primary math mornings at Quilchena

Posted on: June 13th, 2015 by jnovakowski

I have spent most Monday mornings of this term at Quilchena Elementary, teaching in the primary classrooms and meeting with the teachers during a collaboration block. The school principal brings all the primary students together for a block each week for choir which provides time for the teachers to come together to collaborate and plan.

The teachers wanted to focus on number sense and over the weeks we looked at the importance of understanding number in different ways.

In Jessica Preswick’s Kindergarten class, we often began our classes with a short number talk involving dot cards or ten frames. Through the students “subtilizing” what they see and then describing it, we are able to get insight into the students understand of number. We also had students use materials to decompose a quantity into parts, for example, showing all the ways to make seven.

IMG_8640 IMG_8639 IMG_8407 IMG_8406 IMG_8405


IMG_8756 IMG_8755 IMG_8754

After much work with subitizing, decomposing and counting, we connected what we had been learning about number to think about measurement by comparing. The students used the language of longer than, taller than and shorter than to compare objects. They ordered objects from longest/tallest to shortest. They also measured some of the objects using cubes and figured how much taller or longer the objects were, compared to another.

IMG_9222 IMG_9221 IMG_9220 IMG_9219


IMG_9214 IMG_9213

IMG_9211 IMG_9210

We also compared the capacity of bowls and cups by filling them with cubes and then comparing the “towers” of cubes.






In Marla McPherson’s and Karen Maeir’s Grades 1&2 classes, we focused on number talks, developing the students mental math strategies for addition and subtraction. I did need to demonstrate some of the strategies and remind students about the range of strategies they could use sometimes. We focused on students naming the strategies they were using as they explained them to create a consistent awareness of the strategies in the classes. Both teachers created strategy posters for their classrooms. It was amazing to see the students’ confidence with the strategies develop over the weeks and their increased ability to discuss the strategies. We also played card games that focused on them using the strategies to help them develop computational fluency.


IMG_8759 IMG_8758 IMG_8757

IMG_9209 IMG_9204 IMG_9039

IMG_9392 IMG_9391 IMG_9390

In Andrew Livingston’s grade 3 class we began looking at multiplication and division and then moved on to fractions. Approaches we used to learn about these concepts included number talks, use of concrete materials, visual representations, games and use of iPad technology to represent our learning.


IMG_8414 IMG_8413 IMG_8412

IMG_8653 IMG_8652 IMG_8651 IMG_8650 IMG_8649 IMG_8648 IMG_8647 IMG_8646 IMG_8645 IMG_8644

Using Cuisenaire rods to learn about fractions…

IMG_9032 IMG_9036 IMG_9035 IMG_9034 IMG_9038 IMG_9037

Using the ShowMe app to explain what we know about fractions…

IMG_9247 IMG_9245 IMG_9243 IMG_9235

IMG_9232 IMG_9231

In June, we introduced some geometric language and materials to the students, focusing on comparing the attributes of both 2D and 3D shapes. The students used the camera and PicCollage app on the iPads to collect examples of one shape.

IMG_9398 IMG_9399 IMG_9401

The teachers felt it was a powerful professional learning experience to have the weekly visits and discussions as a group. It was an opportunity to plan next steps for the week ahead as well as make connections between concepts at different grade levels. An ongoing professional inquiry like we had at Quilchena this term reminds me that collaboration and making time for reflection and professional learning is essential to professional growth.


Comments are closed.