creating spaces for playful inquiry: encounters with fibres and fabrics

Posted on: December 14th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

We launched our ongoing Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry professional learning community this year with a dinner event out at IDC for 50 Richmond teachers on October 22.

After time with materials, playful inquiry mentors Briana Adams and Jess Equia shared their investigation into fibres, sewing and natural dyes with Briana’s class. After dinner together, we broke into interest groups to engage in conversation with playful inquiry mentors.

The handout for the session can be downloaded here:

Follow up Studio Series sessions have been held in The Studio at Grauer. Our first session looked at the language of wool roving and what affordances it has. Teachers considered the story of wool from sheep to sweater and considered concepts such as texture and transformation that are developed as students work with this material.

Teachers had the opportunity to touch, transform and use wool roving in different ways to help deepen their understanding of this material and how they might use it in the classroom.

Our second Studio Series session looked at the language of cotton and what possibilities it offers us as a material. We considered the story of cotton from plant to t-shirt and also discussed the social and environmental implications of the cotton industry.

Teachers used cotton in different forms – fabric, rope, embroidery floss and thread – to create with.

Thank you to all the playful inquiry mentors for continuing to grow this community in our district and a special thank you to Briana and Jess for all their contributions!

~Janice

intermediate numeracy project: global issues infographic creation

Posted on: December 12th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

For our session together in December the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena examined two infographics about environmental issues and discussed how infographics use numbers and data in different ways to convey information, provoke thinking and to be persuasive. The students shared how they noticed how the infographics made some numbers large or highlighted them with colour to draw attention to them and how different types of charts or graphs can help the reader understand the information.

The students in the class have each selected a global issue that they are passionate about and have found an article in the National Geographic database to read and take notes on about their topic. They referred back to the article and their notes to find mathematical information that they could use in their own visual image that could become part of an infographic for their global issue project.

The students used apps (Pages, Paper or PicCollage) or online platforms (Canva, Piktograph) to create a visual for their project.

Through the process of creating their own visuals to share information, the teachers and I think the students will become more fluent at interpreting and analyzing infographics and other media.

~Janice

Big Math Ideas in K-2: professional learning series, fall 2019

Posted on: December 12th, 2019 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

For another year, we have held this three-part after school series with primary teachers to think together about the big math ideas in mathematics. For this series we focused on counting, number sense and place value understanding. Each teacher was provided with the teacher resource book Choral Counting and Counting Collections by Megan Franke, Elham Kazemi and Angela Turrou-Chan.

At our first session, we reviewed the different aspects of counting (see pedagogical content knowledge paper on counting available at the bottom of this post) and discussed ideas for both choral counting and counting collections. Teachers worked together in small groups to plan and lead a choral count that they would use with their students.

Stenhouse Publishers have an online choral counting tool you can use to plan out choral counts with your students. You can access it HERE.

Teachers were also asked to use the new SD38 Early Numeracy Assessment with some students in their classes and provide feedback on its usage and findings. This tool will be available publicly soon after this last round of trials and feedback.

At our second session, teachers shared what routines and innovations they tried with their classes and then we did counting collections together, considering ways to extend the counting collection experience by recording both the process of counting and the final count as well as recording equations that describe the count.

At our third session, we focused on place value concept development through tasks and games. Teachers had the opportunity to make some numeral materials. Its always handy to have sets of numerals available in the primary classroom for students to make connections between concrete rerpesentations of quantity with symbolic forms.

Some of the text slides from the sessions can be downloaded here:

Some other resources shared during the series are available here:

I have been fortunate to collaborate and co-teach with some of the teachers in this series as we continue to think together about developing number sense through counting and place value tasks.

~Janice

2019-2020 primary teachers study group: session two

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

Our second session of the year was hosted at Homma Elementary on November 28 – with thanks to Sarah and Reiko for having us.

