October thinking together: estimating reasonably

Posted on: October 31st, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

Estimate reasonably” is one of the mathematical curricular competencies under Reasoning and Analyzing, the first strand of curricular competencies. The curricular competency of being able to estimate reasonably is a learning standard at every grade level from K-12. Because the curricular competencies in mathematics are not grade specific, they need to be connected to curricular content to be assessed and evaluated at grade level. For example, estimating reasonably:

• at Kindergarten could be estimating within quantities to 10,
• at grade 4 it could be computational estimation when adding and subtracting numbers to 10 000 or estimating the order of fractions along a number line using benchmarks
• at grade 8 it could be estimating answers when calculating with fractions, estimating the surface area and volume of regular solids or estimating best buys when using coupons (financial literacy)

Curricular competencies to connect to many areas of curricular content but not all. When planning mathematical learning experiences, it is important to consider what competencies complement the content. For example, there are connections to estimating working with number concepts such as quantities, fractions and percentages as well as computational estimation, financial literacy and measurement.

Another consideration is that because this curricular competencies is the same essentially from K-12, it can be used as an access point for all students when planning for multi-age or cross-grade classes, developing IEPs and looking at class profiles.

What does it mean to be able to estimate reasonably?

As students begin their development of competency in estimation, they are comparing quantities as being more than or less than a known quantity. This further develops in using a referent for estimating such as if you know a handful of cubes is 10 cubes, you can use this information for estimating the total quantity of cubes in a jar. Likewise, a personal referent of knowing the size of your step that is about one metre long can help you to estimate distances. As students develop a strong sense of number, they are able to estimate within a reasonable range, knowing which numbers are too high and too low. As students become more competent with estimation and knowledgeable about quantity and other math concepts they are able to apply more abstract estimation strategies such as approximation and rounding.

How can we assess a student’s competence in estimating reasonably?

The Lower Mainland Mathematics Contacts network began to develop assessment tools to use with students to assess the curricular competencies. A draft of the estimating tool is here and teachers might find it a helpful starting place in thinking about how estimation develops along a continuum and the types of  ”I can” statements that can be used with students for self-assessment:

Estimating Ideas – LMMC DRAFT 2016

This assessment tool is still in draft form as we put this project on hold while the Ministry was developing a classroom assessment framework. General information about the classroom assessment framework, developed in collaboration with teachers, can be found HERE and the information specific to mathematics can be found HERE. The mathematics classroom assessment framework includes criteria categories and descriptors as well as examples from across grade levels. The Ministry is now using a four-point proficiency scale to provide descriptive feedback to where students are in their development.

Some resources to support competency development in estimation:

Andrew Stadel curates a website called Estimation 180 that is full of estimation tasks with a photograph as a starting point. Students are asked to consider what number would be too low and then which would be too high to develop their reasoning around what a reasonable range would be.

Many “three-act tasks” involve an element of element. Both Graham Fletcher and Dan Meyer have archived videos and examples of three-act tasks.

For our BCAMT Reggio-Inspired Mathematics project, we have create a pedagogical content knowledge four-pager about estimating. You can download it here:

estimating-final

Two favourite picture books that focus on estimation, with a focus on using visual referents are Great Estimations and Greater Estimations by Bruce Goldstone.

Other picture books to connect to estimation:

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

Betcha! by Stuart J. Murphy

Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of estimating reasonably:

Do students understand what it means to estimate, that there is reasoning involved?

How can we connect the curricular competencies of estimating and visualizing? Are students scanning quantities and using visual referents? How can we encourage students to explain their strategies and make what they are doing in their mind visible?

What opportunities can we create for students to make adjustments to their original estimates based on new information? Are they making meaning of the situation?

What opportunities are we creating for students to think about estimation across math content areas – number, quantity, measurement, financial literacy and other areas in context?

~Janice

September thinking together: mathematics curricular competencies

Posted on: September 28th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

For the 2018-19 school year, the “thinking together” series of blog posts will focus on the curricular competencies in the mathematics curriculum.  The “thinking together” series is meant to support professional learning and provoke discussion and thinking. This month will provide an overview of the curricular competenecies and then each month we will zoom in and focus on one curricular competency and examine connections to K-12 curricular content, possible learning experiences and assessment.

The curricular competencies are the “do” part of the know-do-understand (KDU) model of learning from BC’s redesigned curriculum.

