Archive for the ‘learning environment’ Category

2018-19 primary teachers study group: session 2

Posted on: December 12th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

Our second session of this year’s primary teachers study group was hosted by Anna and Shannon at McNeely Elementary. Anna shared the book about mushrooms that her students researched and wrote after finding and investigating the mushrooms they found in their mini-forest near the school.

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 The class was also inspired by one of our study group books, Anywhere Artist, and went out into their mini-forest to create art with found materials.

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The land art of UK artist James Brunt (on twitter at @RFJamesUK) also inspired us to take on the #100LeavesChallenge.

Anna and Shannon toured us through McNeely’s new outdoor learning space and through their mini-forest, adjacent to the school.

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Together we shared ideas for how different plants, trees and animals could inspire mathematical thinking or questions to investigate.

Thank you to Anna and Shannon for hosting us!

~Janice

2018-19 primary teachers study group: session 1

Posted on: December 12th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

Beginning our sixteenth year, the Richmond Primary Teachers Study Group met for the first time this school year on October 11 at Diefenbaker Elementary. As agreed upon by study group participants, this year’s focus is on the teaching and learning of mathematics in places and spaces outdoors, considering both how to take mathematics outdoors but also how the outdoors can inspire mathematical thinking.

Our three study groups books that we are going to draw inspiration from this year are:

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Messy Maths by Juliet Robertson

50 Fantastic Ideas for Maths Outdoors by Kristine Beeley

Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson

 

There are so many books and resources available to support our professional inquiry together this year.

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We spent some time exploring the Diefenbaker garden, playground and new outdoor learning area and considering what math we could find in these spaces.

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IMG_3270One of the tasks we did was using materials or referents to estimate and create the length of one metre. We followed this up by each making our own “Sammy the Snake” – a one metre length of rope (idea from the Messy Maths book). This length of rope can be part of a “go bag” to take outside for measuring lengths, perimeter, circumference of trees and to think about fractions (by folding the length of rope). It is a flexible tool to support students’ developing understanding of comparing, ordering and constructing concepts of measurement and number.

 

 

 

 

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Thanks to the Diefenbaker team for hosting us!

~Janice

 

number glass gems

Posted on: September 18th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

One of the elements of The Studio at Grauer that teachers often notice is the collection of numerals we have in baskets and trays on our shelves. I have collected these over the years and find them in craft and scrapbooking stores, thrift stores, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and Urban Source on Main Street in Vancouver. I am always on the lookout for numerals. Students use them in their play and investigations, ordering them, using them to label/represent their collections or sets of materials or to use as purposeful numbers in their creations (addresses, phone numbers, parts of a story, etc).

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Just to clarify some terms…

Digit - A digit is a single symbol used to make numerals. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are the ten digits we use in our number system to make numerals.

Numeral - A numeral is a symbol that stands for a number.

Number - A number is a count or measurement that represents an idea in our mind about a quantity.    Numerals are often used to represent a number.

It is how these materials are used that leads to them becoming called numbers – they are used to connect meaning to the symbols by matching the symbol to a set or quantity or are put in order/sequence which gives meaning to the symbols. They can also be used to represent the number in an expression or equation.

I chose to make my most recent set of glass gems using the digits 0-9. This way students can put them together to create different numerals/numbers to label their representations/sets/quantities.

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Materials needed: large glass gems (found at Michael’s and some dollar stores), foam paintbrush, Mod Podge and number stickers or cutouts

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Instructions: Using the flat side of the glass gem, apply a light coat of Mod Podge and lay a numeral upside down, centred on the back of the gem. Press down and smooth surface so that the numeral adheres and there are not air bubbles between the surfaces. Let dry for a couple of minutes and then apply a coat of Mod Lodge to the entire surface of the flat side of the glass gem. Let dry for 20-30 minutes and then apply a second coat. Let dry and then they are ready to be used.

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We have also created materials similar to this by adhering stickers to tree cookies/slices or to smooth stones. It’s just handy to have a collection of these and students find all sorts of ways to use them.

~Janice

summer professional learning and reading 2018

Posted on: June 29th, 2018 by jnovakowski

Although summer is a “break” from the schedules and routines of teaching, it has always also been a time of learning for me. Whether it be taking course work or having the time to read deeply or attend professional learning events, I find the summer a great time to learn new things and both reflect on and rejuvenate my teaching practice. Of course, in order to really refresh, I do take some time away from professional thinking by reading novels, memoirs, travel guides and cookbooks! I try and learn new things and am currently enjoying learning about different types of weaving, dyeing using natural materials, using new art techniques and focusing on developing my knowledge around local plants All of these personal interests do tend to find their way into my professional work though as well!