K-7 Curriculum Implementation Teacher Consultant, Jess Eguia, began our time together with a land acknowledgement and three ways to enhance land acknowledgements in our schools. She shared the beaded timeline, sharing the story of time immemorial on this land,

and the Musqueam place names map which shares the significance of key places in the territory.

Jess also shared some ideas about Indigenous ways of knowing and being that could help teachers to elaborate and extend their students’ thinking about land acknowledgements.

Using land-based materials found locally, we did some bundle dyeing.

While the bundles steamed, we headed outside for a walk along the river, sharing stories of this place over time.

We came back into the Homma library for a hot cup of tea, the unbundling and sharing what we have been trying with our students, inspired by the resource books that are inspiring us this year.

Looking forward to continuing our conversations around land-based interdisciplinary projects in the new year!

~Janice

November thinking together: geometry across the grades

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

For the 2019-20 school year, the “thinking together” series of blog posts will focus on the  curricular content in the mathematics curriculum.  The “thinking together” series is meant to support professional learning and provoke discussion and thinking. Each month we will zoom in and focus on one curricular content area with examples from K-12 classrooms in Richmond.

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

The curricular content develops and builds over time. Each grade level has core curricular content knowledge and these are reflected in the big ideas for each grade level. There are five big ideas that reflect five strands of curricular content – number and number operations, computational fluency, geometry and measurement, patterning and algebraic relationships and data analysis and probability. A sixth content area in mathematics, financial literacy,  is new this curriculum.

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

GEOMETRY

The foundational research that informs educators how children’s geometric thinking develops over time was developed by the van Hieles in the 1950s and published formally in the 1980s. The van Hiele hierarchical model has five broad categories (numbered 0-4).

  • Level 0: Visualization – analyzes component parts of figures but cannot explain interrelationships between figures and properties
  • Level 1: Analytic – analyzes component parts of figures and their attributes, understands necessary properties
  • Level 2: Informal deduction – understands abstract relationships among figures, follows informal proofs
  • Level 3: Formal deduction – understands and uses undefined terms and theorems meaningfully
  • Level 4: Rigor – advanced geometric thinking beyond the scope of the traditional secondary mathematics classroom

A more in depth explanation of the categories, along with examples, can be found 0n pages 16-17 in this excerpt of an NCTM publication linked HERE.

One of our five mathematical big ideas in our BC mathematics curriculum focuses on spatial relationships. The K-9 “meta” big idea is: We can describe, measure, and compare spatial relationships. In our curriculum spatial relationships link geometry and measurement concepts and skills together. For example, in grade 7, one of the content learning standards is: volume of rectangular prisms and cylinders.

Spatial reasoning in young children is an indicator of future overall school success, as well as more specifically, literacy and numeracy (multiple research studies across disciplines including Duncan et al, 2007 – cited in Davis, 2015). It is not a pre-determined trait but is something that is malleable and can be learned. Spatial reasoning and geometry are foundational to disciplines such as astronomy, architecture, art, geography, biology and geology and are an essential part of STEM/STEAM education and future careers.

In K-7, students learn the following mathematical content related to geometry:

  • single attributes of 2D shapes and 3D objects
  • comparison of 2D shapes and 3D objects
  • multiple attributes of 2D shapes and 3D objects
  • construction of 3D objects
  • regular and irregular polygons
  • line symmetry
  • classification of prisms and pyramids
  • single transformations
  • triangles
  • combinations of transformations

An understanding of composing and decomposing both 2D and 3D shapes develops from Kindergarten through to grade 12. An understanding of what shapes make up other shapes is essential for students to apply geometric reasoning and to connect to measurement concepts such as area and volume.

Other aspects of geometry, such as positionality, perspective, dynamic movement and visualization, are embedded in the elaborations through projects, tasks and applications. These aspects are also important in the ADST curriculum, particularly in coding as well as in physical education, dance and visual arts.

In the first year of secondary school in Richmond, grade 8 students develop understanding of the big idea:

The relationship between surface area and volume of 3D objects can be used to describe, measure, and compare spatial relationships.

