know that a lot of other people are thinking about the same thing as I am, just perhaps in a slightly different way, through a different lens.
What a better opportunity to invite other educators into the conversation around mathematical thinking than reflecting and sharing their ideas on their students work.

Overall, I think Flickr is a useful tool to use in a classroom and for personal use. It took some time to learn about all of the many features and I still do not feel completely confident in knowing all of the ins and outs of Flickr. However, I would recommend exploring and using this Web 2.0 tool in your classrooms. I look forward to keeping you posted on how my Flickr group is going.


Educause. (2008). 7 Things you should know about flickr. [PDF]. Retrieved from
Johnson, C. (2010). What does it mean to “reflect on my learning?” Critical Thinking at Forest Green School/CFL. [Blog post].Retrieved from
Jutecht. (Producer). (2006). Flickr. [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from
Standen, A. (2007). My friend flickr: a great photo opportunity. Edutopia.
Sullivan, K (2000). What does reflection mean to us? From Now On The Educational Technology Journal. [Blog post]. Retrieved from