Show Your Work with Pages

The most recent iWork update supports the creation of books and the addition of drawing in Pages with the same ease of workflow that we are accustomed to from Apple.

I put this update to the test by putting it in the hands of first graders and the outcome was fantastic!  The ease of use by 6 year olds was nearly seamless.  The only struggle I noticed was with their desire to change drawing colors.  More on that later.

I gave the first two students (I’ll call them Madison and Eli) math tools of their choosing and asked them to teach me something.

Madison wanted to show what she knew about addition with a rekenrek (the beaded math tool in the picture below).  Eli wanted to prove to me the area of an unfamiliar shape.  Both students followed the same process to create their books.

First, they chose a template.


Then, they replaced the placeholder on the cover page with their own photo.


On subsequent pages, they continued to add photos along with annotations using the drawing tool.


Note for teachers: This is powerful!

The ability for students to annotate their thinking directly on a photo they took provides us with a peek into their mind!  Think of this as the creative equivalent of Show Your Work.  Rather than writing an abstract number sentence separate from the tool (the rekenrek) they use to build it, have the students mark up the actual photo – connecting the number sentence to the tool.

Now, for Eli.  He selected this zig zag shape (shown in the picture below) and said he wanted to tell me how much it was worth.  That’s first grade speak for composite area!

So, just like Madison, he selected a template and began adding photos to replace the placeholders.

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He pointed to the shape and said it was worth 5.  Then, I asked him to prove it.  This is where I am pushing him to justify his thinking – to Show Your Work.


Without hesitation, Eli grabbed 5 one inch squares, placed them on top of the zig zag shape and took a picture.  Now I know what he is seeing in his mind when he said the shape was worth 5.  He saw 5 orange squares, placed in a non-overlapping way, on the composite figure.  He used the drawing tool to write count the squares and 5.


The only hiccup in the workflow with these students came when they attempted to change the drawing color.   Each  tapped the color wheel rather than dragging the white teardrop around the circle.  Though this was simple to overcome, it was important because it allowed for the students to choose their own color in order to add their personal touch to their books.


Another example of creating books in Pages is to capture the process, or tell the story, of a learning experience.  This class had read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant.  The students were tasked with solving the problems the relatives encountered during their visit.


The image below shows how this student inserted a photo of her cardboard creation (a bed for the relatives) into a book in Pages and began to use the drawing tool to annotate the parts.  She’s writing cup holder on the image.


This image shows how she added text to the page to justify her thinking – The relatives only had one bed.  There is no need to ask, “What is that? or Why did you make that?” as she has articulated each part of her creation.  As the teacher, I now have a clear view into her mind and don’t need to remind her to Show Your Work.


I challenge you to use the new books feature in Pages and empower your students to show their work!


The Intersection of UBD & Retrieval Practice

We are making great strides in mathematics teaching and learning.  We are supporting our teachers to understand the content and employ strategies that make the math accessible and rigorous, all while using problems worth solving in class.

Following much conversation, feedback, and contemplation, I am working to design what I am currently referring to as a lesson structures for both my elementary and secondary mathematics teachers.   This comes in response to a request and will be communicated in that way, as opposed to a top down mandate.  Great things are happening in our schools, but our teachers need direction when they are overwhelmed, a nod of support when they are on the right track, and tools for on-boarding when they are new.  That is what this work is about.

Even though we are moving forward in math education, we have an opportunity to collectively do math differently – for the better.  We have the chance to empower our students with skills to retain and retrieve what they have learned so that they may connect, compare, extend, transfer, and create with this knowledge.  The problem is that we do not do this well, if at all.  Why do we not teach our kids how to use metacognitive skills to own their learning?  I cannot grasp why we are not transparent with students, providing them with clarity about what they will learn, what they are learning, and what they have learned so that they can be in control.

So, consider a team of teachers gathered around a planning table, looking at the next unit of study, making decisions about the learning experiences they will provide for their students.  What steps do they take?  Do they use a calendar to plan 8 consecutive lessons followed by a day of review then a unit test?  I so very much hope they do not.  But, since hope is not a strategy, this is where the lesson structures comes in.

Back to the planning scenario.  Based on that given topic, using the lesson structures, the teachers may choose a few inquiry-based tasks, some whole group mini-lessons with small group next steps, and even some days structured solely as small group days.  Each of these experiences should be purposefully chosen, equitably designed, carefully sequenced, all with learning as the goal.  What I strive to see is learning design that pulls from the best-in-the-world content and resources so that all students have the opportunity to learn and be successful.  I also look toward design that is centered around what the students will do, not what the teacher will do.

