Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

April thinking together: communicate mathematical thinking in many ways

Posted on: April 30th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

This month’s curricular competency focus is communicate mathematical thinking in many ways. This curricular competency is the same across grades K-9 and is included in the Grades 10-12 courses as “explain and justify mathematical ideas and decisions in many ways“.

This competency falls under the organizer of  ”Communicating and Representing” which includes the following related competencies:

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Elaborations are suggestions for educators to consider as they plan for developing this curricular competency:

  • communicate using concrete, pictorial and symbolic forms
  • use spoken or written language to express, describe, explain, justify and apply mathematical ideas
  • use technology for communication purposes such as screencasting and digital photography and videography

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There are clear connections between the Core Competency of Communication with this grouping of curricular competencies. A one-page table showing the language of both types of competencies can be downloaded here:

SD38 K-5 Math Communication_Avenir

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An important part of communicating mathematical thinking in many ways is to be able to use different forms such as concrete (materials or math manipulatives), pictorial (drawings, diagrams, tallies) or symbolic forms (numerals and symbols).

An example from primary classrooms of how students may move from concrete to symbolic notations is with the use of materials such as base ten blocks. Students may communicate their understanding of numbers by creating that number with materials and then recording the symbolic notation. The following are some examples from a grades 2&3 classroom at Cook Elementary that show how children used concrete, pictorial and symbolic forms to help them solve and communicate their solutions for mathematical problems.

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As students begin to understand a concept, such as multiplication, they usually construct a representation with materials to build understanding. These representation may then be recorded pictorially and then labels are added using symbolic notation. This fluency between forms is important and the connections between representations is essential to conceptual understanding. A student may be presented with a symbolic form (such as an equation) and asked to show a concrete form or pictorial form that “matches”. The following are examples from a grades 2&3 classroom at Tomsett Elementary.

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For our intermediate and secondary students, it is still important to be using concrete materials, especially when students are developing their understanding of a new concept such as fractions, decimals, or integers. The following are examples from a grades 4&5 classroom at Homma Elementary

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and also more fraction investigations with a grades 4&5 class at Steves.

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In our curriculum, the terms “concrete, pictorial and symbolic” are used in ways for students to think about concepts but also to communicate and represent their thinking. In some other jurisdictions around the world, the term CRA is used to reference an instructional approach to concept development, standing for Concrete, Representational and Abstract. More information can be found HERE. There is some overlap between the the CRA framework and how our curriculum focuses on concrete, pictorial and symbolic communication of mathematical thinking and understanding.

Another area of focus in our district is using iPad technology for students to communicate their thinking and learning. One of the most common uses of the devices in math is to use screen casting apps such as doceri, ShowMe, Explain Everything or 30Hands. When students screencast, they can take a photograph or video of what they are doing and then annotate with arrows, words etc and then orally describe their problem-solving process or thinking. For example, in a grade 8 class at Hugh Boyd Secondary, students took images of number balances they used to develop their understanding of equivalence in algebraic equations and then communicated their thinking by orally explaining their understanding.

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Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of communicating mathematical thinking in many ways:

How is the core competency of communication noticed, named and nurtured during the teaching and learning of mathematics?

What different materials are students learning to use, think through and represent with? What materials are mathematically structured and what other types of materials might we offer to students?

What opportunities are we providing for students to share their thinking in different ways? Are students provided with choices and is there a balance in the different ways students can communicate their mathematical thinking?

How might technology provide access for students or transform the way they are able to communicate their mathematical thinking?

 ~Janice

March thinking together: engage in problem-solving experiences connected with place, story and cultural practices and perspectives

Posted on: March 14th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

This month’s curricular competency focus is engage in problem-solving experiences that are connected to place, story, cultural practices and perspectives relevant to local First Peoples communities, the local community, and other other cultures. This curricular competency is the same across grades K-12 and courses and falls under the organizer of “Understanding and Solving” which suggest the focus of using contextual and meaningful experiences to support mathematical understanding.

Elaborations are suggestions for educators to consider as they plan for developing this curricular competency:

  • in daily activities, local and traditional practices, the environment, popular media and news events cross-curricular integration
  • have students pose and solve problems or ask questions connected to place, stories and cultural practices

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The focus and thinking behind this curricular competency are the ideas of authenticity, meaningfulness, engagement and connectedness. Not all mathematics learning needs be contextualized or connected to “real life” but for many students who may see math as something that they do at school between 9 and 10am and don’t yet see the relevance of the math they are learning, providing tasks and problems that connect to place, community and culture may support their mathematical thinking and learning and broaden their understanding and appreciation for what math is and how it can be experienced. Experiential and holistic learning are foundational to the First Peoples Principles of Learning and these are considerations for all learners. The First Peoples Principles of Learning also remind of us of the importance of connecting learning through place and story, working with others and developing a self of self, family, community and culture. This curricular competency is aligned with the Personal and Social Core Competency – positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility and social responsibility.

