Monday, September 30, 2013

Looking Closely: what we found after the storm

This weekend a major wind and rain storm hit our area, bringing down leaves and nuts and branches. Two grade 1 classes at Blair Elementary headed outside to see what they could find.

First, we read the book Looking Closely through the Forest by Frank Serafini. The students enjoyed guessing what the different items were on the pages and we talked about "zooming in" and looking closely to notice details in what we were observing. The students were VERY excited to have the change to use "real" scientists' tools and shared the magnifying glasses and cameras amongst themselves. They quickly learned how to use the zoom feature on the cameras.

We spent an hour outside noticing all sorts of interesting items. The students found maple seeds, mushrooms, acorns, moss, lichen, all colours of leaves, a worm, some wasps, a wood bug and pinecones.
The students had all sorts of ideas of what to do with all the photographs we took - "make a movie to show at an assembly", "make a book, you know like last year", "put them on the computer so we can do stuff with them," "make a slide show" and "print them." It's amazing how much six year old already know about digital photography!

The students were also intrigued by my olloclip. Some of the students were very interested in the macro photos I was able to take with it.

I'm looking forward to looking closely at all sorts of outdoor wonders with this group of enthusiastic photographers and scientists this year!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reggio-Inspired Mathematics: Professional Learning

On Friday, September 27 most of our elementary schools in Richmond had professional development days. We hosted an afternoon session looking at Reggio-Inspired Mathematics. There isn't very much written specifically about mathematics in the Reggio world so I have been thinking a lot about how the elements from a Reggio-inspired approach could mesh with the prescribed mathematics curriculum that our teachers work with. I shared some of the work we have been doing in K/1 classrooms this September and then teachers had a chance to engage with different tables full of materials and mathematical provocations.

K-3 teachers attended and there was much rich conversation about ways to address curriculum in different ways. I shared my thinking around "uncovering" curriculum (instead of the mindset of having to cover curriculum) through invitations with thoughtful design and beautiful materials. The mathematical provocations shared had mathematical intentions embedded in their design and materials but they are intended for students to explore and discover and for the mathematics to unfold.

The following photographs share the series of number sense and patterning provocations that were presented across two rooms to inspire teachers, encourage discussion and connection-making to mathematics curriculum at different grade levels.

Teachers also had the chance to make some wooden ten frames (love popsicle sticks for their versatility!) to take back to their classrooms. This was one of those a-ha moments for me early in September when I wanted to use ten-frames but wanted a more playful, kinaesthetic tool rather than a photocopied ten frame on paper or an egg carton. 

A special thank you to Lenore Dennis for hosting us in her lovely classroom at Byng Elementary!

Our afternoon together was hopefully just the starting point of ongoing collaborative projects as we think about our young students and how they experience mathematics in their classrooms.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Provincial PSA Day Opportunities

Friday, October 25th is BC"s Provincial PSA Day and there are many opportunities in the Lower Mainland for professional learning in mathematics and science education.

BCAMT (BC Association of Mathematics Teachers)
Annual Fall Conference, Friday at Steveston-London Secondary in Richmond, BC

BCScTA (BC Science Teachers Association)
Catalyst Conference, Friday at Cambie Secondary in Richmond, BC

Seeing Math: Emphasizing the Visual when Teaching math with Dr. Marian Small
Thursday, October 24, 4-6pm, Brookswood Secondary, Langley, BC

mathematical provocations in K/1 classrooms

During September I visited Louesa Byrne's K/1 classroom at Thompson and Lauren MacLean's K/1 classroom at Blair. Over several visits we created mathematical provocations for the students to engage with mathematics and allow the teachers an opportunity to assess what their students were able to do in the area of patterning and general number sense.

Can you stack 5 rocks?
Mathematical Intention: one-to-one correspondence, counting, decomposing 5 into parts

What different patterns can you make?
Mathematical Intention: creating repeating patterns using 2-5 elements

What is a pattern?
Mathematical Intention: thinking about patterns in the environment, thinking about repeating, growing patterns, circular, framing patterns, grid patterns

What can you find out about numbers?
Mathematical Intention: one-to-one correspondence, counting, making ten, recognizing quantity arrangements, relate numerals to quantity, represent and describe numbers

How many ways can you make 7?
Mathematical Intention: parts-whole relationships, decomposing 7 into parts, one-to-one correspondence, counting, combining parts, adding

Things we noticed:
Students, for the most part, were fascinated with the simple materials and open-ness and stayed engaged for long periods of time.
We found leaving little clipboards with paper on the tables invited students to record and represent their  work.
By adding a new element to a provocation, students became re-engaged and discovered new ways to work with the materials (ie. adding dice or calculators).
These table tasks create opportunities for teachers to spend time with individual students and talk to them about what they were doing, assessing their mathematical understanding as appropriate.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to our new blog, documenting the happenings in the areas of mathematics and science in the Richmond School District. Teachers interested in submitting blog posts, please contact Janice Novakowski through Richnet.

Janice Novakowski
K-12 Teacher Consultant, Mathematics & Science
Richmond School District: Learning Services