In my design there are three lesson structures, each including a few portions that are consistent across the various means:

  • Number Sense Routine;
  • Reflection; and
  • Retrieval Practice.

The Number Sense Routine may look like a Number Talk or various other formats such as Which One Doesn’t Belong?, Notice & Wonder, Numberless Word Problems, Would You Rather, Same & Different, Estimation 180, Count Around the Circle, or Clothesline Math.  The point is that there is an opportunity EVERY DAY for students to make sense of mathematics, develop efficient computation strategies, communicate mathematically, and reason and justify solutions.  The emphasis here is on the students doing the math.

Also, EVERY DAY students are provided an opportunity to intentionally reflect on their learning.  This may include posting content to their portfolio, writing in a journal, or responding to a well written prompt with a classmate.  As adults, we reflect on our day in the car during our commute, at the gym while we work out, or at home as we cook dinner.  We think about what worked, what didn’t work, and what we would do differently if given the opportunity.  Let’s move toward providing this reflective time for our students as well.

The final commonality amongst the lesson structures is Retrieval Practice.  My first experience with this tool was when I read Make it Stick.  Since then, I have listened to the 15 podcasts on the subject by the Learning Scientists, explored the content on the Retrieval Practice website and began reading Small Teaching by James M. Lang.  I have only begun in my learning of this under-utilized opportunity to support our students.  It is exciting to think that a few intentional, purposeful moments in our classrooms can empower our students to become owners of their learning – teaching them how to learn, how to study, and how to use this knowledge to be successful.  Why not?

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In addition to the work to incorporate Number Sense Routines, Reflection, and Retrieval Practice into the lesson structures, I am working to communicate the role each of these (along with Inquiry-Based Tasks, Whole Group Mini-Lessons, and Small Group Mathematics) fit into our structure of Understanding by Design.  The clarity on this connection came to me recently and I am comforted in the alignment – when connections are this apparent, I am assured it is the right thing to do for teachers and students.  Within Understanding by Design, we design learning for one of three purposes: acquisition, meaning making, or transfer.  For many years, we have struggled to articulate the distinction among these three outcomes.  Until now.

  • Retrieval Practice is for Acquisition.
  • Number Sense Routines are for Meaning Making, as are Whole Group Mini-Lessons.
  • Inquiry-Based Tasks, Small Group Mathematics, and Reflection are all for Transfer.

The images above depict Elementary Mathematics lesson structures; however, those for Secondary Mathematics appear very, very similar.

I will continue to work to design supports for clarity around each portion of these documents.  In the mean time, I know the intersection of UBD and Retrieval Practice makes sense.

Make It Stick

Recently I read Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel.  My sketchnotes from each chapter are below.

Chapter 1: Learning is Misunderstood

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Chapter 2: To Learn, Retrieve

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Chapter 3: Mix Up Your Practice

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Chapter 4: Embrace Difficulties

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Chapter 5: Avoid Illusions of Knowing

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Chapter 6: Get Beyond Learning Styles

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Chapter 7: Increase Your Abilities

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Chapter 8: Make It Stick

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What Does Learning Feel Like?

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time in a 5th grade class, promoting thinking, reasoning, and problem solving – as a model for the teacher.  In general, it was evident these kids could calculate solutions to math problems out of context, but once they were faced with a scenario (concrete or written in text), their estimation, problem solving processes, and justification skills were very weak.

I started by posing the question, “What does learning feel like?”  I wondered if they could describe that feeling of meaning making, that very moment that connections are made and clarity is discovered.  What they shared would have better answered the question, “How do you know that you have learned something?”  After acknowledging the difficulty of describing such an abstract concept, we moved on to the next phase, the Stroop Test.

The students accessed timers on their iPads and prepared to measure how long it took to name the color of all of the words projected on the screen.  As a form of the Stroop Test, the challenge is that the words are actually colors themselves, written in an incorrect color font, as shown below.  Here is a link to my slides.  Note: I also created a slide specifically for a student with red-green colorblindness (to the best of my ability).

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After round #1, I asked the students how it felt to complete this task.  Their responses were beautifully said… It was challenging but I knew I could do it, and I had to tell my brain to slow down because it was saying the wrong words.


After a second round of the test it was time to move to the next phase of the lesson, the numberless word problems.  Here is a link to my slides.

