#mathadvent 2017

Keeping my goal this year of noticing and naming the math in all my experiences in schools, with educators and with students, the second year of #mathadvent provided a great opportunity to do just that.

Some amazing thinking was shared from students across our board. Prompts to prompt fractional thinking and creating, analyzing data, finding the art in patterns, the list goes on. Students used the images and made estimations, made conclusions, made a list of questions that put them deeper into a math situation. They used the power of classroom discourse and technology to engage in these rich tasks. They got out their manipulatives to build the prompts so they could speak to them and participated in a task where the bar was set high with many open tasks and students got into the math. They used their skills and applied them as they needed.

#mathadvent is a fun way to bring math into these busy days leading up to our Christmas break. And I think it stands to show that when we give students engaging, purposeful tasks, they will step up and be mathematicians.

Look in January for a summary of all of this year’s and last year’s task at our new Math Website https://sites.google.com/tldsb.net/tldsbmath/home

Go under the Rich Task tab to find each prompt and what it is all about. Then feel free to put them in a different context in the year ahead.

Everyone is a mathematician! Let’s give out prompts and share how we bring it out in our students!


Power of Conversation and Observation

As PLCs are happening across our board educators are being creative of how to capture the evidence of conversation and observation and bring it with them. A tool that people have been using is AudioBoom.  This has added another fantastic layer to the data that comes to the table for educators to make sense of and plan forward.

These different technologies are a great way to show how we can collect assessment through observation and conversation and have that evidence outlast the event. To use that evidence to inform instruction and to use in reporting learning.

When we have the conversations and observations at the table we can better identify the math students are using, the processes that they are engaging in and where misconceptions may live. We can notice and name these with far more certainty and precision in this form of evidence then product evidence. Although all three create the perfect formula for knowing our learners, product really lets us know if they have it or not. Conversation and observation guides us down the path of the process the students take to get there. All three are necessary for us to be responsive and to have impact.

So with technology at our fingertips, take an opportunity to have the evidence outlast the event and bring it all to the learning table. Let the data drive instruction and support the learning of our students.

Is knowledge ambiguous?

So far this school year has brought many opportunities for great learning with colleagues. We all came together on the PA Day as Family of Schools and met with people we haven’t seen for a long time and engage in some self selected professional learning. In the small time we had we just touched the surface in some sessions. In the Know Your Math Learner session some feedback came from the topic of this post. In the session we made the statement that knowledge is ambiguous.

To start let’s revisit what is ambiguous. It is being open to more than one interpretation. This is where our students are. Check out this link to a learning segment from Dr. Chris Suurtamm.

In this segment Dr. Suurtamm talks about the math that students come to us with. They come with a schema and have done math all their life. And because each child has their own experiences, their knowledge is vast … it is ambiguous. The work we do as educators to learn how to notice and name the math students are doing, so we are in a better position to have the ability to see and honour this in their mathematical understanding, then puts educators in a better position to drive instruction and set students up for success in their math learning.

All students are mathematicians and come with their own understanding of the world mathematically. When we honour the ambiguity of their understanding (and this will uncover skills and misconceptions) and what they bring through our door, we are ready to continue that math learning journey for each of our students.

Teaching math is not easy. Student learning, honouring them as mathematicians and empowering them makes it all worth it.


New Year, New Goals, New Learning Adventure


Happy New Year. Educators and students are lucky enough to have two New Year celebrations each year!

With each new year comes new goals. Not stopping the learning from last year, but staying the course and adding some new features to the the exciting journey that is professional growth.

This year, after reflecting during the summer and considering new data that has emerged to start the year, my goals are to notice and name the math in all the collaboration and experiences I have with educators and students. Wonder about it, question it and learn by it. Documenting this journey will look a little different, but working and sharing with peers, building my knowledge and continually wondering will drive this goal forward.

Let the adventure begin…

#AssessSym17 Consolidation of Learning

This week was an amazing week of focusing on Assessment and Evaluation at #AssessSym2017. We had opportunities to meet and work with passionate people at other boards, reflect on how we have worked with assessment and evaluation in the past and looked forward at refining our work on behalf of students.

Documenting my learning was done through creating a Moment on Twitter


Documenting my thinking and learning was a product of being inspired by Sketch Noting from @ML2Network and #ml2n and trying my hand at it…


Throughout the symposium we were asked to reflect on and answer the following questions…

How does spending the time to create safe and welcoming learning communities support assessment and instruction for students?

Taking time to create a safe and welcoming learning community is crucial to support assessment and evaluation.  Highly effective assessment and evaluation is done when students play a part in the cycle and have voice. Are part of a dialogue and not recipients of a monologue. To have an environment where this can happen, with high impact, taking the time and care to create this with students in invaluable.

What are your top three take aways about assessment from the movie and discussion?

Knowledge is ambiguous, Socratic Formation, Accountability Strategies

In what ways does assessment support students with special needs?

This answer can be a blog itself. In short it brings life to the IEP as a living document. It brings life to the teaching and learning cycle for ALL!!

Policy to practice – What policies govern descriptive feedback? How do you / or will you, turn these policies into practice? Which ones will you focus on next year?

In short…Growing Success. This year my focus will be working with teams of educators in the schools I am privileged to work in, and bring the why to the what of learning. I will do this through focusing on Learning Goals, Success Criteria and Feedback.

This was an a week to learn and reflect.  Thank you to the Assessment and Evaluation  Symposium team and all who was part of my learning.

Reflecting on Set Goals

With another school year coming to an end it is an opportunity to reflect on goals set in September. Look at how I monitored them and see what the impact was. On students, the people I work with and on myself.

