Archive for the ‘primary’ Category

creating spaces for playful inquiry: encounters with charcoal

Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

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

 

 

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

 

December thinking together: visualize to explore mathematical concepts

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by jnovakowski No Comments

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.

 

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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 No Comments

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

number glass gems

Posted on: September 18th, 2018 by jnovakowski

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

the new playground at Grauer: where’s the math?

Posted on: September 18th, 2018 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

IMG_1946 Last year the families, staff and community fundraised for a new playground for Grauer Elementary. Grauer is a small school with only five, six or seven divisions (depending on the year) and it is hard work for a small school to raise $60 000! It was very exciting when the school reached their goal and is such a good example of an authentic numeracy experience for students to think about. In the BC curriculum, numeracy is defined as an application of mathematics to solve or interpret an issue or problem in context.

 

 

Last Saturday, I joined staff, parents and community members coming together to install the playground (self-installation with staff support from the playground company saves thousands of dollars). As Ms Partidge and I helped to read the specifications for the installation of one of the fire poles, we commented to a couple of parents around us how much mathematics was involved in the process.

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I shared some of the photos from the installation day with the two grades 1 & 2 classes. All of these students had been to The Studio last year with me and had spent some times exploring the idea of “what is math?” so I framed this investigation as “where is the math?” I knew for some students this would create some dissonance as even young children can sometimes already have a very narrow view of what mathematics is and think that it is about counting, numbers and “plussing”. Part of this investigation was to disrupt this thinking. Of course counting, numbers and arithmetic operations are important content areas of mathematics, but they are not the only content. This investigation was one avenue to create meaning for learning mathematics, having students make connections to math beyond the walls of the classroom. The students came up with some initial ideas and we will continue to add to our thinking over the next couple of weeks.

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The students were invited to design and create playgrounds and to consider where, when and how mathematics would be applied/used. One group of students followed the kit diagrams to create a Playmobil playground set – there was lots of math talk during that collaboration! Some students chose to draw and paint a playground from their imagination and some built playgrounds with blocks and loose parts, including a playground for animals.

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After our first time together, I noticed the students were very interested in the photographs of adults using the levels and measuring tapes so I ordered some (not toy) tools to add to the construction area of The Studio. It was great to watch the students use these tools in authentic ways.

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One of the classes had gone outside to look closely at the playground twice, creating detailed labelled diagrams or maps of the playground.

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We extended this experience in The Studio by asking the students to create “math maps” indicating “where’s the math?” on recordings of their playground creations.

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And what are are we assessing in terms of mathematics? These types of investigations and explorations lend themselves to informal formative assessment and gives us a sense of mathematical language the students have and where students are along a learning trajectory around different concepts and skills such as spatial reasoning, comparison of size and quantities and measuring. This type of assessment, that focuses on observing and listening to the students’ play and math talk is so important at this time of year and informs our instructional plans and focus for the fall.

When students engage in this type of learning through materials we make their learning visible through a sharing session at the end of our time together and capturing photographs, videos and students’ thinking so that we can revisit and reflect on the experiences, make connections to new learning experiences and consider questions for further investigation. The following are examples of documentation panels that we create to post in The Studio to help make our learning visible.

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I’m looking forward to seeing where the students take us next on this investigation.

~Janice

May thinking together: How can we weave Indigenous content and perspectives into the teaching and learning of mathematics?

Posted on: June 12th, 2018 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 11.25.11 PMThe First Peoples Principles of Learning is a foundational document in the redesign of BC’s curriculum frameworks. The Principles were developed by FNESC (First Nations Education Steering Committee) and the poster in English can be found HERE and in French can be found HERE. As Jo Chrona would say, the FPPL are much more than the poster – they are principles that are inclusive of all children in BC while honouring Indigenous ways of being and knowing. FNESC has developed teaching resources such as the In Our Own Words resources for K-3 and the Math First Peoples resource for Grades 8&9 (currently being updated) but much of the information and ideas in the resource can be adapted for all grade levels.

 

On May 17, Leanne McColl, Lynn Wainwright and myself attended the 8th annual K-12 Aboriginal Math Symposium. Educators from across BC attend this symposium. Information about the symposium can be found HERE and there is a tab on the website that links to archived resources.

I have attended this symposium for years and was fortunate to share a project from The Studio at Grauer at this year’s event. Some of the slides from my presentation can be found HERE , under May 2018.

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A focus of my presentation was on three of BC’s mathematics curricular competencies. These competencies are part of the learning standards for the K-9 mathematics curriculum and are aligned with the First Peoples  Principles of Learning and the Core Competencies.

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The BC Numeracy Network has archived different types of resources to support the redesigned curriculum. Under the Connections tab, there is a page dedicated to resources that support the weaving of the First Peoples Principles of Learning into mathematics teaching and learning.

Link to BCNN page here

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In the Richmond school district, two of the four goals of our Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (AEEA) are focused on all learners (not just those with Indigenous ancestry) developing an understanding about the First Peoples Principles of Learning, our local First Nations community and Indigenous worldviews and perspectives as part of engaging in the process of reconciliation through education.

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Teachers often ask me about where to start in this area and are concerned about not doing things properly or that they do not have enough knowledge themselves. I suggest that teachers contact someone in their district about local protocols and then try something in collaboration, maybe inspired by one of the above suggested resources. Look for authentic connections within your community and across disciplines in the curriculum..  Some of the things that I have done to continue to learn more in this area are: read articles and books recommended to me, seek out opportunities to learn from elders and Indigenous community members and colleagues, get involved with district or university-based collaborative projects,  connect with your district’s Aboriginal Education team, attend workshops and tours offered through museums, cultural centres and local Indigenous organizations. There are lots of opportunities to learn and see connections to mathematics…we need to go forward together with an open mind and an open heart.

To consider…

How can the First Peoples Principles of Learning be embedded in our mathematics teaching and learning? How do BC’s mathematics curricular competencies reflect these principles?

One of the principles is that “learning takes patience and time” – how does this principle bump up against some ideas around the teaching and learning of mathematics?

How might we work towards the goals of our Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement within our mathematics classrooms? What role could mathematics play in the process of reconciliation?

What does it mean to use authentic resources, stories and elements of culture in our mathematics teaching? How is this affected by the land and the story of the place where we live and teach? Who can help us think about these ideas? Where can I learn more and find resources?

What opportunities do your students of Indigenous ancestry have to see their community, family and culture represented in the mathematics they are learning at school? Within our diverse community, how do all students see themselves reflected in their mathematics experience? What is the relationship between our students’ mathematical identities and their personal and cultural identities?

What interdisciplinary projects might connect mathematics with Indigenous knowledge and worldviews?

~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