Monthly Archives: June 2010
Thank you to all of you who supported me throughout my first year as District Numeracy teacher for the Six Nations school district. Many of you invited me into your classrooms or offices to discuss math initiatives and bounce ideas off each other to improve the math environment for our students, and i appreciate your collaborative vision and approach. i look forward to working with you again in the fall to improve our students’ math performance, conceptual understanding and overall attitude towards math.
Please feel free to leave comments over the summer, if you have any neat ideas, items to share, or just want to let everyone know the square centimeter area of your sunburn (no photos please). i will not be posting regularly but i may add articles, videos and other tidbits as i come across them over the summer. As you know, a teacher never stops thinking or working.
Thanks again for all your support. It means a lot to me and by working together we strengthen the education system for our students and enhance their opportunities for a bright future. Nya:weh/Meegwetch.
Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
JC Hill (2:30 – 4:00)
Present: TerryLynn Brant (alternate for J. McNaughton), L. Martin, S. Hill-Bomberry, A. Anderson, J. Thomas, J. Restoule General
Regrets: J. McNaughton
Absent: C. Froman
Update on action items from last meeting (Explore Learning PD, Caribou Math Contest):
Neither of these items were presented to PAC, as incorrect information was given regarding the date for PAC. Both items will be presented to PAC in the fall.
Key Math 3 C. Froman to share Jamieson’s kit:
C. Froman was absent and no alternate from Jamieson was sent, therefore the materials were not shared again this month.
L. Martin shared some info she had about the kit. A. Anderson stated that she likes the reports that derive from the software.
L. Martin raised the concern that calculator use is expected in the curriculum and in the high school courses that students will be entering. She is unsure how this would apply or be reflected in the Key Math assessment; more specifically in regards to the computation section. She suggested perhaps that a teacher give such sections twice; once without a calculator and a second time with the assistance of a calculator.
Committee members discussed the concern and spoke about how a calculator could be given to the student to do those questions for the teacher’s own interest/assessment, but that the scoring of the assessment (and final report) may be inaccurate if a calculator is used, and that referral to the manual in regards to what expectations it is exactly that those particular computation questions are assessing (is it the ability to know algorithms or perform pencil and paper computation?) should direct teacher use and application of the Key Math assessment.
In the end, it was determined that the individual teacher/school/education staff would have to make the decision and use anecdotal notes to reflect the professional judgement used and implemented when conducting the test.
On a side note, T. Brant suggested a call out to the local high schools regarding their expectations of calculator use, as well as the perceived areas of weakness determined by grade 9 math teachers. She referred to a past occurrence where GEDSB grade 9 teachers met with Six Nations District grade 8 teachers and discussed the transition. J. Restoule General will ask GEDSB Intermediate Mathematics Coach Cam MacDonald about these items.
Wish List for future purchase decisions:
Each school was asked prior to the meeting to bring items forward in advance of the possibility of any monies being allocated for future district Numeracy needs (ie: Imperial Oil/SEED proposal).
They were also asked for a list of valuable professional resources in the area of Numeracy to add to the appendix of the District Numeracy Plan (ie: most valuable teacher books for use in the classroom).
Rulers and Calculators were mentioned as being tops on most teachers’ needs list. The committee discussed how these items are basic classroom needs, and not really math specialty items. Ordering of these items should occur through basic school ordering, and NOT any special math monies or proposals.
A. Anderson mentioned that other school boards will supply a list of items that students require, to parents, and the parents are expected to purchase these items themselves. Often the result is a greater sense of responsibility and caretaking of home bought items. T. Brant explained that INAC’s fiduciary responsibility of running education means that the schools must supply these basic education needs. She suggested doing math orders from teachers at different times of the year than other ordering, so that teachers are reminded to focus on such items as rulers and calculators or other items specific to their classroom’s Numeracy needs.
Different ways of maintaining proper inventory and equipment were reviewed. It was mentioned that several classrooms use a pocket chart system which ensures responsibility and accountability in regards to calculator inventory. Calculators are numbered and correspond with a particular student for use in the classroom.
L. Martin suggested a caveat to math material ordering (namely manipulatives) which requires teachers to describe how they will be using the materials they are ordering, to ensure value and accountability when it comes to math supplies and spending.
