2019-2020 primary teachers study group: session two

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by jnovakowski

Our second session of the year was hosted at Homma Elementary on November 28 – with thanks to Sarah and Reiko for having us.

K-7 Curriculum Implementation Teacher Consultant, Jess Eguia, began our time together with a land acknowledgement and three ways to enhance land acknowledgements in our schools. She shared the beaded timeline, sharing the story of time immemorial on this land,

and the Musqueam place names map which shares the significance of key places in the territory.

Jess also shared some ideas about Indigenous ways of knowing and being that could help teachers to elaborate and extend their students’ thinking about land acknowledgements.

Using land-based materials found locally, we did some bundle dyeing.

While the bundles steamed, we headed outside for a walk along the river, sharing stories of this place over time.

We came back into the Homma library for a hot cup of tea, the unbundling and sharing what we have been trying with our students, inspired by the resource books that are inspiring us this year.

Looking forward to continuing our conversations around land-based interdisciplinary projects in the new year!

~Janice

intermediate numeracy project: water conservation task

Posted on: December 10th, 2019 by jnovakowski

On November 27, I visited the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena to continue our focus on numeracy and for this session together I selected a numeracy task from Dr Peter Liljedahl’s website. The task continues the thinking we have been doing about water issues and and moves to thinking about agency around water conservation. We took some time together to go through what the task was asking of the students, what assumptions they needed to make, what calculations might be necessary and how they could share their recommendations.

Teachers Jen Yager and Sam Davis personalized the task by changing the names to teachers’ names from their staff. This made for some interesting comments about dental hygiene habits!

We needed to pause after the students read through and shared their understanding of the task with each other. Based on the experience we had with the last numeracy task we did, we had agreed to provide some supports to ensure students were able to get started with the task successfully. We talked through what the task was asking, what information they might need to research, what assumptions they needed to make and asked them about different ways they might approach the task.

When some of the students weren’t clear on what the differences between no flow, low flow and high flow of water was, a student quickly demonstrated for them at the sink.

The students researched the Canadian Dental Association’s recommendations for teeth brushing and did calculations for water usage. Based on their findings, they made recommendations to the teachers on ways they could conserve water while maintaining good dental hygiene. Some students wrote this up as a “report” while one student wrote a letter to her teacher with specific recommendations, backed up with her evidence.

Numeracy tasks such as these, organized by grade ranges, can be found on Dr. Peter Liljedahl’s website HERE.

~Janice

intermediate numeracy project: water crisis in Canada

Posted on: November 29th, 2019 by jnovakowski

I visited the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena for the second time on October 30. Inspired by the students’ interest in youth agents of change around climate change and by a mathematical modelling task created by Dr. Julia Aguirre about the Flint Water Crisis in the USA, we invited the students to think about the water crisis on many of our First Nations reserves in Canada.

We began by showing the students a video of water projector and advocate Autumn Peltier speaking to the United Nations 2019 Local Landscapes Forum about the water crisis in her community.

The video can be viewed HERE.

The students took notes, made connections, and recorded their wonders while they were viewing/listening to the video.

We shared three infographics about water issues in Canada and asked students to discuss the following questions:

We also asked students to consider the sources of the information in the infographics as we nurture the development of critical consumers of information.

More information and the infographics can be found HERE and HERE and HERE.

Much of the information was new to students and lots of questions came up. We discussed different types of water advisories and possible reasons why this was happening.

Students were then presented with a numeracy task. They were asked to consider how much water was needed for children for a year in a First Nations community. The purpose of the task was for students to consider the amount of water we use, issues around access to safe water and to think about an action plan for their “agents of change” thinking about how this problem could be resolved.

In hindsight, we made some assumptions that students would be able to think about all the types of information they would need to respond to this task, and know how to access this information using online sources. This was not the case, and a lot of support was needed to help students consider where they could find the information they needed. We talked about validity of sources, such as using Statistics Canada data rather than someone’s opinion on a blog post. The teachers and I realized that the students needed some mini-lessons on how to use Google as a search engine. I think we made assumptions about the students that they knew how to use technology, and they are savvy with many aspects of tech, but their fluency with accessing information was something we needed to develop. When we were able to find information, many students needed support in how to read the data tables. It became clear as we began the numeracy task, that this was much more complex of a task for the students than we had anticipated but we all persevered and made meaning at various levels and stages. For some students, support was needed with the mathematics and calculations involved.

