Distance Learning: Math Style!

Hi Everyone!

Lots has been going on in Middle School Math even through our distance learning platform!

I have been posting a lot on my personal professional blog about my experiences with Distance Learning. If you haven’t checked them out, and if you are interested…you can take a read through my last three (latest) posts here!

As for grades 6, 7, and 8, here’s a snapshot of some things we’ve been doing!

All Middle School math students have been learning through various online platforms along with live experiences each day with me. For assessment and practice, students have been using EdPuzzle, Knowledgehook, and Quizziz.  In addition to those we began an IXL and I had the students work on self-diagnostic as their “recommendation wall”. The kids loved it, but unfortunately my free trial ran out in the end of May. Perhaps something to look into for next year. It was great as the students were able to complete and navigate their own abilities with a personalized “playlist” of next steps and grade levels that they were able to complete with independence. Nothing more I love hearing than- “Mrs. Cleveland can I do more diagnostic to raise my math grade level?”… YES, YES,You can!


In Math (generally in school) we mostly focus our attention on our “Left Brain”. We took time in May and now into June to explore what “Right Brain” Math would and could look like. It was a great and is a great way to engage all students, at various entry points and perhaps push some to a place where it is more challenging, and on the flip side to some, more accessible! Are you left brained or right brained?



To get students moving around more at home and looking for math in their everyday lives, we have been using GooseChase to find and write and answer math questions and examples in teams! Also extra bonus points for getting a laugh, being creative, and putting in effort! I always comment with a supplementary math fun fact or funny quote. Grade 6 has taken off with this format and has enjoyed very much the connection between math and real-life. Here is a small small sample of the LOADS of submissions that came in… below.


Along with that, students have been using Geometry and their learning this term of 3-D shapes and rotations, flips, and translations, volume and surface area by experimenting with isometric paper. (dotted triangular paper that is able to to be used to draw perspectives of shapes) Students created and navigated how to make their names using this paper, as well as draw some 3-D mazes! Take a look! I even gave it a go myself!

Students also explored how empty space is meaningful in Geometry with the help of fun toothpick riddles. Some had some students wanting to keep the struggle going, while others may never want to look at toothpicks again. It was great to see the students “dontstealthestruggle” and keep with them. Here is a peek into some samples from the students themselves.

Also in personalization mode: students have had opportunities to work on weekly tasks that include either an enriched Waterloo format from the University of Waterloo, or “Weekly Tasks” personalized for student needs. Here are some examples of the different forms of work that displays their understanding through these concepts.

Grade 7 students are in the beginning stages of creating their own “Math Genius” slides and booklets that display all their knowledge of math facts so far from this year. This will be a great tool for them to keep to refer to next year, and in years to come, as they are required to write detailed steps with examples to how to solve math equations :multiplying decimals, adding/subtracting and multiplying fractions etc. Here’s a sneak peak to what has been started so far…

The grade 8 class, is almost completed their 2020 Pool Project which uses all grade 8 concepts in unison as a cumulative practice and review, as well as learning the features of a spreadsheet and formulas to add to create automatic sums and differences. As we paced ourselves along, the students have also been exposed already to grade 9 concepts that will support them even more next year in High School. We have explored simplifying expressions with 2 variables, the use and concept of distributive properties, and how to solve for two unknowns, while giving y a 0 value to find x, and then substituting x in the original equation to find y. Even if come September, they forget most of what we did, it’s a great head start; seeing it multiple times already, so next year a refresher can dust off their summer math brain! 🙂

As we get ready to head into summer, and with school winding down, there is still a lot of more fun that will take place in Middle School Math. Small adjustments will be made in the quantity of work, but the learning will continue to happen!

I continue to be amazed each day by how the students are eager to learn, try new things outside of their comfort levels, and reach their full potential. Plus… their conversations and smiles are something you can’t beat!

Whether in the classroom or together from a far online, Math IS FUN!



riddle me this…?

Grade 7 and 8 have been working on integer relationships and computations.

