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Summer Math Institute and Math Mentors Every summer 20-30 K-8 teachers are invited to take part in a 2 day math instruction workshop. Topics include problem solving, inquiry, assessment, manipulatives, technology for teaching, journaling, and have included guest presenters such as Mike Fulton and Trevor Brown. Attendees at this workshop become Math Mentors, and are called back for two days during the school year for follow up training and support, and once in the following year. They also join an online community to share expertise and ideas. Our digital learning coaches support teachers in integrating technology in instruction as well as housing a collection of virtual manipulatives and ipad apps. Math Mentors are asked to become instructional leaders in their school, and in this way we hope to build capacity in our schools to improve student achievement.
Grade Alike “Let’s Talk Math” Days
Teachers are invited to attend a one-day workshop with other teachers of the same grade/course. While there is some presentation by math and technology coaches most of the workshop is developed and delivered by teachers. There is always an assessment component where teachers share formative and summative assessment strategies, and also a time of open sharing where teachers bring their favourite resources, web sites, lessons, classroom management tips, manipulatives, activities, catalogs, and any other math support items. There is round-table sharing and digital collection of resources. This has been a very successful PD model; it allows us to capitalize on capacity we have built through years of the Math Mentor program, and teachers give very positive feedback about being able to learn from their colleagues and take away ideas and resources they can use in the classroom the very next day. High school sessions have focused on collaborative learning activities, curriculum, inquiry, technology, assessment and instruction, and teachers have brought lesson, activity, and project ideas and samples to share. We’ve been fortunate to have Lisa Eberharter share her expertise with us at some these days.
Good Spirit school division supports teachers in establishing flexible group instruction, such as Guided Math. PODS (Pedogogy that is Outcome focussed, Differentiated, and Student centred) has students working through stations that are all focussed on the same outcome. Stations generally involve a technology station (online instruction, practice, creation/documentation of learning, or analysis), manipulatives, paper-pencil practice, reading, journaling, collaborative creating, games, guided practice, exploration and a teacher table for assessment, support, or small group instruction. To learn more, watch our video.
Cindy Smith is our division Math Coach. She works with teachers to support math instruction, assessment, and RTI. Areas that are commonly addressed are word walls and vocabulary programs, technology for teaching, manipulatives, curriculum and content support, collaborative learning, formative assessment, resources, and effective instructional practices. Cindy also supports teachers as part of GSSD’s “PAALS” program. PAALs stands for Positive, Accountable, Active Learning. Each year a number of schools are designated as PAALS schools, and in that year they receive ongoing focused support for Administration, Student Services and Instruction. Each teacher chooses a Professional Growth Goal which will deepen their understanding in any curricular areas and each goal is supported by a division coach. Math goals may be technology, assessment, FNMI content, RTI, manipulatives, resources, lesson or unit planning, goal setting and student engagement. The coach and teacher plan some strategies to try, research, practice, and reflect together. You can check out Cindy’s blog, as well as math newsletters.
Once a year, every student in Grades K-8 complete an Exemplars word problem, with emphasis on communicating and representing mathematical reasoning. These problems are scored collaboratively on an analytic rubric by teams of teachers. Benchmarking supports math instruction through mathematical processes; problem solving, reasoning and proof, communicating, making mathematical connections, and making mathematical representations. Collaborative assessment is a powerful professional development opportunity, and there are many critical conversations that take place at these full-day scoring events (one per grade). This data has been collected for six years in our division, and is part of division data and schools’ learning improvement plans.