Some resources to consider:

Messy Maths by Juliet Robertson (elementary resource for taking math learning outdoors)

Tluuwaay ‘Waadluxan Mathematical Adventures edited by Dr. Cynthia Nicol and Joanne Yovanovich (mathematical adventures from Haida Gwaii developed by community members, elders and educators)

BC Numeracy Network – Connecting Community, Culture and Place

First Peoples Mathematics 8&9 developed by FNESC - this teacher-created resource is being revised to reflect the current BC mathematics curriculum and provide more learning experiences across grades and disciplines.

 

Blog posts from this site with related information:

Place-Based Mathematics

Place-Based Mathematical Inquiry

Primary Study Group 2018-2019 – Outdoors Math

Indigenous Content and Perspectives in Math

 

Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of engaging in problem-solving experiences connected to place, story and cultural practices and perspectives:

How does place/land/environment inspire mathematical thinking? What potential numeracy or problem-solving tasks emerge when we think about local land-based contexts?

What problems or issues are facing the local community? How might mathematics help us to think about and understand these problems or issues? What information or data might be collected and shared? How can we use different tools to communicate mathematical information to create an opportunity for discussion and engaging in a problem-solving process?

How does Indigenous knowledge connect, intersect and support the curricular competencies and content in our mathematics curriculum? Who is a knowledge holder in your local First Nations community that you could learn from and with? 

What are authentic resources? What stories and cultural practices are public and able to be shared? What doe it mean to use authentic resources, stories, and elements of culture in our mathematics teaching? How are resources specific to a local context? Who can we go to to find out more information and learn about local protocols?

What cultural practices in your community have mathematics embedded in them? How might we use the structure of “notice, name and nurture” to expand awareness of what mathematics is and how it can be experienced?

How can stories help us think about the passage of time, relationships, connections and mathematical structures, actions and models?

~Janice

big mathematical ideas for grades 3-5 2019

Posted on: March 13th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

This is the sixth year of this after school series that focuses on the big mathematical ideas encountered by teachers working with students in grades 3-5. This year this group met three times during term three.

Our first session was on January 17. Each teacher received the professional resource Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway.

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The focus of our first session was on multiplicative thinking and computational fluency.

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We began by working on a math problem together, from the book, and considered the different ways our students might engage with the mathematics.

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And then looked at visual routines from the book that support multiplicative thinking through spatial structuring.IMG_7304

We also considered games that provide purposeful practice for developing computational fluency and reasoning around multiplication, such as the array-based game, How Close to 100? from Mindset Mathematics.

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Our second session was on February 7 and after sharing the visual routines that we tried with our students, we discussed the big ideas around decimal numbers.

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IMG_7975Our focus from the book was using number routines such as Today’s Number as well as Number Talks with fractions and decimal numbers. We also connected using visual supports such as 10×10 grids in games to practice decimal computation and develop understanding of decimal numbers in both fractional and place value-based ways.

Some games and a recording sheet for thinking about decimal numbers from the session can be downloaded here:

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Our third session was held on March 7 during which we focused on the big idea of area, connecting this concept to both multiplication and the visual routines we had learned earlier in the series (arrays, spatial structuring, decomposing into parts).

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We also focused on the instructional routine of notice and wonder and how it can be used to have students make sense of a mathematical situation or problem as well as create an opportunity for students to ask questions that can lead into mathematical investigations.

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Annie Fetter of the Math Forum has made many math teachers aware of Notice and Wonder over the years and an overview document is available:

Intro I Notice I Wonder NCTM

For this session, a new SD38 math instructional routine poster was created and it is available in both English and French:

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notice wonder poster french

These posters are also all available on this blog, under the poster tab at the top!

Thank you to Grauer Elementary for the use of The Nest to host this series!

~Janice

 

February thinking together: develop, use and apply multiple strategies to solve problems

Posted on: February 28th, 2019 by jnovakowski No Comments

This month’s curricular competency focus is using multiple strategies to solve problems. There is a development in how strategies are used from K-12 and for what types of problems.

In K-5 the curricular competency language is “develop and use multiple strategies to engage in problem solving” with elaborations including examples of strategies involving visual, oral and symbolic forms and through play and experimentation.

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In K-5, we support students in developing a repertoire of strategies to draw upon and we encourage the practice of choosing and using these strategies in different problem solving experiences ranging  from structured word/story problems, open problems or questions or problem-based or numeracy tasks. During the development of strategies, students will notice similar strategies being shared by their classmates and these strategies might be named such as “looking for a pattern” or “acting it out” or “represent with materials”. Naming strategies such as these helps to enhance mathematical communication, discourse and community in the classroom when discussing mathematical problems.

As with many of the curricular competencies in math, there are slight variations between grade bands, showing the developing application and demonstration of these competencies.

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In grades 6-9 the curricular competency language is “apply multiple strategies to solve problems in both abstract and contextualized situations” with elaborations including examples of strategies focusing on those that are familiar, personal or from other cultures. Students in this grade range are refining and reflecting on their own use of problem solving strategies and we encourage students to listen and learn from their peers in order to consider new ways to think about a mathematics problem.

