Thursday, 28 May 2020

Level 2 Coding

Recently, Auckland was moved to Level 2 of the NZ Covid-19 restriction levels. This means that schools have reopened with many adaptations in place. Our students are sitting in a social distancing seating chart and they are not sharing anything once they enter the classroom setting. Their hands are sanitised every time they enter and exit a classroom or building. 

In Room 1, students have arrived back to school very slowly and I only have about half of my students attending class on a daily basis. I decided that it was a great time to introduce something new and fun to my students with a Codey Rocky coding lesson. 

I am excited to share this Level 2 lesson as one of my Manaiakalani Class on Air episodes for 2020. Please click here to see the entire lesson format, including student blog posts and an extended lesson plan. 

Monday, 25 May 2020

Professional Reading #3

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #3:
What's the Big Deal about Vocabulary?
By: Pamela J. Dunston and Andrew M. Tyminski

When reading this article, I found myself wondering what techniques I use to teach mathematical terminology to my students that allow the opportunity for them to expand their abstract reasoning and move beyond basic operational problem solving.

Some important points to note from the article are:

  • Combining conceptual approach to mathematics vocabulary with research based literacy strategies can improve student maths learning. 
  • The article provided three ELA approaches, and I have decided to give two of the approaches a chance in my class.
  • It was once again reiterated that students and some teacher's see mathematical language as a completely foreign language (or second language) to learn. 
3 Approaches:
  • FRAYER MODEL: Students use two topic lists to compare the qualities of the items being discussed. This model is one that I believe our students would have difficulty using on a daily basis.
  • FOUR SQUARE: It is important for teachers to limit the number of new words students are working with to 5 or less.
    • 1. Teacher provides the pronunciation and spelling of the new word.  It is written in the top left square of the document.
    • 2. Teacher explains the meaning of the term, and students write their definition in the bottom left square
    • 3. Students write their "lightbulb word" in the top right square. This is the word or phrase that students think of (or associate) the mathematical term with
    • 4. Students draw a picture or figure to remind them of the definition (or they can write an equation/Illustration)
  • FEATURE ANALYSIS: Illustrates relationships between terms/concepts.
    • Features of the topic word are listed across the top of the page and concepts are found along the left side. 
    • Allows students to form connective views of the characteristics and properties and make conjectures regarding the relationships between various definitions.
I really believe that I will attempt to use the Four Square and Feature Analysis approaches in the upcoming terms as we go back to our regular classroom learning circumstances. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Professional Reading #2

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #2:
Learning Mathematics Vocabulary: Potential Pitfalls and Instructional Strategies
By: Denisse R. Thompson and Rheta N. Rubenstein

While reading the introduction to this article, I found myself asking the question, "Do my students speak "Mathematic'?" 

Why Being Good at Language Arts Means That You Can Do Math ...

Other important points from the article are:
  • Students need to master the language if they are to read, understand and discuss mathematical ideas. 
  • The language of mathematics is largely limited to school
  • It is important to recognise that students think and learn in many ways, and we must propose a spectrum of approaches including oral, written, visual and kinaesthetic modes. 
  • Vocabulary learning and mathematical understanding are intertwined
  • Student can record the new terms and meanings with diagrams in a maths glossary (**HYPOTHESIS: If students keep a digital record created with a special template and label on student blogs of new vocabulary terms, would they gain a deeper understanding in the long run?)
    • I thought that VOCABULARY WORD was___________. Now I know that VOCABULARY WORD is _______________.
  • Language fluency requires intensive language use and working in groups allows students with opportunities to "talk mathematics"
  • Provide visual tools/cartoons for vocabulary connections

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Professional Reading #1

Share three pieces of academic or professional reading and explain how they and other sources helped your form hypotheses about aspects of teaching that might contribute to current patterns of learning. (WFRC#7)

Professional Reading #1: 
Understanding and Supporting Children's Mathematical Vocabulary Development
By: Rheta N. Rubenstein and Denisse R. Thompson
Rising Stars: Subjects Available To Students and Teachers

