Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Math Pilot Program aka onMath


Each week The Hamilton Spectator presents a page of news from local schools. It’s a page for students by students. Today, we feature the OnMATH program, a joint project between the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB).

Frank Ciancone
Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board
Phone: 905 525-2930, Ext. 2870

Judy Langsner, Principal Highland Secondary, eLearning
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
Phone: 905 628-2203

The Math Pilot Program (titled onMATH – online Math Assistance throughout Hamilton-Wentworth) started in February 2008 as a joint project between the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB). The Pilot is now in its second semester of operation. This website provides students in both boards an outstanding extra resource for students who are in need of personalized help in the area of grade 9 mathematics. The public board has recently expanded to Grade 7 and 8.

For the HWCDSB secondary school teachers and experts in their fields, Sandra Tigani and Rosemary Buckley, welcome students on-line during the day for one on one tutoring.

At the HWDSB four teachers, Tracey Angelini, Rebecca Southern, Melinda Lula and Gary Hewitt, provide interactive individual or small group assistance through the use of chat, common whiteboards, and file sharing.

You can access the website by clicking this link and entering your name, OEN number and school. You must be in the Hamilton region to use this site. The teacher will ask what the problem is or the required tasks are and you respond accordingly.

Put with High praise for high tech helpers

"When I was in Elementary school, my teacher suggested that I should take an academic math course. When I got to grade nine, math was a little harder than I had expected it to be. When I heard there was online math tutoring, I decided to try it out, and I am very glad I did. My teacher was very understanding and patient with me, and she answered all of the questions I had. Now I am able to apply the new skills I have learned into the math I am learning today. I’m thankful to my teachers for being patient with me and helping me understand math. Now I can complete my math courses without much misunderstanding thanks to the online math tutoring program."
~ Bree Borsellino, Grade 10, St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School

"I had a test the next day in Math and I didn't understand a question so I went to onMATH and they helped me. I aced the test."
~ Josephine Taiello, Grade 10, St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School

"Ever since onMATH helped me, math class has been a breeze! Thank you so much. The way you explained it convinced me that math is just a couple simple steps put together in a consistent pattern. Whoever designed the website is a genius! It's unbelievably easy to navigate. Amazing! Thanks for all your help."
~ Barbara Karpinski, Grade 10, St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School

"I like it when the teacher talks to me because it gives me a better understanding of the work and I also like how they can control your screen so that they show how to come up with the answer. I had a test today and it helped me a lot!"
~ Liam Whalen, Grade 7, Ancaster Senior

"Well the online Math should be for other grades in essential math. It was a lot of fun to learn math online and it was really easy to understand. I would say keep the program because every grade 9 student will need it!"
~ Audrey Eraz, Hill Park S.S.

"It was a lot of fun learning math and Mrs. Sheriff helped me and my best friend to get to the site. My friend and I went online to onMATH. We like math. It was soooo much fun! I would like to say don't shut down the online math program and keep it there because other grades need it too! Math is so much fun in grade nine. I love it and I wish I could stay in grade nine. Mrs. Sheriff is the best teacher!"
~ Nargis Yousufy,Hill Park S.S.

"Waterdown HS has a large variety in opportunities sports and clubs. But one thing that is not often looked at is all of the technology our school has. Waterdown has a large amount of technology available to every student. Coming from schools that the availability was not always there, the technology around us helps and gives different views and perspectives. For example, the CBR’s in math showed many of us a different understanding on what we were talking about with distance time graphs. Having this type of material around us to give better understanding of what is hard to understand makes school a bit more fun and easier."
~ Kyle, Grade 9, Waterdown DHS

"We use technology every single day at school. Most students don’t realize it but technology is as small as an announcement speaker to a computer. Technology is all around. All we have to do is look."
~ Krystal Wheeler, Grade 9, Waterdown DHS

Online learning a reality in local boards


Grade 8 students at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School access online Math assistance through the ILC “Homework Help” website.