 

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In grade 10 the curricular competency language is “apply flexible and strategic approaches to solve problems” with elaborations such as deciding what tools to use to solve a problem as choosing from a list of known strategies such as guess and check, solve a simpler problem, model, use a chart, role-play or use diagrams. The numeracy processes for engaging in numeracy tasks are related to this competency at the secondary level - interpret, apply, solve, analyze and communicate.

 

Although specific strategies such as “guess and check” or “solve a simpler problem” are not named specifically in the elaborations from K-9, it is these more formally named strategies that are developed with understanding, meaning and purpose over time. Alternative or personally derived or preferred strategies may also be developed by students and shared with their solutions, supported with their reasoning and explanations to demonstrate their understanding of the problem and the mathematics involved.

Many math educators and researchers have found over decades of research and classroom experiences that students who have multiple strategies or approaches to problems are more fluent and flexible in their thinking. An important aspect of using multiple strategies is knowing when a particularly strategy is helpful or efficient. Not all strategies are suitable for all problems and this an important part of the progression of developing this competency in mathematics  One particularly effective instructional strategy is engaging students in comparing the strategies they used to solve a problem. Researchers have recently examined the cognitive process of comparison and how it supports learning in mathematics. The sharing and comparison of multiple student strategies for a problem was found to be particularly effective for developing procedural flexibility across students and to support conceptual and procedural knowledge for students with some background knowledge around one of the strategies compared. (Durkin et al, 2017 – referenced below). Based on their findings, the researchers share some significant instructional moves that will support student learning:

1) regular and frequent comparison of  alternative strategies

2) judicious selection of strategies and problems to compare

3) carefully designed visual presentation of the multiple strategies

4) small group and whole class discussions around comparison of strategies with a focus on similarities, differences, affordances and constraints

 

Examples of what the use of multiple strategies might look like in the classroom include:

Primary: The teacher reads the story The Frog in the Bog and asks the grade 1 students to figure out how many critters are in the frog’s tummy. The teacher invites the students to think about how they might solve this problem and what they will need. The students work on their own or with a partner to solve the problem through building with materials, acting it out, drawing or recording with tally marks and numbers. Some students accompany their solutions with an equation and one student records his ideas orally using iPad technology. As the students are working, the teacher pauses the students and asks them to walk around the room and see what their classmates are doing and see if they can find a new idea for their own work. After solving the problem, the students prepare to share their solutions and strategies with the class and the teacher gathers the students on the carpet and chooses some students who used different strategies to share. The teacher records the strategies on the chart and then asks the students if they have a new idea for a strategy for the next time they do a problem like this.

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Intermediate: In a grades 6&7 class, the teacher projects the first three figures of a visual pattern on the class whiteboard (examples on visual patterns.org). The teacher asks the students what they notice about the figures and records some of the students’ responses and then asks them to consider what comes next. Students are asked to consider what strategies or approaches might help them think about this. After some thinking time, the teacher asks the students to turn and talk with one or two other students and compare each others’ strategies and consider new ways of thinking about the problem. The teacher then invites the students to apply more than one strategy to solve what figure 43 will look like. The students share their solutions and strategies with the teacher recording the different strategies through different representations such as a drawing, a narrative, an expression, a table or a graph. The teacher then facilitates a discussion comparing the representations and how they are connected and support the understanding of the problem.

(with thanks to Fawn Nguyen and Marc Garneau for the inspiration)

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Secondary: Students in a grade 10 class are assigned to be in random groups of three and work on a numeracy task on a whiteboard or window around the classroom. The class has been learning about prime factorization and the teacher shares the following problem orally:

Prime numbers have exactly two factors – 1 and itself. Which numbers have exactly 3 factors? Exactly 4 factors? And so on. Given any positive integer, n, how can you tell exactly how many factors it has?

Each group of students begins talking and sharing their ideas. Students begin to record their thinking, using diagrams, charts, numbers, etc. and build on and challenge each others’ thinking about the problem and approaches to solving it. Students move around the room and watch or engage with other groups. The teacher facilitates students’ sharing of solutions and approaches to the problem and then provides a set of related problems for students to continue practicing with, either in their groups or independently.

Numeracy tasks such as this one can be found HERE and HERE and HERE.

(with thanks to Mike Pruner and Dr. Peter Liljedahl for the thinking classroom inspiration)

 

Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of using multiple strategies and approaches to solve problems:

What strategies and approaches do you notice your students using? Are some students “stuck” using the same strategy? How could you nudge students to try different strategies and approaches?

What different types and structures of math problems are being provided to your students? Are students flexible with their strategy choice or approach, making decisions based on the problem they are working on?

How might you and your students record their strategies and approaches to make this thinking visible?

What opportunities are we creating for students to watch and listen to others think through, choose and apply strategies and solve problems? How might this support their learning?

What tools, materials and resources do students have access to to support choice and application of different strategies and approaches when solving math problems?

~Janice

References

Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally by John van de Walle et al

Teaching Mathematics through Problem-Solving (NCTM) edited by Frank Lester and Randall Charles

Why Is Teaching With Problem Solving Important to Student Learning (NCTM Research Brief)

Durkin, K., Star, Jon. R. & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2017) Using Comparison of Multiple Strategies in the Mathematics Classroom: Lessons Learned and Next Steps, ZDM: The International Journal on Matheamtics Education 49(4), 585-597.