While reading this article, I there were a few points that stood out to me. They are:
  • Becoming fluent with mathematical terms, phrases, and symbols is vital to children's mathematical learning
  • Being more aware of issues of mathematical language acquisition and to be more creative and persistent in finding ways to support children't learning, teachers must first understand children't difficulties in making sense of mathematical language. 
  • Use Language Arts Strategies:
    • Keep a  "word wall"
    • Have students write journal entries
    • Draw cartoons
    • Write mathematical stories, skits, raps or poetry
    • Design bumper stickers
    • Word origins (introduce the "words behind the words" the origins/prefixes/suffixes)

  • Withhold the formal terminology and let students use materials to explore ideas, suggest their own terms and explain their rationale. (My wondering: At what point should formal vocabulary be used?)
  • Use open-ended prompting that provides teachers information about student misconceptions 
  • A major premise of any strategy is to connect new terms/phrases to ideas that children already know
  • When terminology is used incorrectly, restate the sentence appropriately so that children hear the correct usage. 
  • Use literature to introduce students to mathematical vocabulary
  • Play "I have...Who has...?"
My Applications:
This article pointed out a number of applicable strategies for me to try with my maths students. I really liked the section about applying Language Arts strategies to maths. Why wouldn't we? We are taught so often to compartmentalise each subject area when in reality they should merge together at some point and vocabulary is vocabulary no matter what subject area you are focusing on. This was a great article to reinforce that some of the strategies that I have been trying this year are on the right track.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Using Baseline Data at a Future Date

Explain how some of the data you have used to build a profile of the students’ learning will be used as baseline data at the end of the year. (WFRC #6)

Little man studies the word "DATA" - Buy this stock illustration ...
Based on my previous blog post about preliminary findings, I am planning to use those results as baseline data at the end of the year in the following ways.

GLOSS Survey: The results from this survey will be collected at various times during the year to provide an ongoing assessment of student understanding and gaps for future instruction. By comparing the data each term, I will obtain a clearer picture of student understanding. 

PAT Mathematics Test: Term 1 test results will be compared to the student data from the test administered at the end of the year. Hopefully, I will also be able to look at the progress each student made during the 2019 school year and compare it to the progress made this year as well. 

e-Asstle Adapted Number Maths Test: This is an assessment that we (as a team) will administer periodically throughout the year to monitor gaps in student understanding before beginning a "Number Knowledge" strand focus and achievement at the end of each focus. This data will also be collected at the end of the year to comparatively show student acceleration in this particular strand throughout the school year. 

Once back at school (after the Covid-19 lockdown ends), I will also administer iKANN tests with my students and it is my hope that each student will take this test 1-2 times a term for the remainder of the year, to help provide students with a clear picture of their individual progress. 

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Lockdown Maths

 As a team, we have decided to try something a bit different with our classes at this point in the lockdown. We are meeting with our Maths Class three times a week on a Google Meet, and we have decided to try breaking down our learning task and teaching points into smaller chunks of information to be presented throughout the week that will build upon each other to create a complete mathematical concept. 

While planning for this week of Geometry, I wanted to be sure that I was asking students to complete tasks while supplies that they all had available to them while at home. I found that in order to keep things consistent (to help the students helping each other from different homes) with the manipulatives they were using was key. Therefore, I decided to find online tools for us to use to help build our geometric knowledge. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Nature and Extent of Student Challenge

Share your findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge. Make sure it is clear what evidence from your inquiry supports each finding. (WFRC #5)

HR's top seven challenges in 2019 - FastLane HR

Earlier this year, during our before school professional development staff meetings, we discussed the accelerated shift of our students as a school. We also took some to explore student achievement from year level to the next. It was evident that our students were continuing to make accelerated progress in Writing but not in Reading and Mathematics. Due to this finding, we determined that within these two subject areas was the current challenge for our students.

Over the past few years, we have discussed the acquisition of vocabulary as a common thread for building self-efficacy and understanding for our students across the subject areas. When looking at my Year 7/8 Maths students, it is definitely a case of low self-efficacy holding them back. However, I don't believe that the struggle is always with the process of problem solving as much as it is with understanding of the question and the explicit explanation of their computational process.

They often think they know how to "show" you their mathematical thinking but they do not have the necessary age level vocabulary to explain their computational thinking step by step. For example, when describing how to solve a problem similar to 486 + 245= students commonly respond with something like "Oh! You're plussing" instead of explaining step by step how to use addition to add the two numbers together using place value. While this example is a basic one, it is important to realise that at some point students need to be exposed to and begin using the correct mathematical terms when problem solving.