"I used onMATH every day last semester. I really enjoyed getting proper help. It was fun, and I liked talking to the teacher through a headset. There was nothing I didn't like about using the online help. The teachers were very helpful and patient. I would use onMATH again if it were extended in other grades. I've already told all my friends about it."
~Jonathan Slote, Mountain Secondary School

OnMATH website gets top marks from students

Grade 8 students at the culturally diverse St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in central Hamilton have this to say:

"I like the ‘Ask a Teacher’ section because the tutorial might not have the information you’re looking for. The online teacher can help you with specific problems. For example, if you’ve answered a question but aren’t sure you did it right, you can get the online tutor to check your work."
~ Dalian Bleden

“If your parents don’t know English and can’t help you with your homework, you can go to this website for help.”
~ Brandon Gomes

“It shows you how to solve math problems step by step. It’s easy to understand.”
~ Melissa Gameiro

“With ‘Homework Help’, you have no more excuses. If you didn’t do your homework, the teacher will say ‘Why didn’t you go to the website?’”
~ Stacie Boniambet

“I like the “Ask a Teacher” section. If you’re home alone and need help with your homework, you have someone to go to.”
~ Leandro Melo

“If you have a test the next day, the online tutor can help you with problem areas.”
~ Valentina Perez-Vela

Getting started with onMath
Maddison Thompson, Grade 7 Mount Hope School

I am a Grade 7 student, and like many others, I sometimes have trouble with math homework. I ask my parents what to do, and sometimes they just don't get it either.
One of my teachers recommended onMath, so I tried it out. Once you sign in, it takes you to the main room and once there you talk to a teacher.
If a teacher is available, he or she will usually take you into one of their classrooms. There, you can type your messages to the teacher and even write questions and figure them out on a whiteboard.
I find onMATH helpful because the teachers are kind, patient, and very helpful and understanding, just like the teachers at my school.
It's just like working with the, only this is through the computer. I have been on the site about three times and I know I will be back.

Technology facilitates learning

"I really liked using the Smartboard and other technologies in onMATH. The one-on-one tutoring was just what I needed to boost my marks. It helped me understand the difficult parts of the curriculum, especially the word problems. OnMATH is a great resource."
~ Erin Buckley, Grade 10, St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School

"I really look forward this year to working with my classmates to brainstorm solutions to math problems electronically. We will be able to correspond through email and chat rooms, and also go back and review previous lessons recorded by the teacher, enabling us to work at our own pace."
~ Leah Hyslop, Grade 8, Balaclava

"Some people say that technology is not really getting developed as fast as it should be developing, but some people say that it is. I would have to agree with the people who are saying that technology is growing better and better and I have based my decision on this new technology I used in math class. This new technology is called a CBR and it plots a graph (Distance Time Graph) based on your motion (Distance versus Time). This technology hooks up with the highly sophisticated TI-82 or TI-83 calculator with a CBR cable. If you move in away and toward this device it will show how you are moving away and from your destination and how many seconds it takes you. It is really a great piece of technology because if you move slowly at a walking pace the line on your graph will show a moderate slope, but if you run the graph will show a steep slope because the distance is still the same, but you are completing that distance in a shorter amount of time. The CBR is a great addition to your materials because it is easy to use and will help you considerably when doing Distance Time Graphs. For example, if you had a question that you had to sketch a Distance Time Graph like, “The man walked for 15 seconds at a moderate walking speed, then stopped for 10 seconds, and then quickly ran home in 7 seconds because he forgot something.” You could act this out and then you would just have to sketch the lines onto a graph easy as that. In my opinion, this is an excellent piece of machinery and is definitely easier to use."
~ Kris Seed, Grade 9, Waterdown DHS

"Technology over the years has changed so much. There never were cell phones, computers, or calculators. It was all done by hand. We’re lucky because we have all this stuff. We use technology every single day. It’s fun to experiment with technology because you learn how to use it and understand things better. Technology is great and is always getting better."
~ Sandra Schotsman, Grade 9, Waterdown DHS

HWDSB Alternative Education Program

Each week The Hamilton Spectator presents a page of news from local schools. It’s a page for students by students. Today, we feature the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s Alternative Education Programs.

Alternative Education Programs
Crestwood School
50 Millwood Place

Principal: V. McCulloch


Wire Sculpture, Self Portrait, Christian Budderick, Grade 10 Phoenix Program

Wire Sculpture, Self Portrait, Jake Reynolds, Grade 10, Phoenix Program

Students in the Phoenix program created sculptures of themselves engaged in a favourite activity. The sculptures were then dressed, decorated and placed in a setting.
By Sean Weech, Grade 10
James Street Alternative Education

I believe in honesty and I had no idea what to write for this monologue; I mean seriously the school gives a wide variety of options (a whopping 3 or 4, if you’re lucky) like my most embarrassing moment or when I met someone special or famous. Now let’s all be honest here. The point of embarrassing stories is that you don’t want other people to know, because it’s embarrassing! I’ll be honest again because I’ve never met anyone special or famous; unless you count the television. If so, then I’m about seven feet away from them every night. So I brought this predicament to my grandparents and within a split second my grandfather in a very stern tone looks at me and says, “You will have that monologue in school tomorrow, no excuses!” So naturally, he himself has no clue what a monologue is, so he googles it and looks up the very word monologue. This was a great help, as I didn’t need to know that a monologue is an oration or a soliloquy, essentially talking to one’s self. Because that’s how they get you, you innocently assume the dictionary will give a simple explanation, but instead it just gives you fifty more words you don’t understand. So I really hope I never ask him why Lay’s potato chips taste so good or I’ll end up with him looking up potato to find out it is an “edible tuber of a cultivated plant”. Originally, I believed I knew what a potato was but it sounds like only God or perhaps a plumber would know what in the world an edible cultivated tuber is. So my grandfather may not have helped me at all but he did give me something to write about, so in his own unorthodox way.

