Making Meaning of the Learning

We just finished another three great days meeting as the Mathematics Leadership Network (MLN) - a group of educators from boards of education across Northeastern Ontario, looking to further our development as mathematics learners and leaders.

Part of the learning in this latest round was centred on Michael Fullan's book, Indelible Leadership. In it, he discusses six big tensions when it comes to deep leadership. Two of those tensions - Lead & Learn in Equal Measure, and Feed & Be Fed by the System - really resonated with me.

Both of these tensions underscore the importance of reflection in one's practice. When learning (a fundamental part of leading), Fullan quotes John Malloy in saying: "...there has to be...vehicles, protocols, processes to actually reflect upon the learning, to make meaning out of what is emerging from the learning and then articulate from that." In order to give new learning meaning, we need to take the time to consolidate what we learn, po…

Digging Deep into Proportional Reasoning

This past fall, we continued a series of cross-panel co-teaching days with some of our grade 7/8/9 math teachers. In addition to co-designing and co-teaching a lesson in a grade 9 classroom, we also spent part of the day dedicated to digging a little deeper into a continuum of concept development for proportional reasoning.

Ahead of time, we asked each teacher to give the following task to their students. Calculators and manipulatives were allowed, and the question could be read to the students, but no instruction or guidance was allocated.

The point of the task was two-fold. First, we wanted to introduce teachers to the idea of how students develop proportional thinking. In upper elementary grades and in secondary math courses, we often jump right into the more advanced concepts, without looking back to see how students learned the basics (or even if they have learned the basics).

Second, we wanted to give teachers a chance to see how their students would fare on a question with no coac…

One Word 2018

It's that time of year again - a time for reflection and contemplation on the past year, and a time for setting new goals for a new year.

The past few Decembers, I've participated in the #onewordONT community, choosing a single word that summarizes my outlook and goals for the next year as I move forward in my professional practice.

For 2015, my word was JUMP - jumping into new adventures and taking risks to try new things.
For 2016, my word was REFLECTION - working more reflection into my practice as a teacher, but also helping my students reflect on their learning.
For 2017, my word was PATIENCE - practicing patience with both myself in learning a new role, and with the process of implementing change. It won't happen overnight.

PATIENCE was a good focus for me this past year as I work my way toward deeper understanding. Coming out of the classroom, I've been involved in many learning opportunities in my new-ish role as a math co-ordinator. The learning curve has been hu…

Five(-ish) Most-Read Posts of 2017

This year marked a shift in focus of my blogging, away from adventures in the classroom working mostly with students, and toward adventures as a board co-ordinator working mostly with teachers. 

The past few years, I've enjoyed reflecting on which posts become the most-read, but this year the numbers seemed skewed - the more established blog's views were much higher than the new blog, due partially to previously-made links, and partially due to something fishy going on in the hit counter (and, I suspect, some bots).

So this year, as I'm working toward my new #onewordONT goal for 2018, I decided to look at the most-read three posts from each blog. Here they are:

Model the Learning:3) BIT17 Ignite - Find Your Why- My Ignite talk from BIT2017.

2) Making the Most of Tracking Observations with Forms- Using Google Forms in new ways to track what we see in the math classroom.

1) A New Diagnostic- Looking at a new tool being developed in our board for assessing mathematical skills.


Rethinking the Rich Task

In 2015-2016, I was fortunate to be involved with a TLLP team that looked into flipping the classroom: transferring the focus of our courses away from the teacher and on to the learners.

Once we had successfully flipped, we became interested in how we could deepen our students' educational experiences, specifically through rich assessments. In 2016-2017, our same team took on a second TLLP project, which is just finishing up now, that had us digging deep into Rich Tasks.

While the first project was very successful for us - everyone in the group was able to flip their courses in different ways and we were seeing success with the students - the second project was a much tougher go. 

The learning curve was steeper, and it seemed the more we learned, the harder it was to implement GOOD rich tasks. We kept coming back to: what makes a rich task RICH?

We came to an understanding that an ideal rich task should be broad, but have personal components; it should challenge the students, but also…

BIT17 Ignite: Find Your Why

The following is my talk from the BIT17 Ignite session on November 9. The automated slide deck is here: 20 slides, 15 seconds each, for 5 minutes total. What a thrill!

We’ve been asked to speak tonight to share our passions. There’s a lot that I’m passionate about - I’ve always got too many things on the go! So instead, I’m going to take a slightly different approach, and share WHY I’m passionate.

Have you ever learned a new word, and then all of a sudden, you start seeing or hearing that word everywhere? You swear you’ve never heard it before, but suddenly it’s in the news, in the book you’re reading, or in a conversation?

At the end of the summer, for me, it wasn’t just a newword that seemed to be popping up everywhere, it was a new question. I saw it in tweets, I saw it in blogs, I saw it in the books I was reading. And that question, was WHY.

WHY? Such a little word, but such a big question! And it’s one I started asking myself. Why am I here? Not in the existential sense, but with r…

Never as Easy as it Looks

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend three days of workshops with Cathy Fosnot (@ctfosnot) in North Bay. This was a great opportunity to see so many constructs in person that I had previously only learned about through her books, or the podcasts with #notabookstudy and #themathpod. It was amazing to see "math congress," "mini-lessons," and "gallery walks" come to life!

Also last week, I wrote about how math teachers can change how they ask questions in order to probe for concept development, rather than probing for just the answer.

Inspired by what I had seen in North Bay, I wanted to try out this different style of questioning first hand. While working with different learners this week, I tried going past just getting the answer, and encouraged them to show me how they got their answer, or to draw a picture, or to explain their thinking in words, or tell me how they know their answer could be right.

The results were disastrous. Learners became frustr…