Grade 8 geometry content knowledge is focused on:

  • surface area and volume of regular solids, including triangular and other right prisms and cylinders
  • Pythagorean theorem
  • construction, views, and nets of 3D objects

The following are some photographs from a grade 8 math class at Hugh Boyd Secondary, where students investigate these intersecting geometry and measurement concepts in concrete, pictorial and symbolic forms.

A new Geometry 12 course was added to the choice of math courses available to our BC secondary students this fall. The five big ideas in the Geometry 12 course are:

  • Diagrams are fundamental to investigating, communicating, and discovering properties and relations in geometry. 
  • Finding invariance amidst variation drives geometric investigation. 
  • Geometry involves creating, testing, and refining definitions. 
  • The proving process begins with conjecturing, looking for counter-examples, and refining the conjecture, and the process may end with a written proof. 
  • Geometry stories and applications vary across cultures and time.

The curricular content for the Geometry 12 course includes:

  • geometric constructions
  • parallel and perpendicular lines:
    • circles as tools in constructions
    • perpendicular bisector
  • circle geometry
  • constructing tangents
  • transformations of 2D shapes:
    • isometries
    • non-isometric transformations
  • non-Euclidean geometries

Much of the content in the Grade 12 course builds on and further develops content knowledge that is included in the K-8 mathematics curriculum.

An instructional routine that is used across K-12 is Which One Doesn’t Belong? otherwise known as WODB. In this routine, students are presented with four related items (in this case, shapes) and are asked to describe and compare their attributes and then share their thinking and reasoning to explain if they had to choose one of the shapes to not belong, which one would it be and why. This routine develops many mathematics curricular competencies as students develop and synthesize content knowledge.

A WODB poster in English and French can be found on this site HERE.

Mary Bourassa has curated a collection of WODBs on THIS SITE.

As we think about how geometry concepts develop over time, we might consider the following questions:

What would you identify as core content around geometry at the grade level/s you teach?

What curricular competencies are connected to the curricular content of geometry?

How do we support students’ development of geometric reasoning, paying attention to the different concepts and skills involved and being mindful of van Hiele’s hierarchy? What assessment techniques will give use the information we need?

What opportunities are there for your students to make math to math connections, connecting their understanding of geometry to other mathematical content areas and to other disciplines?

~Janice

References

Taking Shape: Activities to Support Geometric and Spatial Thinking K-2 by Joan Moss et al (2016)

Which One Doesn’t Belong: A Shapes Book, A Teacher’s Guide by Christopher Danielson (2016)

Spatial Reasoning in the Early Years: Principles, Assertions, and Speculations by Brent Davis and the Spatial Reasoning Study Group, 2015

Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning: K-12 Support Document for Paying Attention to Mathematics Education, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014 (available as a pdf online)

Understanding Geometry by Kathy Richardson (1999)

Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach by Douglas Clements & Julie Sarama (2009, 2014)

Open Questions for the Three-Part Lesson: Geometry and Spatial Sense K-3, 4-8 by Marian Small & Ryan Tackaberry (2018)

intermediate numeracy project: water conservation task

Posted on: December 10th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

On November 27, I visited the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena to continue our focus on numeracy and for this session together I selected a numeracy task from Dr Peter Liljedahl’s website. The task continues the thinking we have been doing about water issues and and moves to thinking about agency around water conservation. We took some time together to go through what the task was asking of the students, what assumptions they needed to make, what calculations might be necessary and how they could share their recommendations.

Teachers Jen Yager and Sam Davis personalized the task by changing the names to teachers’ names from their staff. This made for some interesting comments about dental hygiene habits!

We needed to pause after the students read through and shared their understanding of the task with each other. Based on the experience we had with the last numeracy task we did, we had agreed to provide some supports to ensure students were able to get started with the task successfully. We talked through what the task was asking, what information they might need to research, what assumptions they needed to make and asked them about different ways they might approach the task.

When some of the students weren’t clear on what the differences between no flow, low flow and high flow of water was, a student quickly demonstrated for them at the sink.

