Evelyn Dickson Elementary School SD#91 Nechako Lakes

School Name: Evelyn Dickson Elementary School

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Mark Gauthier – mgauthier@sd91.bc.ca
Roberta Toth – rtoth@sd91.bc.ca
Tori Silver – tsilver@sd91.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: mgauthier@sd91.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Focus Addressed: Our focus will be on improving number sense from Kindergarten to grade 6, by reinvigorating the use of manipulatives to solidify the concrete understanding of number at all levels of Math learning. At the same time, we will be fostering a mathematical mindset where understanding math, even concepts that learners find difficult, is the norm. Our intention is to encourage learners to develop the persistence to stay with problems and develop a sense of satisfaction from it.

Inquiry Story: We use a few different formal assessments (formative & summative), like SNAP, DNA, and FSA, to help us see trends, successes and problems with learners’ numeracy development. As we dig deeper through constructivist approaches that have learners demonstrate their understandings, we have uncovered some massive misconceptions and gaps in students’ ability to represent number and mathematical concepts.
We have been focusing on improving the joy and celebration of math learning for a few years at our school, which has helped create a stronger focus on numeracy for learners, families and educators. Some aspects of math learning have improved for some learners, especially computational & algorithmic skills. Critical thinking and number representation have not improved, and we can see that theses skills decline between grades 3 and 6.
We realize that the transition from primary years to intermediate years usually involves more paper/pencil and less manipulative work. There is pressure for intermediate teachers to ‘get learners ready for the next level’ of math learning, which is traditionally focused on algorithms & procedures, one way to solve a problem, and skimming through instruction that develops understanding. Elementary teachers are not math experts and often feel uncomfortable with open-ended questions with multiple answers. As the movement away from relying on textbooks to guide our instruction leaves many feeling uncertain and unprepared, educators often rely on “traditional” ways of teaching math, in which rote memorization and speed are considered achievement. We want to change our school community’s perception of achievement, and celebrate both the understanding of concepts and the perseverance required.

Our teacher prep time was used as a Numeracy support time — an addition of 110 minutes of numeracy per week with a focus on play-based learning using manipulatives to help understand numbers (number sense). Unfortunately, with the closure of schools in March, we were unable to assess to determine if progress was made. However, students seemed to enjoy the play-based learning and were less anxious. We will continue with this inquiry question next year.

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