T. Brant presented OMSK’s items. She stated that the staff felt that they “don’t need more stuff” and that they are happy with the materials that they have.
What they felt that they do need, and would like to see future dollars allocated to, is Professional Development on how to do math. A DVD series that explains and teaches math was referenced as an idea.
Secondly, she mentioned the Spencer Kagan Institute as a highly valued and respected provider of professional development in Cooperative Learning. T. Brant described how the Kagan PD addresses the collectivist nature of our people and the learning environment we would like to have in our schools and learning of math. She suggested seeking other funding to help bring this in, such as New Paths dollars.
Finally, T. Brant mentioned the possibility of needing to renew the math textbooks in the school. She brought it up for discussion and consideration, as she believed the Math Makes Sense texts are close to 10 years old (ed.—it was discovered after the meeting that the texts were published in 2005). She suggested looking at new publishers, as OMSK did not originally choose Pearson, they chose Nelson, but had to order Pearson to match what the other schools selected.
Other committee members felt that the use of the teacher’s manual was key to the successful use of the Pearson textbook. Using the strategies and cooperative exercises laid out in the teacher’s manual reflects the type of learning and problem solving we want the students to be engaged in. It was reiterated that the textbook still should not be the focus of program planning (ie: follow and finish the textbook), but rather the curriculum should be supported by the textbook and other resources. L. Martin restated that the textbook actually has non-curriculum related activities that teachers need to be aware of when planning their program, and adjust accordingly.
A. Anderson added that the Super Source resource (that all schools received in the fall) can be effectively linked to Math Makes Sense to provide problem solving experiences and situations.
L. Martin suggested that any review or surveying of new resources/textbooks should possibly wait until after the next scheduled curriculum review, scheduled for 2011, with a spring release in 2013 and full implementation in September 2014.
ILTO’s items were shared by J. Thomas. She stated that T. Claus looks after the English program’s Numeracy items and that she is currently on leave and therefore did not have items sent forward. J. Thomas shared that the Immersion teachers gave her little feedback, other than the consideration that future math items purchased for the English program would very likely need to be translated for Immersion use, and that dollars/monies should be earmarked for that purpose.
She stated that the Cayuga Math Terminology document that was developed by T. Deer and the Immersion teachers for Kindergarten and Grade 1 has been very helpful, especially for those teachers with less fluency in the language. She felt continuation of such resources would be very helpful, and that the document itself was a good start because many of the terms for K and Gr. 1 continue on into the older grades.
JCH’s wishes were presented by L. Martin. She spoke of the need to develop a math program with resources in-line with the Locally Developed expectations in high school (focusing on three strands). This would better prepare students entering LD courses than, for example, providing these students with programming derived from out of grade level resources. It was suggested to ask Grand Erie personnel about this concept to help inform the development of the program.
She also shared that the tiered support system worked well at meeting the needs of students this year at JCH. The school looks towards expanding on the common teaching times in 2010-2011, by continuing to use common assessments (Numeracy Nets as one resource) and using the data to evaluate student needs mid-unit and rearranging them according to those needs for further instruction in either enrichment, reinforcement, or continual development. This may require more Numeracy Nets documents.
S. Hill-Bomberry and A. Anderson spoke about ECG’s wish list of items for future ordering consideration. They stated more assistance with Numeracy Nets and ONAP was needed; a copy of each resource for each teacher would be beneficial, as the initial ordering provided a copy for each grade only. They also cited Math Journals resources and info as an area of need.
There weren’t any professional resource texts brought forward for the Numeracy Plan appendix, apart from the Van De Walle series of Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics suggested by J. Thomas. She says she uses these all the time in her classroom and the activities and ideas have been excellent. She also mentioned how she uses story books and literature frequently in the classroom.
J. Thomas and A. Anderson mentioned how resources and PD that assists teachers in how to use literature in their math teaching would be of great value to the district. J. Thomas mentioned that teachers need to see how literature is used and that future PD could be offered in this area.
J. Restoule General shared the table of contents copied out of the Marilyn Burns’ Math Solutions Publications series of books that offer ideas and lessons surrounding the use of fiction and non-fiction texts in mathematics lessons. Several of these teacher resource books are in the schools now, yet teachers have commented that the texts referenced in the books are unavailable. He asked if purchasing the children’s literature to support these teacher books would be something the district should do. An example is the Marilyn Burns Classroom Math Library.
