School Name: Gray Elementary
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Mary Messer:firstname.lastname@example.org, Jacqueline Minci: email@example.com, Heidi Gonzalez: 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, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How will making our learning visible in math, with a focus on the critical concepts, improve both teaching practice and learner success?
Scanning: We used story to share the experiences we were having with our learners in the area of mathematics, particularly after online learning during this pandemic. They were stories of struggle when presented with problems that targeted their basic numeracy skills in some areas. We looked at the principle that learning is social in the context of our numeracy classrooms, and noticed students spent a lot of math class learning on their own. We also considered the principle that students be challenged where they are at. Some of our classroom teachers presented lessons that were one-size-fits-all and then they supported the kids during the lesson to complete their work. We also used the PRIME assessment (Numeracy strand) as a baseline assessment.
Focus: We focused on the critical concepts in numeracy as a way of developing the skills most important to the numeracy understandings of our students. The critical concepts were outlined on our district website that supported this work. We were hoping that focusing on the critical concepts would help develop our students’ understanding, particularly in the specific areas in which they struggled as indicated by the PRIME assessment.
Hunch: One-size-fits-all-lessons, gaps created/increased by online learning and pandemic disruptions, and not enough student thinking and collaboration during math lessons, were all things we considered to be contributing to the gaps. Some teachers created one lesson that they presented to the group and then had a worksheet for practice; they spent their lesson time supporting those kids who were particularly challenged by the concept. Teachers presenting mini lessons online with very little opportunity to support and challenge online, created a situation where teachers had to rely on parents to teach their own kids at home in some cases. Equity of instruction and support became much more apparent when we went online. Finally, we wondered if our students had enough opportunities to think and interact together with their peers to build their skills, share their thinking and become more flexible, competent mathematicians.
New Professional Learning:
1. Marian Small online workshop designed just for our teacher interests and needs
2. Grade group collaboration time to plan and implement new ideas, and then reflect on them at a subsequent sessions
3. Primary book club: Fun and Fundamental Math for Young Children – Marian Small
4. Intermediate book club: Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics – Peter Liljedahl
1. Some groups used number routines and/or open questions to promote students’ thinking and building understanding together.
2. 9 classes spiralled their math curriculum (the critical concepts) so their students worked with all the grade-level learning targets in term one, and then again in term two, and then at the most sophisticated level in term three.
3. Some teachers experimented with asking “How do you know” and “Tell me more” to help their students explain their ideas for others to hear and reflect on.
1. Teachers who used number routines and open questions said their students were noticeably more confident in trying a new problem, sharing their thinking with others, and persevering when the problem was difficult.
2. Teachers who spiralled their curriculum found their students reviewed what they knew three times, so teachers could add on each time throughout the year as students were ready. Teachers kept good records as to where they left on and were then able to plan effectively for ALL the learners in the room because they knew before they started where each one was at.
3. Students who were asked more probing questions about their thinking gained a deeper understanding of the concept they were talking about, and elevated the understanding of the collective whole in the community just by sharing.
The baseline we had created with PRIME was good for helping us identify which questions students mostly struggled with; however, it was difficult to gather meaningful data when we reassessed at the end. Teachers reflected that, at times, the wording of the questions in the PRIME assessment were difficult for students to unpack – that it wasn’t necessarily the math concept they were struggling with. We found the stories from the classroom, both teacher and student reflection, to be more meaningful to determine our impact.
Reflections/Advice: We plan to do an appreciative inquiry in September to share out our journey and identify some priorities moving into next year. Perhaps staff might decide to move more specifically into the realm of UDL, as the teachers who spiralled their curriculum really noticed the UDL nature of their planning for each term, knowing where their students were at from the previous term.