One learning goal I have for myself is to become more familiar and fluent with using desmos. Desmos is an online graphing application (and available as an app as well) but has so many possibilities for supporting mathematical thinking for elementary and secondary students. The desmos website is full of examples and ideas for student projects as well as resources for teachers. I feel I just have a beginning understanding of what desmos has to offer so am looking forward to digging in and playing with it over the summer.

Professional Reading

My first summer professional reading stack of the summer!

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Engaging Children: Igniting a Drive for Deeper Learning K-8 by Ellin Oliver Keene

Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play by Mitchel Resnick and Ken Robinson

Play Matters by Miguel Sicart

Arithmetic by Paul Lockhart

Give Me Five!: Five Coach-Teacher-Principal Collaborations that Promote Mathematical Success by Janice Bradley

Essential Assessment:  Six Tenets for Bringing Hope, Efficacy, and Achievement to the Classroom (Deepen Teachers’ Understanding of Assessment to Meet Standards and Generate a Culture of Learning) by Cassandra Erkens and Tom Schimmer

Softening the Edges: Assessment Practices that Honor K-12 Teachers and Learners by Katie White

I have also ordered these two need mathematics book through the NCTM and the ATM.

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An area of focus in our district will continue to be assessment. Continuous assessment that leads to responsive, intentional instructional choices is a practice that is woven throughout series I do around mathematics professional learning. Two books that I am going to revisit this summer as I begin to plan professional learning experiences for next year include:

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Rethinking Letter Grades is a book by Canadian authors with local examples and I appreciate the “triangle” from this book that shares that in order to have authentic evidence of learning you need three types of assessment data – observations, conversations/interviews and products (which includes projects, creations, writing, drawing, diagrams, quizzes, tests).  The Formative Five is a mathematics specific book focusing on five formative assessment practices.

 

 

New assessment reads for this summer include the following:

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Katie White, author of Softening the Edges, will be a featured speaker at our Curriculum Implementation Day in Richmond next year. Essential Assessment was a book recommended by Angie Calleberg of the BC Ministry of Education as she said the Ministry used this book to inform assessment projects in the province. And although I do have some concerns about Hattie’s use of statistics and his meta analysis of meta analysis studies, I know his new book will come up in professional conversations around assessment so want to have a quick read through it.

 

Professional Learning Opportunities

For Richmond educators, professional learning opportunities are listed within the portal. Go to Learn 38 then to the Professional Learning tile to find both internal and external events.

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For this year’s BCTF PSA Day in October, consider attending the Northwest Mathematics Conference in Whistler. Information about speakers, accommodation and registration is now available here:

Northwest Mathematics Conference website 

Also in October, the Vancouver Reggio Association is hosting Tiziana Filippini, a pedagogista from Reggio Emilia, Italy. More information available here:

Vancouver Reggio Association – Tiziana Filippini – October 2018 

A free professional learning event about coding for teachers is being hosted in Vancouver this summer, sponsored by the Government of Canada:

Teachers Learning Code – Vancouver – July 24-26 2018

Lots of districts in BC offer professional learning events at the end of the summer so check Twitter, Facebook, the BCTF site and district websites for more information.

For those of you interested in building your own knowledge of Indigenous perspective, culture and content, Talasay Tours offers some grant opportunities:

Talasay Tours – Authentic Cultural and Eco Experiences

And the Museum of Anthropology at UBC currently has an exhibit highlighting six cultures from across BC;

MOA – Culture at the Centre

 

Have a lovely summer – a time for adventures, rejuvenating and learning new things!

~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:

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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

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session six

Posted on: June 6th, 2018 by jnovakowski

For our sixth and final primary teachers study group session of this school year, Megan Zeni hosted us at the outdoor classroom at Homma. Megan shared the story of the space and how it has developed over time as well as shared the logistics of her “prep teaching” position in the outdoor classroom.

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We explored the different spaces in Homma’s outdoor classroom to consider opportunities for storytelling and play.

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We had lots of great conversation about risky play and the gross motor and social-emotional learning that happens when students engage with large materials, building and play in outdoor spaces.

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As we left the Homma school grounds and walked towards the south arm of the Fraser River, we considered the story of this place. The boardwalk and buildings along the river help to uncover the story of the people of this place and how the river has been used over time.

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It has been a great year of primary teachers coming together in different places and spaces to think about how outdoor learning experiences can inspire different types of stories and curricular connections.

Looking forward to another year of learning together.

