School Name: A.J. Elliott Elementary
School District: SD#85 Vancouver Island North
Inquiry Team Members:Melody Watson: firstname.lastname@example.org, Serena Lansdowne: email@example.com, Lynn Walker: firstname.lastname@example.org, Nicole Forshaw: email@example.com, Anca Fraser: firstname.lastname@example.org, Richelle Beatty: email@example.com, Shirley Madson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, Flexible learning, Formative assessment, Growth mindset
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How will a cyclical based math approach, focusing on “Big Ideas”, in addition to the focus on developing a growth mindset have an impact on student achievement in numeracy as measured by the BC Performance Standards, District Math Assessment, and school-wide assessments?
Scanning: The OECD principles of learning and the First Peoples Principles of Learning guide our work. For example, this inquiry recognizes that learners need to be at the centre of our work and recognizes that we all learn differently and so the way we teach math must meet each learner where they are and help them to move forward along a continuum. Our inquiry also speaks to the holistic , reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational nature of learning.
In scanning, we have noticed that our learners:
• have strong computation skills and that computation has meaning
• are taking more risks when solving problems
• are thinking more flexibly (multiple strategies, seeing numbers more flexibly)
• are improving in their ability to be reflective and set, monitor, and adjust their goals
• need to continue to develop mathematical growth mindsets
• benefit from having concepts taught cyclically all year long, going deeper as concepts are revisited regularly
• are making their learning more visible through portfolio assessment
Focus: We felt that we need to focus on the following:
• Continuing to develop mathematical growth mindsets-Students need to see themselves as mathematicians. They need to believe that they can be successful and that they are “math people”. Research tells us that, “the difference between successful and unsuccessful students is less about the content they learn and more about their mindsets.” (Boaler, J. Mathematical Mindsets, p. 55)
• Further developing the use of digital portfolio assessment as a way for students to make their learning visible, reflect on their learning, and improve their goal setting (making goals, monitoring progress, adjusting goals, etc.), and communicate with their parents and teachers about their learning.
• Expanding and improving our use of complex instruction: multidimensionality, roles, assigning competence, and shared student responsibility.
• We wanted to have another Family Math Night in the fall and share information with parents around growth mindset, cyclical teaching, math strategies, etc. (This year’s Family Math Night was a huge success, but many parents missed the informational aspect we had built into the one the previous year)
Hunch: • The purchase of iPads at the end of this year will better enable our students to use portfolio assessment as a tool to improve their learning
• Using the 4 Key Questions more regularly with our students, framed specifically around mathematics will help our students to become more reflective and responsible for their learning
• Our students do group work, but many times the same students take the same roles. Group work could be much more effective if we followed the suggestions in Mathematical Mindsets (e.g. teaching, assigning, and rotating roles and teaching students to be responsible for each other’s learning-seeing math as a collaborative and shared pursuit not an individual and competitive one)
• Specific teaching around mindsets is needing for students see themselves as mathematicians and believe they can be successful (this will transfer into all areas, not just math)
New Professional Learning: • As a staff we began a study of Mathematical Mindsets and will continue this work next year. Each staff meeting we will focus on a chapter and continue discussions between meetings.
• One staff member enrolled in the online course, How to Learn Math for Teachers from Stanford University and shared this learning
• We used, How to Learn Math for Students (a free course also through Stanford) as a resource with our students. It combines information on the brain and learning with new evidence on the best ways to approach and learn math effectively.
• We continued our work around formative assessment
• We continued to align our work with the new curriculum
• We continued to develop our frameworks for cyclical teaching
• We would like to further collaborate with other elementary schools as well as the high school
Taking Action: • Staff participated in a study of, Mathematical Mindsets during monthly staff meetings
• Staff used the newly purchased technology to further student use of digital portfolio assessment
• Staff used complex instruction in math as well as other areas of the curriculum (in particular the work around effective group work)
• Principal/Teachers aligned work with the new curriculum
• Principal/teachers used the school-wide supplementary assessment in the fall and spring.
• Support Staff were part of the professional learning (big ideas, math strategies, formative assessment, etc.)
• Formative assessment was used consistently and effectively to improve student learning
• Principal engaged in discussions with all staff members on the use of Formative Assessment and the BC Performance standards in an ongoing way
• All staff were prepared to communicate about the work they are doing towards the goals of this inquiry
• Principal/Teachers/LART/Support Staff worked collaboratively and used the three tiers of RTI to support high levels of learning for all students
Checking: We are very satisfied with the continued growth our students show in math. Our students achieve highly, but we also realize that there is always room for further growth.
Student achievement evidence and baseline data was collected from a variety of sources including: DMA grade 2-7, A.J. Elliott Supplementary Math Assessment (Basic Facts, How Many Ways, Problem Posing) grades 1-7, A.J. Elliott Math Confidence Survey K-7, FSA grades 4 and 7, DreamBox (K-3) and Mathletics (grades 4-7) , online math programs that also give teachers assessment data, Minute-by-minute formative assessment, Three-way conferences, use of the Four Key Questions with a Math Focus, and documentation of learning through portfolio assessment.
Reflections/Advice: We feel that we need to continue to focus on the following:
• Continuing to develop mathematical growth mindsets-Students need to see themselves as mathematicians. They need to believe that they can be successful and that they are “math people”.
• Further developing and expanding the use of digital portfolio assessment as a way for students to make their learning visible, reflect on their learning, and improve their goal setting (making goals, monitoring progress, adjusting goals, etc.), and communicate with their parents and teachers about their learning.
• Continuing our work on group work (roles and responsibilities)
In addition we feel that we need to focus on the following:
• Supporting each other as a staff in developing our skills in cyclical teaching through sharing, observations, mentoring etc.
• We would like to have a family math session in the fall for parents and their children to share/teach parents the strategies their children are using at school. This would be a hands-on session for parents and their children with families taking away strategies and games they can use at home. Further sessions will follow based on interest.
• We would like to find a way to work with the teachers at the high school to make the transition between grade 7 and 8 smoother and help our students to be confident and successful math students at the high school.
Teaching cyclically, in particular, has been a real game changer for our students. No longer is math taught in units, with students forgetting what they have learned, or having to move on before fully understanding a concept. Instead, concepts are visited over and over again throughout the year allowing students to master concepts and learn deeply. This is where we would recommend others start.