Archive for June, 2018

school-based collaborative professional inquiry projects

Posted on: June 14th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

One of the professional learning structures used in our district is collaborative professional inquiry based in schools. I collaborate with school teams that come together with a focused area of professional inquiry in the area of mathematical teaching and learning. I support the school teams through developing curricular and pedagogical content knowledge through mini-sessions and providing resources as well as planning together and engaging in adapted lesson study including time each visit to debrief and plan next steps. This year, all school teams involved included at least one teacher in the district’s mentoring program as we focus on supporting teachers new to our district and to the profession.

General Currie (term 1)

The three kindergarten teachers at Currie (two new to teaching K) chose to focus on core concepts and inclusive instructional routines related to these concepts. Inclusive routines are those that provide access points for all students in the class and are used regularly over time to develop mathematical thinking and ideas. The routines focus on developing the mathematical curricular competencies and content in our curriculum. Over several sessions in the kindergarten classrooms we engaged in routines such as counting collections, clothesline, decomposing and number provocations. The three teachers and their classes followed up this project with a field trip to The Studio at Grauer.

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Garden City (terms 1 & 2)

Three small groups of kindergarten through Grade 5 teachers came together with a combined focus of “connecting the dots” of the redesigned curriculum – weaving together key elements such as inquiry, teaching and learning through big ideas, new content areas like financial literacy and a focus on First Peoples Principles of Learning and connecting math to place. I spent several sessions in classrooms co-teaching with teachers and having lunch hour meetings.

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Tomsett (term 2)

A large group of kindergarten through grade 6 teachers chose to focus on supporting student learning of number concepts through a guided math approach. This approach to teaching math was new to all of the teachers involved. A guided math session (often done once or twice a week) has a focus of a core math concept as the focus. A whole group mini-lesson or routine begins the session followed by opportunities for students to practice in small groups or independently. This practice may involve working with materials, math games, an open task or problem or using an app with visual tools that support mathematical understanding. The teachers works with small groups of 2-5 students round this core math concept for about 5-8 minutes, designing and structuring a mini-lesson for them at their “just right” math level of understanding. The is an opportunity for the teacher to collect assessment evidence of students’ understanding. The end of the session involves connecting the dots between the practice opportunities and consolidating students’ thinking through sharing and discourse.

I spent several in-class sessions with student and teachers as well as lunch hour debriefs, sharing and planning with the teachers.  In between my visits, the teachers collaborated and shared resources and ideas amongst themselves. At the end of the term the grades 5&6 teacher reflected on how the project had transformed her teaching and commented that she will never go back to teaching math the way she used to. All of the teachers commented on how much better they knew each of the students’ mathematical understanding through this approach.

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Steves (terms 2 &3)

A team of four grades 2-5 teachers chose to focus on structures that support differentiation in mathematics teaching and learning. In-class co-teaching sessions and lunch hour meetings focused on inclusive instructional routines, rich open tasks and providing choice with a lens to addressing the range of learners in each classroom. In the grades 2&3 class routines such as number talks and Which One Doesn’t Belong? and games were introduced and extended through work with materials. In the grades 3&4 and 4&5 classes, some of the structures we focused on were choice – choice of materials and choice of ways to represent thinking. We also used open questions and contextual problems that focused on big ideas and core concepts and considered how these tasks provided access points for all learners.

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I always enjoy being immersed in classrooms and schools, learning together with teachers and students!

~Janice

May thinking together: How can we weave Indigenous content and perspectives into the teaching and learning of mathematics?

Posted on: June 12th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.25.11 PMThe First Peoples Principles of Learning is a foundational document in the redesign of BC’s curriculum frameworks. The Principles were developed by FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) and the poster in English can be found HERE and in French can be found HERE. As Jo Chrona would say, the FPPL are much more than the poster – they are principles that are inclusive of all children in BC while honouring Indigenous ways of being and knowing. FNESC has developed teaching resources such as the In Our Own Words resources for K-3 and the Math First Peoples resource for Grades 8&9 (currently being updated) but much of the information and ideas in the resource can be adapted for all grade levels.

 

On May 17, Leanne McColl, Lynn Wainwright and myself attended the 8th annual K-12 Aboriginal Math Symposium. Educators from across BC attend this symposium. Information about the symposium can be found HERE and there is a tab on the website that links to archived resources.

I have attended this symposium for years and was fortunate to share a project from The Studio at Grauer at this year’s event. Some of the slides from my presentation can be found HERE , under May 2018.

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A focus of my presentation was on three of BC’s mathematics curricular competencies. These competencies are part of the learning standards for the K-9 mathematics curriculum and are aligned with the First Peoples  Principles of Learning and the Core Competencies.

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The BC Numeracy Network has archived different types of resources to support the redesigned curriculum. Under the Connections tab, there is a page dedicated to resources that support the weaving of the First Peoples Principles of Learning into mathematics teaching and learning.

Link to BCNN page here

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In the Richmond school district, two of the four goals of our Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (AEEA) are focused on all learners (not just those with Indigenous ancestry) developing an understanding about the First Peoples Principles of Learning, our local First Nations community and Indigenous worldviews and perspectives as part of engaging in the process of reconciliation through education.

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Teachers often ask me about where to start in this area and are concerned about not doing things properly or that they do not have enough knowledge themselves. I suggest that teachers contact someone in their district about local protocols and then try something in collaboration, maybe inspired by one of the above suggested resources. Look for authentic connections within your community and across disciplines in the curriculum..  Some of the things that I have done to continue to learn more in this area are: read articles and books recommended to me, seek out opportunities to learn from elders and Indigenous community members and colleagues, get involved with district or university-based collaborative projects,  connect with your district’s Aboriginal Education team, attend workshops and tours offered through museums, cultural centres and local Indigenous organizations. There are lots of opportunities to learn and see connections to mathematics…we need to go forward together with an open mind and an open heart.

