School Name: Georgia Avenue
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members: Cindy Haack <CHaack@sd68.bc.ca>; Kristy Gallazin <Kristy.Gallazin@sd68.bc.ca>; Marcelo Ossa <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Lindsay Balson <Lindsay.Balson@sd68.bc.ca>; Christine Creighton <CCreighton@sd68.bc.ca>; Taya Sklapsky <Taya.Sklapsky@sd68.bc.ca>
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, Experiential learning, Flexible learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Foundational Math Skills, Number Sense, Hands-on Learning and Mathematical Language/Vocabulary.
Scanning: We all used different assessments that included ones made by the teacher, all the facts, online assessments and the Comox Valley’s SNAP.
Results on the assessments were at least 1 grade level behind, but what has been more of a focus has been the conversations we are having with students during math lessons. Through these conversations we have noticed students are struggling to explain their understanding of concepts and use math vocabulary. We are also noticing that students lack foundational number sense abilities and have a difficult time talking about how numbers work. They are more focused on the product/answer.
We asked our students:
“What are you learning in math right now”?
“Tell me more about that concept”?
“How are you doing with that concept”?
We found that students rarely could tell us what concept we were working on, let alone explain more about the concept. We were all very surprised and realized we needed to be more explicit in how we introduce new concepts.
Focus: Although we will all be doing different lessons/routines in our classrooms, we all will be focused on learning how to use a more hands-on approach to teaching number sense. We would like students to use multiple approaches to how they compute, decompose and manipulate numbers. We would like our learners to be able to talk more confidently about what we are learning in math and explain their understanding using math language.
Hunch: We have a hunch that we are not being as explicit as we should be when we are introducing math concepts and strategies. We also have a hunch that we have not been using as big a variety of manipulatives and games as we think we are.
New Professional Learning: Most of our learning came from sharing resources within our group. Some of the resources that were shared were: Power of Ten, Carol Fullerton, Math Routines, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Number Talks and Dice Games. Each time we met we would all share a strategy, lesson or game that we used and talk about what went well or how we would use it differently next time. Often after our meetings we would start using each other’s ideas. Some of the teachers on our team are new teachers, so we would also use this time to support them with any questions they were having.
Taking Action: Most of us did whole class number talks or Which One Doesn’t Below. These whole class talks allowed students to see/hear different ways of approaching numbers and modelled that there is more than one way to do/understand a question. The more we did these talks, the more the students started taking risks and posing more unique ideas. Most of us also made “math kits” for each student. During lessons, students could quickly grab the manipulatives needed and practice the skill being taught right away. Math Kits includes things like number cards, playing cards, power of ten cards, dice, measuring tapes, and place value mats.
Checking: At the end of the year we all asked our students the same three questions:
a. What are you learning in math right now?
b. How are you doing with it?
c. Where are you going with your learning? (or why is it important?)
We also did a collaborative task from the Island Numeracy Assessment. Overall, we found that this time our students could confidently answer the three questions. We also found that students had increased their math vocabulary. This was observed during the collaborative tasks as students talked with one another to solve the problem. One of our classes did not use number talks as frequently and it was reported that students struggled with the collaborative task, likely since they did not have the language or experience with this kind of task.
Reflections/Advice: We learned that in order to increase student’s math vocabulary and flexible thinking about numbers, we need to do explicit teaching about the concepts we are teaching AND frequently have whole class number talks that allow students to hear each other’s ideas. We also learned that students need to have different materials to support their math learning and that the more they used these materials, the more familiar they became with hands-on learning. They also increased their computational fluency through games. We also learned that we, as a staff, have a lot of knowledge and great ideas. We plan to continue to connect next year and learn more from one another.