Phoenix Pitches In
Elizabeth Bachelder, Grade 10
Phoenix Program

Approximately 30 students from the Crestwood Phoenix program came together in an effort to help clean up trash on and around the Bruce Trail. Some students met up at the school while others met up at the top of the stairs at Upper Wentworth and Concession from their houses all over the city. Over a dozen garbage bags full of plastic containers, water bottles, pop cans, beer bottles, food, candy wrappers and old clothes were collected and properly disposed of.
This year Crestwood goes GREEN!! Elementary students are starting a Global and Environmental Awareness Club. They will look at ways to make the environment cleaner and Crestwood a greener place to learn. With the help and leadership of our Phoenix students another focus will also be to raise money in support of the Free the Children foundation. Our first meeting got off to a great start with the students eagerly brainstorming various fund raising options and coming up with a slogan for the club. The students also discussed asking other school clubs for assistance in obtaining their goals. Although our club is small their positive attitudes, hard work and big hearts make the possibilities of what they can accomplish and achieve endless. There will be lots more to come from Crestwood in the future.




Why Consider Alternative Education?
By Toni Kenyon, Grade 9
Phoenix Program


Alternative Education changed my life. The program at Crestwood helps students cope with problems, and helps us want to learn. Before coming to Alternative Education, I was a student getting into a lot of trouble. I was getting almost all D’s on my report cards. It was just so bad that I skipped school and I didn’t want to go back. I disliked everything about it and would fake being sick just so I could sleep in and stay home from school! I came to Crestwood in grade 8 and I have not looked back since.
In the spring, I graduated from grade eight and got 5 awards. I was proud that I got 2 A’s and 2 C’s and the rest B’s.
I’m in grade nine now and I love school. I’m here everyday and I do my work. I’m really far ahead in most of my subjects. Alternative Education isn’t for everyone, but for me and lots of other students at Crestwood, it’s a wonderful place to learn.

In my opinion….
By Ace Roxburgh, Grade 10
Phoenix Program

I think that the voting age should be lowered because the election is about the future leader and the welfare of our country. The youth should have a say in who will be the leader; furthermore, voters should be fully aware of the candidate’s past, goals, and values. Personally I think no one person should lead the land by himself. A coalition government should exist, a group of leaders, one from each political party to advise and “fine tune” their decisions. This would be much better because it would be multiple opinions that gradually become a decision that would better the country.

I am 15 years old and have been interested in politics for about 3 years now and it’s a shame that so many kids my age are so unaware about this country’s affairs. Politics should be taught in school early on so the youth of today and tomorrow will be more interested in this country, and would want to provide their time to benefit it. I think if more kids knew they had a choice to help change their futures through understanding politics, they would be more likely to vote when they became of age.

The Green Team!
Jake Reynolds and Chrystal Ogden were among the students from the Crestwood Phoenix Program who helped clean up trash on and around the Bruce trail. More than a dozen garbage bags full of plastic containers, water bottles, pop cans, beer bottles, food, candy wrappers and old clothes were collected and properly disposed of.

Book Review: Song of the Lioness Quartet
Author: Tamora Pierce
By Jacob Fraboni, Grade 10
Phoenix Program


This series of four books is written by Tamora Pierce and features a female heroine named Alanna of Trebond who, at ten years old, decides to become the first lady knight in one hundred years. To become a knight she must first switch places with her twin brother, Thom, since girls were not permitted to be knights. In order to go to the castle Alanna must conceal her true identity by dressing as a boy and changing her name to Alan of Trebond. If all goes as planned, Alanna can reveal her true identity in eight years upon becoming a true knight. What she had not anticipated was what would happen at the age of 14!
Overall, this book is very believable and is based on facts with a slight twist of fiction. I will let your mind wonder about what that twist is… I give this book 4.5 out of 5 because of the great ending. Luckily, another series by this author opens in the same century seven years later!