Over the two hours we had together, students thought through various stages of the task. Some students got to the point of considering recommendations for how to reconcile the water crisis in some of our communities but not formalizing their action plans. Some students wondering what was happening to solve this issue.

We briefly looked at the Canadian government’s current plan. More information can be found HERE. This will be an ongoing conversation as we think about different ways that students can see themselves and act as agents of change.

~Janice

intermediate numeracy project: what is numeracy?

Posted on: November 19th, 2019 by jnovakowski

Numeracy is a K-12 focus in our school district. Numeracy and literacy are considered the two pillars of the BC curriculum and new Graduation Assessments in both Numeracy and Literacy are now in place in our province. With teachers, students and families that I work with, I explain the distinction between mathematics and numeracy. Mathematics is the discipline, the body of knowledge, content and processes/competencies. Numeracy is using mathematics to interpret and understand issues or solve contextual problems. Our goal is to develop both numerate citizens that use mathematics to make sense of the world around them.

One particular area of focus in our district is developing numeracy and related tasks with teachers and students in grades 6-9 as a way to bridge elementary and secondary learning experiences. One clsss that I am spending time with on a year-long focus around numeracy is the grades 5&6&7 class at Quilchena with teachers Samantha Davis and Jen Yager.

I visited the class at the end of September to introduce what numeracy is. We used the definition of numeracy from the BC Ministry of Education site and shared it with students and used the “exploding the sentence” strategy as a way for them to understand the meaning of numeracy.

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The teachers had told me one of the current interests of the students was the climate strike. This was connected to their class focus on investigating youth who are agents of change and following the work of Greta Thunberg. I introduced the use of infographics to convey information and shared the following two images with the students. We discussed what we needed to know and do in order to be able to interpret the images and how different visuals can convey the same information but have different impacts on how we connect to the data and information.

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At our next time together in October, we will think together through a numeracy task.

~Janice

2019-2020 primary teachers study group: session one

Posted on: October 16th, 2019 by jnovakowski

This year’s primary teachers study group has chosen the focus of trans-disciplinary learning in outdoor settings, connecting to the land and to place. For our first session of the year we met at McNeely Elementary on October 3, hosted by Anna and Shannon. Teachers were able to choose a focus book from four selections that we will draw upon over our time together this year.

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Jess Eguia framed our focus around thinking about planning through big ideas and concepts and shared some planning frameworks to support our work together.

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Concept and planning handouts from Jess Eguia:

Change Concept Handout

Conceptual Teacher Tool

Anna and Shannon shared the planning they have been doing with Jess and the three questions that are framing their year of learning with their students.

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We moved outside to the wooded area near McNeely. Teachers were asked to think about how the land inspired them to think about concepts. Some of us began with a concept and looked for where we made connections to that concept.

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With thanks to Jessica Szeto of Anderson Elementary for sharing her knowledge of local mushroom species. “For Richmond/Vancouver specific mushrooms that are more urban, the ones in the list are the ones that come to mind. There are also some other mushrooms that have been spotted in Richmond, but they look quite similar to each other (ie. russulas, cone caps) and need some closer looks at the gills and spores to identify. But the ones above are the most memorable and easy to identify!”

Mushrroom pictures and list: Mushroom PDF

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Our study group is in its seventeenth year and has endured because of the teachers involved and the participatory nature and the valued contributions within our group.

Looking forward to our next session together in November and how we might share our thinking.

~Janice

 

professional learning from the summer of 2019

Posted on: September 2nd, 2019 by jnovakowski

Hi there,

It was a full and fun summer. I had lots of time to work on projects, read books, spend time with family and friends, tend to the garden, learn some new things and enjoy being outside where we live. I was also fortunate to travel a bit for work and build in some exploration time in the places I visited. All things that I like and bring my joy.

I receive and purchase a LOT of professional books. Books are a weakness for me and I often don’t have the time to read every new professional book I get. Because I often am asked to recommend books to schools, districts, etc my reading process is that I read the summary on the back cover or inside, I read through the tables of contents and then I skim through the whole book to get a sense of the flow of the book and to see how images, infographics etc are used. Finally, I choose one section or chapter of interest to read through completely. I feel okay about recommending books based on this process. Over the summer, I enjoy taking the time to read a selection of professional books cover to cover, usually about one a week in combination with my other reading for enjoyment. I received a new work iPads in June with an Apple pencil and my commitment this summer was to practice sketchnoting. The following are the sketch notes summarizing the professional books I read this summer.

