Saturday, 28 October 2017

Term 4 Maths PD: Observing Jo Knox

Maths Professional Development at Pt England is being supported this year by Jo Knox of Maths Development. During the year so far we have enjoyed rich discussions about the process of making Overall Teacher Judgments and the sources of information and assessment tools available to support us in robust decision-making.

This week our team was given the opportunity to observe Jo’s practical expertise as she modelled a fractions lesson for students at Stage E5 and another for students at Stage E6. The purpose was to challenge ourselves to find ways in which we can apply her knowledge and wisdom to remove potential barriers and accelerate the achievement of the Year 5 and 6 learners in our shared learning spaces.

Each of Jo’s lessons began with diagnostic snapshots to check current knowledge and conceptual understandings, before smoothly flowing towards new learning through manipulation of materials, imaging and number properties. It was interesting to note that Jo only explicitly shared the learning intention of her lessons during the conclusion of the session when she stated the mathematical concept in general terms.

The consistency of Jo’s language and questioning when interacting with the learners through the flow of her lessons made the biggest impression on me during the modelled sessions.  The use of the talk moves and wait time made her expectations very clear to the learners that everyone was required to think and then talk about the Maths problems before them. The focus was very quickly on Maths vocabulary, manipulating materials and explanations in a positive and respectful group setting.

Additionally, Jo explicitly modelled "imaging" during these lessons as learning moved from the concrete to abstract:

Close your eyes.  I’m going to hide a number under the table.”
[Pause while Jo writes a number on a piece of paper]
“Okay.  And open.  What number have I made?  2.8  Bingo! What will I need to make it?
I’m hoping you can picture this in your head.”

Finally, it was fascinating to observe the ease with which learners were able to make connections to their prior knowledge about our place value system and addition strategies to begin adding decimal fractions when using different materials, namely decipipes.

I really did feel that they were able to visualize the decipipes and the motion of sliding tenths onto a threading stick to create a whole number.

As I reflect on my Maths programme following this observation, there are definitely opportunities for me to adjust aspects of my Maths teaching and learning to incorporate Jo’s key points with the goal of better supporting the identified needs of my Maths learners.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Teaching As Inquiry 2017: Term 3 Reflection

Reflecting on inquiry and practice often creates internal tension: What am I doing that is making a difference? What is important? Am I doing enough for my learners? What went well today?  How can I improve that tomorrow? What can I do to promote learner agency? How can I tighten routines in the learning space?

After the self-talk and deliberations, it was refreshing to listen to colleagues as they presented their latest Teaching As Inquiry reflections. How similar many of the challenges we face: development of oral language to express mathematical concepts, supporting reading to enable comprehension of written maths problems, enabling learners to make that shift from additive thinking and skip-counting to multiplicative thinking.

Overall, what a powerful and positive way to take time to stop, smell the roses and count our blessings - the baby steps we are taking.