In September I identified my goals as…

  1. Asking better questions, and making statements, to support moving thinking forward,
  2. Digging deeper into assessment and data to make small powerful moves to support student understanding,
  3. Support the shift from ‘covering’ to ‘engaging’ in curriculum.

Reflecting back on PLCs, the Math Leadership Series and other large professional learning sessions we ran, I can honestly say that these goals remained a focus, and that focus has resulted positively with students.

This year we put a lot of focus on what the data is telling us. We started the year looking at last year’s EQAO data and used that to start setting directions for professional learning. Our learning cycles always consisted of evidence from the student desk to keep our work focused and purposeful through monitoring and small informed changes. Making informed moves and  decisions in instructional practice and our math programming. We looked at concepts and big ideas and how we can engage students in the curriculum instead of creating a check list and trying to surface cover everything; with no emphasis on why this learning now. We still have work to do here as we gathered information from our students through SEF visits, but we have identified it and are moving forward with it. Finally people professionally challenged each other, made statements and asked questions of each other and of their students; all with the goal of moving student thinking forward. In small groups, working with ILs and consultants; colleagues worked together to refine practice, all to support students.

As we move into summer I look forward to reflecting further on evidence from working on these goals. I also look forward to continuing the work in these areas and setting some new directions. Professionally for myself, to support my colleagues and to support our students. 

Knowledge Mobilization

As we wind down, with June being around the corner, it is a great time to continue to reflect on the professional learning that has been developed and delivered this year. What better way to see this than seeing it in schools, classrooms and discussions!

Here is a little WordPress Blog ‘Moment’ of Knowledge Mobilization that I have come across so far!

And the this is just where it begins!

Looking forward to sharing 4 school stories in June’s Curriculum Connection.

Knowledge Mobilization through the lens of the Pedagogical System…


80% Learned…Anxiety

This week is #mentalhealthweek2017

I was at a learning session in Barrie today and one of the breakout sessions I went to was on Mental Health. It was a fantastic presenter who was engaging and informative and very real and sincere with the information she was sharing with us.  As she spoke I reflected a lot; on my students, my children, myself.

And then she stated something that has changed my thinking and what I thought I knew about anxiety. 80% of anxiety is learned. That is of all the people that live with anxiety, 80% of them have learned anxiety. I never knew this. Like at all. And then I really started to think.

How am I modelling dealing with stress? How do I model stressful situations? Like workload, professional demands, parenting challenges, scheduling…

How have I modelled this for my children and my students? Our actions speak louder than words. Children watch us. Students watch us.

We have been delivering a professional learning series specifically for EQAO this year. A part of each session speaks to the wellness of students during this assessment. We know that this is a stressful time of year for teachers in those assessment grades. We want our students to do well and demonstrate what they know. How are we showing this to our students?

So as the block of time approaches for this year’s EQAO assessment I encourage colleagues to take care of themselves. Get outside, Feed All Four and do what is necessary to be your best self during our students’ time to show their learning. They are watching us. And they are always learning.

Widening the path of this Learning Journey!

Tomorrow starts a new chapter in my career where I get the opportunity (in a different venue) to continue my learning journey, support educators and make learning fun…being a co-instructor for Primary / Junior Math Part 1 AQ at Lakehead University.

Having the opportunity to support educators as they engage in learning about teaching math is a professional goal of mine. I continue to have the privilege to do this at TLDSB and now at Lakehead University.

So some personal goals in this new professional adventure…

  • support and create educator efficacy in building content knowledge and effective pedagogical practices in math education,
  • begin or continue supporting participants in building their Professional Learning Networks,
  • engage in conversations about the learning and push thinking forward,
  • encourage slowing down and ensuring we are considering reaching all or almost all students in our connecting learning to the classroom,
  • finally, and most importantly, make learning fun!

I look forward to meeting the participants, working with the co-instructors and supporting learning at Lakehead University!

Collective Efficacy

“When teachers believe that together they can impact student achievement, they share a sense of collective teacher efficacy.” Jenni Donohoo

Collective Efficacy has been something that I have been thinking a lot about lately. It started with a book study with a peer group and has moved to personally assessing how I support building this in the schools I work with daily.

Looking at our professional learning model currently, we have many opportunities to build a collective efficacy with the groups of educators who with we engage in learning. To work together as a team, supporting each other to live the quote above.

In the resource by Jenni Donohoo, she classifies four sources of efficacy:

  • Mastery Experiences – most powerful; when teachers see success based on their target work, CE is established
  • Vicarious Experiences – second most powerful; when teachers see others with similar opportunities have success, they too believe they can overcome their obstacles
  • Social Persuasion – credible and trustworthy persuaders to encourage how to innovate and overcome challenges (members of a school staff persuading other staff that they constitute an effective team
  • Affective States – emotional tone of an organization; least effect and little research to support

In our learning teams we have the power (each member has this power) to support building these experiences of efficacy with one another.  A colleague and friend of mine, Marianne Auger, made a statement that has stuck with me. When people come together for professional learning we are all responsible for each other’s learning. We are not meant to sit and consume, we are responsible to listen, reflect and contribute. It is in environments like this that the above four sources can be supported and collective efficacy comes to be. And it is this statement that made me reflect and adjust how I facilitate and learn with groups of educators. To model, support and be part of building collective efficacy

Looking forward in current and future roles I know that this reflection and thinking will stay with me and be addressed in the work I do. When we come together and believe we have the power to support students, their well being and achievement…well that is the making of an amazing support system for all the children we work for everyday.