Archive for October, 2016

inclusive practices in mathematics for grades 6-9

Posted on: October 30th, 2016 by jnovakowski

Building on interest from an ILC (Inclusive Learning Community) project Shelley Moore and I facilitated with grade 8 teachers at Boyd Secondary, we held an after school session in October looking at inclusive practices in mathematics for grades 6-9 teachers. These practices are particularly mindful of the personal, social, intellectual and physical needs of students in the middle school age range.

Shelley began the session by sharing Richmond’s history with inclusive education and sharing some frameworks she has developed for thinking about inclusion (bowling pins, Fisher-Price stacker toy, planning pyramid, etc). She refers to inclusions lenses – personal, social and intellectual as well as places – different classrooms and places in the school as well as out of the school.

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In using the planning pyramid, Shelley considers goals, tasks and questions for all students, some students and a few students, starting where ALL students can access the unit or lesson. And here’s Shelley doing the tree pose – using the analogy that everyone/all could start this yoga pose by using the wall for support!

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Shelley shared the two year project with the grade 8 teachers and students at Boyd, with the first year addressing the Shape and Space curriculum and the second year examining the linear equations part of the curriculum. One example of a planning framework for an initial lesson on geometry looks like this:

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We shared photographs and video from the Boyd ILC project to share how the project unfolded with the students. Blog posts about the project and be found HERE and HERE.

I shared some of the practices and structures that we considered during the ILC project at Boyd and that can be used as a guide for planning mathematics lessons and units with inclusion in mind.

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Some of the choices that students were provided were what types of materials they might use. For example, during our lesson together about the volume of prisms, some students built prisms with cubes, some students used centimetre graph paper to create nets for their prisms and other drew 3D drawings that represented the measurements they were working with. Another choice was the range within the concept being addressed – for example, in the geometry lessons, identification of basic 2D shapes (faces) was an access point for all while some students investigated a range of 3D prisms. In the study of linear equations, choices of equations to investigate and represent with balances and other materials were provided, increasing in complexity or number of operations. Students were also provided with choices in how they processed or representing their thinking, for example, iPad technology was available and students could use the camera to take video or photos and then use a choice of screencasting apps to provide evidence of their understanding of the concept. Non-permanent vertical surfaces (NPVS) aka whiteboards or windows provide another choice for students who may not want to sit and work at a desk or table or use paper and pencil. The research-based practice of using NPVS has been shown to increase engagement and mathematical discourse, particularly at the middle-school age range.

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I shared the idea of mathematical routines such as number talks as inclusive practices with starting points for all and a way to build an inclusive mathematical community in the classroom. These routines also focus on the nurturing and development of the curricular competencies which are the same for grades 6-9. One of the routines shared was WODB (Which One Doesn’t Belong?). This routine has become very popular in Richmond classrooms as it provides an opportunity for the clear connection between curricular competencies and content. Four items are presented and they all belong to a set/group of some sort – integers, polygons, etc but each item is unique is some way. The goal of the routine is for the students to analyze and use reasoning to justify or defend which one they think doesn’t belong in the set and why. WODBs for geometry, number, graphs, etc are available at WODB.CA  - a site curated by an Ontario secondary math teacher.

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Shelley has posted a pdf version of our slides from the session on her blog. They can be found HERE.

Because of interest, we will be facilitating a repeat of this session on December 6 from 3:30-5:00pm at IDC – register on our district’s event page with further follow-up sessions planned in the new year.

~Janice

introducing WODB in Kindergarten

Posted on: October 30th, 2016 by jnovakowski

I was back visiting the kindergarten classes at General Currie last week. After being introduced to Counting Collections, the students and teachers were interested in being introduced to a new math routine. Because I had noticed they had been exploring gourds the week before when I visited, I used gourds to introduce the idea and thinking behind a WODB (which one doesn’t belong?). As is the case with most young students, the students stayed quite focused on one of the objects being “the” right one and we needed some prompting to look at  various attributes – colour/s, shape, size, “bumpiness” – to think about why each gourd was unique within this set of gourds (how they are alike…all gourds, all have some orange). The students began to use language layering attributes together to describe uniqueness – “this one is the bumpiest and mostly all orange”.

