Archive for the ‘assessment’ Category

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

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

BC curriculum updates: August 2016

Posted on: September 3rd, 2016 by jnovakowski

Several updates happened to the BC curriculum website over the summer…when teachers are on holidays – so I thought I would put together a summary of the updates and changes with links to items that might be of use and interest.

An Educator Update pdf document was posted on the Ministry website this summer. There is an extensive Q&A section as well as an overview of curriculum updates.

Link to BC Educator Update document – August 2016

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All K-9 Curriculum Frameworks were posted in their final forms, including the recently developed Applied Design, Skills and Technologies curriculum.

K-9 Mathematics

The final updates to the K-9 mathematics curriculum were posted in August, although the BCAMT website has been hosting them for months.

Link to BC K-9 Mathematics Curriculum

The most significant changes the update of the big ideas to be more aligned with the structure of the big ideas in other curricular areas. The big ideas of changed from a two-part big idea (meta big idea and then a grade-specific big idea) to a one-part big idea. Also, elaborations for the big ideas have been added. These elaborations take the form of questions to support student inquiry. See the grade 4 example below:

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10-12 Mathematics

Drafts of the different courses for grades 10-12 mathematics were posted over the summer. They are available in pdf form with and without elaborations.

Link to draft documents for 10-12 Mathematics curriculum courses

The Ministry and curriculum development teams are asking for feedback on the 10-12 drafts. You can submit feedback here:

Link to online feedback form for 10-12 curriculum

 

Instructional Samples

K-9 Instructional Samples were posted over the summer. These samples have been submitted, invited or developed by the Ministry to support teachers as they enact the redesigned curriculum in their classrooms. There are some samples from Richmond included.

Link to Instructional Samples

 

Interim Reporting Order

The much anticipated interim reporting order was released mid-August. This is a one-year interim order as the Ministry seeks more parental consultation regarding report cards. We had hoped to get this information in the spring so plans could be in place for the start of the school year. Districts will now need to make a decision in how to enact the reporting order and decide which format of reporting/report card to use this year.

One of the “new” but not surprising components of the order is that all students from K-9 will do a student self -assessment of core-competencies that will be included in their summative report at the end of the school year. Until we know for sure what the format for that will be in our district, it is important that throughout the year that we notice, name and nurture the core competencies in our classrooms so that students develop an awareness of the language associated with them so that the self-assessments can be meaningful.

More detailed information can be found here:

Interim Ministerial Order on Student Reporting

Information about the principles of quality assessment has been on the curriculum website since its inception. The “report card” is just a means of documenting and sharing assessment and evaluation evidence – what we really need to devote our energies to is creating meaningful assessment tools and practices that are aligned with the goals of the redesigned curriculum.

Principles of Quality Assessment – link to BC curriculum website

It’s an exciting year for teachers and students in BC. We have been playing with/piloting aspects of the redesigned curriculum here in Richmond for three years now and I know that we are able to embrace and enact this curriculum together.

~Janice

thinking about measurement in kindergarten

Posted on: May 24th, 2016 by jnovakowski

I was invited into Denise Tong Vargas’ kindergarten class at Dixon Elementary to look at ways to present mathematical provocations to students at this age level as well as how to integrate technology use as a way to document learning.

For our first time together, I asked the students to share what they knew about measuring. I then did a little demonstration with matryoshka dolls which the students were fascinate with. We compared their height and ordered them from tallest to shortest. We talked about the importance of using specific mathematical language like long, tall, short instead of a general term like “big”. We talked about how when we are comparing two objects directly that we need to “line them up” or use a baseline for accurate comparison. The students were then challenged to find something in the classroom and compare and measure it in different ways.

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As we came together at the end of their investigation time, as a way to share the students’  experiences and consolidate students’ thinking, we co-created two pic-collages using photographs I had taken using iPad technology, focusing on the concepts of baseline and units.

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On my second visit to the class, Denise and the students settled in with their regular morning routine and then I talked to the students for a short time about the big idea that we were going to focus on – comparing and ordering objects and how we might use mathematical ideas and measuring tools to help us investigate this. I had set up three provocations on tables, adding to the one that Denise and her students had been investigating already.