The idea of a numberless word problem is to scaffold the process so that students slow down and seek understanding of the situation before they allow their brain to jump into number crunching mode.  Read more about numberless word problems from Brian Bushart here.

This first problem is scaffolded in this way:

  • Mr. Choate has some trail mix.  He is going to pour some into each bag for his students.
  • Mr. Choate has 12 cups of trail mix.  He is going to pour some into each bag for his students.
  • Mr. Choate has 12 cups of trail mix.  He is going to pour 1/3 cup into each bag for his students.
  • Mr. Choate has 12 cups of trail mix.  He is going to pour 1/3 cup into each bag for his students.  How many bags of trail mix can he make?

Between the slow reveal of the slides, I posed purposeful questions such as:

What are you picturing in your mind when you read this story?

What is in the trail mix are you picturing in your mind?

How small or large is the bag you are picturing for each student?


I was surprised, though prepared, to notice that nearly all of the students in this class were unable to reason through the problem accurately.  The most common response I saw was 4 bags.

So, I asked the students to show me with their arms what it would look like if they were holding a bowl that contained 12 cups of trail mix.  The response to this varied greatly.  I modeled this visual as well as what it would look like if I were to hold 1/3 cup of trail mix in my hand.  Again, quite a variety of responses on this one.

I took the response of 4 bags and demonstrated (in an imaginary way), scooping out 1, 2, 3, 4 scoops of trail mix and announced that then my bowl should have been empty.  But it wasn’t.  The students went back to their thinking before I moved to another thought process.

If the scoop was 1 cup in size, how many bags could he fill?  They were (somewhat) able to reason that he could fill 12 bags.  So, knowing the scoop is 1/3 cup, should he be able to fill more or less than 12 bags?  This is where the “backward” thinking comes in to play, much like the Stroop Test.  The scoop is getting smaller while the number of bags is getting larger.

The lightbulb moment for most kids came when I sketched 12 boxes on the board, representing 12 cups/scoops.  The students knew each one actually represented 3 bags, because the bags held 1/3 cup each.  So they added, 3 + 3 + 3 , … 12 times and decided he could create 36 bags of trail mix.

All of that was the first numberless word problem.  Slow, intentional, clear problem solving is what is going to make the difference.  I asked the students who else should take the Stroop Test.  Their response – teachers!  Why?  Because they need to know what it feels like to learn.  Wow.

In the debrief of the trail mix problem, I asked now if they could describe what it feels like to learn.  They said it was stressful and challenging and one even mentioned he had to fool his brain and not let his brain fool him.

My next steps include working to incorporate more number sense routines in resources and professional learning.   Some of my educators are using these structures, but all students should have an opportunity to think about number and scale and reasonableness more often.

  • Problem Strings
  • Number Talk
  • Which One Doesn’t Belong?
  • Notice/Wonder
  • Numberless Word Problems
  • Would You Rather?
  • Estimation 180
  • Clothesline Math
  • Count Around the Circle
  • Tools such as number lines, rekenreks, hundreds charts, strip diagrams

The Power of the Ask

In September of 2017, I was asked to return to the 2018 Research-to-Practice Conference at Southern Methodist University.  At the 2017 conference I served on the panel at the opening of the conference.  This time, I was the closing speaker.  The conference is exceptional – a best kept secret that sold out this year in 48 hours!  Always working to improve upon my practices and knowing the structure of a full 60-minute time slot, a given topic problem solving, and the final event on a Friday afternoon, the pressure was on.


As with all of my planning, I employed backward design, beginning by making notes about the biggest takeaways I wanted to provide for the audience: actionable content grounded in equitable practices.   I built upon what I know about breaking barriers to accessing mathematics and quickly recognized that my network of math education leaders have made significant contributions to this work.  I wanted the audience to be afforded the opportunity to make these connections as well.

Enter: The Power of the Ask.