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After looking at the gourds together and talking through “justifying” their choices, I showed them a WODB from the website wodb.ca - one I often use when introducing WODBs to primary class. I asked the students to notice how the dice were the same and then how they were different and then to turn and talk to a math partner.

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The students then moved on to some table time, choosing from more WODB experiences or working with counting collections. I just used masking tape to add a WODB frame to a table top and added a basket of  fall leaves. The things the students noticed and their theories  - “this one doesn’t belong because it has holes, it has holes because an animal was hungry and munched it” were interesting to listen in on. Lots of opportunities for sharing thinking and reasoning along with oral language development.

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I also had copied some WODB grids for students to use with materials from the classroom. One of the kindergarten classes used a basket of blocks to create WODBs for each other. Some students began by making three items similar and one that was significantly different and then, as they played with the idea of  a WODB a bit more, the students were able to explain a reason for each of the blocks not belonging in some way.

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The routine of WODB emphasizes many of the curricular competencies in K-9 mathematics:

  • use reasoning to explore and make connections,
  • develop, demonstrate, and apply mathematical understanding through play, inquiry, and problem solving,
  • communicate mathematical thinking in many ways,
  • use mathematical vocabulary and language to contribute to mathematical discussions,
  • explain and justify mathematical ideas and decisions.

Using WODBs as part of your math program provide opportunities to develop curricular competencies connected to curricular content.

wodb-student-book-coverBuilding on the exploration the students were doing with shapes, I left a copy of Christopher Danielson’s book Which One Doesn’t Belong? with the classes so they can continue thinking about shapes and WODBs!

I will be back to visit these classes in a few weeks and am looking forward to seeing and hearing how their mathematical reasoning and communication has developed!

 

~Janice

BCAMT Fall Conference 2016

Posted on: October 21st, 2016 by jnovakowski

On Friday, October 21, our Provincial PSA day, I had the honour of sharing the work we have been doing in the Richmond School District as we have been enacting BC’s redesigned curriculum. This year’s BCAMT conference had over 900 attendees and speakers. Fawn Nguyen shared an amazing keynote address with us, reminding us that we are a gift to our students and to honour their time with us.

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“that’s me in the front row!”

In the morning I was part of Curriculum Focus Session with a three-member panel – Ray Appel, Marc Garneau and myself. We shared aspects of the redesigned curriculum and then broke off into primary, intermediate and grades 8&9 focused breakout sessions.

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During the primary session, I shared snapshots and stories from Richmond classrooms. The handout from this primary breakout session can be dowloaded > bcamt-overview-primary-focus-oct-2016

One of the particular areas I shared was looking at the connections between the core competencies and curricular competencies in mathematics. My begin thinking around this can be downloaded > k-5-math-connections-between-core-and-curricular-competencies

I also shared the link between the heightened focus on computational fluency in the curriculum and the importance of regular number talks in classrooms.

Some info on Number Talks can be downloaded >

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I also shared some of the BC Curriculum summary pages that reflect the work in the Richmond School District. They can be downloaded >

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The next primary-focused session I presented was on Mathematical Routines such as counting collections, number talks and WODB.

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The handout from this Mathematical Routines session can be downloaded > bcamt-2016-mathematical-routines

There are many blogs posts about Mathematical Routines available on this blog – use the search tool to search for number talks, counting collections, WODB etc.

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Apparently, Counting Collections are taking over BC!

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During my last session called Playful Mathematical Inquiry for grades K-5 teachers, I shared the thinking I have been doing with teachers in our district around frameworks to think about inquiry in mathematics and how playful inquiry encompasses the curricular competencies in mathematics.

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The handout from this Playful Mathematical Inquiry session can be downloaded > playful-mathematical-inquiry-bcamt-2016

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As always, it is great to re-connect with colleagues and a special thank you to the teachers who participated in my sessions! Thanks to Rick Hikida for this photo from the back of a very crowded room and for his tech support!

