Archive for the ‘kindergarten’ Category

creating spaces for playful inquiry: thinking about reflection – January 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On January 25, Richmond educators gathered at Grauer for our second dinner session of our Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry professional learning series. This month our focus was on reflection and time. Educators shared their experiences engaging in playful inquiry with their students and considering the role of reflection in documentation and making both students’ and our professional learning visible.

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After dinner together, teachers participated in interest groups facilitated by our playful inquiry mentors.

A handout with curricular connections to the idea of reflection can be found here: Reflections_Provocations_Jan25_2018

~Janice

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session 4

Posted on: May 10th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On March 1, the primary teachers study group met at the Richmond Nature Park. We shared resources for learning about local living things and discussed the different services the Nature Park provides to schools and the community. The Nature Park is situated on a bog which is a very unique ecosystem.

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We visited different areas of the park, watching the birds come and go from the feeders, walking along the trails and boardwalk area.

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How does looking closely at a found object help you think about its story? What is the story of this (skeleton) leaf?

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There was still snow on the ground in some of the more shaded areas of the park and we used the snow as a story context. How could we use the snow as a background for map-making? We used found natural materials to create a map of a special place to inspire memories and story.

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The Nature House has lots of interactive displays. living things (including a functioning bee hive), and lots of information about species of plants and animals living in Richmond. Brochures are available listing local plants, birds and insects as well as brochures with self-guided tours of the park. We were all keen to continue to build our own knowledge of local species to be able to weave this knowledge into the outdoor learning experiences we are creating for our students.

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The Nature Park Society’s website can be found here: Richmond Nature Park Society

The City of Richmond’s Nature Park web page can be found here: City of Richmond – Nature Park

~Janice

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session 3

Posted on: May 10th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On January 18, Cori and Jen hosted the primary teachers study group at Diefenbaker Elementary. Teachers shared the different storytelling experiences they have been engaging in with their students.

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We went outside to a small stand of trees near the school and used natural clay from Deserres to create story trees with found, natural materials.

How might the shape, texture, crevices, branches or bark of a tree inspire a story?

What different parts of a tree could be the site for a story setting?

How can we transform clay to create characters for our stories? What can we add to clay? How can we spread and mold the clay? How might water transform the clay and our stories?

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One of our young guests created a dinosaur and was happily telling stories while the adults also played!

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As we left the traces of our stories behind, we wondered what families would think and wonder as they encountered them on their walk to school the next morning and what new stories might be inspired.

~Janice

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session 2

Posted on: May 10th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On December 7, Anne-Marie Fenn hosted our primary teachers study group at Woodward Elementary. We went outside and Anne-Marie shared the vision and plans for their new outdoor learning space.

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As the sun was going down, we played with the elements of light and shadow and considered ways we could include these ideas into our outdoor (or indoor) storytelling experiences, thinking about how these ideas might enhance or add new problems to students’ stories.

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After coming back in to Anne-Marie’s classroom as it started to get dark, teachers shared different outdoor storytelling experiences they had tried with their students.

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Thanks for hosting us Anne-Marie!

~Janice

February thinking together: How can we rehumanize mathematics?

Posted on: March 1st, 2018 by jnovakowski

For February, let’s consider how can we rehumanize mathematics?

I was able to attend and present at the NCTM Regional Conference in Chicago this past November/December.

Words that came up over and over again throughout the conference were: EQUITY, ACCESS, EMPOWERMENT, POWER, AUTHORITY, PRIVILEGE, IDENTITY and AGENCY.

These may not be the words you may initially think of when you think about major themes at a mathematics education conference but there is a definite shift in how the role of mathematics within a society is viewed, and who is being included and what voices are being heard.

The conference opened with a panel of speakers addressing issues of access, equity and empowerment.

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The link to the archived Facebook live video form the opening session of the NCTM Regional Conference in Chicago on November 29 2017 is HERE

Kassia Omohundro Wedekind shared her thoughts on “hands down, speak out” practices, disrupting the traditional practice of having students putting their hands up to respond to questions, which in classrooms often reflects the inequities in society at large. She encourages teachers to create conversation maps of the mathematical discourse in their classrooms and to encourage all students to see themselves as mathematicians and contributors to the discourse.

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Dr. Tyrone Howard discussed the issues of inequity in classrooms with regards to race. He affirmed the importance of context and that students’ issues of identity need to be addressed.

Annie Perkins shared practices from her own secondary classroom that support all her students in seeing themselves as mathematicians. She developed “The Mathematicians Project” with a focus on introducing students to mathematicians that are “not just white dudes”.

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Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez is a well recognized researcher and author in the area of equity in mathematics. Over the last few years, her papers and presentations have focused on the idea of re-humanizing mathematics. Photos of some of her slides provide a beginning glimpse into her work. What stands out for you? What are curious about learning more about?

