School Name: Brooke Elementary
School District: SD#37 Delta
Inquiry Team Members: Melanie Sidney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alyssa Makalai: email@example.com
Lorraine Harrison: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction, Formative assessment
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Differentiating instruction in mathematics.
Scanning: We noticed that many of our students seem to have difficulty connecting to, finding a purpose in, and articulating, what they are learning in math. Many of our students were demonstrating very strong opinions about themselves as mathematicians, and we noticed that their attitudes were either very positive or very negative about their abilities. We discovered that their attitudes and perceptions of ability were formulated fairly early on in their education; many of our students had solidified ideas of whether they were good or bad at math, which dictated whether they liked or disliked math.
Focus: We wanted to know how we, as a collaborative group of teachers, could positively change our students’ perceptions of themselves, by making math instruction more enjoyable, effective, and inclusive, for all our students at Brooke. We narrowed our focus towards creating more diverse and rich learning experiences in math. As a staff, we were curious if how we delivered our math instruction was affecting our students’ attitudes and perceptions of themselves.
Hunch: We have a hunch that our instructional practices at school need to be more diverse. Many of our staff have been teaching math the way they felt was most effective, but potentially not the best practice for our diverse student population and/or negatively contributing to our students’ fixed attitudes and beliefs about their abilities in math. As experienced professionals, we knew there was a lot to learn from each other. We felt that opening a platform for teachers to collaborate, design, and learn from one another, would be an effective way to examine, and ultimately diversify and innovate our math instruction at Brooke.
Strategies we plan to try:
– Teacher-to-teacher collaboration
– Team teaching
– Learning targets
– Weekly reflective practices for teachers and students
– Continuity through grade levels
New Professional Learning: The new areas of professional learning we pursued are through Shelley Moore’s One Without the Other, and her templates related to creating more inclusive classroom models.
We looked at Jennifer Katz’s 3-block Model of Diversified Instruction — or the Universal Design for Learning platform — in order to cater our instruction to meet the needs of all of our learners.
We looked at Carole Fullerton and applying her methodology surrounding effective math instruction.
We reached out to our District Math Coordinators to provide support in necessary areas.
Educators in our building learned about using learning targets and the Big 3 Questions. How to effectively use learning targets in our practice was demonstrated by Neil Stephenson, during a Lunch and Learn last year; all staff received stickers for their classroom, to allow for easy and immediate implementation. The Big 3 Question magnets were provided last year, and a lunch and learn session was given by district staff on how to effectively use them. We asked our staff to try using these new practices as a part of their regular instruction throughout the year, to gain familiarity with them for this years goal.
Taking Action: Displaying Learning Targets during Math Lessons – Through reflective practices, following math lessons, we will see if students are more able to identify “what they are learning” and more clearly understand the purpose of what they were learning. We will do this through the use of the Big 3 Reflective Questions that students will complete upon leaving their math lessons.
Differentiated Instruction with Hands on Activities – We all created different math based activities that required a “hands-on” approach. We measured it through student engagement and interest in our lessons.
Developing a Lesson to Teach Each Week Through “Math Matinees” – Our measure of impact was the differentiation of activities that each teacher provided. Each teacher took a different strand of math from the core competencies and developed a lesson and activity that would engage students.
Collaboration with a Partner to Develop, Plan, and Deliver, a Lesson Related to Math – Our measure of impact was the willingness and success of collaborative groups. We found that staff were willing to work with other staff, when given the option to choose who and when, as well as when given the appropriate amount of time and resources to be successful at implementing their lessons.
Visible Big 3 Questions in Every Classroom and Weekly Reflections – Our measure of impact was whether or not teachers had these questions up and visible with their students. We observed that all classrooms did so, and that teachers were using these fairly regularly with their students. Most students had experience with these reflective questions because their classroom teachers had used them before; thus, when students filled out their reflections, they were more rich and detailed.
Checking: Displaying Learning Targets during Math Lessons – We noticed that more of our students came out of their math lessons able to describe what they learned and why it was important to their development as learners, compared to before the learning targets were up. As the weeks went on, we noticed more and more students able to identify their key learning goals, as well as more that indicated they were enjoying learning, on our weekly reflection pages. We were satisfied with these observations.
Differentiated Instruction with Hands on Activities – We noticed that when students had tangible tools and work to complete, they were more engaged versus doing a worksheet or working from a textbook. A lot of our stations had activities that required kids to work in groups, and we found engagement and participation improved. We were satisfied with this observation.
Developing a Lesson to Teach Each Week through “Math Matinees” – It went really well. Each teacher had a very unique idea and implemented it very uniquely and successfully. Each station and classroom were very different, and kids were engaged in a wide variety of learning tasks each week. We were satisfied with this observation.
Collaboration with a Partner to Develop, Plan, and Deliver, a Lesson Related to Math – This went really well. We found our staff to be very communicative and willing to try collaborating with others. We were satisfied with this observation and would like to implement more school wide collaboration efforts moving forward.
Visible Big 3 Questions in Every Classroom and Weekly Reflections – This went well because students and teachers had experience using these — they flowed really nicely. We were able to depend on these responses more because we knew this was a regular thing for students and that almost all students and teachers had experience doing so.
Reflections/Advice: Collectively, we believe our “Math Matinees” were very successful. We found our staff really came together to participate in this and that their enthusiasm rapidly grew throughout the planning and teaching phases of our “Math Matinees”. We found our teachers and support staff enjoyed being able to try something new and experimental, and more importantly enjoyed having the time and resources to plan it out. Many of our teachers reflected on their weekly lessons, and either tweaked or implemented new things to further improve their own practices and make their lessons more effective along the way. We believe this was a positive experience for our students and teachers. Our students were excited to try each station and looked forward to our Tuesday afternoon cycles of math; this was ultimately the goal of our inquiry — to ignite more enjoyment and excitement about math!
We were very impressed with our staff, and their cohesion and willingness to try something new. Our advice for any school trying this type of approach moving forward would be to allow for adequate planning and preparation time. We found our staff were prepared, confident, and ready to start their lessons when we began, because we allowed for adequate planning, support and collaboration time.
Next, we hope to create another activity that brings our staff together like our “Math Matinee’s” did. The cohesion and collaboration it created amongst our staff and throughout our school was really powerful!