 

January thinking together: use technology to explore mathematics

Posted on: January 31st, 2019 by jnovakowski

This month’s focus is on the curricular competency: use technology to explore mathematics.

This is the language that is used from K-5 with the accompanying elaborations:

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This is the language of the learning standard for grades 6-9:

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And this is the language of the learning standard in grades 10-12, with elaborations that are more course-specific:

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There are many questions that arise for educators and parents around the use of technology. In some contexts the use of personal devices becomes a management and liability concern for schools and in other contexts there are access and equity concerns around technology. In terms of pedagogy and appropriate use, there is always a professional judgement made as to the suitable use of technology and whether it is enhancing the learning experience in some way. Technology is not to be used just for the sake of using technology but instead, choices are made around technology use based on intention, context and purpose. In mathematics, there are many applications that allow for students to visualize and experience mathematics in ways they would not otherwise be able to (one example is the use of Desmos). Another aspect of using technology in mathematics teaching is as a tool to represent and share students’ learning. There are many accessibility features available on devices for students who may need different tools to support their communication or recording of ideas. Technology can be a powerful tool to support inclusive practices, choice and differentiation.

When we look at BC’s redesigned curriculum for information on the role of technology within a learning environment, the following is shared:

ICT-enabled learning environments

Students need opportunities to develop the competencies required to use current and emerging technologies effectively in all aspects of their learning and life. Technology can facilitate collaboration between students, educators, parents, and classrooms while also providing schools with rich online resources. Today’s technology enables classrooms, communities, and experts around the world to share digitally in a learning experience, wherever they may be.

source: https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/overview

E-Portfolios

Communication with families (and others) is an important part of our education system and in our district we are embracing e-portfolios and the use of technology to share and communicate student learning and progress with families. Students are able to take photographs or videos and upload them to their portfolios and annotate their posts with information or self-assessment about their learning. The teacher is also able to add descriptive feedback that is shared between teacher, student and family.

Screencasting

As a classroom and resource teacher and teacher-librarian, one of my favourite uses of technology was the use of screen casting apps. These apps allow students to take a photograph of the math they have been building, creating, diagramming or recording and then use annotation tools such as text labelling and arrows to explain their thinking as well as using audio tools to narrate their thinking. I found that many students were more confident and detailed in sharing their learning through these apps that what I might have found out about their understanding in other ways. There is also an honouring of students’ uniqueness in how they might see or think through the mathematics that can be shown through these types of apps. Some examples of screen casting apps we use in our district our: ShowMe, Educreations, Explain Everything, 30Hands and Doceri.

Math Apps

There are many apps that can support mathematics learning – some are mathematics specific and others are used to represent and share learning. A caution is the type of math apps that are essentially a worksheet and don’t include any sort of feedback to students, visual supports, problem-solving or mathematical thinking. Some locally produced apps include the TouchCounts from SFU that uses the research around gesturing to create an interactive app that focuses on counting and decomposition and composition of quantities. Another series of BC apps are the MathTappers apps developed through the University of Victoria. Each app has visual supports for students developing their understanding of a concept as well as symbolic or abstract notation. There are also choices as the number range that students can work with, allowing for differentiation. These apps are all on our district configured iPad devices. Some specific apps from this series include Find Sums, Multiples, and Equivalents.

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 11.10.00 AMThe apps from the Math Learning Centre are also on our district configured iPad devices and allow for content creation and capturing students’ process and thinking. These apps are in web-based and iOS and Android formats. More information can be found HERE.

 

 

There are also so many apps that allow for students to share their thinking such as ShowMe, Educreations, Book Creator, PicCollage, 30Hands and Doceri.

Tracy Zager shares her ideas on evaluating math content apps HERE. Her non-negotiable criteria are:

1) no time pressure

2) conceptual basis for operations

3) mistakes are handled productively

Read through her blog post for explanation and examples.

The following is a link to some recommended apps and blog posts about students using them from #summertech15 and HERE is a blog post about using iPad technology and specific apps to support all students in mathematics.

 

Calculators

Although BC does not yet have a specific statement on calculator use, there is no intent that students will use calculators to complete calculations instead of learning the concepts and practice involved with operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). In some cases, students that have specific learning needs and plans may use calculators as an adaptation. In some cases, teachers may choose to provide the choice of calculators when the focus of the lesson or assessment is not on calculation but on another area of the math curriculum such as problem-solving and calculators can be used for the necessary calculations so that students can focus on the other aspects of the task. Calculators can also be used to investigate patterns and relationships, support student reasoning or justification.

The NCTM has a research brief on calculator use in the classroom which can be found HERE as well as a position paper on calculator use in elementary grades which can be found HERE.

Virtual Manipulatives

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The Math Learning Centre offers a variety of virtual manipulatives in web, iOS and Android formats. They can be accessed HERE.