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And I added another onto the carpet area involving containers and cylinders to  provoke students’ thinking about measuring curved surfaces and measuring capacity/volume.

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There was high engagement amongst the students and many of the children stuck with one set of materials or provocations while others moved around. It was interesting listening to them play with the language – second tallest, “mediumest”, third shortest, etc., play with the materials and play with mathematical ideas.

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I must say that there is something to be said for unique and “fresh” materials that engages students and helps bridge school and the world outside of the classroom. By using toys and materials (like ribbons and pinecones) that they might find outside or at home, the students can see that they can be measuring wherever they are – not only if they have a ruler or Unifix cubes!

Some new pic collages were created to help consolidate the students’ learning and to focus on the big ideas involved with measuring.

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I am looking forward to checking in on Mrs. TV’s classroom blog to see what other measuring experiences the students have.

~Janice

provincial numeracy project in Richmond: session four

Posted on: May 12th, 2016 by jnovakowski

This year, Richmond is one of several school districts in BC that are participating in a pilot provincial numeracy project. Other blogs posts about this project can be found here and here.

For our fourth and final session together, teachers shared what they had tried in their classrooms since our last session- use of the rekenreks and what assessment tool they tried. We watched and discussed a short video about a Richmond K&1 teacher and how she has tried guided math in her classroom this year. We looked at dice games and how a bag or basket of dice can be a great source of differentiation. Students can choose from different dice based on their number range, fine motor abilities or sensory awareness.

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Teachers were also provided time to prepare their final case study form for the “wonder students” they have been looking closely at this year and teachers were also asked to complete a professional narrative, reflecting on the impact of this project on their practice. One teacher’s impact statement follows:

“Being a part of this Provincial Numeracy Group has been one of the most exciting projects that I have worked on in my whole teaching career. The other teachers were extremely supportive. The chance to share ideas and reflections with other primary teachers was significant in my growth.

 This project has changed my thinking and practice in teaching math that will continue for the rest of my career. I have always loved teaching math and been excited about sharing that love with my students. Now… they are sharing with me…I am learning from them in a way that I have not experienced before.” 

There is something to be said for working collaboratively with a small group of teachers, with a common focus and goals!  I look forward to compiling the information from the student case studies and professional narratives to reflect upon and share the impact this project has had on student and professional learning.

~Janice

creative thinking core competency project 2016

Posted on: May 8th, 2016 by jnovakowski

For the third year, our district has invited grade 6-9 teachers to participate in a Core Competencies project. This year, Rosalind Poon and myself hosted the project, focusing on the Creative Thinking core competency in the BC curriculum. A blog post about our first session together can be found here.

Our second session was held in January and teachers shared what they had been trying in their classrooms, nurturing students’ creative thinking focusing on the three facets of novelty & value, generating ideas and developing ideas. Leah, a grades 5&6 teacher shared a force and motion invention fair she co-coordinated at her school with students applying creative thinking to their invention design and purpose. Irene shared the creatures her grade 8 Home Ec students created, considering the facets of creative thinking.

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During the session we looked at the book, Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum by Dr. Cyndi Burnett and Julia Figliotti, that we have been using in this series and in our school teams, used one of the ideas from the book to think about a concept we were studying with our students. Teachers were asked to use materials to create a soundscape to represent an idea or concept. Challenging! One teacher commented on how a student really has to understand the idea/concept and synthesize thinking in order to do this task.

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Our third and final session of the year was held at the end of April. Teachers shared ho they were weaving opportunities for creative thinking throughout their classroom programs. We asked teachers to write-up a lesson idea that was successful for them and their students and we will be compiling these ideas to share with teachers in our district.

During the session, we introduced teachers to the electronic components littleBits which were piloted in the district two years ago for the purposes of nurturing creative thinking through STEAM experiences. Different ways teachers and students have been using littleBits in the district were shared and then the teachers in the project were asked to create something that does something – being mindful of the three facets of the creative thinking core competency: novelty & value, generating ideas and developing ideas.

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As teachers engaged with the materials, they could see the possibilities for using the littleBits beyond  the electricity component of the science curriculum in grades 7 and 9. More information about littleBits can be found on the website here.

