School Name: Dr. Kearney Middle School
School District: SD#60 Peace River North
Inquiry Team Members: Justin Ginn: firstname.lastname@example.org, Lauren Utter: email@example.com, Barb Wagner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inquiry Team Contact Email: email@example.com
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Mathematics / Numeracy
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Differentiated instruction
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We focused on enhancing communication skills and confidence, in communicating students’ thinking in math.
Scanning: We have used beginning of the year assessments and general observations of the students at work. We administered a beginning survey around attitudes towards math. We found students did not know how to start problem solving tasks. Asking for help and/or discussing their strategies, were a weakness. The results of the four questions interviews, revealed students have a very shallow understanding of their progress in math and what they could be doing to improve. We focused on the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning that states learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential and relational. We found that students were not aware of those aspects of their learning.
Focus: Students were good at repeating information, but not meaningfully engaging in the mathematics. We wanted our students to engage at a deeper level.
Hunch: We think that the students have a lot of experience with tasks that were highly repetitive, decontextualized and had low complexity. While this is changing for many students, it is still not the norm.
New Professional Learning: We examined Peter Liljedahl’s research around building a Thinking Classroom. We attended workshops with Mike Pruner around Thinking Classrooms. Used various websites, including Nrichmaths.org, to find strong tasks to use in the classroom. We also read Geoff Krall’s book, “Necessary Conditions”.
Taking Action: We started implementing Thinking Classroom routines using Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces and Visibly Random Grouping in our classrooms. Our focus was on the reflective, reflexive discussions, after the problem solving experience. We also de-fronted the classroom, which was a real growth experience for us.
Checking: Anecdotally, we feel it made a difference; however, there was not enough time to really judge our effect because of the shutdown.
Reflections/Advice: Start as early in the year as is feasible, build in group norms and expectations before expecting students to engage deeply in problem solving. Start with problems/tasks that all students can experience success with. Build in reflection and discussion as a matter of routine in the classroom. Use Thinking Classroom structures in the class. We want to start this process next year as soon as we can. We want to do more reflective strategies and debriefing opportunities with the students. We want to build more reflective questions in our assessments.