The students researched the Canadian Dental Association’s recommendations for teeth brushing and did calculations for water usage. Based on their findings, they made recommendations to the teachers on ways they could conserve water while maintaining good dental hygiene. Some students wrote this up as a “report” while one student wrote a letter to her teacher with specific recommendations, backed up with her evidence.

Numeracy tasks such as these, organized by grade ranges, can be found on Dr. Peter Liljedahl’s website HERE.

~Janice

October thinking together: counting across the grades

Posted on: December 2nd, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

For the 2019-20 school year, the “thinking together” series of blog posts will focus on the  curricular content in the mathematics curriculum.  The “thinking together” series is meant to support professional learning and provoke discussion and thinking. Each month we will zoom in and focus on one curricular content area with examples from K-12 classrooms in Richmond.

KDU_knowdounderstand

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

The curricular content develops and builds over time. Each grade level has core curricular content knowledge and these are reflected in the big ideas for each grade level. There are five big ideas that reflect five strands of curricular content – number and number operations, computational fluency, geometry and measurement, patterning and algebraic relationships and data analysis and probability. A sixth content area in mathematics, financial literacy,  is new this curriculum.

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

COUNTING

“Understanding what counting is for is the starting point of an outburst of numerical inventions. Counting is the Swiss Army knife of arithmetic, the tool that children spontaneously put to all sorts of uses. With the help of counting, most children find ways of adding and subtracting numbers without requiring any explicit teaching.” (Dehaene, 1997, p.122)

Counting is considered a number concept and is connected to understanding of our number system, place value, multiples and other relationships between numbers. Within the learning trajectories research from Clements and Sarama (2014), and the critical learning phases work of Kathy Richardson (2012), the following stages are considered in the development of counting:

RIchardson

  1. Counting Objects (one-to-one, stability, checks by recounting, cardinality, estimates, counts out a particular quantity)
  2. One More/One Less (knows one more/one less without counting, recognizes when a number sequence is out of order)
  3. Counting Object by Groups (counts by moving in groups, knows quantity stays same even when counting by different groups)

Clements & Sarama

  1. Chanter
  2. Reciter
  3. Corresponder
  4. Counter
  5. Producer
  6. Counter and Producer
  7. Counter Backward from 10
  8. Counter from N
  9. Skipcounter by 10s
  10. Counter to 100
  11. Counter On Using Patterns
  12. Skipcounter
  13. Counter On Keeping Track
  14. Counter of Quantitative Units/Place Value
  15. Counter to 200+
  16. Number Conserver
  17. Counter Forward and Back

(the names of these stages are descriptive of the counting occurring, for more information visit the learning trajectories website)

Although these stages focus on whole number counting and number understanding, similar stages of development can be seen in parallel tasks when counting by fractions, decimal numbers or integers.

The skills and concepts involved in counting are developed over time and through multiple experiences:

  • correct sequence of number names
  • one-to-one correspondence: saying one number name for each object counted
  • cardinality: the last number said is the quantity counted
  • stability: the quantity of a group does not change if the objects are rearranged (also related to conservation of quantity)
  • relative size: more than/less than
  • make connections between number names, quantities and symbols
  • counting forwards, backwards and from any starting point
  • base-ten structure: how can I count or organize by tens and ones to find out how many?

There are many instructional routines that support the development of counting across the grades.

Counting Around the Circle

Counting around the circle is essentially having students count in sequence, taking turns to say the next number in the sequence, one student at a time. The starting number can be changed, the direction of count and the type of count can also be determined to practice specific skills and concepts. Norms can be put in place so that students feel supported by asking a neighbour, or having time to count ahead so they don’t feel “on the spot” when it is their turn if they are unsure of the number they need to say. An example of counting around the circle would be to begin with the number 81 and count backwards by 2s. The count could be recorded on a chart/whiteboard while the students count so the count can be discussed after the circle.