I drafted personal emails to nine of my friends, requesting their insight on this topic.  This is what I sent:

I have the opportunity to present the closing session at the 2018 Southern Methodist University, Research-to-Practice Conference in February (link).  My topic is: Breaking the Problem Solving Barrier (description below).  Info from last year’s conference: here.
Too often the problem solving tasks we design include unintentional barriers that prevent our learners from accessing the mathematics. Language, prerequisite knowledge, disengagement, limits, and time are five barriers impeding learning in our classrooms. Let’s break the problem solving barrier in order to cultivate a problem solving community in which all are welcome.
I am working to design my content around the expected audience of approximately 300 mathematics educators and teacher leaders.  I would like to send them off with both practical content and the reasoning behind the benefits of removing barriers in mathematics in terms of problem solving.  Even better, I would love the opportunity for these teachers to hear the voices of many leaders in math education who are collectively working to make the content accessible for all students, highlighting their favorite structures or tasks.
Here’s where you come in… I would be so grateful if you would contribute to this FlipGrid Topic, sharing your favorite problem [structure, task, lesson, system] that allows the mathematics to be accessible to learners.  Don’t be too humble to toot your own horn in sharing something you designed, or give a shoutout to a colleague for the work he/she has done!  I greatly appreciate your contribution and know the mathematics educators and teacher leaders will benefit from your words of wisdom!
Wondering what to share?  [This is where I added specific work each of my friends has created that would be valuable for the audience to see.]
What happened next honestly surprised me.  Every one of them responded YES!  Every one of them contributed to the FlipGrid topic I created.  Not one of them was too busy, not interested, or didn’t see the value.  Every one wanted to (voluntarily) support teachers and instructional leaders for the greater good.  All I had to do was ask.

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I was able to share the voices of my friends Brian Bushart, Graham Fletcher, Cathy Yenca, Steve Wyborney, Jon Orr, Kyle Pearce, Lucy Grimmett, Michelle Rinehart, and Robert Kaplinsky with those teachers and instructional leaders at the conference.  I was able to send them off with actionable content grounded in equitable practices.

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My biggest takeaway from this experience is twofold:

  1. Continue to ask.  We are better together.   Also, being humble enough to ask others to fulfill what you need will allow you to grow in ways you cannot anticipate.
  2. Continue to say yes.  When others approach you with a need, say yes.  You will grow by giving to others.

Have you seen Jia Jiang’s TED Talk What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection?  Worth the watch if you wonder about the power of the ask.

Why Does Math Look Different?

The most common question I am asked related to my profession (by adults mostly outside of education) is, ” Why does math look different than when I was in school?”  If I was speaking to you in person, I would share my thinking with lots of gestures and excitement because I love math that much.  In lieu of a personal conversation, I will do my best to paint the picture with words.

The short answer: It’s you, it’s not me.  The long answer: It’s all about perspective, and here’s why… Constructivism is rooted in the work of Jean Piaget from nearly 90 years ago.  This theory of learning best describes the phenomena (to many) that is modern mathematics teaching and learning.

At any given point in a student’s learning journey, he/she has some accumulation of mathematical understanding.  Then, for every learning experience, opportunity to do math and reflect on the thinking behind the calculations and representations, the student’s networks of understanding are added to, changed, or somehow extended.  This is how you know learning has occurred – it has impacted the student’s thinking either through verifying beliefs or challenging understandings.

Now, when the students move along this continuum of mathematical understandings, they strategically modify or verify their existing knowledge or they abandon it for more efficient, accurate methodologies or connections.  This is powerful – strategic abandonment of ideas for new, more relevant ones.

Back to the perspective claim.  As adults, we see the methodologies of teaching and learning mathematics from our current state.  We are efficient, accurate mathematicians.  We know what tools to select to solve problems, appropriate processes to use to solve problems, how to verify accuracy of solutions, and means to explain our thinking.  We stand very far down the mathematical journey, relative to the position of children in elementary or middle school, for example.  If we were to walk ourselves back down this path, past when we first used a calculator to balance our bank accounts, past when we first learned Algebra, beyond our days of fractions and long division, we would find ourselves in a world of inefficient mathematics.  But this is all relative.  This is about perspective.  Using repeated addition, such as 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 to arrive at 28 is less efficient than using multiplication, such as 4 x 7 instead.  And, counting 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1, 2, 3, 4 (seven times) is even less efficient.  Once we truly understand that multiplication is a more efficient method to find the total number of objects in a given number of equal groups, we strategically abandon the method of repeated addition.

So, math does look different.  This is true.  However, it is all about perspective.  You should change your perspective and put yourself in the shoes of the children.  You were once there, but you have strategically abandoned those memories for ones that are more efficient!


Change your perspective and you may understand why math looks different.

Want to learn more?  I recommend Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by Van de Walle, Karp, and Bay-Williams.

