School Name: Brooke Elementary
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Katy Homeniuk: firstname.lastname@example.org, Melissa Robertson: email@example.com, Melanie Sidney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Differentiating instruction in Math.
Scanning: Our focus last year was on differentiating instruction related to Math. This year we decided to continue this focus as we noticed that many of our students seem to have difficulty connecting to, finding a purpose in and articulating what they are learning in Math. We found our last year’s goal successful, and due to COVID, we were unable to properly finish our goal. Many of our students were demonstrating very strong opinions about themselves as mathematicians, and we noticed that their attitudes were either very positive or very negative about their abilities in Math. We discovered that their attitudes and perceptions of ability were formulated fairly early on in their education and that many of our students had pretty solidified ideas of whether they were good or bad at Math, which dictated whether they liked or disliked Math. We learned that by displaying learning targets and by differentiating our instruction in classrooms, that our students seemed more clearly able to describe what they were learning.
Focus: We selected this focus as we wanted to build on the successes of our Math inquiry from last year. We felt like there was still work to do and new learning to be had. We were hoping that by learning and implementing new strategies, resources and routines we could help make math more accessible, exciting and engaging for our learners.
Hunch: We have a hunch that our students do not feel connected to their learning in Math and are not finding it purposeful. Many of our Brooke students are not completing their Math for enjoyment or learning, and instead many are completing their work as something they need to do to get a mark or to move on to the next task. We have a hunch that if we change up our daily math routines and add some new games and resources, that this will help our students improve their enjoyment and engagement.
New Professional Learning: This year, we explored our District’s Math website, as well as provided resources for our staff to incorporate into their classrooms. We also wanted to allow our staff to research and develop resources and materials to help differentiate their learning routines. We held several Lunch and Learn sessions on topics including Daily Math Routines, School Wide Assessment Measures (The Prime) and the Core Curricular Competencies. As a school we attended a virtual Professional Day with Marian Small on the topic of Open Questions in Math.
Taking Action: We provided each interested teacher with a budget to purchase new math resources for their classroom. We encouraged them to collaborate with another teacher and to explore these new resources together. Some teachers chose to learn a new program (Marian Small’s MathUp program, Trevor Calkin’s Power of Ten) and others chose to use the money to purchase math board games to practice their new learning. As a staff, we created a shared math games cupboard for teachers to borrow games, resources and manipulatives.
Checking: This year we conducted the Prime assessment in the Fall and again in the Spring to help us see if our new learning was making a difference. Interestingly enough this assessment revealed that our learners were overall very strong in math and there was no clear evidence from this assessment that our school was struggling with math ability. Our teachers did notice that their learners seemed more confident and willing to take the test in the spring assessment.
We also surveyed our teachers in the Fall and Spring. We initially asked what impact they hoped the new resources would have on their learners. Most reported that their students enjoyed the new math routines and activities. One teacher reported that her students seemed more confident in Math and had a better attitude.
Reflections/Advice: This inquiry has helped bring some fresh ideas, approaches, resources and routines to our school. Our new math resource cupboard will be used and enjoyed for years to come. Our checking has helped us see that as a school community, we are ready to move to a new focus for our inquiry next year.