To consider…

How can the First Peoples Principles of Learning be embedded in our mathematics teaching and learning? How do BC’s mathematics curricular competencies reflect these principles?

One of the principles is that “learning takes patience and time” – how does this principle bump up against some ideas around the teaching and learning of mathematics?

How might we work towards the goals of our Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement within our mathematics classrooms? What role could mathematics play in the process of reconciliation?

What does it mean to use authentic resources, stories and elements of culture in our mathematics teaching? How is this affected by the land and the story of the place where we live and teach? Who can help us think about these ideas? Where can I learn more and find resources?

What opportunities do your students of Indigenous ancestry have to see their community, family and culture represented in the mathematics they are learning at school? Within our diverse community, how do all students see themselves reflected in their mathematics experience? What is the relationship between our students’ mathematical identities and their personal and cultural identities?

What interdisciplinary projects might connect mathematics with Indigenous knowledge and worldviews?

~Janice

April thinking together: How do the core competencies connect with mathematics?

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

The Core Competencies are at the centre of BC’s redesigned curriculum and underpin the curricular competencies in each discipline, such as math. An overview video about the Core Competencies can be viewed HERE. Drawing from global education research and through provincial consultation with stakeholder groups, three Core Competencies were identified – Thinking (creative and critical), Communication and Personal & Social (positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility, and social responsibility).

As we develop awareness about the Core Competencies during the school year, we consider the ideas of “notice, name and nurture” – looking for evidence of core competency development or application in our classrooms and schools.

In our district, we have created Core Competency posters in both English and French, overviewing all the core competencies as well as posters specific to one core competency (all available through the district portal). These posters are up in classrooms and schools to create awareness and develop common language around the core competencies.

In The Studio at Grauer, much of the work we do in mathematics has elements of the core competencies involved. In the mathematics curriculum, each of the curricular competencies is linked to one or more of the core competencies. The COMMUNICATION chart in the photograph below is an example of how I make this focus clear to myself, teachers and the students when we work together in The Studio. I often identify a specific curricular competency in our initial gathering meeting, that we are going to focus on together as we work with a mathematical idea. For example, I might say to the students,
“Today as you are thinking about comparing and ordering fractions with materials, practice explaining and justifying your decisions to a partner – that will be our focus when we come back as a whole group at the end of our time together today.” 

Other times, I will ask the students to reflect on their last experience in The Studio and consider what they need to work on around communication, either personally or as a class.

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The following are documents that show the links between the Core Competencies and the Curricular Competencies in Mathematics:

SD38 K-5 Math Connections between Core and Curricular Competencies

SD38 6-9 Math Connections between Core and Curricular Competencies

SD38 K-5 Math Communication

We have woven self-assessment and reflection about the core competencies into our projects and learning together throughout the year. During the last school year, there was a requirement for students to do a “formal” self-assessment to be included in the June report card. For students to authentically self-assess and reflect, they need to be familiar with the language of the core competencies and be able to connect to learning experiences they have had throughout the school year. During the third term last year, the grades 3&4 class from Grauer visiting The Studio weekly to engage in a mathematics project around the work of Coast Salish artist Susan Point. At the end of each session together, we had the students share their learning – what did you learn? how did it go/what did you do? what’s next for your learning/what are you wondering about? Sometimes students turned and talked to someone near them, other times, students shared their learning and thinking to the whole class.

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Every few weeks, we had the students do a written/drawn self-assessment and reflection. We have found that using question prompts to support reflection and considering evidence of learning has been the most authentic and personalized way to have students think about and connect to the core competencies. We developed some recording formats to capture students’ thinking, with the clear intent that students are not expected to “answer” all the questions – that they are they to prompt and provoke reflection and self-assessment. A team of Grauer educators were working together on an Innovation Grant project around creative thinking and growth mindset and we wove these ideas in to some of the self-assessments.

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Here is one example of a recording form:

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As we are coming to the end of another school year and are thinking about the student self-assessment of the core competencies component for year-end communication of student learning, we might consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities have students had to experience and develop the core competencies in their mathematics learning?
  • What opportunities over the school year have students had to name and reflect on the core and curricular competencies in mathematics?
  • How have we made the core competencies and curricular competencies in mathematics visible in our classrooms and schools?
  • How have the core and curricular competencies language and ideas been embedded in the mathematical community and discourse in our classrooms and schools?
  • What different ways have students been able to share, reflect on and self-assess their mathematical thinking and learning?

~Janice

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session six

Posted on: June 6th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

For our sixth and final primary teachers study group session of this school year, Megan Zeni hosted us at the outdoor classroom at Homma. Megan shared the story of the space and how it has developed over time as well as shared the logistics of her “prep teaching” position in the outdoor classroom.

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We explored the different spaces in Homma’s outdoor classroom to consider opportunities for storytelling and play.

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We had lots of great conversation about risky play and the gross motor and social-emotional learning that happens when students engage with large materials, building and play in outdoor spaces.

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As we left the Homma school grounds and walked towards the south arm of the Fraser River, we considered the story of this place. The boardwalk and buildings along the river help to uncover the story of the people of this place and how the river has been used over time.

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It has been a great year of primary teachers coming together in different places and spaces to think about how outdoor learning experiences can inspire different types of stories and curricular connections.

Looking forward to another year of learning together.

~Janice