W.L. McLeod SD#91 Nechako Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: W.L. McLeod Elementary

School District: SD#91 Nechako Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Lyne Gauthier: lgauthier@sd91.bc.ca, Lori Gridley: lgridley@sd91.bc.ca, Evania Nolan: enolan@sd91.bc.ca, Susie Blattner: sblattner@sd91.bc.ca, Kathy Marks: kmarks@sd91.bc.ca, Matthew Reimer: mreimer@sd91.bc.ca, Tracy Vienneau: tvienneau@sd91.bc.ca, Lauren Farrell: lfarrell@sd91.bc.ca, Michelle Miller-Gauthier: mmgauthier@sd91.bc.ca, Roberta Toth: rtoth@sd91.bc.ca, Dave Lawrence: dlawrence@sd91.bc.ca, Candace Lawrence: clawrence@sd91.bc.ca, Libby Hart: lhart@sd91.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Lori Gridley/lgridley@sd91.bc.ca

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

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

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Mathematics / Numeracy

Focus Addressed:

  • Differentiated instruction
  • Experiential learning
  • First Peoples Principles of Learning
  • Flexible learning
  • Formative assessment
  • Growth mindset
  • Inclusion and inclusive instructional strategies
  • Indigenous pedagogy

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Developing a deeper and broader understanding of number sense from K-3.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: The district and school based small group assessments have shown us that many learners do not have number sense; for example, with skip counting they could recite the pattern, but do not understand that they are ‘adding 2, or adding 5 more’. When they count groups of objects, for example by 5’s, as they got to higher numbers that they did not understand, they could not carry on the skip counting routine.

Intermediate teachers are finding that these same learning needs are having an impact on learners’ understanding of multiplication and division. Some can conduct algorithmic math routines, but do not understand the concepts underlying them.

Focus: We were noticing that intermediate learners did not have conceptual number sense. There were many gaps that impacted their ability to be successful in other areas of math.

Hunch: Older learners had moved too quickly to an algorithmic, Eurocentric approach to math and did not have the foundational conceptual skills or understanding about numbers.

New Professional Learning:

  • Bi-weekly collaboration meetings to conduct a book study of Choral Counting & Counting collections: Transforming the pre-k to 5 Math Classroom (Franke M., Kazemi E., Turrou A.)
  • Numeracy Support Teacher is modelling & co-teaching in all classrooms, to support implementation of numeracy best practices.
  • Some primary teachers completed the course, Build Math Minds: Counting On Number Sense, instructed by Sue Looney (Looney Math).
  • Some intermediate teachers & the Principal worked with Peter Liljedahl through a district learning series, to incorporate strategies from his resource Building Thinking Classrooms.

Taking Action: We incorporated counting collections, choral counting, “number splat,” number board, and morning math routines including number talks. These activities are all concrete, hands on, experiential and highly interactive, allowing for student voice and attending to First Peoples’ Principles of Learning (learning is relational), the OECD Principles of Learning (learning is social), and Indigenous ways of learning.

Numeracy Blitz was implemented as an intervention for grades 1-3. Learners were assessed and identified as needing intervention with early number sense. They worked in small groups over a period of weeks using kinesthetic, experiential learning with a metacognitive focus building from the Leaps and Bounds resource.


We noticed:

  • high engagement
  • increased talk about numbers
  • purposeful real-life embedded conversations with learners and adults school-wide
  • greater flexibility in teaching number sense
  • teachers are using more specific language to identify or discuss learner challenges in numeracy
  • more proactive than reactive

We are addressing skip counting directly, but this is an area that we need to continue to focus on. We know that learners have had experiences with skip counting through “counting collections;” however, we will not be able to see measurable growth for a few years when those learners enter intermediate, and they transfer it to intermediate level concepts such as multiplication and division.

The numeracy blitz pre- and post-assessments have demonstrated improvement in targeted skills for every learner involved.

Reflections/Advice: We are purposely looking to change our adult numeracy thinking and behaviours, as well as improving learners’ understanding of numbers. One of the things we learned is that we made a lot of assumptions that what we were teaching was actually being learned. Our targeted assessment uncovered some surprises for us. We envision moving towards developing strong metacognitive mathematical mindsets.

Advice for other schools would be that you need to jump in and start knowing that there will be bumps that you will need to work through. It was helpful to pick something specific, small and focused, for it to be manageable.

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