The Power of Constraints: Binary Questions

One strategy I often employ in professional learning with my educators is to rate themselves on a scale of X to XX.  Similar to estimation on a number line, they are to reflect and consider where they stand with relation to a given prompt.  Though this line of thinking supports “correct” responses anywhere along the continuum, it is missing one key ingredient: a constraint.  There is no true decision making required, no absolute committment.  There is no one or the other.  No A or B.  No 1 or 0.

Enter: Binary Questions.

Recently, I introduced the concept of Binary Questions to my educators in a professional learning experience.  This small act prompted many, many conversations centered around possible prompts for their own classroom.  (Success!).

The constraint of decision making adds a twist to this reflection in a new way.  This is not a popularity contest or true/false question.  Rather, it is a visible sign of individual voice.

In the future I will not abandon the number line, approximation form of questioning by any means, but I will certainly consider this structure as well.

I am building a list of Binary Questions and archiving them here: Shot 2018-01-25 at 7.35.50 PM

Stay the Course

I worry about teachers this time of year.  I worry that they hear two messages from administrators: one of accountability and state assessment and one of high quality teaching practices.  I worry that they fear poor ratings and in response make poor teaching and learning decisions that are contrary to what they know is best for kids.  I am not referring to all teachers here, but I am confident this applies to more than one and one is too many.

So, I share 7 tips to help you stay the course.  You can do it.  I know you can.

1.  Refer to your curriculum as your guide.  A guaranteed and viable curriculum is reassuring for you and for your students.  It helps you sleep at night knowing you have provided opportunity for your students to access the learning and that no student drew the short straw and ended up in your room.  If you don’t have a curriculum to depend upon, call me.

2.  Consider what you are measuring and what matters.  Keep one eye on profound, long-term learning.  If the work you are providing your students cannot be ultimately mapped to this, reconsider your plan.  I challenge my teachers to design the best in the world learning experiences for their students.  Loosely paraphrased, this means you should do the best you can with what you have, and we have a lot.  This also means that   we have lessons that bomb, that hindsight is 20/20, and that’s ok, too.  When we know better, we do better.  Period.

3.  Focus on the quality teaching practices you have come to know.  Remember the goal is LEARNING.  That’s it.  Your job is to remove all barriers possible to provide access to the content for your students.  Sometimes you are able to help a student make the smallest little inch down the developmental progression of learning.  Celebrate this, as this is learning and movement in the forward direction.  Think about what your students will learn today – not what they will do today.  Let’s have less doing and more learning.

4.  Reflect on past lessons, units, and years.  Focus on what has worked.  Do more of that.  If you don’t know, ask your students.  They know what helps them learn.  Find one thing that you did that led to learning.  This might be the way you designed your classroom learning environment, it might be a tool that helped your students see an abstract concept, it might be one good, solid question that got them thinking.  Whatever it was, embrace the positive and replicate it.

5.  Reach to your team and your PLN.  Do not be afraid to reach out to others with questions.  Advocate for the students in your classroom.  You are not alone in needing help.  The absolute strongest, most confident teachers did not get there alone and they have not arrived at perfection.  Keep growing.  

My PLN amazes me.  Some days on my commute home I reflect on the contacts I’ve made that day and think about the great minds in education to whom I refer as my friend.  Here’s a little backstory: If I have met you in person before and we’ve talked math, you’re my friend.  This may not be reciprocal (yet) and I am ok with that.  If I have not met you in person before, but I know we’d hit it off, you are my “friend” and I look forward to dropping the quotations.

6.  Give yourself a moment to take a deep breath.  Don’t panic.  Don’t revert to short-term, superficial learning experiences that you know deep down are not good because you feel rushed.  Find one good thing and do that.  Then find another.  Until you feel like you can breathe again, when you are able to make bigger plans.

7.  Avoid the countdown.  (This may ruffle some feathers.)  If we are focused on learning, then why are we counting down to a time that we will no longer be together to learn?  This message may say to kids, there are only X more days I have to see you in my class (that’s terrible, by the way).  Let’s focus on today and tomorrow, not next year when I may not get to see your smiling face everyday.

I encourage you to do the right thing and do it all the time.  You know what that right thing is and your students deserve it.

The Writing on My Wall

Two months ago I began reading The Writing on the Classroom Wall by Steve Wyborney.

Wait.  Let me back up a bit… Two and a half months ago I had the opportunity to witness Steve Wyborney communicate via FaceTime with one of my 3rd grade educators and her class.  Later that day I ordered TWOTCW because of how he interacted with those kids.  The conversation was supposed to be via Skype, but due to technological difficulties, we migrated to the educator’s cell phone.  Steve was so patient.  At one point he wrote notes and held them up to the camera when we couldn’t hear him.  The content of the conversation that day with the kids was important (it was about SPLAT Math), but the message he sent in his kind voice, welcoming language, and genuine love of learning was so memorable I knew I wanted to learn more from him.