We also asked teachers to record a short professional narrative about their involvement in this project. The following is one teacher’s response:

  • I strongly believe that the focus on the creative thinking competency in my classroom this year had the most impact on my teaching and the students’ learning.  They are called the “core competencies” for a reason! Personal responsibility, communication, and critical thinking developed side by side with creative thinking.  The willingness to take risks and persevere with difficult or ambiguous learning tasks has increased tremendously.  I am also constantly amazed by the depth of thinking the students show in many circumstances. We had 2 students reflect on how learning happens in our classroom. See their thoughts below.

“Creative Thinking is the process of having original ideas of value. The Creative Thinking Challenges we do each Wednesday encourages us to think creatively when faced with a problem. Itís very important to have unique and innovative ideas, and to have different ways of overcoming challenges, especially with our rapidly changing society. We also do something called Monday Morning Provocations. Every Monday, we use a variety of materials to reflect on a question. We have more ways to show what we know, and explain our thinking visually. Not just with pencil and paper.We do a lot of activities helping us learn in different ways, not just reading a textbook, copying facts, and memorizing it. We do discussion circles where everyone shares an opinion and we discuss it. We use iPads and take pictures of our work to communicate and show our learning to parents and teachers. We use an app called FreshGrade. After every activity, we have a self-assessment/feedback frame to let us reflect on our work. Instead of the teacher giving us marks, we actually think about what we did well on, what we need to improve on etc. Overall, we think the new BC curriculum develops a creative and positive mind, which will help us in the near future.” ~ L&L

How valuable to have students reflect and comment on their learning experiences!

Roz and I look forward to continuing our work with the core competencies project next year!

~Janice

provincial numeracy project in Richmond: session three

Posted on: March 23rd, 2016 by jnovakowski

As previously shared HERE, Richmond is participating in BC’s Provincial Numeracy Project this year. The school teams involved came together before spring break to share what routines they had tried in classrooms (counting collections, choral counting, counting around the circle, numberlines) and how their students responded to these routines.

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We looked at different ways to use an abacus, particularly focusing on decomposing and composing numbers, counting by 10s and 1s as well as addition and subtraction strategies.

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In both the books Number Talks and Number Sense Routines, rekenreks are used as tools to develop number sense and computational fluency. The Rekenrek is a special kind of abacus, originating in the Netherlands. More  information and instructional ideas can be found HERE and HERE. As part of our session, teachers created rekenreks for student use, using paint stir sticks, beads and pipe cleaners.

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We watched a video of a teacher using rekenreks with her kindergarten class as part of a number talk (view it HERE) and discussed different ways we could use this tool with our students, with a focus on using them during small group instruction/guided math.

We also looked at various apps to support the development of number sense, including the Math Learning Center app that uses rekenreks – available as a web version HERE or in iOS or Android formats.

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Other recommended apps include Touchcounts (uses finger gesturing to compose and decompose quantities), FindSums (uses five, ten and hundred frames to support understanding of addition) and the Number Frames app.

“Homework” for the teachers was to try the rekenreks with their students…

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and to try an assessment tool with their focus students, chosen from the Provincial Numeracy Project blog. The tools that we are curating on the blog have all been created by BC educators to use with BC students. At our final session in April, we will compare what the different assessment tools have to offer our students.

In April, teachers will also complete a final case study form about their student as well as write a short professional narrative about their experience in this  project. The provincial team is meeting in Victoria in June to share what has been happening in districts across the province and to make plans for next year. Richmond is looking forward to continuing to ride the numeracy wave!

~Janice

inclusive learning communities: play in math at Cook

Posted on: March 17th, 2016 by jnovakowski

Several schools in our district are participating in Inclusive Learning Communities projects, with a school team working alongside Learning Services staff to consider inclusive principles and practices. Cook Elementary is in its first year of the project, investigating ways to incorporate play into the learning of mathematics. Shelley Moore is leading this project at Cook, meeting with the school team (classroom teachers, learning resource teachers and the principal) to develop class profiles. I was invited to share some ideas with the team about incorporating play into mathematics in their classrooms. Two of the intermediate teachers are involved in our Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry series and Cook also has a school goal around math so the staff has attended our elementary math focus days.