The curricular competencies are intended to reflect the discipline of mathematics and highlight the practices, processes and competencies of mathematicians such as justifying, estimating, visualizing and explaining

The curricular competencies are connected the the Core Competencies of Communication, Thinking  and Personal & Social. More information about the Core Competencies can be found HERE.

The curricular competencies along with the curricular content comprise the legally mandated part of the curriculum, now called learning standards. This means these competencies are required to be taught, assessed and learning achievement for these competencies is communicated to students and parents.

Something unique about the mathematics curricular competencies is that they are essentially the same from K-12. K-5 competencies are exactly the same with some slight additions in grades 6-9 and then building on what was created in K-9 for the grades 10-12 courses. Because they are the same at each grade level, to be assessed at “grade level” they need to be connected to curricular content. For example, one of the curricular competencies is “estimate reasonably” – for Kindergarten that will mean with quantities to 10, for grade 4 that could mean for quantities to 10 000 or for the measurement of perimeter using standard units and for grade 8 estimating reasonably could be practiced when operating with fractions or considering best buys when learning about financial literacy.

The new classroom assessment framework developed by BC teachers and the Ministry of Education focuses on assessing curricular competencies and can be found HERE.  A document outlining criteria categories, criteria and sample applications specific to K-9 Mathematics can be found HERE. The new four-point proficiency scale provides language to support teachers and students as they engage in classroom assessment.

As we are begin a new school year and are thinking about year plans and overviews we might consider the following questions:

• What opportunities do students have to learn about what it means to be a mathematician and what mathematicians do?
• What opportunities can be created over the school year for students to name, be aware of, practice, develop and reflect on the core and curricular competencies in mathematics?
• How can we make the core competencies and curricular competencies in mathematics visible in our classrooms and schools?
• As we are planning for instruction and assessment, how are we being intentional about weaving together both curricular competencies and content? What curricular content areas complement and are linking to specific curricular competencies?

~Janice

summer professional learning and reading 2018

Posted on: June 29th, 2018 by jnovakowski

Although summer is a “break” from the schedules and routines of teaching, it has always also been a time of learning for me. Whether it be taking course work or having the time to read deeply or attend professional learning events, I find the summer a great time to learn new things and both reflect on and rejuvenate my teaching practice. Of course, in order to really refresh, I do take some time away from professional thinking by reading novels, memoirs, travel guides and cookbooks! I try and learn new things and am currently enjoying learning about different types of weaving, dyeing using natural materials, using new art techniques and focusing on developing my knowledge around local plants All of these personal interests do tend to find their way into my professional work though as well!

One learning goal I have for myself is to become more familiar and fluent with using desmos. Desmos is an online graphing application (and available as an app as well) but has so many possibilities for supporting mathematical thinking for elementary and secondary students. The desmos website is full of examples and ideas for student projects as well as resources for teachers. I feel I just have a beginning understanding of what desmos has to offer so am looking forward to digging in and playing with it over the summer.

My first summer professional reading stack of the summer!

Engaging Children: Igniting a Drive for Deeper Learning K-8 by Ellin Oliver Keene

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play by Mitchel Resnick and Ken Robinson

Play Matters by Miguel Sicart

Arithmetic by Paul Lockhart

Give Me Five!: Five Coach-Teacher-Principal Collaborations that Promote Mathematical Success by Janice Bradley

Essential Assessment:  Six Tenets for Bringing Hope, Efficacy, and Achievement to the Classroom (Deepen Teachers’ Understanding of Assessment to Meet Standards and Generate a Culture of Learning) by Cassandra Erkens and Tom Schimmer

Softening the Edges: Assessment Practices that Honor K-12 Teachers and Learners by Katie White

I have also ordered these two need mathematics book through the NCTM and the ATM.

An area of focus in our district will continue to be assessment. Continuous assessment that leads to responsive, intentional instructional choices is a practice that is woven throughout series I do around mathematics professional learning. Two books that I am going to revisit this summer as I begin to plan professional learning experiences for next year include:

Rethinking Letter Grades is a book by Canadian authors with local examples and I appreciate the “triangle” from this book that shares that in order to have authentic evidence of learning you need three types of assessment data – observations, conversations/interviews and products (which includes projects, creations, writing, drawing, diagrams, quizzes, tests).  The Formative Five is a mathematics specific book focusing on five formative assessment practices.