 

 

 

desmos

Desmos is a free, online graphing calculator application that is used by teachers and students all over the world. There are both web-based and app platforms. Students are “able” to play with parameters in an equation and visually see how the graph changes as the parameters change.  The desmos staff and teachers across the world have developed lessons and tasks that are open source and shared through the desmos teacher website at no cost HERE. There is also an activity builder so that teachers can create their own tasks.

I attended a math conference a few years ago where Eli Luberoff, CEO of desmos, shared his passion for the teaching and learning enabled and enhanced by this tool. In particular, I was captivated by the marble slides task he shared and the authentic learning that we witnessed happening for students in the video he shared.

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More information about Desmos and access to many classroom activities can be found HERE.

Coding and Computational Thinking

There are many links between coding and computational thinking. Two new senior math courses – Computer Science 11 and 12 have been added to our BC curriculum framework and these courses focus on coding, programming and computational thinking.  I will be sharing a blog post specific to coding and math in the next few months.

Osmo

Screen Shot 2019-01-29 at 10.56.25 PMOsmo is an interactive accessory for iPad technology that uses the camera to create Reflective Artificial Intelligence. The red camera clip and white base are used with free apps and game materials that can be purchased online or at the Apple Store. Two of its earliest games focused on mathematics – the Tangram game focuses on spatial reasoning and the Numbers games focuses on decomposition and composition of numbers. Osmo is always developing new games including a Pizza game that focuses on financial literacy and a series of coding games.

More information about Osmo can be found in a blog post here and on their website here. The SD38 DRC has five Osmo kits available to borrow. Note that one iPad device is needed for each kit.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities (from Wikipedia). There is an interplay in AR between digital and real-world environments whereas in Virtual Reality (VR) you engage with a simulated environment. A few years ago we had a Google Expeditions team visit Homma school and share their Google cardboard virtual reality devices with the students. A blog post about that experience can be found HERE. This was a first foray into thinking about ways this kind of technology could support teaching and learning. My first experience with AR was a few years ago when the colAR app created a special event to go along with Dot Day (inspired by the book by Peter Reynolds). The information about this can be found HERE and is a great starting point to use AR with students.

Our new technology integration teacher consultant Ellen Reid has been exploring AR with the iPad app AR Maker . We talked about the mathematical possibilities for using AR and along with the development of spatial reasoning, the following concepts came to mind: surface area, volume, transformational geometry, scale, proportion, ratio, 2D and 3D geometry, and composition and decomposition of shapes. The following are some photos Ellen captured as she created AR WODBs (Which One Doesn’t Belong?):

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For Richmond teachers, please also check out the Integrating Technology for Teachers page, curated by Chris Loat, on our district portal linked HERE.

 

Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of using technology to explore mathematics:

How can technology enhance students’ mathematical experience and see and think about mathematics in different ways?

What specific curricular content and competencies at your grade level could be explored and investigated through technology, including the use of calculators?

How can technology be used to support students’ collaboration and communication in mathematics?

What opportunities are we creating for sharing and communication with families through the use of technology?  How are we communicating with parents how forms of technology are being used in our schools to support learning in mathematics?

~Janice

creating spaces for playful inquiry: encounters with charcoal

Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by jnovakowski

To launch the 2018-19 season of our ongoing professional learning series, Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry, we created opportunities for educators to have encounters with charcoal and make connections to teaching and learning across the BC curriculum. Inspired by our learning from Opal School in Portland to use different materials to explore ideas and emotions through an aesthetic dimension, we chose charcoal specifically as we believed it was a material that educators might need some support with, in understanding the material in new ways.

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We shared a blog post from the Opal School Blog: Thinking with Charcoal

and shared the Canadian books The Art of Land-Based Early Learning (volumes 1 and 2) that can be found HERE.

I actually experimented with making my own charcoal. I trimmed some willow branches from my backyard, tightly wrapped them in cheesecloth and then aluminum foil (to eliminate any oxygen inside) and put them in our fire pit. I didn’t have enough wood to maintain a high enough heat for long enough (researched needing about an hour) so I “finished” the packages the barbecue. They worked out quite well but next time, I will strip the bark off the twigs first.

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We curated a collection of charcoal and related materials from DeSerres and Phoenix Art Studio

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and invited educators to engage with materials, ideas and concepts.

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Our resource document about charcoal, including the questions provided to provoke educators’ thinking can be found here:

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Some educators commented that it was their very first time using charcoal themselves and they reflected on what it meant to explore a material for the first time, how that made them feel both curious and vulnerable and also sparked many connections and ideas for using charcoal with their students.

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Two of our playful inquiry mentors, Sharon and Christy, shared experiences and stories from their classrooms

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and then after dinner together, we broke off into mentor group to share ideas and think together about ways to engage with playful inquiry this school year.

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We have been growing our playful inquiry community in our district for several years now with both our own initiatives and projects as well as continuing to nurture our relationship with Opal School and it is exciting to continue to welcome teachers into our conversations. Our next district event will be an open studio at the district conference on February 15 and a playful inquiry symposium on the afternoon of the district pro-d day on May 17.

 

~Janice, on behalf of the playful inquiry mentors

 

 

December thinking together: visualize to explore mathematical concepts

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

This month’s focus is on the curricular competency: visualize to explore mathematical concepts.

