There’s an app for that…and grade 7 and 8 made them!

Yep! They sure did!

This year coding was placed into the new Ontario Math Curriculum, and as a person who enjoys dabbling in a little code herself, it was a great opportunity to share my enthusiasm around writing code, as well as connecting it to our  Financial Literacy Units!

Grade 7 just completed their Financial Literacy unit looking at/and understanding various chequing accounts, savings accounts, investment opportunities, federal taxes, earnings statements, and simple interest rates. We even had a guest speaker join us to talk about investing, trade, stocks and bonds. We also completed a unit on currency exchange. So to end things off, they are currently working on and almost complete in making their own apps that will covert five different foreign currencies into $CAD. Some students are even taking the initiative and extension to add more currencies and even a separate $CAD to foreign exchange rate program. One student, even enjoyed code so much that they went and created their own script through Java to do a parallel task. Take a look at his blog post!  Talk about personalized learning! Here are the blog posts from the grade seven students talking about their coding experience and their apps (yes.. you can even try some of them out!)

Grade 8 also just concluded their Financial Literacy unit where they investigated and calculated more complex foreign exchange units, credit card debt, monthly statements, and calculating simple and compounding interest. For their final task; they are also creating an app to calculate Simple and Compound Interest Rates, using various compounding rates (annually, semi-annually, or monthly) as well as varying principal amounts and future values.

Here are the Grade 8 reflections on their coding experiences and again, yes, you can try them out too (if they provided the link in their reflections!)




So if you know someone, who needs to convert foreign currency, or know how much interest they will have to pay on a 25 year semi-annually compounded mortgage…reach out to a middle school student….and yes- they are uploadable to your phone!


Pretty cool, right! Way to go Grade 7 and 8!

….and by the way…don’t worry Grade 6, you are currently finishing up your unit rates and taxes unit… you’re next in June! Get ready!


IXL: Four Highlights to Understand

Now, that as students, parents, and teachers, you’ve have had some time navigating the basics of IXL. I wanted to give you a little more insight into what the work you,(as a student) or you as a parent have been doing/seeing as result of the time and practice your son/daughter is putting in. Here are four things in which may be of interest to you: The Real-Time Diagnostic, The Recommendation Wall, Teacher Suggested Skills, and The SMARTScore.

The Real-Time Diagnostic

As in the previous blog post, I pushed out a lot of information, and one area included the Diagnostic portion. To go back and read the entire blog post again, you can so here. But for this post, I just want to highlight a few important key things to remember when using the real-time Diagnostic.



  • As independent as possible- if a student doesn’t know- encourage them to click the “I haven’t learned this yet button” on the bottom right
  • Students receive personalized recommendations that help them understand what actions to take for growth
  • Students play a more active role in their ongoing learning journey, and teachers can also use this truly up-to-date snapshot of their students’ understanding to challenge them at just the right level.
  • Diagnostics can be done anytime, and eventually once comfortable; completing at least 5-10 Diagnostic questions once a week to keep recommendations current and up to date
  • The more you do, the more narrowed down your level becomes
  • Levels with a Star have pinpointed an exact level and have a single number in the corresponding box.
  • A diagnostic level of 500 in a math strand represents a readiness to begin working on skills at the grade-five level. If a student’s number is 550, it indicates the student is halfway through the grade-five level. A 750 indicates the student is halfway through the grade-seven level.
The Recommendation Wall

IXL Recommendations are personalized suggestions for math skills. They update in real time and are based on the individual student’s skill practice and demonstrated knowledge levels in the Real-Time Diagnostic, providing relevant guidance for each student’s next steps.



With recommendations, students receive targeted support specific to their individual needs, while at the same time, they are empowered to explore and take ownership of their personal learning path. They can access this wall at anytime and work through the skills as they wish or as recommended by their teacher.

The Teacher Suggested Skills

Teachers may want to assign specific skills to a class, group of students or even individual students. When a teacher does this, students will see a yellow star next to any skill that you have suggested to them. They also can go to the top of their Recommendations wall to see a list of all the skills you have starred for them! It is important to note that the suggested skills will remain there until the teacher removes it. Your scores automatically save as you go, and your teacher can see them in real-time. You teacher may also give you a goal for that skill (i.e. a SMARTScore of at least 80, or maybe do at least 20 questions etc.)


The SMARTScore

The SmartScore is based on IXL’s proprietary algorithm and is the best possible measure of how well a student understands a skill. With the SmartScore, the learning process is rewarded and your son/daughter are constantly reassessed.

When a student starts practising a skill, the SmartScore starts at 0. As the student answers questions correctly, the SmartScore increases. If a question is answered incorrectly, the score decreases. However, the SmartScore is not just based on the percentage of questions correct. It is calculated using many factors, including the number of questions completed, question difficulty and consistency, and offers superior accuracy in assessing student achievement.

A skill is mastered when the SmartScore reaches 100, but the number of questions it takes to master a skill varies with every student. To continuously motivate students, teachers will recommend setting other practice milestones along the way to mastery. A score of 80 is good, and a score of 90 is considered excellent. When a student finally achieves skill  mastery, you can be confident that they truly understand the skill.



IXL: Online Math Forum for Personalized Learning

Hello OJCS Students and Families,

This year the school has purchased an online math subscription to IXL. IXL is an online forum that provides diagnostics of learning skills, promotes review, mastery and extensions of skills through practice, as well as providing students, teachers, and parents valuable information on student’s progress through grade data points. IXL will be used in all grades K through 8 this year.
IXL is divided into three main parts.