As I read TWOTCW I made notes (sketchnotes) of the Big Ideas.  My sketchnotes represent what images come to mind when I read.  What words stand out.  What colors inspire thought.

On every page I included the same central image – inspired by the book’s introduction.  Steve challenges us to connect with others, to take risks, to share ideas.  As I completed each page of notes, I shared them via Twitter.  Write(sketch), reflect, share.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

On every page I also included a lightening bolt.  More to come on that.






Now for my first Big Idea.

It hit me like a slow bolt of lightening.  (There’s the image.)

Learning is not paced.

Sometimes moments of clarity come in rapid succession and sometimes they come few and far between.  Sometimes we seek understanding as the answer to a question or the solution to a problem.  Sometimes understanding leaps out of the page in front of us without prompting, like a pleasant surprise we didn’t expect.  But usually, understanding comes after much contemplation.

This is why we should write, reflect, and share.  If we are in the habit of capturing our learning and documenting it, we will be on the lookout for new understanding as content to write about – whether this happens once per day (as if we can be that lucky!) or once in a while.

So, learning does not occur like clockwork.  Wake up, it’s 12:00, time to have a profound thought.  No.  Learning is not paced.  It is not a box to be checked every 400 meters as you pass the starting line.   It is, though, something to celebrate as forward progress occurs – maybe inches at a time, but inches no less.


Let the journey begin.


Creating Digital Breakouts with iWork: What I have learned so far

I challenged myself to create Digital Breakouts using the iWork Suite because I know the power of the features embedded within the programs.  I chose to use Numbers as the platform for the content and Pages for the final certificate.  Two of my Digital Breakouts are linked below.

Why Numbers?

Numbers is so much more than a spreadsheet program!  I use Numbers as a combination of a graphic editor, word processor, and spreadsheet all in one.  Without the constraints of page size or the need to scroll through a document, students can toggle between sheets easily using the tabs at the top, like bookmarks.

The use of iCloud with Numbers is valuable!  I use view only and share the link through email and social media.  Then, students can download a copy and complete the Digital Breakout without altering the original.  In addition, teachers can download a copy and make edits, if they wish, before sharing with their own classes.  I also appreciate the ability to make edits to the document and not worry if students have access to the latest version.

How to Use the Sheets

I create one sheet for each lock or step in the process, in addition, I use the first sheet as a welcome/introduction and the last one for the final lock.

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I take the opportunity to embed clues within the titles of the sheets as well as tab numbers as an indication to move through them sequentially.

How to Use Shapes

The new shapes in iWork are powerful!  They are clean, clear, and editable.  To edit the shapes, choose a shape to include on a sheet, then select the shape and choose Break Apart.  This will separate the shape into component parts.  Select the shape again and choose Make Editable.  This will allow you to change the shape, such as toggling between straight and curved lines and adding new lines.  Adjusting the color is also an option.

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How to Use Cells for Responses

I create a small table on each sheet to capture responses.  I layer these cells on top of an image related to the theme of the Digital Breakout.  For example, if the purpose was to determine a 5-digit password, then I would add 5 cells across the top of an image that resembles spaces to enter a password.  In this case, the Digital Breakout includes 5 locks, one per cell in the password.

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How to Use Conditional Highlighting for Feedback

I use Conditional Highlighting to provide positive feedback for correct responses.  Select the cell, then Format, Cell, and Show Highlighting Rules.  I choose to use Green Fill as the indicator of a successful response.

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The Final Lock

I layer cells over a shape for a final lock.  I insert a formula to reference the value in the cells on the other sheets.  This way, the solution for (or a clue for) the final lock will be displayed on the last sheet once they are determined.

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Certificate of Success

I use Pages to create the certificate of success.  Then, I share it through iCloud and set up a password for access.  The password is the key to open the final lock.

In Pages, I use the Kids Certificate template, alter the center image and text and in a few short minutes, I have a certificate of success ready to go.  Students can add their name and date to this Pages document and save it to indicate they have successfully completed this Digital Breakout.

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The first Digital Breakout I created involved a lot of problem solving every step of the way.  The second one was a bit easier, with the effort spent mostly on the content – as it should be.