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In the 2007 WNCP mathematics curriculum, visualization is defined as involving “thinking in pictures and images, and the ability to perceive, transform and recreate different aspects of the visual-spatial world”. Concepts such as number, spatial relationships, linear relationships, measurement, and functions and relations can be explored and developed through visualization.

In the new BC grades 10-12 courses, the elaborations for this curricular competency are:

  • create and use mental images to support understanding
  • visualization can be supported using dynamic materials (e.g., graphical relationships and simulations), concrete materials, drawings, and diagrams

Visualization and spatial reasoning involve the relationship between 2D and 3D shapes as well as dynamic imagery such as different perspectives, movement, rotations and reflections. Visualizing involves an interplay between internal imagery and external representations  (Crapo cited in NRICH article below). Students need experience with concrete and visual representations/pictures/models as well as being able to visualize something in their minds, often referred to as the “mind’s eye”.

Canadian and International research has shown that there are links between strong abilities to visualize and success in mathematics. One widely used psychological assessment for visualization involves “The Paper Folding Test”  in which a paper is folded and a hole is placed through a specific location and the participant is asked to visualize what the paper will look like when it is unfolded, utilizing the ability to generate, maintain and manipulate a mental image, (Lohman, 1996 cited in Moss et al 2016). A recent study also found a link between the ability to visualize and success with solving mathematical word problems, citing the ability to mentally visualize and make sense of the problem contributed to success in diagramming and solving problems (Boonen et al 2013 cited in Moss et al 2016). The Canadian work of (Moss et al 2016 ) and their Math for Young Children research project focuses on spatial reasoning and the importance of developing students’ flexible use of visualization skills and strategies.

 

Instructional Resources

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 4.11.50 PMThe book Taking Shape (referenced below) provides several visualization tasks on pages 30-35 but visualization is an important component of most of the spatial reasoning tasks in the book.

 

 

 

 

Quick Images is an instructional routine that supports the visualization of quantities and shapes. Dot patterns and Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 2.26.05 PMcomposition of shapes are often used as quick images. More information and videos can be found on the TEDD website HERE.

 

A short article from the NCTM explaining the connection between visualization and subitizing can be found here:

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Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 2.28.51 PMFawn Nguyen has compiled a collection of visual patterns HERE. Visual patterns provide the first three steps of the pattern and then students are asked to visualize the next steps, which involves both arithmetic, algebraic and geometric thinking.

 

Desmos in an online graphing calculator that allows for students to predict, Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 2.52.41 PM

visualize and graph linear relationships and functions and relations.

 

 

So what does it mean to be proficient with visualizing?

As we begin to work with the new proficiency scale across BC, we need to consider what it means to be proficient with visualizing to explore mathematical concepts in relation to the grade level curricular content. As more teachers across the provinces the the scale, we will have examples of student proficiency that demonstrates initial, partial, complete and sophisticated understanding of the concepts and competencies involved.

For example, a grade six student at the end of the year would be considered proficient with visualizing geometric transformations if they were able to follow directions to mentally translate, rotate and reflect a 2D shape and show or describe the resulting orientation/position.

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Some questions to consider as you plan for learning opportunities to develop the competency of visualizing:

How is the core competency of communication developed through the process of visualization? What different ways can students show and explain what they are visualizing – using materials, pictures or words?

How do the competencies of estimating and visualizing complement each other to support reasoning and analyzing in mathematics? How can using visual referents support estimating?

How can we help students understand the purpose and usefulness of developing visualization skills and strategies? What examples can we share of scientists and inventors that used visualization to develop theories and ideas?

What opportunities are we creating for students to practice and use visualization skills and strategies across different mathematical content areas such as geometry, measurement, number, algebra and functions?

~Janice

 

References

Thinking Through and By Visualizing (NRICH)

The Power of Visualization in Math by Jeremiah Ruesch

Spatial Reasoning in the Early Years: Principles, Assertions, and Speculations by Brent Davis and the Spatial Reasoning Study Group, 2015

Taking Shape: Activities to Develop Geometric and Spatial Thinking by Joan Moss, Catherine D. Bruce, Tara Flynn and Zachary Hawes, 2016

 

September thinking together: mathematics curricular competencies

Posted on: September 28th, 2018 by jnovakowski

For the 2018-19 school year, the “thinking together” series of blog posts will focus on the curricular competencies in the mathematics curriculum.  The “thinking together” series is meant to support professional learning and provoke discussion and thinking. This month will provide an overview of the curricular competenecies and then each month we will zoom in and focus on one curricular competency and examine connections to K-12 curricular content, possible learning experiences and assessment.

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The curricular competencies are the “do” part of the know-do-understand (KDU) model of learning from BC’s redesigned curriculum.

The curricular competencies are intended to reflect the discipline of mathematics and highlight the practices, processes and competencies of mathematicians such as justifying, estimating, visualizing and explaining

The curricular competencies are connected the the Core Competencies of Communication, Thinking  and Personal & Social. More information about the Core Competencies can be found HERE.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 9.45.26 PMThe curricular competencies along with the curricular content comprise the legally mandated part of the curriculum, now called learning standards. This means these competencies are required to be taught, assessed and learning achievement for these competencies is communicated to students and parents.

