Archive for November, 2019

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.

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

~Janice