reflections on spring 2020

Posted on: June 24th, 2020 by jnovakowski

Who could have predicted when we left for spring break on Friday, March 13, that we would not return to school as we have known it, for the rest of the school year. This spring has brought announcements, updates, change of plans, curveballs and new information and expectations on a regular basis. A global pandemic has brought changes to our lives, and to teaching and learning.

I never expected to have a YouTube channel, to be Zooming multiple times a day or to be doing live online math studio sessions but that’s what happened!

YouTube channel with math game and math studio videos

A highlight of each week was Thursday mornings when I took our math studio experiences online via Zoom. I hosted a primary session that usually had 30-40 students join in, and then an intermediate session that grew to about 15 students. I bought a special arm to hold my phone to use as a document camera so that I could do demonstrations for the students.

Zoom studio set up in my dining room

Some of their favourite projects were mazes, origami, cardboard shape structures and using the digital microscope.

The children in the Zoom sessions found ways to connect with each other – waving, calling out and commenting in the chat box. I loved hearing their little voices calling out, “Ms Novakowski, I need help…” as they worked on a project, holding it up to the screen for me to see, with a look that suggested that maybe I could reach through the screen to help them. These Zoom sessions highlighted the importance of the need for interaction during this time.

I also was fortunate to continue my learning with the grades 5&6&7 class an their teachers at Quilchena through Zoom math chats and numeracy tasks. More information can be found HERE.

I had regular weekly or bi-weekly Zoom chats with several small groups of educators throughout the term. Sometimes we were just checking in with each other but other times were time for planning together, sharing ideas and collaborating.

I also spent more time focused on content creation this spring than I have in a long time – from K-7 weekly math plans, interdisciplinary projects, math game resources and at-home learning ideas for families. It was an opportunity for me to think about connecting the dots across the grades as well as across curricular areas. Most these new resources are curated on our district portal, as well as on a page on this blog here:

BC Continuity of Learning

Every Wednesday at 2pm, about twenty Lower Mainland educators in similar roles as mine met via Zoom to share ideas and resources around math education during this time. As events and protests here in North America amplified the important discussions around anti-racist practices in education, Shaheen and I were asked to sharing some of the work we have been doing in the district around re-humanizing mathematics through culturally responsive pedagogies and investigating social issues. This focus re-framed much of the discussion within this group and our planning for professional learning opportunities for next year. Some reading and resources can be found HERE.

At this point, as we come to the end of the school year, it is still unknown what September will bring. We have learned to much and developed so many new skills over the last three months and we will adapt again in September. For now, I am going to let go of some of my wonderings – wondering how The Studio and its focus on materials might look in the fall and wondering what format my district role and responsibilities will take on.

I’m looking forward to a summer of rest and rejuvenation through spending time with my family, my backyard, reading, creating, learning new things and enjoying the outdoors (and spending less time on Zoom).

Take care,


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