Friends Group
By Jessica Gallagher, Grade 9
Phoenix Program

I was in a group called the Friends Group. It is a group where you talk about your problems that you have in school. I was in the group for my anxiety. I had problems coming to school, because I was having problems in school.
There are plenty of different reasons why people were in the Friends Group. A lot of people were in the group because they didn’t want to come to school or they didn’t have many friends and were getting picked on. At first people didn’t like the group. But when we got used to it, everyone started to love it. Everyone started becoming friends and started getting along, because everyone had the same problems about school and we started realizing that. This is one of the really good things about the group – you realize that you’re not the only one, and that other people go through the same thing.
We had booklets with activities that we did every week. There was an activity where they give you a problem, and you have to find a good solution. There was a problem for every common situation. The most common ones that happen to everyone are bullying and anxiety. Another skill I learned was the importance of thinking positively. A lot of times people say that they can’t do it, and then they never try. What I learned is that, my thoughts can be powerfully negative or powerfully positive. When I think positive thoughts, then I am more confident. You shouldn’t let your negative thoughts over power you.
This year I will be helping out with the group. I will be showing the new people to the group how the Friends Group helped me. I now am very confident about school, and I love coming here.

By Toni Kenyon, Grade 9
Phoenix Program

I have been a member of the Crestwood GO GIRLS Club for over a year. It is fantastic.
Every Wednesday, a group of girls got together and talked about girls’ issues. We discussed self-respect, self-esteem, and learning to value and appreciate ourselves. Meeting together, we got to know one another really well and formed new friendships. While we were different, we realized that being different is okay, and that we are all unique. In the GO GIRLS Club we also learned about physical changes, personal style, and media images about women’s bodies.
At the end of last year, we went on some field trips. The best trip was to The Beautiful Women Project, sponsored by The YWCA of Hamilton. Cheryl-Ann Webster, the artist, started this project when her daughter’s friend was saving money to get plastic surgery. This project was in an art gallery, and displayed the torsos of women. The artist wanted us to see a whole bunch of different bodies of women. The one that meant the most to me was a torso of a woman with breast cancer, who had had her breast removed. Each torso had a story to tell, and it really made us think about how everyone is unique in their own way.
I learned that I can’t hate myself for the way I am, and I can like myself without paying money to change my body.
I hope every school has a GO GIRLS Club. It’s great to have a place where you can talk about girls’ issues, share your problems, learn new things and have fun.

Native Drumming Group
Dylan Rushton, Grade 8
Crestwood System Alternative Education

I came to Crestwood last year halfway through the year. About a week later I started doing the native drum group with Rod. I am part of the native drumming group with my friends. I have learned a lot of songs and neat things from Rod. I learned about how the drum was made out of moose skin. Rod’s friend made the drum for him. Rod brings in his drum once in a while and me and my friends help him set it up.
Before we play the drum we have to put tobacco on the drum to give thanks to the animal and the tree that gave its life to make the drum. We put the tobacco in our left hand because it is closest to our heart. Sometimes we smudge. Rod will burn one of the medicines, and then we use the smoke to cleanse our thoughts and our bodies.
We sit around the drum in a circle. Everyone is welcome at the drum. It is very important that we are respectful of everyone, and listen to the person who is talking.
You have to have good timing to play the drum. It helps to practice a lot as well. The drum vibrates, and your arm and sometimes your body vibrates, and you can get tired. One of my favourite things is when I get to do down beats. This is when the other drummers go quieter, and I hit the drum loudly.
I also like singing. We have learned different songs. Rod is a very good singer. Rod says that singing is a good way to get our confidence. I like it that no one laughs when we are learning to drum and sing. Everyone is respectful at the drum!

To Strive
By Natasha Pare, Grade 12
Strive Program

Reaching, hoping, working towards a goal
How is this my future?
I want success
I strive – 30 credits is the goal
“You’re a Graduate – Congratulations” I long to hear
by the end of this year
Working in the world, understanding what is real
Helping others to achieve is selfless
Is that the goal?
Still I strive…
Soon I will be among you, an adult, respected and valued for my hard work
No one will know the hurdles I overcame as I strive to achieve my goals

I am
By Elizabeth Bachelder, Grade 10
Phoenix Program


I am creative and my own person
I wonder what I’d be when I’d grow up
I hear music in my mind
I see things that others may not see
I want to be successful
I am creative and my own person

I pretend to be other people
I feel uncomfortable about doing this poem
I touch the cold tin on my Irish Whistle, which helps make beautiful music
I worry that people will really know me
I cry rarely
I am creative and my own person

I understand myself
I say what others want to hear
I dream of staying close to my family
I try to do my best
I hope to know what I hope for
I am creative and my own person