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.
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.
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).
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.