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Another presentation from Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez that might be of interest and would be great to share with during a pro-d day to open up discussion around equity, access and culturally responsive pedagogies for all students:

NCTM 2016 ShadowCon: Stand up for Students 

Dina Williams closed the opening panel with stories from her classroom and her version of a powerful song –  A Change is Gonna Come.

Change has been a long time coming.

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So to think about…

Do all of your students see themselves as mathematicians?

What mathematicians do you talk about in your class? Do you provide “mirrors and windows” for your students to see themselves in the curriculum and in others?

What types of mathematics do we privilege?

What is culturally responsive pedagogy in mathematics education?

How is mathematics necessary for engaging with ideas of social justice?

How can we broaden our understanding of math to de-center what is typically viewed as “school mathematics”?

How do we create mathematics experiences in our schools that are inclusive for all learners?

~Janice

December thinking together: What is spatial reasoning?

Posted on: December 21st, 2017 by jnovakowski

This school 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 a 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 December let’s consider what is spatial reasoning?

Spatial reasoning is based in dynamic processes with a focus on mental understanding and physical transformation. It is comprised of many elements and the current research in this area is looking at the interaction of these elements. Some “math verbs” associated with the elements of spatial reasoning include:

de/re/composing     re/arranging     relating       mapping      symmetrizing     visualizing    perspective-taking     locating

intersecting     transforming    scaling     folding    sliding      rotating    reflecting    balancing    imagining    comparing

One of our five mathematical big ideas in our BC mathematics curriculum focuses on spatial relationships. The K-9 “meta” big idea is: We can describe, measure, and compare spatial relationships. At each grade level, there is a specific big idea around geometry and measurement concepts that connects to the curricular content for that grade level such as thinking about composing and decomposing two and three-dimensional shapes. Connected to this are the curricular competencies of visualize to explore mathematical concepts and represent mathematical ideas in concrete, pictorial and symbolic forms.

Spatial reasoning in young children is an indicator of future overall school success, as well as more specifically, literacy and numeracy (multiple research studies across disciplines including Duncan et al, 2007 – cited in Davis, 2015). It is not a pre-determined trait but is something that is malleable and can be learned. Spatial reasoning and geometry are foundational to disciplines such as astronomy, architecture, art, geography, biology and geology and are an essential part of STEM/STEAM education and future careers.

Many elementary teachers in our district have been inspired by the Canadian book Taking Shape: Activities to Develop Geometric and Spatial Thinking.  In Taking Shape, the Canadian authors offer five key areas as their focus for spatial reasoning:

  • symmetry
  • transforming
  • composing and decomposing 2D images and 3D objects
  • locating, orienting, mapping and coding
  • perspective-taking

Math mentor teacher Michelle Hikida from Diefenbaker Elementary has used rich tasks from this book with her grades 2&3 students and shared this work at our elementary math focus afternoon. Students are engaged in creative and critical thinking as well as communicating and collaborating while thinking through these tasks.

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As there is a heightened focus on computational thinking and coding, we can see strong connections between spatial awareness and reasoning as students think about creating programs and commands to move objects through pathways and around obstacles such as when programming a Spher0 or using a coding program like Scratch.

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Spatial thinking and reasoning also are an important aspect in linking models to abstract phenomenon such as in calculus. Graphing calculators such as desmos support connection-making between visual-spatial models and abstract expressions.

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How could you nurture the development of spatial reasoning with your students?

What math to math connections are you making?

What connections to your students’ interests and other curricular disciplines are you making?

~Janice

 

References

Taking Shape: Activities to Support Geometric and Spatial Thinking K-2 by Joan Moss et al

Five Compelling Reasons for Teaching Spatial Reasoning to Young Children:

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/01/20/five-compelling-reasons-to-teach-spatial-reasoning-to-young-children/

Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning: K-12 Support Document for Paying Attention to Mathematics Education, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014 (available as a pdf online)

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

Understanding Geometry by Kathy Richardson

Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach by Douglas Clements & Julie Sarama

Open Questions for the Three-Part Lesson: Geometry and Spatial Sense K-3, 4-8 by Marian Small & Ryan Tackaberry

 

November thinking together: What is number sense?

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by jnovakowski

What is number sense?

How are numeracy and number sense the same and how are they different?

What routines nurture the development of number sense?

 

~Janice

October thinking together: What is balanced numeracy?

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by jnovakowski

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.

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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?

~Janice

 

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.

 

(more…)

creating spaces for playful inquiry: thinking about relationships – September 2017

Posted on: October 5th, 2017 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

Inspired by our staff’s visits to the Opal School in Portland, we continue this year with our Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry Series. Sixty Richmond educators registered for this three-part dinner series, with a growing waiting list of educators wanting to be part of this series. This continued interest in this work speaks to the ripple effect that our playful inquiry community is having in schools and in our district. Many new teachers have heard about playful inquiry and how it aligns with goals and aspects of BC’s redesigned curriculum. A goal for the series is for teachers to consider: How can we create new possibilities for joy, wonder and inspiration?