A math game related to this routine is “Buzz” where students sit in a circle and a number of the day is chosen, for example “4”. Every time a multiple of four should be said, a student says “buzz” instead. For example, 1, 2, 3, buzz, 5, 6, 7, buzz, 9, 10…

Choral Counting

Choral counting is a routine that involves having students count in unison to a preplanned counting sequence. As students count together, the teacher records the count in rows and columns providing a visual and symbolic connection to the oral counting. After counting together, the students look at the recording of the count to notice patterns and relationships.

Teacher Kristi Luk at Brighouse Elementary uses the Stenhouse Choral Counting planner to do choral counting sessions with her grades 6&7 class.

Stenhouse Publishers have an online choral counting tool to plan choral count, including counts with fractions and decimal numbers. It can be accessed HERE.

Counting Collections

Counting collections is a routine that emerged out of the research done with CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction). In essence, students (usually in pairs) choose a collection and count it in multiple ways and record their count (quantity and process) in a way that makes sense to them. Students may begin counting collections by 1s but then continue to develop their understanding of counting by counting in multiples such as 2s, 5s, etc. Grouping tools such as cups, plates and ten frames are often used as part of the counting process. Intermediate students can count items that are already grouped like a box of eight crayons or think about counting with decimal numbers as they count dimes or quarters.

The following are some blog posts on our district blog about counting collections:

Counting Collections K-3

Introducing Counting Collections in Kindergarten

Extending Counting Collections Grades 1-4

As we think about how counting and number concepts develop over time, we might consider the following questions:

What would you identify as core content around counting and understanding numbers at the grade level/s you teach?

What curricular competencies are connected to the curricular content of counting and number concepts?

How do we support students’ development of counting, paying attention to the different concepts and skills involved with counting? What assessment techniques will give use the information we need?

What opportunities are there for your students to apply/transfer their understanding of counting to authentic contexts and problems?

~Janice

References

Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach by Douglas Clements and Julie Sarama (2009, 2014)

How Children Learn Number Concepts: A Guide to the Critical Learning Phases by Kathy Richardson (2012)

Choral Counting and Counting Collections by Megan Franke, Elham Kazemi and Angela Chan Turrou (2018)

The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics by Stanislas Dehaene (1997, 2011 – revised and updated edition)

Number Sense Routines: Building Numerical Literacy Every Day in Grades K-3 by Jessica Shumway

Number Sense Routines: Building Mathematical Understanding Every Day in Grades 3-5 by Jessica Shumway

Counting: Reggio-Inspired Mathematics Pedagogical Content Knowledge four-pager

intermediate numeracy project: water crisis in Canada

Posted on: November 29th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

I visited the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena for the second time on October 30. Inspired by the students’ interest in youth agents of change around climate change and by a mathematical modelling task created by Dr. Julia Aguirre about the Flint Water Crisis in the USA, we invited the students to think about the water crisis on many of our First Nations reserves in Canada.

We began by showing the students a video of water projector and advocate Autumn Peltier speaking to the United Nations 2019 Local Landscapes Forum about the water crisis in her community.

The video can be viewed HERE.

The students took notes, made connections, and recorded their wonders while they were viewing/listening to the video.

We shared three infographics about water issues in Canada and asked students to discuss the following questions:

We also asked students to consider the sources of the information in the infographics as we nurture the development of critical consumers of information.

More information and the infographics can be found HERE and HERE and HERE.

Much of the information was new to students and lots of questions came up. We discussed different types of water advisories and possible reasons why this was happening.

Students were then presented with a numeracy task. They were asked to consider how much water was needed for children for a year in a First Nations community. The purpose of the task was for students to consider the amount of water we use, issues around access to safe water and to think about an action plan for their “agents of change” thinking about how this problem could be resolved.