~Janice

creating spaces for playful inquiry: thinking about the hundred languages – April 2018

Posted on: May 16th, 2018 by jnovakowski

For our final session of this year’s Creating Spaces for Playful Inquiry professional learning series, we focused on the Hundred Languages – a grounding element of the educational approach from the childcare centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The Hundred Languages concept is based on a poem by Loris Malaguzzi who suggests that all children have a hundred languages (or more) in which to express themselves and that are role as educators (and school systems) is to nurture these languages, not suppress them.

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As Richmond educators entered the room, they were invited to they were asked to reflect on how the hundred languages are living in their classrooms.

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The Richmond educators who visited Opal School in Portland over spring break shared their reflections on the experience through documentation panels.

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Carrie Bourne,  Jen Yager and Julie Curran shared what they learned at Opal and how they have taken some of these ideas up in their own teaching contexts.

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Marie Thom and I shared some of our experiences from our Canadian Study Tour of Reggio Emilia in March. I shared some ideas I saw about intersecting digital and analog languages through digital landscapes and Marie shared the power of the language of food and the metaphor of the table to bring people together.

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After dinner together (enacting the table metaphor) our interest groups met with playful inquiry mentors to share ideas and go deeper with their understanding about playful inquiry.

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We collected feedback from educators who have attended this three part series as we reflect on our learning from this year and think ahead to next year.

“Love the opportunity to collaborate with others and hear others share about their thinking/learning and what they are trying in their classrooms. It is thought-provoking and inspiring.”

“Playful inquiry and teaching is a learning process, always growing and changing and best in collaboration with others teachers and peers.”

“This series has kept me inspired when I’ve felt uninspired or simply tired.”

“This series completely changed the lens through which I see my role as the teacher and the roles of the students.”

There was considerable interest in creating opportunities for teachers to visit others’ classrooms to see playful inquiry in action and to be able to collaborate with colleagues from across the district.

 

Regardless of how how things unfold for professional learning opportunities in our district for next year, we know we have a strong and growing community of educators committed to teaching and learning through playful inquiry. Thanks to all of the educators involved in this series for their contributions and participation!

~Janice on behalf of the Playful Inquiry Mentors

2017-18 primary teachers study group: session 5

Posted on: May 13th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On April 12, our study group met on the dyke of the middle arm of the Fraser River. We were joined by “Indigenous Plant Diva” and current storyteller in residence for the Vancouver Public Library, Cease Wyss. A short video about Cease can be found HERE.

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As we walked along the river, Cease pointed out different plants to us and shared knowledge and stories about the plants. Paying attention to a plant’s colour, shapes and texture can indicate part of the body or ailment it can provide medicine for. For example, red berries often support blood, muscles and organs.

Cease explained the importance of cattails to cleanse the water along the river as well as providing food and nesting materials for birds. We learned how some plants like dead nettle and chickweed can be used as salves to treat skin ailments and how other plants such as stinging nettle or salmonberry leaves can be infused in hot water to create teas to address different ailments.

We learned to identify plantain (frog’s leaf), dead nettle, chickweed, Nootka rose, sheep sorrel and horsetail, the oldest plant on the planet.

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Teachers left with so much new knowledge about local plant species. This knowledge building is an important part of our study group and was something that was requested by teachers to enhance they work they are doing with their students around storytelling outdoors. We can find ways to share this new knowledge with our students and weave this in to our storytelling experiences.

~Janice

elementary math focus afternoon 2018

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski

On the afternoon of January 26, staffs from twelve elementary schools gathered at Grauer Elementary for our annual Elementary Math Focus Afternoon.

The overview slides (photographs from classrooms not included to reduce file size) from the opening to the afternoon can be found here:

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Many school teams brought displays to share how they have been working with BC’s redesigned mathematics curriculum.

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Educators could choose from a variety of Richmond teacher-led sessions to learn about instructional routines and practices that are aligned with the BC redesigned curriculum.

FINAL_Elementary Math Focus Afternoon Jan 26 2018 program

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Handouts from Fred Harwood’s sessions can be downloaded here:

Elem Focus Day Jan 2018 Rich Investigations

2018 Elem Math Focus Visual patterns

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Thanks to Tracy Weeks of the Canadian Federation for Economic Education (CFEE) for coming and sharing information about financial literacy with Richmond educators.

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As educators gathered back in the gym for an end of afternoon prize draw of math resources, they were left with a reminder to consider the mathematical story that is being told in their classrooms and schools. What story do we want our students to tell about their mathematical experience here in our district?

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~Janice

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