Randerson Ridge Elementary SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

I. General Information

School Name: Randerson Ridge Elementary

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Kim Needham kneedham@sd68.bc.ca
Linda Baldwin lbaldwin@sd68.bc.ca
Tanya Evans tevans@sd68.bc.ca
Val Martineau vmartineau@sd68.c.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: kneedham@sd68.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE Case Study

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Areas Addressed: Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed: Indigenous understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction, Experiential learning, First Peoples Principles of Learning, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset, Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies, Inquiry-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Universal design for learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Growing our knowledge so that we can design (mathematical) instruction, keeping First People’s Principles of Learning in mind, to create an inclusive environment that promotes equitable access and supports the diverse needs of all students.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We focused our beginning year assessments on Number Sense and looked at our FSA results from the previous year. Some teachers used the Island Numeracy Assessment, SNAP, self-created assessments and portions of the DMA assessment to see where students were at with their concepts of number/number sense. We also asked students the question: What is math? We continue to see that their concept of math is mostly based on number operations such as “adding numbers together, multiplying, etc….”.

Focus: We selected this area because we would like to continue to grow our knowledge of mathematical instruction, focusing in on how we can teach/assess the curricular competencies with the intention of deepening our students’ understanding of number sense and making our instruction accessible for all learners. We would like to see the students connecting concepts in mathematics, as well as seeing math concepts across the curriculum and in a real-world context. We want our students to “see” and “understand” the “why” of “doing” math. We want our students to engage in a mathematical mindset where they are self motivated to engage in dialogue and complex thinking to solve mathematical problems. We recognize that many of our students do not have deep enough knowledge of number to successfully apply to other concepts or use as a foundation to build new ideas. Our goal is to find new strategies to meet the diverse range of abilities in our classes and provide learning opportunities for students to practice concepts, deepen understanding and engage in higher level mathematical discussions.

Hunch: Our hunch is that the “one size fits all” approach is not working for the diversity that we see in our classrooms. We struggle to find “resources” that guide us and can help us focus on the “teaching” of the competencies and not just the content of the curriculum. The older model of “teach/do/mark” is not working for our range of learners, and new structures need to be implemented, so that students can explore concepts with peers in a variety of hands-on ways. These newer structures will allow for students’ needs to be met at a variety of levels, create more inclusive environments, and allow for support teachers to come into classrooms and support students. A more inclusive structure will allow for cooperative strategies, peer to peer interactions, and use of hands-on materials/manipulatives, which will deepen the learning experience and provide a greater range of depth of knowledge and various experiences so that all levels are challenged (differentiation). We believe that we need to grow the mindset of “teacher as the facilitator of learning” and “teacher as the program”, rather than trying to find the one resource as the program. We also think that we need to be ensuring that we are building a “balanced” mathematics program where computational efficiency/fluency is important and valued, but also used and applied to gain deeper understanding of concept and competency learning. Are students being provided opportunities to learn and practice the competencies so that teachers can assess the competencies?

New Professional Learning: Our district sponsored several opportunities for teachers to participate in Pro-D with Carol Fullerton. She came to the district on 3 separate occasions. Each school was invited to send 1 primary/1 intermediate teacher to observe a lesson and participate in a Q and A. These teachers then returned to their schools and shared strategies/information. We also asked for, and were given a slot in each staff meeting, to share new (to us) strategies and/ or resources. We also had mentor teachers for Mathletics, to support staff new to the program.

Taking Action: During our staff meetings, a different teacher took the ‘Math learning’ slot each (or most) month(s). This allowed/encouraged participation from a wider range of staff, and allowed us to learn from each other. New websites (Solve Me Mobiles), resources (The Thinking Classroom by Peter Liljedahl) and numerous Carole Fullerton strategies were shared and discussed. The goal was to find high interest and easily accessible strategies so that all students could participate. Using technology resources (Boom Cards, Kahoot, Prodigy, Mathletics, Estimation 180) allowed teachers to differentiate, and keep levels of engagement high. We have also begun to create grade-based assessments for number sense and computation. These assessments should help to encourage conversations with same grade teachers much in the same way as the school-wide write provides opportunities for discussions and planning.

Checking: We are still in the learning phase for inclusive math practices. As we grow this knowledge, there will be more specific examples that can be used and shared to build capacity across the staff. We do believe that strategies implemented are making a difference. We are building capacity and there is a sense of momentum and excitement amongst some staff. We don’t, however, have a solid knowledge/understanding of how this teacher engagement is impacting our student’s growth. Our assessment practices are not yet coordinated across the school, except for FSA data at the Grade 4 & 7 level. From individual teachers, we see that students have a richer sense of number and more fluency to be able to apply to problem solving. We are providing more collaborative opportunities for problem solving and application of knowledge which also gives us a better idea of students’ ability to communicate their thinking using mathematical vocabulary. We believe that in some classrooms, this practice gives students confidence to share metacognition, but we need to grow these experiences across the school, especially at the intermediate level. We need to share specific examples of this so that all staff members can see the value in this reflection and its alignment to student achievement.

Reflections/Advice: In reflection, we know we need to spend some more time looking at a scope and sequence for mathematical concepts. It is important that with our range of learners, we are knowledgeable of prerequisite skills and where to go next. Each learner is at a different place and we need to value that and move them forward so that all learners can experience success and growth. We need to utilize formative assessments to be sure that students are learning in their “just right” zone and gaining the skills necessary for application of these concepts. We need to broaden our assessment strategies so that we have a clear idea of where each student is at with the competencies and not just the content. We want to continue to gain strategies that are engaging, hands-on and collaborative, because we know that these have the most effect for student learning. If we don’t have the structures within the classroom that are flexible and enable various supports, then these strategies will not be successful. Self-regulation and explicit teaching of the strategies and expectations will enable success. We continue to believe that for us to meet the needs of our students, we need to design our math units from a differentiated lens at the onset and plan cooperative strategies that align with the competencies & have assessments to match.