Archive for the ‘inclusive practices’ Category

summer professional learning and reading 2018

Posted on: June 29th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

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.

Professional Reading

My first summer professional reading stack of the summer!

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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

June thinking together: How can we work together with families to support our students’ mathematical development?

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

Last June I attended the Cognitively Guided Instruction conference in Seattle and one of the things that really resonated with me was the number of projects around mathematics that schools were working on that had a focus on involving families and connecting to the community. We were asked to commit to “one thing” to connect our learning at the conference to our work in our contexts for the following school year and my one thing was:

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Before the CGI conference, I might have used the term parent involvement instead of family engagement but the conference nudged my thinking – there are many people taking care of our students – parents, grandparents, siblings, legal guardians and caregivers. The term “family” is more inclusive and the term engagement rather than involvement is more representative of what our hopes and goals are.

Over the past few years, I have done several event for school and district PACs as well as our annual Learning and the Brain conference for parents. This year I did two outreach interactive sessions about mathematics for parents through the Richmond Public Library, coordinated by our Settlement Workers in Schools program.

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Increasing parent engagement and making mathematics education visible in our community area areas and goals that I am going to continue to focus on. Suggestions welcome!

Many parents, guardians and caregivers of our students have questions about the “new” mathematics curriculum and my short response is usually: the content has not changed significantly and new content has been added in the area of financial literacy and more learning standards and big ideas around computational fluency have been added. Those changes were part of the feedback cycle in the curriculum redesign. Parents had many opportunities to provide feedback through stakeholder meetings across the province (and within our district) as well as being able to provide online feedback. Beyond the core content (knowledge) at each grade level, other elements that are part of the curriculum redesign, and not just in mathematics, is the focus on core competencies, curricular competencies, weaving in Indigenous knowledge and perspectives and considering a range of instructional approaches to be inclusive of the diverse learners in our classrooms.

The BC Ministry of Education has provided information for parents on the curriculum redesign on their website and this information is available in four languages (tabs at top of website):

BC Ministry of Education curriculum redesign information

Beginning this year (not including 2018 grade 12 students) students will need to pass a Graduation Numeracy Assessment as part of their graduation requirements. We need to help communicate to our parent community that this is not a “mathematics” exam and is not connected to a specific mathematics grade or course.  The Ministry has provided information for parents on the Graduation Numeracy assessment that you can share with them:

Graduation Numeracy Assessment information for parents

We had one pages of the Ministry document translated into Chinese for our parent community for those schools that were part of the gradual implementation of the assessment in January:

SD38_GNA Information for Parents (Chinese page 1)

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 11.07.23 AMTable Talk Math is a website and book created by John Stevens. In it he shares ways parents can engage in talking about mathematics with their children at home. He has a weekly newsletter  that parents and teachers can subscribe to on his website. John’s five-minute Ignite talk is shared on his site. At the end of his talk (with teachers as the intended audience), he suggests four calls to action for educators to work in partnership with their students’ parents:

  • celebrate parent involvement
  • show your students’ parents that you care
  • show parents how they can help
  • help parents help their kids be amazing

Table Talk Math website link

And here is a collection of suggestions for parents that I have shared at various district and public events:

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I am in the process of drafting a parent information bulletin for our school district, which will be translated into multiple languages once it is finalized. Look for it this September!

As we think about ways to engage families in mathematics, here are some questions to consider…

  • What do your students and their families think about mathematics? What are their feelings and beliefs?
  • How are we sharing information about the mathematics curriculum with families?
  • Do your students and their families see themselves represented in mathematical learning experiences at school?
  • How do you make use of your families’ cultural assets in our mathematics learning experiences in schools?
  • How are we sharing and communicating our students’ mathematical thinking and learning to families?
  • How do we create reciprocal learning opportunities in mathematics between families and the school context?
  • What opportunities do we create to connect mathematical learning to our local community? 
  • How are families engaged with mathematics learning in our classrooms and schools?

~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.