~Janice

introducing counting collections in Kindergarten

Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by jnovakowski

In the past week I have introduced the routine of Counting Collections to four kindergarten classes at two Richmond schools. Teachers who have tried the routine later in the school year have wondered how to introduce the routine so early in the school year to kindergarten students. Counting Collections is a routine in which students work in partners to count a collection of items. Seems straightforward but this routine has proven to be highly engaging and provides students with lots of time doing and talking about math and also provides teachers with important information about their students’ understanding of number.

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In our BC curriculum, the curricular content “learning standard” for kindergarten around counting focuses on fluency with counting and number concepts involving numbers up to and including 10. It may seem like most children are able to count to 10 at this age but we are looking for fluency and understanding beyond reciting a counting chant. We are looking for one-to-one correspondence, sequencing, cardinality when counting, subtilizing and more – counting is complex! Early in the year, it is important to provide collections of smaller quantities (5-10) so students can practice counting successfully and teachers can listen in and notice how students are counting and how they are showing what they understand about numbers. Of course, just because our Kindergarten curriculum focuses on number understanding to 10, this doesn’t mean we don’t provide opportunities for students to practice counting collections of more than 10. In the collections I used with the K classes this past week, I had collections ranging from 5-30ish.

My first visit was to two kindergarten classes at Ferris Elementary. Teachers Lynda Young and Wendy Black invited me into their classrooms after having attended professional learning events where they had heard about counting collections. I was able to introduce the routine to both of their classes and the teachers are collaborating to creating bags of items for their students to count.

I began by modelling how to choose a bag and work with a partner (one of the students) to count all of the collection – not sort it by colours first etc, just start counting all of it, hence the hashtag on twitter #countall. We talked about what to do if there seemed to be “too many to count” in the bag and invited students to just take out a “just right” amount (some of the bags had up to 40 items).

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We talked about strategies for counting and keeping track of what we had counted – the students suggested putting the items in a line and my partner and I modelled touching and moving the items as we counted them. These were the most common strategy we observed in the student’s counting.

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And off they went…the teachers selected the partnerships for this first go and the students chose their bags and where they were going to count. As most of the students counted by 1s the need for the cups and plates for grouping were not really utilized. Some of the students realized they were helpful tools though to keep track of which items they had counted – moving them from one container to another.

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We noticed that some of the students didn’t actually collaborate – they engaged in parallel counting of items side by side. One of the teachers commented that this was the first partner task they had done and it was interesting to watch how different partnerships worked together.

The routine of Counting Collections is always meant to be done in partners – it is developed based on a social-constructivist framework, knowing that learning is a social endeavour. When students co-construct understanding together, it is more likely to become part of the classroom community and discourse as well as is more likely to “stick” with individual children.

We noticed most of the students demonstrated one-to-one correspondence and fluent counting to 10 and some counted fluently well beyond 20. Some students are developing their understanding of the teen numbers (fifteen – why isn’t it five-teen?) and bridging over decades (we overhead one student counting 28, 29 20-10, 20-11…and repeating those, likely knowing they didn’t sound quite right but trying to make sense of what she was doing). Lots of information to inform instruction – to help plan mini-lessons or guided math experiences.

Today, I spent the morning in the two kindergarten classes at General Currie Elementary. Teachers Astra Foisy and Kelly Shuto had used the routine of counting collections later in the year with their kindergarten students and were curious how to begin the routine early in the kindergarten year.

We began the same way as I did with the Ferris classes but also added some wooden numerals for students to “record their count” with if they chose and also had number charts available to support students if they needed to know what number came next.

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As in the other kindergarten classrooms, the students practiced counting by 1s and were learning to work collaboratively with a partner, often taking turns in the roles. One student said, “I put, she counts” to describe their process.

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It’s always interesting to watch how students use the grouping containers, especially when they are counting by 1s. When Counting Collections are introduced, part of the experience is exploring the materials – the items in the collections as well as the tools.

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Upon reflection with the teachers, I think the hundred charts and other number guides actually inhibited the students from counting (those that chose them) as they spent their time placing items in each box instead of counting – great for one-to-one correspondence but not getting to the fluency we want and not focusing on “counting all”.

