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 October, let’s consider what is balanced numeracy?
I have been fortunate to be a part of a Ministry initiated project drawing together educators from across BC to form the BC Numeracy Network. Our first project together was to consider balanced numeracy within the redesigned mathematics curriculum.
The group of educators involved in this network began our professional collaborative inquiry together considering the question, What is balanced numeracy? Although we drew on the practices of balanced literacy, we looked to the current research in mathematics education to inform our thinking. In thinking about a balanced numeracy approach, we looked beyond mathematical content and foundations (which needs to remain in the foreground) to also consider the role of the learning environment, instructional and assessment approaches, the habits, dispositions and competencies of the discipline of mathematics, the importance of connection-making and the role of engagement in learning. We considered balance in terms of the day, week, month, term and year as well as what learning opportunities are provided to our students for individual practice and problem-solving, small group work and whole class routines, discourse and mathematical community building.
The BC Numeracy Network has created a website full of linked references and resources to support teachers’ professional learning: https://sites.google.com/view/bcnumeracynetwork/home
As you think about balanced numeracy, consider…
What do you consider when planning a balanced literacy program in your classroom? What aspects of this might apply to thinking about balanced numeracy?
How are numeracy experiences different from mathematics experiences and how are they connected?
What opportunities can I provide for my students to engage in small group work in mathematics/numeracy? (The North American classroom landscape suggests that most “math time” is either whole class or individual work).
How am I balancing the two components of the BC learning standards in mathematics – curricular competencies and curricular content?
How might providing balanced numeracy experiences for my students extend or enhance their thinking about mathematics?
There are many resources now available to support aspects of balanced numeracy in the classroom. Consider the following professional resources:
Math Workshop by Jennifer Lempp
Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton
Guided Math by Laney Sammons
Dr. Peter Liljedahl of SFU has many numeracy tasks available on his website
This part of our website defines numeracy in the BC context and looks at the parallels between balanced literacy and balanced numeracy.