Monday, 14 August 2017

Teaching As Inquiry 2017: what have I noticed?

Today we each shared our latest Teaching as Inquiry wonderings and reflections within collaborative groups. It was empowering to listen to Pt England's CoL teachers provide an insight into their hypotheses, hunches and thinking as part of Collaborative Inquiry Meeting #5.

Such sharing has gifted me the knowledge that I face many of the same teaching and learning challenges and opportunities in Maths as other teachers at Pt England - and that all opportunities to collaborate further to unpack and explore would benefit all of our learners. 

It particularly resonated when Rob Wiseman commented that students do not always demonstrate that they have fully understood a new concept or strategy when completing follow-up tasks independently. When learning strategies to solve number problems within levelled ability groupings, I have also noticed that students are mostly able to explain clearly how they have used an efficient strategy to solve a particular problem. They are able to do this using materials and appropriate language based on our learning intention and seem ready to move off and complete follow-up tasks independently. However, their full grasp of the strategy is not always evident in their completed follow-up tasks.

How can I do my best to provide students opportunities to create their own meaning in order to enhance their mathematical understandings? 

1. Create rewindable opportunities for learning.
Dorothy Burt recently shared her wisdom that creativity empowers learning with Pt England staff. A next step for my inquiry and my target learners is to plan for them to be creative, to make their own meaning using a SISOMO approach to explaining their problem-solving strategy and mathematical thinking. My hunch is that the benefits will be twofold. Those learners creating a screencast or video will affirm their own mathematical thinking. Their peers will have access to authentic rewindable resources to support learning any time, any place, anywhere.

I have created a first Maths tutorial, explaining subtraction by breaking up a number, as a starting point for such creativity to empower learning:

2. Teaching and learning using rich, worthwhile Maths tasks.
At our most recent Maths PD session with Jo Knox, she gave us practical advice about integrating Number and Strand in a fun and collaborative way using the NZ Maths unit, Giant Mystery. As well as planning opportunities for creativity, it is time for a rethink about the types of learning tasks used for teaching and learning within my Maths groups. By providing groups of learners with rich, open-ended tasks in a collaborative setting, will they be able to make their own meaning and retain those conceptual understandings? To begin to answer this question, I will need to reflect upon how I organise my Maths groupings and the flow of a typical Maths session.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

"Do your best!" says Ned

At a special assembly yesterday we were entertained by the NED show, a programme championing character education:

As well as being a positive mantra containing valuable messages for all our learners, I believe these messages are pertinent for me as a teacher too.  Am I doing my best?  Do I encourage learners to try their best?

We are halfway through our school year and it is time to reflect on the cycle of teaching and learning in Room 9, with particular reference to my Maths target learners.  My seven target learners have made mixed progress during the first half of the year.  Do I continue to focus on these learners?  Based on what I know now (after six months of building relationships, knowledge of my learners and knowledge of their learning), do I need to adjust my group of target learners to try my best to make a difference for others?

Looking at my Maths class overall, there are 33 learners: 9 are working towards the National Standard expected at the end of Year 5; and 24 are working well below the National Standard expected at the end of Year 5.  I have reorganised my Maths groups to accommodate individual learner needs based on achievement during Terms 1 and 2.  Coincidentally, within these new groupings, the social dynamics have changed and there is early evidence that learners are becoming confident to communicate with and learn alongside a range of other learners.

So, where does this leave my target learners?  Who are my priorities if I am trying to accelerate the achievement of 33 learners so that they are closer to working at National Standard at the end of Year 5?  After much pondering and wondering, I have identified those nine students who are currently working towards National Standard at the end of Year 5 as my target learners for the remainder of the year.  My reasoning: by attacking and filling identified learning gaps, building number knowledge and explicitly teaching strategies to solve multiplication and proportion/ratio problems, can these target learners move closer to working at National Standard by the end of Year 5?  As these nine learners form one Maths group, my next step is to identify their learning gaps, particularly in Geometry & Measurement and Statistics, to support them as a group to become well-rounded and confident Year 5 mathematicians.

In order for me to do my best with focus and persistence, I think it’s time to go and buy a NED yo-yo!