New assessment reads for this summer include the following:

Katie White, author of Softening the Edges, will be a featured speaker at our Curriculum Implementation Day in Richmond next year. Essential Assessment was a book recommended by Angie Calleberg of the BC Ministry of Education as she said the Ministry used this book to inform assessment projects in the province. And although I do have some concerns about Hattie’s use of statistics and his meta analysis of meta analysis studies, I know his new book will come up in professional conversations around assessment so want to have a quick read through it.

Professional Learning Opportunities

For Richmond educators, professional learning opportunities are listed within the portal. Go to Learn 38 then to the Professional Learning tile to find both internal and external events.

For this year’s BCTF PSA Day in October, consider attending the Northwest Mathematics Conference in Whistler. Information about speakers, accommodation and registration is now available here:

Northwest Mathematics Conference website

Also in October, the Vancouver Reggio Association is hosting Tiziana Filippini, a pedagogista from Reggio Emilia, Italy. More information available here:

Vancouver Reggio Association – Tiziana Filippini – October 2018

A free professional learning event about coding for teachers is being hosted in Vancouver this summer, sponsored by the Government of Canada:

Teachers Learning Code – Vancouver – July 24-26 2018

Lots of districts in BC offer professional learning events at the end of the summer so check Twitter, Facebook, the BCTF site and district websites for more information.

For those of you interested in building your own knowledge of Indigenous perspective, culture and content, Talasay Tours offers some grant opportunities:

Talasay Tours – Authentic Cultural and Eco Experiences

And the Museum of Anthropology at UBC currently has an exhibit highlighting six cultures from across BC;

MOA – Culture at the Centre

Have a lovely summer – a time for adventures, rejuvenating and learning new things!

~Janice

school-based collaborative professional inquiry projects

Posted on: June 14th, 2018 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

~Janice

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

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by jnovakowski

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.

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.

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.

Here is one example of a recording form:

Grauer_Competency_Math_Reflection_May2017

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 big mathematical ideas for grades 3-5

Posted on: May 13th, 2018 by jnovakowski 2 Comments

In its fourth year, a group of grades 3-5 teachers came together three times after school to think about the big mathematical ideas for this grade range, considering the pedagogical content knowledge needed to teach and assess student learning. Our first session of the year on October 18 focused on the number concepts big ideas in our curriculum which at gates 3-5 focus on a deep understanding of fractions.

We began with an image from fractiontalks.com – a website curated by Canadian math educator Nat Banting. We considered what students needed to understand about fractions to engage with this task and anticipated how are students might respond to the challenge of figuring out what fractional part of the large square is the shaded blue triangle.

We considered how different materials provided different affordances for thinking about fractions, particularly thinking about different ways to represent fractions – set, area and linear. Some of the text slides from the session and a handout follow.

BMI_October_2017_textslides

BMI_Fractions_2017

Unfortunately, I had to cancel our January session due to illness.

We came together again on April 11 and based on feedback from the group, discussed computational fluency and the role of inquiry in learning mathematics. We revisited instructional routines such as Which One Doesn’t Belong? (wodb.ca) and considered how these routines incorporate questioning, wondering and nurture the curricular competencies in mathematics.

BMI_April_2018_textslides

~Janice

elementary math focus afternoon 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On the afternoon of January 26, staffs from twelve elementary schools gathered at Grauer Elementary for our annual Elementary Math Focus Afternoon.

The overview slides (photographs from classrooms not included to reduce file size) from the opening to the afternoon can be found here:

Math_Focus_Opening_2018_textslidesonly

Many school teams brought displays to share how they have been working with BC’s redesigned mathematics curriculum.

Educators could choose from a variety of Richmond teacher-led sessions to learn about instructional routines and practices that are aligned with the BC redesigned curriculum.

FINAL_Elementary Math Focus Afternoon Jan 26 2018 program

Elem Focus Day Jan 2018 Rich Investigations

2018 Elem Math Focus Visual patterns

Thanks to Tracy Weeks of the Canadian Federation for Economic Education (CFEE) for coming and sharing information about financial literacy with Richmond educators.

As educators gathered back in the gym for an end of afternoon prize draw of math resources, they were left with a reminder to consider the mathematical story that is being told in their classrooms and schools. What story do we want our students to tell about their mathematical experience here in our district?

