Archive for June, 2021

SD38 Transitional Learning 2020-2021

Posted on: June 15th, 2021 by jnovakowski

Usually in June, I am reflecting on the professional learning projects from the school year and writing my annual summary report. But this year was a little different…and for purposes of reflection and documentation, I have written about my year of supporting Transitional Learning.

screenshot on Zoom just before a math studio session

We began the 2020-2021 school year with uncertainty, not sure how things were going to unfold. On September 14 I was re-assigned from the district teacher consultant role to being what our HR department called “general teacher” and being responsible for supporting 4000 K-7 students in mathematics and science who were learning from home due to the pandemic while several thousand students attended school face to face in our school buildings. We had just a few days to imagine what this could be and within a week we were “live” with weekly learning plans posted to our portal and live webinars and Zoom meetings scheduled. I was part of a new team of re-assigned teacher consultants who were also supporting students at home in the areas of French Immersion, Language Arts/Social Studies/Career Education and Arts Education. The first few weeks tested me in new ways and I do not think I have ever felt that degree of stress and responsibility in my entire teaching career.

I learned how to use a whiteboard within a confined space that was visible during webinars and how to teach to hundreds of students at a time that I didn’t know and layer language, gestures, visuals and other supports for their learning.

I learned all the new tools involved with this type of remote learning – webinars. Zoom meetings, using an iPevo mirror-cam and a HUE document camera. I used sites such as desmos and a variety of virtual manipulatives and online resources from Mathigon, the Math Learning Center and Toy Theater.

where I stood for the four “live webinars I did every week

Each week I developed and wrote four math and science plans (K&1, grades 2&3, 4&5, 6&7) prepped and delivered four live webinars, filmed and edited a weekly overview video, held a weekly webinar for parents and caregivers and hosted a Zoom session for TL teachers each week. It was a lot. I kept telling myself that this was my way of serving the district this year until February 1…

One of the highlights of the fall and winter was inviting our K-3 TL students to submit videos of themselves counting from 1-10 or 20 in their home languages. I then shared these videos during the primary math webinars and we practiced counting in different languages including sign language. I now have a collection of counting videos in over thirty languages!

I continued to develop a SD38 YouTube elementary math channel that I started in the spring of 2020 when we all were staying safe at home. I never thought that I would have a YouTube channel. My sons think it is quite hilarious! It has many many videos now – weekly videos for the TL learners and their families teachers are unlisted but all the math games and projects are public. You can find it here:

In schools, TL teachers supported their students with regular Zoom meetings and assessed the mathematics assignments that students posted to their eportfolios. I found it increasingly difficult to see that there were hundreds of students in the webinars but not be able to see them or even see their names. It is hard to connect and develop relationships through the camera on your laptop! During the week before the winter holidays, I offered some optional Zoom math studio sessions which were well-attended and I finally felt some joy in the work I was doing.

The Board then voted to extend Transitional Learning to spring break. Some students returned to their schools on February 1 but most continued to stay at home. I held weekly Zoom math studio sessions for primary and intermediate students and added a primary math storytime each week. These sessions were the highlight of my week and I began to get to know many of the TL students through this format. During this time, one of our teacher consultant colleagues was asked to take on the science component of the planning and I was able to streamline a few things in my weekly plans in order to make time for a 20% return to my teacher consultant work. For this part of my work I focused on our district’s numeracy visioning and framework development and the Ministry’s numeracy proficiency standards project.

One of the highlights of doing Transitional Learning was seeing the math and numeracy tasks and projects that the students did. Some teachers shared their students eportfolios with me and other teachers or parents would send me emails with student work attached for me to see. For some tasks and math studio projects, I created padlets for students to share their projects with each other.

tangram pictures from our math studio sessions

And then just before spring break, the Board voted to extend Transitional Learning until the end of the school year. This was a hard and difficult year, not just for me and my colleagues supporting Transitional Learning but for everyone. I kept reminding myself of the students, many who had been at home since March 2020, and continued to do what I could to serve and support the students, families and teachers I had been tasked with supporting this year.