They have been investigating concepts around (at various levels); addition and subtraction principles, multiplication and division principles and the zero principle, and integers in Order of Operations.

To solidify their learning, students created riddle puzzles where users have to correctly answer questions involving integers to solve/find the answer to the riddle.

Here’s a small sample of all their riddles. Can you figure them out?

Grade 7 (Adding and Subtracting Integers)

Grade 8 (Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying, and Dividing Integers)




Grade Six from a Different “angle”

What’s Grade 6 up to these days in math?

Learning and investigating angles!

This week and next, students have been able to “choose their own angle adventures” in math class as a form to personalize their learning opportunities and abilities.

Some are measuring, classifying, and sketching, while others are investigating concepts and properties of complementary, supplementary, vertical, and opposite angles.

Who needs a textbook anymore in math? Not this class! Smiles, work, and engagement all around!

Well done grade Six!






when you give a kid a challenge…

Who doesn’t love a challenge!…?

The grade 7 and 8 students were given the 2020 Challenge in my math classes, (courtesy of Dave Martin) this week.

Students were given two levels of challenge to choose from:

  • Use all or some of the numbers from 1-10 to create an equation that equals 2020


  • Use all the numbers 1-10, only once, to create an equation that equals 2020

So what happens when you open up learning as a “challenge? They go for it, they work through it, and they feel good when they succeed! (even outside of the classroom!)

Here are some of their successful submissions, which of course we shared with Dave Martin on Twitter, with his High School students (Yep, his High School Students!)

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Here’s to a 2020 that is full of thoughtful and struggle worthy challenges and genuine and proud successes!






Dear 2019, before you go…


…let’s recap on our last few weeks from Middle School math classes and learning, as we wish everyone and their families and friends, a wonderful and safe break!

From Mrs. Cleveland:

If you don’t already know, November was a month of learning for me! I participated in three PD opportunities. That’s right, 3! One in Toronto, one at the school, and one virtually from the comfort of my own home. To read more about my learning, check out my blog post!

As a math leader in the school, I also have been working hard on my in-house learning this year. I’m focusing upon Personalizing math learning. After the break, I will be trying new ideas and activities that will be implemented into my teaching with the grade seven class; to prototype how personalization in math classes and learning can occur at the OJCS and in the middle school. Where am I at? Check out my post on my progress and thoughts so far!

From The Students:

Grade Seven has given me some extra homework for over the break, as I will be happily grading over 1400+ equations! Yep! 1, 4, 8, 9 was a huge hit! Everyone was engaged in learning and applying BEDMAS and Order of Operations, learning some fun concepts like summation and factorials to solve and evaluate 100+ answers!

Grade 8: This year’s graduating class took it upon themselves to organize and carry out a Mystery Maccabee celebration after they mastered a “two in one”unit on circles, circumference, surface area, and volume. The students took great thought and pride into choosing their gifts for each other. There may even be a future famous rapper in the group!

Grade 6’s and 7’s and 8’s: Math class the final week before the break, middle school students have been learning about circles and how to use the radius and points of intersection along the circumference to make a perfect equilateral triangle. Students learned how to use a ”mmArc” style compass, using radius arcs, to make six perfectly spaced points of intersection along the circumference. Thus creating a wonderful Math Chanukah Math Craft: a Magen David! Grade 6’s led the way with creativity!

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

See you all next year…make that next decade!

New Math Medium for Progress and Practice

Hi there and Happy Monday Middle School (and hopefully, Middle School Parents, as well)

Exciting news from your math teacher!

This week and next, students in grades 6 – 8 will be Beta Testing a newer online math platform called; Knowledgehook.

Knowledgehook is similar to Mathletics (if you remember those days) but has more in depth learning and opportunities for personalization and students creating a digital portfolio, where you (the students) will have to actually upload and “show your work” in an online question, through a camera lens, or uploaded file.

This week, parents (YES YOU PARENTS!) will be receiving an email from your son/daughters Knowledgehook account. This allows you to track their progress at home as well. Nothing more transparent than being right there to see what and how they are doing in their units!