T. Brant and S. Hill-Bomberry felt that storybooks shouldn’t be purchased nor that district resources be used to buy children’s literature for math. T. Brant felt that teachers should check their school libraries first, and that these books should remain in the library. They may be given their own designated section, but should remain in the library. J. Restoule General mentioned that C. Froman was working on pulling these texts aside in the Jamieson library, but he was unsure what the next step was in this plan. C. Froman was absent and therefore not able to comment.
A. Anderson suggested that teachers go out and read children’s literature and to think about, keep in mind, and discover the math connections that can be made. She suggested the “Tumble Books” resource for online children’s texts.
ECG committee members stated that they believed that the original draft of the Numeracy Plan from the 2008-2009 school year had a list of Literature titles that support Numeracy learning. J. Restoule General shared the copy of the Original Draft that he received in June 2009, which did not have such a list. For this reason, the committee was asked to bring forward ideal texts to this meeting. Any future revisions to the plan and its appendix should include a Math Literature list.
Review 3 Year Plan in Final Draft Form with Electronic version:
Teacher/staff comments: There was some questioning as to why we were asking for staff input on this document. OMSK felt they had already given their input and were actively using the plan.
ECG committee members felt that the Numeracy Committee has to review the document before getting feedback. J. Restoule General reminded them that we did review the plan over the first Numeracy meeting (see October and November minutes) and had been awaiting staff input. They did not recall this and insisted that we take a very detailed look at the plan in September 2010. They also felt that we should review how successful we have been at the goals/focus areas. As reviewing the plan and the committee’s goals were on the meeting agenda for today, it was suggested the committee begin the review immediately, and not wait for September.
T. Brant suggested that we reformat the plan to 8.5 x 11” portrait layout so it would fit nicely into binders/deskbooks. She also pointed out some concerns that will need to be discussed at another review of the plan in the Fall (why “three year”?; where and how is the term “culturally relevant context” reflected in the rest of the document?).
T. Brant reiterated the document’s use of EQAO data at the district level to assess the achievement of the district’s Numeracy goals, using that data as the evidence or indicator of success. It was suggested that the data be inserted into the plan itself, possibly as an appendix.
Review of focus area one led to some suggesting the elimination of CCAT and PRIME as resources.
T. Brant recommended that the committee consider taking the next steps portion of the document and refocusing them as the new draft’s goals in 2010-2011. One of the next steps in focus area one states “provide timely feedback and intervention to students”. The committee sees the need to develop and describe how the feedback is given/developed, and/or discuss this area further.
A. Anderson stated that she felt that the committee has accomplished very little this year. J. Restoule General agreed that it seemed like we were just “spinning our tires” this year. Ongoing issues around committee member attendance and the 2:30 pm release time were seen as contributing factors to this sense of low productiveness.
J. Restoule General asked if the committee would like to set a date for the September meeting. S. Hill-Bomberry felt that it was too early to set a date. T. Brant suggested that we pick a day and time (similar to this year’s third Thursday of the month) but also mentioned that maybe we could review exactly how often we would meet (maybe once a term but for a longer duration). She also suggested getting a mandate for ½ day meetings or continuing with PLC style meetings using creative scheduling for releasing divisions of teachers. J. Restoule General felt that it was hypocritical to have the district’s priorities be Culture & Language, Literacy and Numeracy, yet not be supported when it comes to the supply teacher budget to allow for these committees to meet. S. Hill-Bomberry stated that it is “out of our hands”. T. Brant said we should push for that commitment in the fall. She also thought the committee should appoint a chair and a secretary position. This item was discussed at the May meeting (see minutes). S. Hill-Bomberry reiterated her viewpoint.
Comment was made about the fact that staff meeting agendas are very full and that discussing the Numeracy plan adds on to an already busy agenda. S. Hill-Bomberry suggested that the plan be broken up, one page per staff meeting, in order to make it more manageable for staff to review.
Numeracy Committee Goals for 2010-2011:
As this agenda item is intertwined with the review of the Numeracy Plan, it was discussed in the agenda item above, and will continue to be discussed at the next meeting in the fall.