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IMG_4733In July I was invited to contribute to the updating of FNESC’s First Peoples Mathematics teaching resource. The existing resource was focused on grades 8&9 and can be found on the FNESC website here. The updated resource will focus on grades 5-9 and include adaptations for senior grades and K-5. It will be sent out to teachers to review this fall and will likely be ready spring 2020.

 

 

I attended a conference about early mathematics research in Portland, Oregon. The conference focused on current research and sessions were led be researchers and educators from across the USA. I learned about the DREME network from Stanford and the resources they offer and I was also fortunate to attend a session led by educators from the Boulder Journey School.

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My husband rode his bike down to Portland and met me there so we made a little holiday out of it. It was my first time attending this conference and I hope to go again next year. More info can be found here.

 

I had less then 12 hours at home from our trip to Portland before I flew off to Chicago. I was honoured to be invite to a Public Math Gathering organized by the Public Math group. More info about their initiatives can be found here. There were educators from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington and Chicago as well as artists and museum folk from the Chicago area. We participated in a neighbourhood event on the Friday evening and then visited the “famous” Mr. Bubble laundromat where we observed how math initiatives (form the group as well as provided by the Chelsea Clinton Foundation) were being used by families in the space. We then spent the afternoon designing and prototyping new math installations for the laundromat. We went back to the laundromat Sunday morning to observe how our installations engaged the public. It was such an inspiriting experience to work with such a diverse group of people around math.

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The summer always gifts me some sustained time to devote to writing projects. For many summers it was my academic writing but the last few summer I have been working on a book with a colleague, Misty Paterson. We finished off our edits in early July and sent things off to the printers. We held a book launch for Pop-Up Studio in Vancouver on August 28 – so great to be able to finally hold a book that took on a life of its own. More information about the book can by found on MIsty’s website here.

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I am one of the members of the BC Numeracy Network (if you aren’t familiar, the website is here) and a subgroup of us met this summer to begin work on a resource to support professional learning in mathematics teaching and learning. It is always great to be able to work with colleagues that have become good friends. Look for our project coming out this fall!

IMG_5733And my final writing project of the summer was the first issue of our BC Reggio-Inspired Mathematics Project magazine. The first issue is called Thinking About Mathematics through materials. Teachers from eight Coast Metro districts contributed to this magazine which captures our collaborative professional inquiry focus from the last school year. More information about the magazine, including ordering information, can be found on our website HERE.

 

 

For the last couple of years my curiosity has been piqued by images I have seen of beautiful geometry art shared on twitter. With some investigation I found an online Islamic Geometry course that many math teachers on twitter have taken and I signed up with a commitment to do the first introductory/basic course this summer. I learned a lot, made lots of connections (was excited to visit the Islamic Art wing in The Art Institute of Chicago) and am inspired to find ways to embed my new learning in math studio experiences.  Information about the course I took can be found here. Thank you to Samira Mian for her detailed explanations and lovely videos.

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Another highlight of a very mathy summer was visiting the Numbers in Nature  exhibit at Science World where I got some great ideas for projects and having our district’s Math Play Space at Richmond’s annual Garlic Festival. You can read more about that here.

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Wishing you all a wonderful September,

Janice

The Math Play Space at the Richmond Garlic Festival

Posted on: September 1st, 2019 by jnovakowski 1 Comment

After launching our district’s Math Play Space this spring at some school and public library events, we took part in our first big community event on August 19 at Richmond’s Garlic Festival. In its eleventh year, the Garlic Fest draws visitors from all over the Lower Mainland and has an active Kids Zone Area.

 

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IMG_6273I arrived bright and early to set up our space and by 10am our tent area was filing up with families. I was thankful for the shifts volunteered by our math mentor teachers and teacher consultants. It was interesting to watch families interact with the materials – some parents and grandparents stayed back and watched their children play, others played with their children and other adults jumped in and played on their own. Parents had questions about the materials being used and some had questions about the BC math curriculum. I was able to provide them with our district brochure and hope to have it translated into multiple languages by our next community event.

Our tent was full throughout the day with the Kids Zone coordinator saying that we were the most visited area of the day!