Something unique about the mathematics curricular competencies is that they are essentially the same from K-12. K-5 competencies are exactly the same with some slight additions in grades 6-9 and then building on what was created in K-9 for the grades 10-12 courses. Because they are the same at each grade level, to be assessed at “grade level” they need to be connected to curricular content. For example, one of the curricular competencies is “estimate reasonably” – for Kindergarten that will mean with quantities to 10, for grade 4 that could mean for quantities to 10 000 or for the measurement of perimeter using standard units and for grade 8 estimating reasonably could be practiced when operating with fractions or considering best buys when learning about financial literacy.

The new classroom assessment framework developed by BC teachers and the Ministry of Education focuses on assessing curricular competencies and can be found HERE.  A document outlining criteria categories, criteria and sample applications specific to K-9 Mathematics can be found HERE. The new four-point proficiency scale provides language to support teachers and students as they engage in classroom assessment.

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As we are begin a new school year and are thinking about year plans and overviews we might consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities do students have to learn about what it means to be a mathematician and what mathematicians do?
  • What opportunities can be created over the school year for students to name, be aware of, practice, develop and reflect on the core and curricular competencies in mathematics?
  • How can we make the core competencies and curricular competencies in mathematics visible in our classrooms and schools?
  • As we are planning for instruction and assessment, how are we being intentional about weaving together both curricular competencies and content? What curricular content areas complement and are linking to specific curricular competencies?

~Janice

April thinking together: How do the core competencies connect with mathematics?

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by jnovakowski

The Core Competencies are at the centre of BC’s redesigned curriculum and underpin the curricular competencies in each discipline, such as math. An overview video about the Core Competencies can be viewed HERE. Drawing from global education research and through provincial consultation with stakeholder groups, three Core Competencies were identified – Thinking (creative and critical), Communication and Personal & Social (positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility, and social responsibility).

As we develop awareness about the Core Competencies during the school year, we consider the ideas of “notice, name and nurture” – looking for evidence of core competency development or application in our classrooms and schools.

In our district, we have created Core Competency posters in both English and French, overviewing all the core competencies as well as posters specific to one core competency (all available through the district portal). These posters are up in classrooms and schools to create awareness and develop common language around the core competencies.

In The Studio at Grauer, much of the work we do in mathematics has elements of the core competencies involved. In the mathematics curriculum, each of the curricular competencies is linked to one or more of the core competencies. The COMMUNICATION chart in the photograph below is an example of how I make this focus clear to myself, teachers and the students when we work together in The Studio. I often identify a specific curricular competency in our initial gathering meeting, that we are going to focus on together as we work with a mathematical idea. For example, I might say to the students,
“Today as you are thinking about comparing and ordering fractions with materials, practice explaining and justifying your decisions to a partner – that will be our focus when we come back as a whole group at the end of our time together today.” 

Other times, I will ask the students to reflect on their last experience in The Studio and consider what they need to work on around communication, either personally or as a class.

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The following are documents that show the links between the Core Competencies and the Curricular Competencies in Mathematics:

SD38 K-5 Math Connections between Core and Curricular Competencies

SD38 6-9 Math Connections between Core and Curricular Competencies

SD38 K-5 Math Communication

We have woven self-assessment and reflection about the core competencies into our projects and learning together throughout the year. During the last school year, there was a requirement for students to do a “formal” self-assessment to be included in the June report card. For students to authentically self-assess and reflect, they need to be familiar with the language of the core competencies and be able to connect to learning experiences they have had throughout the school year. During the third term last year, the grades 3&4 class from Grauer visiting The Studio weekly to engage in a mathematics project around the work of Coast Salish artist Susan Point. At the end of each session together, we had the students share their learning – what did you learn? how did it go/what did you do? what’s next for your learning/what are you wondering about? Sometimes students turned and talked to someone near them, other times, students shared their learning and thinking to the whole class.

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Every few weeks, we had the students do a written/drawn self-assessment and reflection. We have found that using question prompts to support reflection and considering evidence of learning has been the most authentic and personalized way to have students think about and connect to the core competencies. We developed some recording formats to capture students’ thinking, with the clear intent that students are not expected to “answer” all the questions – that they are they to prompt and provoke reflection and self-assessment. A team of Grauer educators were working together on an Innovation Grant project around creative thinking and growth mindset and we wove these ideas in to some of the self-assessments.

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Here is one example of a recording form:

Grauer_Competency_Math_Reflection_May2017

As we are coming to the end of another school year and are thinking about the student self-assessment of the core competencies component for year-end communication of student learning, we might consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities have students had to experience and develop the core competencies in their mathematics learning?
  • What opportunities over the school year have students had to name and reflect on the core and curricular competencies in mathematics?
  • How have we made the core competencies and curricular competencies in mathematics visible in our classrooms and schools?
  • How have the core and curricular competencies language and ideas been embedded in the mathematical community and discourse in our classrooms and schools?
  • What different ways have students been able to share, reflect on and self-assess their mathematical thinking and learning?