Here is a website that explains how one teacher uses Google Docs in the classroom, notably the online forms feature. i will be trying this out to do a survey of preferred PD times for teachers. Look for more in the fall!
Mrs. C. General at Jamieson school recently borrowed one of the math books available at the District Numeracy Teacher office. The book is entitled, Learning Math with Calculators and there are several copies available for sign out.
The app descriptions were based on App Store descriptions and personal trials. The author did not personally trial every app. Promo codes were provided for iPrompts, iCommunicate, MathSpin, and My Friend Isabelle.
The app descriptions provide some information regarding iPhone, iPad and iPod touch compatibility. To adequately determine device compatibility, carefully read the app’s description and requirements on the App Store.
Another great article on how technology can improve our classroom methods and children’s experiences with reading…
iPod, iListen, iRead
The learning landscape is shifting under our feet. It’s an exciting and momentous time for technology advances in learning, from the explosion of interest in online courses to free videoconferencing to powerful new devices at lower cost, such as the iPod. Having worked in educational media and technology beginning in the 1970s, I dare say that more change has happened in our field in the last four years than the last 40.
Last fall, I presented our Digital Generation project at a conference in Hangzhou, China, organized by professor Michael Searson from Kean University, a leader in providing teachers-in-training with global perspectives, curricula, and study abroad. There, I learned about a creative use of the iPod for helping young students master reading, writing, and much more. I tell this story at greater length in my upcoming book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools (Jossey-Bass, June).
In 2005, Kathy Shirley, technology director for the Escondido Union School District near San Diego, observed a teacher conducting “fluency assessments” of her students, spending a full day in individual sessions with students, marking on worksheets the pace, accuracy, and expression of each student’s reading. The school had to hire a substitute teacher for the day.
Shirley, an Apple Distinguished Educator, had been using an iPod to record her own voice memos. The light bulb went off: Why couldn’t students’ readings be recorded on an iPod, on their own time, and reviewed by the teacher, on her own time? More importantly, could the act of students recording and listening to their readings improve their skills? Escondido’s majority of 53 percent Latino English-language learners made the search for a better way even more urgent.
In 2006, the iREAD (I Record Educational Audio Digitally) project started as a pilot program in Escondido, with six teachers of English language learners working with low-performing readers, content experts, and IT staff. This year, more than 100 K–8 classrooms are using 1,300 iPods, and the program has expanded to include readers at all levels. Students use the iPods with external microphones to record their reading practice and assessments. The iPod Touch, with its larger screen, Internet access, and applications, enables a better multimedia experience, as students download audiobooks and songs and read along with the text of stories and lyrics.
Teachers are trained to use the iPods, microphones, iTunes, GarageBand for audio production, and other digital tools. Student and teacher recordings are uploaded to iTunes, where teachers create playlists for each student. Students, teachers, and parents can then review progress, creating a powerful learning loop between all three.
The “Missing Mirror” in Language Instruction
As Shirley describes it, “Voice recording using the iPod provides that instant feedback loop, as students can easily record their fluency practice and listen immediately to the voice recording. It’s difficult, especially for struggling readers, to ‘step outside themselves’ during the moment of reading. They are concentrating so hard at the act of reading that they have no idea what they really sound like. The iPod does something that even the teacher cannot do, provide a means for the student to receive feedback by listening to their own recordings. The iPod is very much like a mirror for students.”
In 2008, the Canby, Oregon, district also began experimenting with the program, led by technology director Joe Morelock, also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Canby, a district of nine schools and about 5,000 students, now has about fifty classrooms using iPods of various types and the project has extended into high school, where students are listening to audiobooks and using video cameras to analyze their presentation skills.
Evidence of Student Outcomes
Escondido and Canby classrooms are seeing large gains in the speed of student reading, one part of reading fluency. In a Canby fourth-grade classroom of sixteen students, from the fall to mid-year assessment of reading fluency, when average increase in word count per minute (WCPM) is 12, the average in the iPod classroom was close to 20. (WCPM measures the pace of reading; accuracy is another component of fluency.) Most students achieved more than double the average expected.
In an Escondido fourth-grade class of ten students, average increase was 48 WCPM in just six weeks. At the start of fourth grade, all of the students lagged behind the 120 WCPM goal for third-grade completion. Within the six-week period, more than half of them had caught up and surpassed the goal for fourth-grade completion, making more than a year’s progress in that period.