In hindsight, we made some assumptions that students would be able to think about all the types of information they would need to respond to this task, and know how to access this information using online sources. This was not the case, and a lot of support was needed to help students consider where they could find the information they needed. We talked about validity of sources, such as using Statistics Canada data rather than someone’s opinion on a blog post. The teachers and I realized that the students needed some mini-lessons on how to use Google as a search engine. I think we made assumptions about the students that they knew how to use technology, and they are savvy with many aspects of tech, but their fluency with accessing information was something we needed to develop. When we were able to find information, many students needed support in how to read the data tables. It became clear as we began the numeracy task, that this was much more complex of a task for the students than we had anticipated but we all persevered and made meaning at various levels and stages. For some students, support was needed with the mathematics and calculations involved.

Over the two hours we had together, students thought through various stages of the task. Some students got to the point of considering recommendations for how to reconcile the water crisis in some of our communities but not formalizing their action plans. Some students wondering what was happening to solve this issue.

We briefly looked at the Canadian government’s current plan. More information can be found HERE. This will be an ongoing conversation as we think about different ways that students can see themselves and act as agents of change.

~Janice

intermediate numeracy project: what is numeracy?

Posted on: November 19th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

Numeracy is a K-12 focus in our school district. Numeracy and literacy are considered the two pillars of the BC curriculum and new Graduation Assessments in both Numeracy and Literacy are now in place in our province. With teachers, students and families that I work with, I explain the distinction between mathematics and numeracy. Mathematics is the discipline, the body of knowledge, content and processes/competencies. Numeracy is using mathematics to interpret and understand issues or solve contextual problems. Our goal is to develop both numerate citizens that use mathematics to make sense of the world around them.

One particular area of focus in our district is developing numeracy and related tasks with teachers and students in grades 6-9 as a way to bridge elementary and secondary learning experiences. One clsss that I am spending time with on a year-long focus around numeracy is the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena with teachers Samantha Davis and Jen Yager.

I visited the class at the end of September to introduce what numeracy is. We used the definition of numeracy from the BC Ministry of Education site and shared it with students and used the “exploding the sentence” strategy as a way for them to understand the meaning of numeracy.

numeracy_definition

IMG_7862

The teachers had told me one of the current interests of the students was the climate strike. This was connected to their class focus on investigating youth who are agents of change and following the work of Greta Thunberg. I introduced the use of infographics to convey information and shared the following two images with the students. We discussed what we needed to know and do in order to be able to interpret the images and how different visuals can convey the same information but have different impacts on how we connect to the data and information.

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IMG_7867

At our next time together in October, we will think together through a numeracy task.

~Janice

2019-2020 primary teachers study group: session one

Posted on: October 16th, 2019 by jnovakowski

This year’s primary teachers study group has chosen the focus of trans-disciplinary learning in outdoor settings, connecting to the land and to place. For our first session of the year we met at McNeely Elementary on October 3, hosted by Anna and Shannon. Teachers were able to choose a focus book from four selections that we will draw upon over our time together this year.

IMG_8645

Jess Eguia framed our focus around thinking about planning through big ideas and concepts and shared some planning frameworks to support our work together.

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Concept and planning handouts from Jess Eguia:

Change Concept Handout

Conceptual Teacher Tool

Anna and Shannon shared the planning they have been doing with Jess and the three questions that are framing their year of learning with their students.

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IMG_8635

 

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We moved outside to the wooded area near McNeely. Teachers were asked to think about how the land inspired them to think about concepts. Some of us began with a concept and looked for where we made connections to that concept.

IMG_8648 IMG_8655

With thanks to Jessica Szeto of Anderson Elementary for sharing her knowledge of local mushroom species. “For Richmond/Vancouver specific mushrooms that are more urban, the ones in the list are the ones that come to mind. There are also some other mushrooms that have been spotted in Richmond, but they look quite similar to each other (ie. russulas, cone caps) and need some closer looks at the gills and spores to identify. But the ones above are the most memorable and easy to identify!”

Mushrroom pictures and list: Mushroom PDF

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Our study group is in its seventeenth year and has endured because of the teachers involved and the participatory nature and the valued contributions within our group.

Looking forward to our next session together in November and how we might share our thinking.

~Janice