June has brought a lot of “lasts” – last video filmed and edited, last project posted, last math game shared, last primary math storytime, last set of studio sessions and I took a photo of the portal screen when I posted the final week of TL math plans – Week 36. And on Wednesday, June 23, I hosted my last live math webinars – what a year.

I never expected in September 2020 that this would have been my year. I did a completely different job than what I had “signed up” for. I learned a lot about myself, my district, our families and students. And I learned that regardless of the context, in person or remote, the heart of teaching and learning is relationships. So yes, there has been a LOT of math for me this year, but learning to nurture connection and care through a web cam has been at the essence of my work this year.

For the final week, I asked students to reflect on and celebrate their math learning from this year. We had done some different weaving projects and I invited students to use those techniques to weave together their reflections, goals and celebrations of learning. I decided to do the week 36 project as well and invited students to share their final projects on a padlet. It was so lovely to read over what the students shared.

It was both an honour and a pleasure teaching this group of students and I hope as many of them return to our schools in September that I might actually get to meet some of them in person!

Take care and have a wonderful summer.


SD38 Numeracy Projects 2021

Posted on: June 13th, 2021 by jnovakowski

In February 2021 I was able to carve out one day a week from my Transitional Learning duties to work on some district numeracy projects.

K-12 Numeracy Vision and Framework

Our school district’s board has a new strategic plan for 2020-2025 and the first priority is Inspired Learners. One of the goals for this priority is: the district builds literacy, numeracy and digital literacy through innovation and a commonly held vision. And the objective I have been focusing on is 2. develop and implement a K-12 numeracy vision and framework. The team I have been working with includes secondary curriculum teacher consultant Shaheen Musani and Kate Campbell of the District Support Team. We have had regular meetings this last term with the district executive team and our parallel literacy team to develop a vision statement and framework, including a visual image that we hope will be “clickable” online and lead to resources and supports for educators and family and community members. We have been able to get feedback from teachers in the district who have been involved with numeracy working groups and projects over the last two years and look forward to continued development of the framework and stakeholder feedback. The overall goal of this vision and framework is to consider what is a numerate learner and how do learners experience numeracy across all areas of learning and contexts.

Ministry Proficiency Project

The BC Ministry of Education is developing new literacy and numeracy performance standards. Last summer myself and some other teacher consultant colleagues were in the first development group and shared literacy and numeracy tasks from Richmond classrooms. A provincial K-5 working group has further refined what are currently being called proficiency benchmarks and this spring several teachers in our district trialled numeracy tasks and provided evidence/illustraitons of learning for the different numeracy aspects and sub-aspects. The provincial working group will continue to refine the proficiency standards this summer and the grades 6-12 proficiency standards should be available next year with final numeracy performance standards available by 2023.

The following table shares the current numeracy aspects and sub-aspects that are included in the assessment tool:

Update K-2 Numeracy Assessment Resources

With a focus on early numeracy, our district developed a K-2 numeracy assessment resources from 2017-2019. Those resources can be found here:

This spring some updates, revisions and additions have been made to the resources and they will added to the above link as well as to the Mathematics and Numeracy tile on the portal.

Numeracy Presentations from May 21

On our district professional learning day on May 21, I shared a short informational session for K-5 on the different numeracy initiatives and projects in our district. Shaheen Musani joined me for a second session with grades 6-9 teachers. The slides from both sessions can be found on the district portal in the Mathematics & Numeracy tile.

SD38 Numeracy Tasks and Resources

On the portal, under Learn 38. under Resources for Teaching and Learning 2020/21, under Curriculum Specific Links and then in the Mathematics & Literacy tile, you will find several links to numeracy resources. A direct link is HERE for SD38 employees.

Also on the portal in Learn 38 are all of this years’ weekly math plans for Transitional Learning. For each grade, in each week, there is a numeracy task. Some of these tasks are intended to help students build their understanding of what numeracy is and others are tasks that students need to use the numeracy processes of interpret, apply, solve, analyze and communicate.

What are some actions you can take to support the development of numeracy within our district?