  1. Learning
  2. Diagnostic
  3. Analytics


Please feel free to watch the Parent Tutorial I have created for our OJCS families this year at the bottom of this post.
How IXL works?
First, your son/daughter’s teacher will have created a username and password for IXL. (Note: This is NOT their school email)
Once you have that information, it is important that you login to IXL through our school’s personal web access, here; https://ca.ixl.com/signin/ojcs 

You will know it’s the right homepage, as you will note the OJCS logo on the right hand side. 

I recommend that you bookmark this page, as well as “save’ the student’s password and username for ease of access when entering the site later on. Through some trial and error, although there is an app, the site works best through the website address.


Next, your son/daughter’s teacher will have already, or in class sometime over the next few weeks, begin the “Diagnostic” process. The Diagnostic is meant to be for pre-assessment to automatically determine which skills the student requires more practice and review, and/or areas of strength in where the student is ready to move at ahead. This allows all students to be progressing in their math learning, at their own pace, and with teacher support and oversight. It is strongly encouraged that if doing the Diagnostic work at home(as you can revisit the Diagnostic at anytime, and is ongoing) that the student is working on this as independently as possible. If a teacher or parent helps out during this process, the recommendations and next steps will be biased and not as authentic for the students to monitor their own growth, be confident in their abilities as well as provide authentic feedback to the teacher on his/her personalized math journey. The Diagnostic will then begin to pull out material in which will be the “next steps” or personalized math “playlist” for that student. It typically takes 5-10 Diagnostic visits of at least 10-15 minutes to gather a well rounded result. The Diagnostic will be promoted to also be completed again throughout the year, as this will measure the student’s growth in achieving and moving forward through the skills and material in his/her own learning path.
Following the diagnostic, on the teacher’s suggestion, the students will be directed to work on skills that appear on their “Recommendation Wall.” This can be found under the “Learning Tab” on the green tool bar at the top. The skills that curate here are either; skills in in which the student requires more review and practice, or skills in which the student is ready to move on to learn. Within the Learning scope, the student’s have motivated incentive through “prizes and awards” for scores, time spent on learning, consistent results, and even dedicated trial. Also on this page, students will see answers they have correctly achieved and a “Smart Score.” A Smart Score triggers both students, teachers, and the program to either move ahead with skills, or continue practice. A Smart Score of 90 deems the skill has been achieved at an excellent success rate, and 100 indicated Mastery. Some teachers may choose (depending on the skill, student, class etc.) to have various Smart Skill triggers to move on. 
*Audio: It is important to know that all grades K-5 have an audio option that the teachers have enabled that will read the questions a loud for the student. Only some questions in grade 5+ have this option (but most do.)
The “Analytics” tab (last one on the green tool bar at the top) is where students and teachers can see in real time how they are doing. Some teachers have opted to not show grade levels, and some have. Please confirm with your child’s teacher to check which they have opted for. In Middle School, I have opted for students to see their leveled scores and can track their progress and I see it myself on the teacher dashboard. Scoring and “grade levels” are divided into hundreds. 100 (grade 1) 150 ( middle of grade 1) 190 (end of grade 1) 600 (grade 6) etc etc.
Please note that due to all Diagnostics and learning being conducted and reviews at different times throughout the year, it is okay if a student is lower in one strand than another until it is reviewed again in class. This allows for re-activation of material, practice, and revisiting concepts from previous years. Diagnostics can be done at anytime, and for any length of time, so it is recommended to both teachers and students that they plan for Diagnostic time at least once a month.
Here it is also important to mention that teachers can directly highlight skills in which students should be practicing on, at any given time as well. On the Learning page, on the right, there may be a star, following by *#* of skills recommended by your teacher. This means that if the grade 1 class is working on patterning at the current moment, the grade 1 teacher can highlight specific skills and questions for student to practice, so that the teacher is able to gain another insight into how students are doing in that particular skill or strand.

It will look something like this.


From the teacher dashboard, teachers are able to not only see what skills, levels and grade points each student is currently achieving, but also the recommended next steps, any potential gaps in learning from previous years, as well as collectively or personally as a class or individual, the needs of students to continue on their math path with success.
IXL is a meaningful tool and can be supportive in a child’s math success and growth when:
  • Diagnostic is used as independently as possible
  • Students have highlighted skills from the teacher
  • Students take ownership of their learning to practice, review, or move forward
  • Is only ONE data point in the process of learning
As all students learn differently and at different paces, IXL is only one finger on the pulse at one time. It is not the only standard of measurement that will be used to assess or evaluate a student’s progress and growth; however it can be a meaningful one to support the growth of individual needs at appropriate skill levels and strands at a given time. 

IXL is also a meaningful opportunity for students to either enrich their own math learning inside of the classroom or at home, as well as build on skills in which they are currently being challenged; making IXL a true personalized learning tool for all. 

I encourage any parent that would like to know more how IXL will be used this year in their child’s class, to please contact their child’s Math (General Studies) teacher, and as always you can always contact me at anytime regarding the program or overall math concerns or questions. I always welcome your thoughts and contributions.


Mrs. Cleveland

IXL Tutorial


“Forward” to School Night

Welcome Middle School Parents

It’s that time of year to meet and greet parents and get to know the teachers a bit more.
As the OJCS is going ‘Forward to School,’ welcome to “Forward” to School Night with Mrs. Cleveland and Middle School Math.
I am hoping to see many of your faces this evening on our google meet; however, if you are unable to join us, and/or if you would like a more in depth explanation of my slides, I have recorded a video of my presentation (longer than on the google meet) for you to enjoy. (scroll below)
As always, if you have a question or concern at anytime, please never hesitate to contact me or any member of the Middle School Team.
Here’s to a great year!

Grade 6 Math Presentation

Grade 7 Math Presentation

Grade 8 Math Presentation






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