Inquiry Update, Week 5, Term 1

Kia Ora, Talofa and Happy Tuesday

A reminder of my Inquiry Focus for 2018:

Lift Achievement in Maths for all students year 1- 13.

Our overarching  school focus is: Acquisition of Language.
I will be inquiring into:

Would integrating the teaching of strand maths with number, help kids to better acquire key mathematical language, raising their achievement?

I had my first real go of a DMIC Maths session this week and it worked really well. I must say I was apprehensive at first and a little scared to give it a go, however, I guess this is normal when starting something new that you haven't done before!

I was doing some research online, and came across this article on 'Education Aotearoa' by Jannie Van Hees, who ran our first CoL PD arund language acquisition in children. I found it really interesting and I wanted to share what I took from it. Below I have copied and pasted some highlights from the article. Please note this is taken from, and written by Jannie Van Hees.

"Take a look inside a ‘typical’ primary classroom during organised teaching learning time. Check out whether optimising expression and optimal learning conditions operate for each and all learners. Are there high levels of balanced, turn-taking interactions, learner/s to learner/s, learner/s to teacher? Is the quality of expression such that students notice and participate in fullness of expression exchanges, with goldilocks’ zone vocabulary available and attended to? Is each student given multiple opportunities to ‘try out’ known and newly acquired thinking and saying? Do feedback responses offer the student more – an expansion, expressively and conceptually? Is teaching and learning a conversation – dynamic and dialogic, with all participating and given space to contribute and express?
It is highly likely this glimpse into the ‘typical’ organised teaching-learning time in the classroom will reveal otherwise. Questions and questioning will dominate, almost all generated by the teacher. Students will respond to teacher questions with hands up, waiting to be chosen…or not. The ‘chosen’ will most usually express minimally and aim ‘towards’ being ‘right’ in the eyes of the teacher. Approval matters. Many students express little to nothing throughout organised learning time, other than social, communicative talk with peers. Explicit attention to vocabulary gifting and expansion will seldom occur. Rather, pumping students to delve deeper for ‘more of their own’ will take precedence. Seldom occurring will be the dynamic cut and trust of ideas exchange – what we might hear in families where balanced sharing of ideas and thinking is the ‘bread and butter’ of meaning-making relationships and learning."

What did I take from paragraph one? Well firstly, I don not feel that I have done my best at allowing learning conditions where every child is exposed to turn taking, able to and ENCOURAGED to have conversations with their peers, and be challenged in the 'goldilocks zone', this being given problems that are not too easy and not too hard. If they're too easy they're not learning, if they're too hard they're not learning. 

What did I take from paragraph two? Question time is dominated mostly by teacher's in classrooms. Children are in the mind set to give a 'right' answer, and this often sways what they share. Children don't often 'talk' about their work. There is little to no importance put on sharing of ideas and thinking among our learners. 

So my thoughts.. I want to change this. The beauty of all of this is that Jannie and Bobbie's theories and ideas marry so well together. The idea of group work that requires discussion time and lots of 'talking', as well as mixed ability groups where there are all the 'smart' learners together.

So what did I do? Firstly, I split my maths class into social and strengths groups, as Bobbie mentioned in our last PD, these are not  supposed to friend-based groups. They are groups of students that you know will work well together. I considered this strongly when grouping my learners. I did have a little more than the 4 learners per group suggested by Bobbie, although I think the groups of 5 and 6 worked ok.

Our focus this week was around multiplication.  We are working on the strand of measurement strand, focussing specifically on time. 

My first step was to come up with a challenging problem for the groups to solve. I had a think about this word 'challenging', what is a 'challenging' question. How hard does something have to be to make it 'challenging', is there such a thing as making a question too challenging. Again I think back to Jannie's idea of learner's needing to be in the 'goldilocks Zone' where learning is not too easy, hard, slow or fast. THIS is what allows for powerful learning at all times. 

Here is the question I came up with. It uses a relevant and timely context for our learners, School Camp. It incorporates our 2 learning focusses; Multiplication and the Measurement strand of time. 

On the weekend Mr Goodwin, Miss Parrant and Miss Szymanik practised putting up a tent. They started at 10:15 am. They each took one 7 minute turn. How long did it take them to put up the tent? If they started putting up the tent at 10:15 am, what time did they finish?

The children had to answer the following in groups, there was one 'recorder'

What is the question actually asking us to do?
What is the context of the question?
Explain how you figured out the question
What is the answer?

I will do another blog post later in the week to reflect on this lesson. Stay tuned!


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