Since 2007, I have been involved with math transitions projects – working with Grade 7 – 10 teachers in mathematics. The focus is always on changing teacher practice to improve student achievement and to form partnerships amongst associated groups of schools to collaboratively work towards aligning curriculum and instructional strategies from Grade 7 through to Grade 10 in mathematics.
Results of the research linked to this work can be found here:
Sudbury Catholic DSB – 789 Collaborative Inquiry – 2011-2012
-We will identify elements of Direct Instruction and Comprehensive Numeracy in available lesson plans and materials.
-We will identify and develop learning goals for Grades 7, 8 and 9 lessons.
-We will identify and develop questions to move learning forward in each part of a lesson.
-We will develop entry and exit cards that address specific learning goals.
-We will explore a blended learning environment.
Building on Prior Learning
In 2010-2011, Grades 7, 8 and 9 Math teachers embarked on a Teacher Learner Critical Pathway (TLCP), which endeavoured to improve student achievement in mathematics by focusing on effective math communication, in particular the students’ ability to differentiate between showing, explaining and justifying thinking. In this TLCP, teachers co-planned a pre-task and other activities, engaged in moderated marking, and built capacity through collegial discussion about math communication. The learning activities which were developed during this timeframe were intended to improve student communication while problem solving, and enhance student engagement and learning through the effective use of technology and manipulatives. Using the Trajectory Evidence of Math-Talk Learning Community: Action Trajectory for Teacher and Student, teachers examined the math talk community in their classrooms at the beginning and the end of the pathway. At the end of the TLCP, participant feedback indicated that teachers were planning to continue to work with the learning goals and success criteria addressed in this TLCP during 2011-2012, using the materials created with their students from the beginning of the year. Other feedback indicated that teachers appreciated the professional learning (especially about technology and communication strategies) and the opportunity to work collaboratively with colleagues.
This Year’s Work
This year, in response to this feedback, Grades 7, 8 and 9 math teachers will have the opportunity to engage in a Collaborative Inquiry in Mathematics, which is being designed to help teachers to build on the learning from 2010-2011, with the support of a knowledgeable other. Amy Lin is currently released from her board to the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum and Assessment Policy (CAP) branch, to work on specific knowledge mobilization initiatives. Her work as a Curriculum Consultant in Halton DSB around Learning Through Effective Questioning in Grades 7-10 mathematics has been published as a digital research paper, accessible through Math GAINS http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/math2/effectivequestioning.html , and she is the co-author of More Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, with Dr. Marian Small. Amy is the President of both the Ontario Math Coordinator’s Association (OMCA) and Learning Forward Ontario (formerly Staff Development Council of Ontario).
With the foundation that was established in last year’s work around effective math communication, the need for explicit learning goals and success criteria in a lesson, and the intentional planning of lessons, we are hoping to further support teachers as they work to ask more effective questions in these lessons, questions that will help to expose student thinking, generate rich classroom discussions, and increase student engagement.
This collaborative inquiry will stretch across both semesters this year, in order to allow teachers and students the time required to practice effective questioning strategies in a variety of ways. Release days will be limited, but other opportunities will exist for virtual collaboration and job-embedded supports. On the first day of the inquiry, Wednesday, November 23rd, Amy will work with teachers to think deeply about the questions we ask and how they impact student learning. This full day session will provide teachers with specific strategies to practice in the classroom, as well as tools for monitoring their impact on student achievement. This session will be followed up with two further half day releases between January and April, 2012 (dates to be determined).