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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 1 Comment

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

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

Story Workshop series – 2018

Posted on: May 24th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

A group of district teacher consultants and school-based teachers came together this spring to facilitate a three-part Story Workshop after school series. This was in response to many requests and questions  from teachers in our district about Story Workshop. The facilitators of the series were: Sharon Baatz, Louesa Byrne, Michelle Hikida, Carrie Bourne, Lisa Schwartz, Marie Thom and myself.

A goal of this series was to honour the work of Opal School educators who developed the structures and practices of Story Workshop as a way to connect the arts and literacy. Opal School educators draw upon social-constructivist learning theory and have been informed by the early childhood educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy as well as American educators such as those working with Harvard’s Project Zero initiatives. Opal School has a deep commitment to equity and access for all students and to develop student agency.

They are many other ways we might engage our students in storytelling experiences – oral, digital, writers workshop etc but the focus of this series was to create awareness and understanding of Story Workshop as developed by Opal educators. The Opal educators have developed five structures or stages of Story Workshop. Some stages are more for the educator to consider and some take more time than other stages. Some of the structures such as negotiation or congress might involve small groups of students and an educator instead of the whole class. Over the series, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of the process of Story Workshop and what it offers the students in our classrooms and what it offers us as educators.

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In our first session on April 9, we focused on the stages of Preparation and Provocation. We watched and discussed the Opal videos and Michelle, Louesa and Sharon shared examples of these stages of Story Workshop from their Richmond classrooms.

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We watched and discussed the first two videos of the series and used the following questions to frame our small group discussions:

What do you notice about the materials the teachers are using?
When you look around your own setting, what unexpected materials might you use in new ways?
What do I want the children to learn?  How can I support this learning?

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Story Preparation begins with our image of children. Preparation is about preparing the environment; setting up the space, creating an environment that supports children to tell their stories. Opal educators strive for environments that are playful, engaging, naturally motivating, with multiple opportunities for all children to enter into the work.

At Opal, educators convert social-constructivist theory and inquiry into practice by offering provocations. A Story Provocation is a question that is introduced to children to engage and support their interests and curiosity.

The Opal videos can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Preparation

Story Workshop  - Story Provocation 

IMG_6207Educators attending the series were each provided with the book Equity and Access Through Story Workshop.

The videos and supporting text are available at no cost to Opal School Online Sustaining Members and at a small cost to non-members: You’ll find both here.

Educators were asked to make a commitment to something they would try, inspired by the first session, and to be prepared to share a reflection, documentation or an artifact at our next session.

 

IMG_7269At the second session on April 30, we began by having teachers share what they had tried around Story Workshop with their students. Lisa shared how Story Workshop can be part of a balanced literacy program. Marie talked about different ways to approach Story Workshop with different ages of students and that the process needs time and patience, not rushing towards recording/writing the stories.

We also shared copies of this blog post from Opal for educators to read and reflect upon their own practice and how Story Workshop might be enacted in their classrooms and schools.

We focused on the next two stages of Story Workshop – invitation & negotiation and story creation.

At Opal, the invitation and negotiation time focuses on students being metacognitive about their plans for each day. It is often just a few minutes with opportunities for educators to have a one-on-one check in with students.

At Opal, educators invite children to explore the classroom and materials in search of their stories and this time can last about 45 minutes. Story Creation is a time of looking for and finding stories from the child’s real or imaginary life. Children play with materials, talk to each other, and tell and write their stories.

Sharon and Louesa shared examples from their classrooms:

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The Opal videos can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Negotiation

Story Workshop – Story Creation

Again, teachers were asked to try something around story negotiation or creation and to consider an area of Story Workshop that they would like to go deeper with.

At our final session on May 14, we invited teachers into The Nest and to think about how different materials might inspire different types of stories.

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Each educator was given the book I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino (it comes in both English and French) as a provocation for adults and children to think about different ways that stories can be shared.

We focused on the importance of Story Congress as a way for educators and peers to give feedback on students’ stories. Sharon, Louesa and Michelle shared some of the structures they use in their classrooms for this stage of Story Workshop.