~Janice

Story Workshop series – 2018

Posted on: May 24th, 2018 by jnovakowski

A group of district teacher consultants and school-based teachers came together this spring to facilitate a three-part Story Workshop after school series. This was in response to many requests and questions  from teachers in our district about Story Workshop. The facilitators of the series were: Sharon Baatz, Louesa Byrne, Michelle Hikida, Carrie Bourne, Lisa Schwartz, Marie Thom and myself.

A goal of this series was to honour the work of Opal School educators who developed the structures and practices of Story Workshop as a way to connect the arts and literacy. Opal School educators draw upon social-constructivist learning theory and have been informed by the early childhood educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy as well as American educators such as those working with Harvard’s Project Zero initiatives. Opal School has a deep commitment to equity and access for all students and to develop student agency.

They are many other ways we might engage our students in storytelling experiences – oral, digital, writers workshop etc but the focus of this series was to create awareness and understanding of Story Workshop as developed by Opal educators. The Opal educators have developed five structures or stages of Story Workshop. Some stages are more for the educator to consider and some take more time than other stages. Some of the structures such as negotiation or congress might involve small groups of students and an educator instead of the whole class. Over the series, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of the process of Story Workshop and what it offers the students in our classrooms and what it offers us as educators.

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In our first session on April 9, we focused on the stages of Preparation and Provocation. We watched and discussed the Opal videos and Michelle, Louesa and Sharon shared examples of these stages of Story Workshop from their Richmond classrooms.

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We watched and discussed the first two videos of the series and used the following questions to frame our small group discussions:

What do you notice about the materials the teachers are using?
When you look around your own setting, what unexpected materials might you use in new ways?
What do I want the children to learn?  How can I support this learning?

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Story Preparation begins with our image of children. Preparation is about preparing the environment; setting up the space, creating an environment that supports children to tell their stories. Opal educators strive for environments that are playful, engaging, naturally motivating, with multiple opportunities for all children to enter into the work.

At Opal, educators convert social-constructivist theory and inquiry into practice by offering provocations. A Story Provocation is a question that is introduced to children to engage and support their interests and curiosity.

The Opal videos can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Preparation

Story Workshop  - Story Provocation 

IMG_6207Educators attending the series were each provided with the book Equity and Access Through Story Workshop.

The videos and supporting text are available at no cost to Opal School Online Sustaining Members and at a small cost to non-members: You’ll find both here.

Educators were asked to make a commitment to something they would try, inspired by the first session, and to be prepared to share a reflection, documentation or an artifact at our next session.

 

IMG_7269At the second session on April 30, we began by having teachers share what they had tried around Story Workshop with their students. Lisa shared how Story Workshop can be part of a balanced literacy program. Marie talked about different ways to approach Story Workshop with different ages of students and that the process needs time and patience, not rushing towards recording/writing the stories.

We also shared copies of this blog post from Opal for educators to read and reflect upon their own practice and how Story Workshop might be enacted in their classrooms and schools.

We focused on the next two stages of Story Workshop – invitation & negotiation and story creation.

At Opal, the invitation and negotiation time focuses on students being metacognitive about their plans for each day. It is often just a few minutes with opportunities for educators to have a one-on-one check in with students.

At Opal, educators invite children to explore the classroom and materials in search of their stories and this time can last about 45 minutes. Story Creation is a time of looking for and finding stories from the child’s real or imaginary life. Children play with materials, talk to each other, and tell and write their stories.

Sharon and Louesa shared examples from their classrooms:

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The Opal videos can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Negotiation

Story Workshop – Story Creation

Again, teachers were asked to try something around story negotiation or creation and to consider an area of Story Workshop that they would like to go deeper with.

At our final session on May 14, we invited teachers into The Nest and to think about how different materials might inspire different types of stories.

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Each educator was given the book I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino (it comes in both English and French) as a provocation for adults and children to think about different ways that stories can be shared.

We focused on the importance of Story Congress as a way for educators and peers to give feedback on students’ stories. Sharon, Louesa and Michelle shared some of the structures they use in their classrooms for this stage of Story Workshop.

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The Opal video can be found here:

Story Workshop – Story Congress

Opal School has online courses available to extend and deepen understanding of playful literacy and Story Workshop. More information can be found HERE.

This was a very well attended series with a waiting list and we hope to be able to offer it again next year. Many teachers asked if we could provide opportunities to visit Richmond classrooms to see Story Workshop in action and we will put something in place for this for next year.

Some of the feedback from series participants include:

“I appreciate how professional the mentor presented so many awesome ideas, so well laid out. This series has profoundly affected my thinking and practice.”

“This series helped me think about Story Workshop, storytelling, oral storytelling, loose parts and how they are different yet integrated.”

“It has helped me breathe. Hearing how others navigate and problem-solve the same challenges I have encountered  has given me comfort and loads of inspiration.”

“This series extended my thinking about Story Workshop by exposing me to more diverse ways to engage with stories – outdoor, leaves/herbs, spindle whorl, clay markings etc.”

~Janice