Signal Hill Elementary School SD#48 Sea to Sky

School Name: Signal Hill Elementary School

School District: SD#48 Sea to Sky

Inquiry Team Members:Leila Lattimer –
Susan Leslie –
Nina Jakobsen –
Barb Busalacchi –
Kristen MacLaren –
Danielle Verge –

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: AESN Transitions (focus on Indigenous learner transitions)

Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed: Aboriginal understandings (for example, Traditional Knowledge, oral history, reconciliation), Community-based learning, 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, Indigenous pedagogy, Inquiry-based learning, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, STEM / STEAM, Transitions

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Providing a space where students in grade 3-5 had the opportunity play with math/numeracy in an experiential manner and designed with an Indigenous lens.

Scanning: We began our inquiry journey with the aim of introducing a math pilot aimed at learners in K-1 in conjunction with another school in our district. As we Scanned our learners we began to notice differences in the areas of need in our school and soon changed direction. Based on a Hunch we soon identified that learners (especially Aboriginal learners) in grade 3/4/5 were struggling with numeracy. In our communities we have Aboriginal learners that transition into our school from a band school at or around grade 3/4. We identified using a district created numeracy assessment tool (created to assess grade 4 outcomes) that many of our learners Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal were vulnerable in numeracy. Using an experiential and indigenous lens we planned for students from the four classes containing grade 4 learners to come once a week to experience math in a hands on and play focused setting.

Focus: We chose numeracy as the skill we wanted to focus on due to the perceived challenge many of our learners were demonstrating. We then identified through district report card data that identified numeracy as an area of vulnerability (Aboriginal Learners were not meeting expectations in numeracy at a rate of 50-60%). Many of our educators expressed challenges with behavior and engagement of their learners with numeracy. We also observed that numeracy is an area of anxiety for both learners and educators. Finally, we identified numeracy at Signal Hill Elementary is an area that could benefit from inclusion of indigenous knowledge and teaching. We hoped to increase engagement and understanding in numeracy with all students in our program.

Hunch: A combination of teacher anxiety around teaching and engaging students around numeracy, the lack of consistent numeracy programming and the need for relevant and meaningful connection to numeracy for learners. There were a number of aboriginal students that transferred from the local band run school one or more times and due to the different environments and due to the challenges faced in changing schools many of these students demonstrated challenges with engagement and retention of numeracy understanding. This transition point for students needed to be explored.

New Professional Learning: Most of the professional learning involved research of articles, books and other texts. Some members attended the Learning and the Brain conference in San Francisco where connections of the Brain and Math were discussed including Jo Boaler and Youcubed.
The use of Chilliwack school district SNAP assessment, Carol Fullerton’s various texts and Janice Novakowski’s “Playful Mathematical Inquiry: Loose Parts, Provocations and Projects” supported the design of the Math Mondays program.

Taking Action: Step one – Identify need > Grade 4 focus and creation of an inclusive program
Step two – Pre-Assessment with District created assessment tool >focus 5 Big Ideas grade 4 from BC curriculum
Step three – Develop/make center/play based math bins > focused on the 5 Big ideas grade 4
Step four – Share with each class “Positive Norms to Encourage in Math Class” by Jo Boaler
Step Five – Run weekly Monday Math groups in Alternative setting 2-3 weeks on each “Big Idea”
Step six – Post-Assessment with District created assessment tool
Step Seven – Debrief with team members and plan for Next steps

Checking: Observed differences were predominately in Educator/Learner relationship development. All the learners involved had the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with another adult in the building. Language used in relation to numeracy/math became more positive and learners even began expressing attending math Mondays with excitement and genuine enthusiasm. We can always do better and in regards to this program, more educator collaboration needs to be incorporated into future programing. Allotted time for the development and creation of “Big Idea” focused Math bins is necessary for efficient and effective delivery of program. There has been an observable difference in how the learners involved talk about math, their relationships with adults in the building and about what and why they are learning.

Reflections/Advice: This project changed direction early in the development and that meant starting from scratch due to a change in grade level focus. I believe that there may have been more collaborative support had there been another school working on the same grade level. Collaboration is a necessary aspect for success, continuity and avoiding fatigue. It became clear that many learners hold negative pre-conceived notions about their math ability and about math in general. Using the common growth-mindset language consistently in the math groups and scaffolding the games and center material aided in building learner engagement and confidence. Setting up group norms and providing choice in the Monday math groups was also invaluable to student buy in and behavior challenges. Other factors that assisted were: small, multi grade, multi ability groups, creative opportunities and alternative setting. I would also advise that this project be developed and maintained with a 2 year or more time line for most accurate and beneficial outcomes.

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