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The Opal video can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Congress

Opal School has online courses available to extend and deepen understanding of playful literacy and Story Workshop. More information can be found HERE.

This was a very well attended series with a waiting list and we hope to be able to offer it again next year. Many teachers asked if we could provide opportunities to visit Richmond classrooms to see Story Workshop in action and we will put something in place for this for next year.

Some of the feedback from series participants include:

“I appreciate how professional the mentor presented so many awesome ideas, so well laid out. This series has profoundly affected my thinking and practice.”

“This series helped me think about Story Workshop, storytelling, oral storytelling, loose parts and how they are different yet integrated.”

“It has helped me breathe. Hearing how others navigate and problem-solve the same challenges I have encountered  has given me comfort and loads of inspiration.”

“This series extended my thinking about Story Workshop by exposing me to more diverse ways to engage with stories – outdoor, leaves/herbs, spindle whorl, clay markings etc.”

~Janice

elementary math focus afternoon 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

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.

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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

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Handouts from Fred Harwood’s sessions can be downloaded here:

Elem Focus Day Jan 2018 Rich Investigations

2018 Elem Math Focus Visual patterns

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

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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?

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~Janice

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

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

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.

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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

February thinking together: How can we rehumanize mathematics?

Posted on: March 1st, 2018 by jnovakowski

For February, let’s consider how can we rehumanize mathematics?

I was able to attend and present at the NCTM Regional Conference in Chicago this past November/December.

Words that came up over and over again throughout the conference were: EQUITY, ACCESS, EMPOWERMENT, POWER, AUTHORITY, PRIVILEGE, IDENTITY and AGENCY.

These may not be the words you may initially think of when you think about major themes at a mathematics education conference but there is a definite shift in how the role of mathematics within a society is viewed, and who is being included and what voices are being heard.

The conference opened with a panel of speakers addressing issues of access, equity and empowerment.

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The link to the archived Facebook live video form the opening session of the NCTM Regional Conference in Chicago on November 29 2017 is HERE

Kassia Omohundro Wedekind shared her thoughts on “hands down, speak out” practices, disrupting the traditional practice of having students putting their hands up to respond to questions, which in classrooms often reflects the inequities in society at large. She encourages teachers to create conversation maps of the mathematical discourse in their classrooms and to encourage all students to see themselves as mathematicians and contributors to the discourse.

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Dr. Tyrone Howard discussed the issues of inequity in classrooms with regards to race. He affirmed the importance of context and that students’ issues of identity need to be addressed.

Annie Perkins shared practices from her own secondary classroom that support all her students in seeing themselves as mathematicians. She developed “The Mathematicians Project” with a focus on introducing students to mathematicians that are “not just white dudes”.

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Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez is a well recognized researcher and author in the area of equity in mathematics. Over the last few years, her papers and presentations have focused on the idea of re-humanizing mathematics. Photos of some of her slides provide a beginning glimpse into her work. What stands out for you? What are curious about learning more about?

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Another presentation from Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez that might be of interest and would be great to share with during a pro-d day to open up discussion around equity, access and culturally responsive pedagogies for all students:

NCTM 2016 ShadowCon: Stand up for Students 

Dina Williams closed the opening panel with stories from her classroom and her version of a powerful song –  A Change is Gonna Come.

Change has been a long time coming.

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So to think about…

Do all of your students see themselves as mathematicians?

What mathematicians do you talk about in your class? Do you provide “mirrors and windows” for your students to see themselves in the curriculum and in others?

What types of mathematics do we privilege?

What is culturally responsive pedagogy in mathematics education?

How is mathematics necessary for engaging with ideas of social justice?

How can we broaden our understanding of math to de-center what is typically viewed as “school mathematics”?

How do we create mathematics experiences in our schools that are inclusive for all learners?

~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.

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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

Link to online Graduation Numeracy Assessment sample assessment

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.

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

~Janice