So what is playful inquiry? Playful inquiry is not a new term and much has been written about it as a pedagogical stance. In Richmond, we have drawn upon our experiences and relationship with the Opal School in Portland and made connections to our BC context and curriculum. At our last study tour to Portland in March, the following explanation of playful inquiry was provided:

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In this explanation of playful inquiry words such as community, collaboration, citizen and uncertainty pop out. The term “learning alive” resonates with the spirit of inquiry we are hopeful of nurturing in our classrooms. Why playful inquiry? The above definition suggests an approach that will support students in thinking through the uncertainty in the world around them and nurture student agency in seeing themselves as contributing citizens in their community. So we can work together towards the goals and vision of what playful inquiry can bring to our classrooms and schools.

So how do we enact playful inquiry in our classrooms? For planning purposes, we often use the framework of –

  • playing with materials
  • playing with language
  • playing with ideas

to help us consider different ways to engage our students and ourselves with playful inquiry.

Playful inquiry creates opportunities for deeper engagement with concepts and idea, choice in ways students may pursue uncovering the curriculum, personalization and meaning-making as well as providing openings for connection-making, seeking relationships – both with self, each other and with ideas.

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As teachers arrived at Grauer Elementary, they were provided with provocations created by our playful inquiry mentors. These provocations were either pedagogical – meant to experience through the lens of an educator and to reflect on practice or, were those that students engaged with in Richmond classrooms.

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After a welcome, introductions and an overview of the series, teachers shared and discussed questions such as:

What is a provocation? How is a provocation alike and different from an invitation or a rich open task? 

Some conditions for provocations were shared:

  • žresponsive
  • žprovokes thinking
  • žconnects to a big idea, concept or theme
  • žis ongoing, lingering, extends

We talked about the theme of relationships for this session and how relationships were an inherent part of teaching and learning – social and emotional relationships but also relationships with and between curricular ideas. Some of the provocations shared and how the concept of relationships is embedded throughout our BC curriculum were provided to participants here:

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Other big ideas and themes that we have engaged with as a playful inquiry community were shared:

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Three of our playful inquiry mentors shared stories from their classrooms. Michelle Hikida from Diefenbaker shared how her and grades 2-4 group planning team are focusing on the big idea of stories this year and how they collaborate together to plan provocations based on students’ interests an questions. Laurie David-Harel from Whiteside shared the movie trailer she created for her school’s parent evening to share how the Kindergarten students in her class engage in playful learning. Karen Choo from Blair shared how sharing circles and using clay as a metaphor supports relationship building in her grades 4&5 classroom.

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After dinner together, teachers met in interest groups with conversations and sharing facilitated by our playful inquiry mentors.

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Many of the interest-based inquiry groups will continue their conversations with schools visits, online collaboration or other forms of sharing before our next whole group session together in January.

Participants were asked to consider what “one thing” they will play with, try , take risks with…what might be your one thing?

Blog posts from previous years can be found HERE

More information about the Opal School can be found HERE

~Janice

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session 1

Posted on: October 4th, 2017 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

On September 21, our primary teachers study group came together for our first session of this school year, hosted by Anna Nachbar at McNeely Elementary. Our focus this year, as chosen by participants, is outdoor storytelling experiences, connecting multiple areas of the curricula. This collaborative professional inquiry draws upon the work we did last year as a group around outdoor learning in general and also draws upon our district’s three year Playful Storytelling through the First Peoples Principles of Learning project. Some ideas from that project were compiled and shared with the group and can be downloaded here: SD38_Playful_Storytelling_FPPL_Ideas

Books that we will be working with together this fall include teacher resources and children’s books:

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We will be compiling ideas that are inspired by these books to share with others.

After coming together in a circle and introducing ourselves, we shared ideas about working with groups of children at the beginning of the year with regards to learning outdoors. We then ventured out to the “McNeely forest” and spent time in the space noticing how the space might inspire storytelling. How do small spaces and big spaces allow for different storytelling experiences? What natural materials could students gather to contribute to their stories? How might a connection to place and knowledge of local plants and animals enhance their stories?

I brought out a bag of materials as a way to extend the experience – a collection of fabrics and some wooden and plastic animals. How do these materials extend or inhibit the storytelling experience?  Teachers came together in small groups to create and share stories and new ideas for storytelling that emerged through being outside and talking together.

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One area of discussion was what to do in schools that don’t have a wooded area such as the one McNeely does.  Some schools are using a garden bed and using it as a story garden. Another idea is to create small worlds using pots, planters or window boxes – plants can be created and pieces of wood, rocks and shells can be used to landscape a setting. How might the difference heights in a tree (base, trunk, branches) be used to create multi-level stories? Most schools have a few garden beds near their entrances – could one be used for storytelling? What characters might visit that space?

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Although registration filled up very quickly for this group, we will continue to share our thinking and experiences through twitter and this blog. We will be coming together in November at Woodward Elementary in their new outdoor learning space.

~Janice