~Janice

graduation numeracy assessment – January 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On January 26, I spent part of my morning at Richmond Secondary working with the whole staff to examine the Graduation Numeracy Assessment – how numeracy is defined, the numeracy processes, example questions and ways to embed numeracy tasks in all courses. Educators worked in cross-disciplinary groups to choose one of the sample questions to work through together, being mindful of how their students might engage with these questions.

The overview slides from the morning can be found here: GNAoverview_Richmond_January_2018

Detailed information about the BC Graduation Numeracy Assessment can be found through the BC curriculum website. There is a design specifications package, pre-assessment tasks that students/classes can do before the assessment to learn about the numeracy processes, a collaborative learning guide, videos, sample questions, scoring guide and student exemplars as well as information on the background and development of the assessment and information for parents.

In Richmond, two of our secondary schools (SLSS and Burnett) participated in the gradual roll-out of the writing of the Graduation Numeracy Assessment. Two or three classes from each school participated in the assessment and will receive their results in April. Both schools collected student feedback and the Vice-Principals shared this feedback along with their logistical recommendations at a secondary vice-principals meeting in April.

~Janice

creating spaces for playful inquiry: thinking about reflection – January 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On January 25, Richmond educators gathered at Grauer for our second dinner session of our Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry professional learning series. This month our focus was on reflection and time. Educators shared their experiences engaging in playful inquiry with their students and considering the role of reflection in documentation and making both students’ and our professional learning visible.

After dinner together, teachers participated in interest groups facilitated by our playful inquiry mentors.

A handout with curricular connections to the idea of reflection can be found here: Reflections_Provocations_Jan25_2018

~Janice

January thinking together: What is numeracy?

Posted on: January 31st, 2018 by jnovakowski

This year I am going to share a monthly focus as a way for educators in our district (and beyond, of course!) to think together, collaborate and share ideas around K-12 mathematics education. On the list are number sense, estimation, reasoning, spatial awareness…it is a list in progress so suggestions are welcome.

My intentions are to begin each month with a blog post highlighting the focus area in our BC mathematics curriculum and connecting it to the broader field of mathematics education. I plan to share links to websites and resources, share books that I have found helpful and provide examples of mathematical tasks from Richmond classrooms. During each month, I will also tweet out related links, ideas, blog posts and photographs from classrooms.

For January, let’s consider what is numeracy?

This January, two of our secondary schools – Steveston-London and Burnett – had students take part in the managed implementation of the Graduation Numeracy Assessment. Other secondary schools in our district are considering both pedagogical and logistical details as they approach the first regular sitting of the assessment for students in June 2018. The Graduation Numeracy Assessment is a new graduation requirement for BC students along with a Graduation Literacy Assessment. Students currently in grades 10 and 11 will begin writing the assessment and have three opportunities to write the assessment to improve their proficiency mark if they choose to. The assessment is not linked directly to a mathematics course or grade and it is thus, the responsibility of all K-12 educators to nurture and develop numerate students. Just as literacy isn’t just about literature, numeracy is not just about numbers – numeracy is being able to apply all areas of mathematics to make sense of the world around you and solve problems relevant to you or others.

For the purposes of the assessment, the Ministry is defining numeracy as:

Numeracy is the ability, willingness, and perseverance to interpret and apply mathematical understanding to solve problems in contextualized situations, and to analyze and communicate these solutions in ways relevant to the given context.

As students engage with numeracy tasks, they work through a sequence of five numeracy processes:  interpret, apply, solve, analyze and communicate.

For a more detailed analysis of the concept of numeracy, Dr. Peter Liljedahl and Minnie Liu, share their ideas in an article in Vector, the BCAMT journal: Vector Summer 2013 – Numeracy, pages 34 -39

The following information about the Graduation Numeracy Assessment is available online on the Ministry’s curriculum website:

Graduation Numeracy Assessment Design Specifications 2017

Graduation Numeracy Assessment – information for parents

GNA student-choice questions scoring guide and exemplars

Pre-assessment collaborative learning videos

I highly recommend that all BC educators try the sample assessment available online (linked above) to get a sense of the types of questions we can all be using with our students, regardless of grade or course. Last Friday, on a professional development day, the whole Richmond Secondary School staff worked in groups to collaborate on some of the sample assessment questions and to consider how to embed opportunities for numeracy in their courses.

Looking forward to continuing the conversation around numeracy and what it means to be numerate.

~Janice