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So what next for these students? Teachers are creating their own collections and thinking about an appropriate number range for this time of year, students need to continue to develop ways to count with a partner and ways to problem-solve when they don’t know what number comes next. Students can also begin to find ways to record their counts – on a class chart or whiteboard, with the wooden numerals and taking a photo, drawing and labeling in a math journal or on a  piece of paper on a clipboard. Students need to just keep practicing counting – finding ways to build their own stamina (What could I do next? How could I count these in a different way?) and engagement with counting.

~Janice

primary teachers study group: intro to environmental inquiry

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

Last week, Richmond’s primary teachers study group began its fourteenth year of coming together as a group of teachers to investigate an area of interest through sharing, discussion and collaborative inquiry. After a year of looking at inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning in three specific curricular areas last year, the group voted to look at a more interdisciplinary approach to inquiry this year, choosing environmental inquiry. Teachers also wanted to examine different ways to document and make student learning visible during inquiry.

For our first session of the year, we met in Anna Nachbar’s and Deanna Mayotte’s classroom spaces at McNeely. Anna and Deanna have been teaching grades 2&3 together for several years but this year have been able to move to a shared space of two rooms and a co-teaching model. Anna shared their thinking and process and how they have focused on the learning environment and noticing how students are responding to is and making adjustments. They have a variety of choices for flexible seating and spaces for students to collaborate. The students and teachers have also been spending a lot of time outside, gathering from their school garden and spending time in their wooded area at the school. The class has been spending time looking closely and using different art materials as they do observational drawing.

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Several different professional resources and children’s books were displayed for teachers to look at and then we came together in a circle to discuss the format of the study group for some of our new members and for teachers to share some of the things they have been trying regarding outdoor learning.

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The Outdoor Learning book list can be downloaded here: ptsg-outdoor-learning-resources-book-list

The group of us then walked outside and through the school’s wooded area, stopping and looking closely, considering and sharing different ways to engage students in observing aspects of the outdoors. A first step to engaging in environmental inquiry is nurturing a connectedness to the natural world. Students need to feel connected in order to care about the environment and take action to protect it.

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We noticed such a variety of trees, plants and fungi growing in this small area as well as traces of human activity – cleared paths, clearing of some areas, garbage. What might our students notice? What might they wonder about?

Teachers left with ideas for different ways for their students to interact and connect to the environment and thoughts about ways to find natural spaces and living things in their school area for their students to begin to see as learning spaces. When we meet again in November, we will share what we have been trying and ways we are beginning to document our learning experiences outside.

~Janice

introducing WODBs to grades 4&5 at Westwind

Posted on: October 16th, 2016 by jnovakowski

I was invited into a grades 4&5 classroom at Westward to introduce the mathematical routine, Which One Doesn’t Belong? Teacher Carlos Victoria has emailed me to let me know the students had been learning about place value and different ways to represent numbers.

I began with a geometry WODB (found at wodb.ca ) and began the conversation about how these shapes are all the same, how they belong to a set or group. The students used the term shapes, then 2D shapes and with some guidance got to the term polygons. Then we looked at ways each shape was different than the others…unique. The students then turned and talked about if they had to choose just one shape, which one did they think didn’t belong? and WHY! We talked about how justification is a big part of being a mathematician.

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We then moved on to the following WODB – one I often start with regardless of grade level because there are so many ways to analyze and compare the numbers. Same questions as before – how are they the same (numbers, numbers under 100, numbers between o-50, etc) and then how are they different. So many creative responses! As students described and defended their choices, I highlighted the mathematical language students were using such as “digits” and modelled new language for them such as the term “square numbers”.

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After our two introductory WODBs, I shared our learning intentions for our time together:

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And then we moved on to two WODBs that focused on the mathematical content the class was learning about. The students were given a quiet minute to examine the WODB on their own and then were asked to turn and talk to their table group about which one doesn’t belong? Some students focused on form (a visual entry point) while other focused on the numbers.

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The students were then invited to work together to create their own WODBs. This is not as easy as it seems! I provided some guiding questions for the students to go back to as they were working through the process. As students completed their WODBs, the moved to a part of the classroom together to discuss and try and solve each others’.

