Thursday, June 16, 2016

Eduignite Term 2 Pukerua Bay School

Sharing practice with others is a powerful and engaging way to think about your practice. That's why I find Eduignite evenings so enjoyable. A recap of the speakers for evening can be found in the blog post I wrote for WellyEd.

My talk was linked to my latest teacher inquiry around mathematics. My speaker notes are underneath.

  • Your past has an impact on your future. What do you value? I haven’t had a successful pathway in mathematics. In fact, most of my maths learning has occurred from me teaching students and from students teaching me. 
  • I teach a year 6 class who are all Stage 7 & 8 learners, some have maths ability beyond the primary school curriculum. They Have been told from probably a young age that they are good at maths. Maths has been a competition to get through the stages, to beat each other, to be the best 
  • Our school professional development focus has been on mathematics. Teachers wanted to move away from the Numeracy Project and invigorate their maths teaching. We have had several sessions with Gillian Kissling from Cognition Education unpacking our values, our strengths and our future 
  • The latest research says that our brain has the ability to change. The brain has plasticity, synapses are firing when we make mistakes. Growth mindset is a real thing. 
  • The children in my class are very good with symbols. They can use them to get the right answers but do they understand what they are doing? The research shows that to be a good mathmatician you need to activate both the visual and the symbolic pathways in the brain.
  • When we talk about the visual pathways we are talking about estimating, drawing and visualizing information. It makes it easier for us to see the patterns. This has been a particularly powerful learning experience for our challenged students including those with dyslexia. 
  • As well as our maths classes we get together as 3 year 6 classes once a week and do mixed ability problems that focus specifically on the visual aspect of learning. This has been very successful for raising the confidence of learners and implementing the Talk moves and focus on using materials, making drawings and looking for patterns This is what we focus on a lot. 
  • We need to be challenged but it is not a game where you are trying to get to the Ender dragon.
  • If maths is about communicating how do you get the students to talk to each other about their thinking? How can you help them see that maths is about arguing ideas and challenging each other's thinking? 
  • We use Talk moves. These are a way for you as a teacher to guide students thinking but also for students to have a scaffold for their discussion. Some have hand actions. Students are taking risks and accepting challenges. For example Getting a student to revoice another student’s thinking is very powerful esp if that original person is less confident 
  • There is some beauty in not knowing what is going to happen. What you plan isn’t always what you teach. This organic way of teaching and learning has meant that we don’t learn in silos, we learn naturally, as it occurs 
  • This is an example of a problem that we would work on in groups and discuss as a whole class. Working together to solve this puzzle allowed for different perspectives but also allowed for incidental learning to occur. Those who are confident with equivalent fractions scaffolded the learning of those who were not. 
  • Sometimes the learning that comes out of our discussions far exceeds the expectations of our level of learning. I am enjoying the collaborative nature of learning, that I learn with the students and that I am not the fountain of all knowledge. I have learnt so much this year from my students and they are always amazed when I tell them that I don’t know the answer. So tonight I challenge you to think about your maths programme, does it encourage competition amongst students or does is promote collaboration?