A pilot study of reading achievement using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills also showed impressive gains. A group of 12 fifth-graders in Escondido using iPod Touches averaged 1.8 years of reading progress in six months, compared with a matched group of students at the same school who averaged .25, a quarter of a year’s increase. Both districts are planning larger-scale studies of reading achievement.
Reading Success Becomes Contagious
I had a chance to visit Central Elementary in Escondido this May and was bowled over by the level of student enthusiasm for using iPod apps for reading, writing, geography, mathematics, and more. In these classrooms, students are leading their own reading. They want to practice their speed, accuracy, and comprehension. The iPod makes personal a process that has been painfully public. No struggling reader likes to have his or her weaknesses exposed in a group, in front of the entire class or their reading circle. The iPod enables more intimate, 1:1 reading instruction between a student and a teacher listening to each other’s voices in audio files.
As the students get excited, teachers get excited, too. Success becomes contagious for everyone involved. As Morelock puts it, “This is the secret sauce to all of this: teacher motivation. We have heard teacher after teacher say, ‘This has totally transformed my teaching!’ ‘I’m having more fun and being a better teacher.’ ‘I’m never gonna retire.'” One teacher told Shirley, ‘”Using iPods with microphones has engaged students more than anything I’ve ever experienced! These tools allow even the softest speaker to be heard and motivate even the most reluctant reader.” Another said succinctly: “There’s less of me talking and more of them doing.”
A classroom set of thirty iPod Touches and a cart costs about $12,000. The iPods can be supplemented with five desktop or laptop computers for students to produce media, such as podcasts. It is a less costly model than the 1:1 laptop classroom and right-sized for elementary students, who can hold the key to their literacy in the palms of their hands.
Resources on iPods in Literacy
Shirley and Morelock have created a Web site and a third-grade classroom blog from Canby, including how her students downloaded Yoga for Kids podcast and the Pocket Yoga app to relax during test preparation.
The iRead project in Escondido was covered in a May, 2010 story in the local North County Times. The photo shows a student showing me her iPod screen, but it should have been a photo of superintendent Jennifer Walters, who joined the classroom visit that day. Her advocacy for this cutting-edge application of technology has been a critical factor in its success.
Sandy Riggs asked her 24 freshmen biology students to text her what they thought DNA precipitation meant during a recent class.
What she got was a flood of text messages — one after the other.
“I never see this with hands,” Riggs said. “This is awesome.”
Riggs doesn’t always give her students assignments involving text messaging.
But the 35-year-old Collegiate High School teacher allows her students to text her about homework, absences, or just life questions and concerns.
Riggs said using texting as an education tool has increased her students’ access to her, their confidence and ultimately gained their trust.
“They know I care. They are going to be more responsive,” she said.
Riggs teaches college level classes as part of the Corpus Christi Independent School District’s Collegiate High School, located in Del Mar College East Campus’ St. Clair Building.
Damien Cisneros, 15, said he has texted Riggs to get help on homework assignments he didn’t understand or to clarify what assignment to work on.
He said in middle school, students can’t use their phones to text their teacher and it has helped him become a better student to know he can get in touch with his teacher outside of class quickly by texting.
“It gives us more security that she’s there for us,” he said.
Maria Rodriguez, 14, said she gets in touch with Riggs through texting at least twice a week usually with questions about homework. She said she appreciates Riggs making herself accessible to her students in that way because without that option she’d have trouble keeping up in class.
“I would be here after school probably every day,” she said.
Collegiate High School Principal Tracie Rodriguez said the science and English departments use texting the most with class assignments. Teachers can choose whether they want students to text them. The trend began with a student asking if it would be OK for them to text their teacher, she said.
She said at one time students were coming to class with incomplete assignments and texting was a way for the students to feel comfortable with getting in touch with teachers outside of class, she said.
“It’s very short and concise,” Rodriguez said. “The students have a greater understanding when it is to the point.”
She said at the school staff also communicate with each other through texting because some are spread out about the campus.
The school does still enforce a rule that cell phones can’t be used in class unless approved beforehand as part of a class assignment or in an emergency, she said.
