School Name: Ladysmith Intermediate
School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Inquiry Team Members: Dan Vincent: firstname.lastname@example.org, Kim Greenwood: email@example.com, John Donald: firstname.lastname@example.org, Dionte Jelks: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, Flexible learning, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Physical movement during math activity time will help reduce math anxiety and increase mathematical mindset, growth mindset, and numeracy skill retention.
Scanning: As we reflected on our early year mathematics assessments, we began discussing resources and knowledge that apply to each of our grades (4-7). One particular finding from this was that while our classroom is made up of intermediate aged students, we have mathematical abilities in our classrooms ranging from early primary to early secondary. We also have a wide range of mathematical mindsets. We have students who range from reluctant learners to enthusiastic, ready learners based on their mindset regarding mathematics. We also noticed that, as educators, we use a wide variety of style, techniques, and strategies in our teaching to guide our instruction.
During the scanning phase, all teachers used the Four Key Questions from the NOIIE. The questions were adapted to use mathematics and mathematical mindset as their focus. Each teacher used the four key questions with at least three learners, representing the range of achievement and dispositions in our classrooms. When we met, we found that many learners are just beginning to be able to name their learning in mathematics, while others have a strong understanding of where their knowledge stands.
We also noticed that there is a high level of math anxiety, coupled with a lack of mathematical mindset within our classrooms. Some students prefer flexible classroom arrangements in math.
Other questions that we discovered to be helpful were: 1) What or who has given you the impression that you are, or are not, a ‘math person’? 2) How can we increase retention of mathematical concepts over the course of a school year?
Focus: As a group, our curiosity was stimulated by finding other teachers in our school who have encountered similar questions and who are willing to enter a spiral of inquiry. Our focus has been based on seeing and hearing about new practices at the School District 68 Numeracy Network, followed by inquiring to see if and how we can bring these practices into our classrooms to impact mathematical and growth mindsets, along with mathematical skill retention.
Hunch: Our hunch is that students are demonstrating a fixed mathematical mindset and a lack of interest in math, because of overuse of traditional math instruction methods. We think that varying instructional practices will increase both mathematical mindset, as well as skill retention.
New Professional Learning: “Low floor, high ceiling tasks allow all students to access ideas and take them to very high levels… [they] are also the most engaging and interesting math tasks, with value beyond the fact that they work for students of different prior achievement levels. They are tasks that teach important mathematics, inspire interest, and encourage creativity” (Boaler, 115).
“Mistakes provide opportunities to look at ideas that might not otherwise be considered” (Humphries & Parker, 27).
“While efficiency is a goal, we recognize that whether or not a strategy is efficient lies in the thinking and understanding of each individual learner” (Humphries & Parker, 27).
Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler
Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker
Taking Action: Movement in the classroom consisted of using stations, vertical non-permanent writing spaces, and creating and acting out word problems. We found that this created a much more inclusive environment that fostered risk-taking, because there was less fear of failure. Using open-ended questions (low floor, high ceiling) allows for all students to find an answer and defend their answer with their thinking process. This allows the creative thinkers an opportunity to share how their brain comprehends with the computational thinkers who are more linear.
Checking: Throughout the inquiry process, we have noticed students responding to the idea of mathematical mindset quicker than movement throughout the classroom. We nurtured this discovery by changing our language to ensure that we were fostering growth mindsets. At this point, our NOIIE focus shifted to mindset before movement. As students became more fluent in mindset, they were more willing to take risks in their education, which included movement in the classroom and number talks.
Reflections/Advice: Throughout the ever changing delivery methods of the 2019-2020 school year, our advice would be, introduce the idea of number talks and movement in Math to parents as early as possible. We believe this would have helped with the online learning portion of the year.