In February, I spent the morning with the school team sharing some thoughts about play. Often teachers and parents think about “games” and “toys” when we call talk about learning through play but play is so much more than this. When I think about having students take on a playful stance in mathematics, I want them to play with materials, play with language and play with ideas. We discussed beginning with a big idea in mathematics and then considering how to provoke thinking and encourage playfulness through various open-ended learning experiences.

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As part of the lesson study cycle part of this project, the teachers planned a lesson and taught it with another teacher observing and then repeated the lesson in the other teacher’s classroom. The intermediate teachers focused their lessons on the routine Which One Doesn’t Belong? and the primary teachers used the counting collections routine for their lessons.

Which One Doesn’t Belong is a routine made well-known through the #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere) and a curation of WODBs can be found HERE. Teachers Christy Rollo and Jo Fournier and the learning resource teachers set the routine up by first projecting a WODB on the screen and then having student share and discussed what they noticed. Print outs of WODBs were then placed on tables in the classroom and the students  chose which ones interested them. They worked together in small groups but did not have stay with the same group of students as they moved on to another WODB. The teachers and I listened in on the math language the students were using, how they were justifying their choice and listened to understand where students were in their understanding of the math concepts involved. We noticed how the WODBs provided an entry point for all students – that every student could say something regardless of their mathematical understanding or fluency with the English language.

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The primary teachers were curious about the Counting Collections routine. The teachers gathered materials – collections and cups/plates etc for supporting counting in different ways. The students worked in pairs to choose a collection and count it. Most of the students chose to count their collections by 1s or 10s which is common for the first go at counting collections. All the students in the class were able to engage in counting – some taking turns counting back and forth, a student and his partner counting the groups of 10 from 1-10 over and over to practice counting from 1-10 with one-to-one correspondence and other students counting their collections by 10s and then supporting each other to figure out how to count on the extra “ones”. The teachers had prepared a formal recording sheet which during our debrief they realized added too many extra layers to this first go with counting collections. We also discussed how every student was engaged in talking about and doing mathematics, counting, grouping and thinking about place value for almost an hour.

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A video of the grades 1&2 students engaged in the counting collections routines can be viewed HERE.

~Janice

inclusive learning communities: grade 8 math at Boyd, year two

Posted on: March 16th, 2016 by jnovakowski

Several schools in our district are participating in Inclusive Learning Communities projects, with a school team working alongside Learning Services staff to consider inclusive principles and practices. Hugh Boyd Secondary is continuing with a its second year in the project, investigating the question: How can we meet the diverse needs of our students in our grade 8 math classes?

A summary of last year’s project can be found HERE.

This year, the school team met with Shelley Moore and myself to look at class profiles, develop performance tasks for the beginning of a unit of study, consider and plan for inclusive practices within lessons and discuss ways of assessing students. This year, the teachers chose to focus on algebra (solving equations) and linear relations (graphing). We looked at the prescribed learning outcomes, considering what students needed to know to be successful at the grade 8 level – language, concepts, processes, skills. I introduced the team to the number balance as a way to think about balancing equations and emphasizing the concept of equivalence.

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New this year was a collaboration with SetBC – the school was provided with a half-class set of iPad tablets loaded with apps suitable for communicating learning in mathematics. SetBC facilitators provided support to the Boyd teachers in learning how to use screencasting apps such as doceri.

One of the lessons we developed together was having the students use the number balances to represent algebraic equations and then use the app ShadowPuppet to capture their process and understanding.

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A short video of this lesson can be viewed HERE. The teachers noticed the high engagement of the students and how some students were able to demonstrate their understanding of the mathematics in ways that played to their strengths.

The teachers followed up with lessons, continuing with the students creating screencasts using iPad technology.  The students were provided with choices of algebraic equations to create a table of values for and then graph using the doceri app (it has various graph paper backgrounds to choose from).

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During our debrief session before spring break, the teachers identified the new practices that helped to meet the needs of their students and that they felt would endure for them: using a performance task before the unit of study to assess where students are in their understanding, using manipulatives/models, using open-ended learning experiences, presenting three or more different entry points for students (different complexity of questions or problems) and using iPad technology.

~Janice