Every September, our district hosts an afternoon inservice for our Strong Start facilitators and Kindergarten and K&1 teachers. Our early learning Teacher Consultant Marie Thom organizes this inservice and each year chooses a focus area for professional learning. This year, Marie invited me to share some ideas around early learning in mathematics.
Richmond educators arrived to inviting tables and displays and gifts. After some welcoming comments, Marie spoke of the importance of infusing joy in our classrooms and to remember to begin with the child in mind.
It is the only time during the year that all the early learning educators in our district have time together. In many of our schools, there is only one Kindergarten teacher so this is a chance to meet and form collaboration with colleagues across the district. Important to remember is that regardless of which program we teach and learn within – neighbourhood, Montessori or French Immersion, our focus is on the learner. Also, the curriculum is the curriculum here in BC. We all have the same learning standards and are working together towards the same big ideas.
My segment of the afternoon focused on what I describe of the art of teaching mathematics – the intersection between what we are noticing about our students and the curriculum. This intersection is the lived curriculum of the classroom and our role as educators is to focus on a pedagogy of noticing and listening – being present and paying attention to our students and then being responsive. Our afternoon together focused on five key elements of early mathematics: counting, subtilizing, decomposing numbers, spatial sense and patterning. Pedagogical content knowledge booklets were shared with the attendees. These can be found HERE.
We looked at big ideas, the key early learning mathematics concepts and how to develop the related curricular competencies through mathematics routines, structures and frameworks. The use of routines is important for so many reasons (and by routines I do not mean the “how we line up” or “how we wash our hands” routines…)…here is the slide where we discussed “why mathematical routines?”
I shared examples from many Richmond classrooms who have been using three important routines: Counting Collections, Number Talks and Which One Doesn’t Belong.
Blending the curricular content and competencies, I shared several ideas for mathematical provocations to inspire students’ engagement with mathematics, aligned with the learning standards and goals of the redesigned curriculum.
We left educators with two questions to think about as they embark on their year with their students: