Digital Curriculum Mapping

Since the topic is concerning digital curriculum mapping, it is only fitting that I was introduced to this concept through an online colleague I stumbled upon in LinkedIn circles. Rochelle Tkach is expertly blogging some very interesting stuff regarding how to align curriculum and lesson ideas using tech integration. As a new occasional teacher, I was intrigued by her headline because I have been trying to think of ways to use tech (Google docs, mind maps, cloud computing) to organize lesson ideas through hyperlinks that align with Ontario curriculum expectations. How nice would it be as a supply teacher to stroll into a grade three classroom, look at the expectations the teacher jotted down for you and open your premade curriculum map and Presto! you have a fun engaging lesson that didn't take you hours to align--the students are happy, the class runs smoothly and the teacher is impressed that you were able to finish the black line master she has left for you as well as incorporate a new lesson. Sadly, to organise the entire curriculum in a digital format seems like a lot of work for one person. However, Rochelle raises some excellent points in support of digital curriculum mapping and even provides some professional must-haves to get the job done. What's more is with cloud computing and professional networking who says it needs to be done by one lone teacher. While you are there, I highly recommend you subscribe to Learning Bird eduBlog and look out for Rochelle Tkach!

The Ancient Calculator

Today, I was tutored in the ancient art of Abacus math (算盤). My interest to study this long lost finger ballet came from my teacher's college class in math manipulatives. While teaching kindergarten,  I also noticed a rekenrek being used in the classroom. Math manipulatives seem to be a focus in Ontario education as they allow students to collaborate and communicate their ideas creatively as opposed to the limitations of using paper and pencil calculations. When I returned to Taiwan, I made it a priority to learn how to use this complicated looking piece of machinery. :)

The Chinese abacus is still widely used in elementary schools in Taiwan and Japan (although it is not mandatory). There are even competitions here in Taiwan. The Chinese abacus uses a base 5 counting system with each row representing a different place value. Many believe that when it is studied and eventually mastered by students it can aid in the speed and accuracy of mental math (心算).

The abacus teacher impressed me with his ability to visualize the abacus in his mind and calculate the addition of  long strings of numbers before I could finish typing them into the calculator app on my phone. I'm a long way from gaining this math prowess though, as I'm still learning how to use it to count, add and recognize numbers.  Surely, this math device will unlock a whole world of possibilities in my journey for fast addition skills.

Watch an intro to abacus video here.