In addition, parents haven’t expressed concerns about their student’s cell phone bills or texting charges, she said.
Rodriguez said she hopes the school can continue using technology in innovative ways.
“It’s the new age,” she said.
St. Mary’s Mobile Learning Vision
Scott Newcomb is very excited, and he has good reason to be.
A fourth grade teacher at St. Mary’s in Ohio, Scott recently shared with us the work he has been involved in for the last two years at his school, with what he calls the Mobile Learning project.
In an email he sent to us here at the Committed Sardine recently about what he’s been up to, he told us about how far the smartphone reach has extended within their classrooms, and what the future looks like for them.
“Every student in our school district from 3rd grade to 6th grade has their own mobile learning device,” says Newcomb. “Our goal is to have a mobile learning device in every students’ hand from 3rd grade to 12th grade.”
Just like us, Scott Newcomb and the St. Mary’s City Schools are eager to spread the word about mobile learning and the 21st century environment our schools are headed for. We urge you to check out their website here at SM Riders Mobile Learning.
Newcomb is proud to announce that they will also be presenting this year at Denver’s ISTE Conference in June.
This article came up in the Numeracy in the News feed that is on the right sidebar of this blog. Remember to keep checking for this and other news by visiting the Six Nations Numeracy blog frequently…
A Great School, by the Numbers
EDUCATION: Walpole Island Elementary School
Posted By DAVID GOUGH, QMI AGENCY
If the efforts of a model school program pay off, Walpole Island Elementary School will be the launching pad for future engineers, scientists and astronauts.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin was at Walpole Island on Thursday morning to announce that Walpole Island will become a flagship school for numeracy among First Nation schools across Canada. It is hoped that the numeracy program will eventually spread across Canada.
The funding for the five-year project will come from the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative, a charitable organization.
Martin is familiar with Walpole Island. During the announcement held at the school’s gymnasium, he recalled how he used to come up to Walpole Island in the summer with his dad, former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Martin Sr. The pair would meet with Walpole Island band council and then go on fishing excursions.
Martin said if feels wonderful to give back to a community he knows well.
“It gives me a great sense of pride,” Martin said of giving back to an area he is familiar with.
Martin said Walpole Island was chosen to become a model school is because they are progressive in terms of education. He also points to partnerships Walpole Island has with the Lambton-Kent District School Board and Wallaceburg District Secondary School.
On Thursday afternoon, Martin made the announcement that Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation will host the model school for literacy.
“They were chosen by people who looked around and said, ‘look, this is one of the most progressive communities that you can work in,” Martin said of Walpole Island and Kettle and Stony Point.
Walpole Island First Nation Board of Education chairman Bill Tooshkenig said the initiative will be a significant step in helping students improve their skills in numeracy, which in turn will enhance their success as they move on to higher education and success in the workplace.
The five-year project will be based on the curriculum and teaching strategies that came from Ontario’s at-risk elementary schools.
The programs will include providing professional development to assist teachers, fund lead teachers who have training about the best practices and most effective techniques, developing a school improvement team that meets regularly to review school data and plan next steps, hire external experts to visit the school for a few days a month to assist the principal and teachers and plan for parent involvement and community engagement.
Martin said the approach being used has proved to be successful.
“Where it has never been attempted is among the First Nations. And there will be adaptations with the First Nations. We would like to see it across the country,” Martin said of the model school approach.
One of the goals of Martin’s charitable organization is to turn around the large dropout rate that exists for aboriginals in high schools.
Experts told Martin that the best way is to target students in elementary schools.
Since he has retired from politics, Martin has divided his time between aboriginal issues and issues in Africa.
Martin said aboriginal issues are important to him because aboriginal Canadians have to be given the same opportunities that other Canadians are given.
“The federal government, who has a responsibility for education, underspends substantially on a per capita basis. I think that is wrong morally, but it is also stupid economically. Aboriginal Canadians are the youngest and fastest growing segment of our population. Why in God’s name (are we) discriminating against them in education,” asked Martin. “We should want every young Canadian to have the same opportunity to have a good education. I think that’s a Canadian value.”
Walpole Island Chief Joseph Gilbert said that the model school program is a tool that can help change the future of not only the student body but the community as a whole.
“I see a great future for us,” Gilbert said.