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And as I said goodbye to the students, I know their teacher will continue the WODB routine with his class, as he just received our district’s WODB kit from the DRC – full of WODBs from the website as well as Christopher Danielson’s new WODB books  (picture book and teacher guide).

I am looking forward to hearing about more of their WODB experiences!

~Janice

creating spaces for playful inquiry: October 6 2016

Posted on: October 16th, 2016 by jnovakowski

In the Richmond School District, we have a history of groups of educators visiting the Opal School in Portland, Oregon as it is a school that enacts many of the goals of BC’s redesigned curriculum and the teachers have been researching their practices together for years and share openly through their blog, twitter and visitation days and symposiums. In response to a visit there in January 2015, we have developed a professional learning series in our district to further nurture our thinking around playful inquiry in our school district. Educators who have visited Opal become our district’s “playful inquiry mentors” and open their classrooms to visitors and contribute to professional learning events. This year, our main series is a three part dinner series open to 60 Richmond educators. In September, our playful inquiry mentors met together to think about their role and what their own professional goals are. We thought of a powerful word that captured each of our goals and then wove these words together on a loom.

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We thought about ways to enact and nurture playful inquiry in our classrooms, schools and within the district.

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And finally, we planned our first session of the three-part series. For each session we focus on a big idea or “theme” and after much debate, we settled on the big idea of community for our first session. After hosting this series for two rounds, we have a bit of a structure that works – open with provocations, sharing by educators, a professional learning segment, dinner together, breaking out into interest-based mentor groups and then a closing.

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And so on October 6th at 4:00pm, 60 K-7 Richmond educators descended on IDC and engaged with provocations about community created by the playful inquiry mentors.

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An overview from our BC curriculum was provided as to ways the big idea of community is woven throughout curricular areas and competencies:

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Erin Cammell (grades 4&5 EFI at Dixon) and Kevin Vines (grades 6&7 Quilchena) shared how they began their school years focusing on community, identity and using circle pedagogy. The importance of building relationships was a theme throughout their presentation.

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Sarah Yick (grades 1&2 EFI Dixon) and Carrie Bourne (K-12 French Teacher Consultant) shared how they were both inspired by the responsive learning environments at Opal and are transforming their classrooms (a process…) to better meet their students’ needs and to create access to materials for students to use for thinking and representing their learning.

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Brooke Douglas (VP at Anderson Elementary) led us through the focused professional learning segment of the evening – connecting provocations to the core competencies and using I can statements for self-assessment. Her slides are now available on our site on the portal.

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After a lovely dinner together, educators chose an area of interest and met in small groups to share, ask questions, discuss and set goals. Each group was facilitated by playful inquiry mentors.

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After a few closing words from Marie Thom, reminding us “that we are all researchers of life,” teachers left the event with a large black felt mat and a collection of beads, wire and wire cutters so they could use these materials with their students, mirroring one of the provocations teachers had engaged with earlier in the evening.

We have an open group on our Richmond School District portal so that we can continue our conversations and share between our sessions. And of course, there’s twitter ;)

~Janice

SD38 professional learning in math in September 2016

Posted on: October 11th, 2016 by jnovakowski

In September various professional learning events in the area of mathematics were held in Richmond.

On the morning of September 23, Carrie Bourne (new K-12 Teacher Consultant in French) and I facilitated a morning with the Whiteside staff overviewing the components of the redesigned curriculum, the role of provocations as inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning and then we also looked at mathematical routines such as counting collections, number talks and WODB.

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On September 26, the Woodward staff and I had similar conversations, thinking about the context at Woodward and the potential spaces for outdoors and place-based learning.

During the afternoon of September 26, several professional learning sessions were hosted at Anderson Elementary, open to teachers from across the district. I hosted a session on Playful Mathematical Inquiry making connections to our curriculum. Teachers had time to look at their grade/s mathematical content and competencies and plan provocations and opportunities for inquiry in their classrooms.

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On Wednesday, September 30 after school, I hosted a session for teachers who were curious about Reggio-Inspired Mathematics and connections to BC’s redesigned curriculum. More information on this professional collaborative inquiry can be found HERE.

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Looking forward to even more professional learning in October!

~Janice