Class codes are as follows for student logins.

Grade 6: boot2993

Grade 7: yam8524

Grade 8: yam8365


We will test out this platform this week for some in-class and homework activities. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s homework!

We look forward to this journey together, and as always welcome any feedback from the students and parents.

Here’s to a great week ahead!





The Grade 7’s…..

….Escaped from Math Class!

The grade 7’s experienced their first escape room on Tuesday and they LOVED IT! Groups were created randomly, and all students were engaged and on task to struggle and complete 4 math related questions around a “Dinner Party” theme. Questions involved finding recipe amounts for x amount of people, when to start each dish to ensure that they are all completed at the same time, use logic to find out what picky eaters will eat, find the area of pie left after a certain amount of people have eaten a slice, and also arranging tables using a given pattern with an algebraic expression to make sure everyone has a seat.

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…don’t believe us that we’re having fun in math class AND learning?

..take a look!




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Do you like π ?

Grade 8 is beginning to investigate the properties of a circle and then moving into properties of a cylinder.

Mr. Ray and myself (Mrs. Cleveland) have decided to work together and teach grade 8 the skills needed (side by side, science and math) for success with their Kiddish Cup Project! Students have to prepare, design, and then create a kiddish cup using Blender, the CAD program for our in-school 3-D printer.

One the first things about knowing and understanding the properties of a circle is knowing pi (π). Yes, we know it’s 3.14159…. ; however, do you know why?

Today the grade 8’s did a hands-on activity in Math class to figure out why pi is actually that… where does that number actually come from? What does it actually mean?

…if you’re curious…ask a OJCS grade 8 student… now they know and they can tell you themselves!

They were blown away by the activity and had a lot of connections and “a-ha” moments!

Math can be fun!



Math Escape: Grade 8 Dinner Party!

Grade 8 participated in their first Math Escape Room of the year on Friday.

They got a taste last year, and loved it so much, that I had to put together another one and bring it back to life this year!

October’s theme: a Dinner Party! How much food? When to start each recipe? How to set the tables? ….and picky eaters!

Students were “Trapped in Math Class” for 60 minutes in small groups. They had to beat the clock to correctly answer four tough and tricky questions that pushed them to squirm and struggle. Topics included logic problems, algebra, and area of circles.(had to figure this out from notes and clever resources-since we haven’t learned it formally yet!)

So with the room set, and the students eager with positive attitudes they took on the challenge…and as the struggled through, they came out on the other side all escapees from this month’s escape room!.

Here’s a peak into their “struggle,” and now thanks to my over using my “dontstealthestruggle”phrase, students are often heard saying back to me, “Mrs Cleveland, no, don’t help, don’t steal my struggle, I can figure it out.”

Could I be more proud?!  Let’s see what they got what it takes to escape in November’s room, I’m already preparing it! Bring it, grade 8! Show me what you’ve got!

…stay tuned….grade 7 takes on their first escape room tomorrow! They’re ready for the challenge!

Take a look…





Thinking Classrooms and 3-Act Lessons

Last Thursday and today (Monday) the grade six class, enjoyed participating in their second 3-Act Lesson of the year, in a “Thinking Classroom” format.

Their goal: How many cookies are actually in a large Girl Guide box?

Act 1: Spark interest, by showing the following video. What did you notice? What did you wonder?

Act 2: Focus in on the problem with only pictures and little information to guide their own strategy choices and next steps.

This included showing pictures with information that may be supportive like these…

ok…so you get the picture now….more pictures, more videos were displayed….and…

Act 3: Putting it all together, and reflection.

This portion is still up for completion tomorrow (consolidation and answer reveal.. they are on the right track, some have it and others are so close!

As students worked together to figure it out and #dontstealthestruggle, they worked in small groups in a thinking classroom format. Standing and conversing in a way that allows each student to visually see and provide input into the work displayed. Here are the students in action, and their work at the end of today’s class.

Looking forward to seeing them grow in our next 3-Act lesson in a few weeks time!

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