 

 

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We did change out some of the materials over the course of the event but the two most used materials were the tiling/tessellating turtles and the magnatiles.

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I particularly loved watching the children who had made garlic crowns at a booth in the area playing with the materials!

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For more information on the Richmond School District’s Math Play Space, including upcoming events, please see HERE.

~Janice

summer professional reading and learning 2019

Posted on: July 4th, 2019 by jnovakowski

Every summer I always have a stack or two of professional and academic books that I am excited to have time to read over the summer interspersed with historical fiction, memoirs, children’s books and cooking and baking magazines! This year, here are some of the books I am planning on reading:

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Other areas of professional learning for me this summer include working on the new FNESC Mathematics teaching resource, attending an early mathematics conference and participating in a Public Math event in Chicago.

I am also going to take an online course about learning to draw Islamic geometric patterns. More info can be found HERE.

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And I’m looking forward to being part of several professional  learning events around BC at the end of August.

Have a wonderful summer!

~Janice

world tessellation day 2019

Posted on: July 4th, 2019 by jnovakowski

World Tessellation Day is celebrated on June 17 in honour of M.C. Escher’s birthday and was created by author Emily Grosvenor of Oregon. More information can be found HERE. Emily Grosvenor wrote a book about a little girl named Tessa who saw shapes, patterns and designs in the world around here. The book Tessalation was launched on Kickstarter and I was happy to support it. In celebration of the book launch, the author asked some of the supporters to do blog posts about the book and be part of a blog tour. The blog post I did can be found HERE.

World Tessellation Day was promoted in our district with connections made to our BC mathematics curriculum and it was great to watch social media posts appear highlighting tessellations! You can find some of these posts by following the hashtag #WorldTessellationDay – I have shared some posts from Richmond teachers below.

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This year, the Thursday before World Tessellation Day, I invited students to explore tessellations through materials in The Studio at Grauer after we looked at some of the pages of the book Tessalation. The investigation prompt was What can you find out about tessellations? Noticing the materials I put out, I need to remember to use some non-regular polygons as well.

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On June 17, our district’s Math Play Space featured materials that tessellate and we set up tables at the Brighouse Public Library during after school hours. Many children and families visited to investigate with the materials.

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I’m looking forward to making World Tessellation an annual public event not just in our schools but also in other places in our community!

~Janice

 

outdoor classroom day: November 1 2018 and May 23 2019

Posted on: July 3rd, 2019 by jnovakowski

Outdoor Classroom Day is an international initiative to promote the importance of children experiencing the outdoors. The event began in London, England in 2012, grew internationally in 2015 and became a global project in 2016 with the support of educators, environmentalists, play experts, NGOs, Project Dirt and Unilever. The organization supports and shares research around the benefits of playing and learning outdoors. More information can be found on the website HERE.

We participated in our first Outdoor Classroom Day on November 1 with three classes at Grauer. Each class began with some time in The Studio where we shared ideas about where and how we might see and experience mathematics outdoors. I shared a different book of images with each class to inspire their mathematical thinking.

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It was pouring rain most of the day, but being the day after Hallowe’en it was actually a good day to be outside and moving.

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Each class took on different tasks with the grades 1&2 classes looking for and thinking about estimating, counting, size (measuring) and shape.

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The grades 3&4 class worked in small groups with a task card prompting them to search for things outside involving mathematical ideas such as symmetry, fractions and measurement.IMG_4370 IMG_4377

As we were coming inside, one of the grade 2 students said, “This was the best math day ever!”

The next Outdoor Classroom Day for this school year was May 23. The grades 3 and older classes at Grauer were at the district track meet, so the three K-2 classes spent the day outside together. We took our new Outdoor Studio Wagon with us outside and it was filled with materials, tools and resources to support and inspire our mathematical thinking.

IMG_2784 We began our morning by finding out own counting collections outdoors and then recorded our counts in different ways. Some students gathered leaves, twigs or pieces of park to group and count while others found multiples in plants such as buttercups (counting the flowers by 1s and the petals by 5s) and clover (counting the leaves by groups of 3s).

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After recess, we considered different types of branding and growing patterns that we noticed in the growth of trees, plants, leaves, flowers and roots and captured these patterns with clay prints and plant prints using rubber mallets.

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Here are the contents in the Outdoor Studio Wagon:

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The next Outdoor Classroom Day is November 7 2019. You can sign up HERE.

~Janice