Category Archives: scaffolding students

Mental Health Education and Way of Life Education

Last week, I (Clive) talked about the connection between general way of life education and career education. I believe there is a similar link with mental health education, which Ontario teachers today are strongly encouraged to engage in. A recent Toronto Star article on mental health education noted that around twenty percent of Ontario school students have mental health problems. It then went on to claim that the life learning these students need would also greatly benefit the other eighty percent of students!

From the teachers’ point of view, this insight has significant implications. It means that instead of constantly singling out students with mental health needs – thus adding to teachers’ workload and also running the danger of labeling students, reducing their self-esteem, and undermining class community – teachers can implement way of life education in the normal course of teaching and classroom life and so help all their students.

Increasing the feasibility of mental health teaching in this way is sorely needed, given the growing demands on teachers, the continuing cut-backs in special education funding, and the increasing integration of “special needs” students into mainstream classes. As Kate Phillippo says in her excellent 2015 book Advisory in Urban High Schools, there is today considerable “under-the-table expansion of teachers’ responsibilities,” especially “to provide social-emotional support” to students (p. 148).

While there is a limit to how much assistance regular classroom teachers can give to students with mental health challenges, supporting all students in developing a sound approach to life can help everyone, including those with special needs. For example, students who lack motivation for school work need a better general sense of where academic achievement fits into their life, now and in the future; and students dealing with bullying would benefit from greater general understanding of when and how to stand up to other people. Along these lines, Phillippo (2015) envisages classroom teachers taking on a broad “advisory” role that includes fostering “life skills development” (p. 154) and working to promote “student wellness” in general (p. 164).

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Respecting Teachers’ Professionalism in Reading Instruction

booksIncreasing the reading ability of young people is a major focus of critics of schooling, and prescribed remedies constantly rain down upon us. It is refreshing, then, to re-visit Richard Allington’s What Really Matters for Struggling Readers (2006, 2nd edn.), as I (Clive) have recently done.

According to Allington, the remedies mandated at a system level typically have two flaws: (1) prescribing a single method for all students, and (2) not placing enough emphasis on the amount students read (including re-reading the same favorite works). With respect to the first, he says:

“Expecting any single method, material, or program to work equally well with every kid in every classroom is nonsensical. And yet we see increasing pressure for a standardization of reading curriculum and lessons…. The substantial research evidence that such plans have not produced the desired effects is routinely ignored in the latest quest for a cheap, quick fix.” (p. 34)

Regarding the second flaw in system mandates, Allington says:

“If I were required to select a single aspect of the instructional environment to change, my first choice would be creating a schedule that supported dramatically increased quantities of reading during the school day” (p. 35)

Unfortunately, federally funded Title I remedial reading and special education programs (in the US) have not increased the amount of reading children do. According to one study:

“[C]hildren who received reading instructional support from either program often had the volume of reading reduced rather than expanded as remedial and resource room lessons focused on other activities” (p. 43)

These “other activities” – such as extra phonics teaching, correcting pronunciation, asking comprehension questions – mean that children are interrupted in their reading. Apart from reducing reading time, this means children become used to being interrupted and read in a slow, hesitant manner, with half a mind on when the next interruption will come.

While attempting to support teachers in their reading instruction, then, it is essential to respect their professionalism so they are free to adapt to what works for individual students and give students abundant opportunities to read in peace.

 

Draining The Semantic Swamp of “Personalized Learning”–A View from Silicon Valley (Part 1)

I (Clare) read this post by Larry Cuban. I have long been a fan of his work because he is so “sensible” and really seems to understand education.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

No surprise that a catch-phrase like “personalized learning,” using technology to upend traditional whole group  lessons, has birthed a gaggle of different meanings. Is it  updated “competency-based learning?” Or “differentiated learning” in new clothes or “individualized learning” redecorated?  (see here, here and here). Such proliferation of school reforms into slogans is as familiar as photos of sunsets. “Blended learning,” “project-based teaching,” and “21st Century skills” are a few recent bumper stickers–how about “flipped classrooms?”– that have generated many meanings as they get converted by policymakers, marketeers, researchers, wannabe reformers, and, yes, teachers into daily lessons.

For decades, I have seen such phrases become semantic swamps where educational progressives and conservatives argue for their version of the “true” meaning of the words. As a researcher trained in history, since the early 1980s, I have tracked policies as they get put into practice in schools and classrooms.  After all, the…

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Star Trek, Drafting & Pat Barker

 

Image Sue DymokeI (Clare) read this blog by my good friend Sue Dymoke. I thought she had many excellent points about writing. If you have not seen Sue’s website definitely check it out. https://suedymokepoetry.com/

Sue Dymoke

WeShatner went to hear novelist Pat Barker speak on Thursday. She was in fine conversation with Sharon Monteith at Nottingham Playhouse in a benefit for Nottingham Unesco City of Literature funds to support literature/literacy initiatives across the city. She read from new work in progress, inspired by Homer’s Iliad, that brought alive the previously silent voices of two young women. In a wide ranging discussion afterwards, with some excellent questions from the audience, she talked about her writing processes. She urged the writers in the audience to go into the writing ‘wanting to surprise yourself’ because if you can’t do that then no-one else will be surprised by what you write. I love the element of risk implied in this approach: you are going out into the unknown in your writing, exploring, as Captain Kirk would say,’strange new worlds… new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no (one)…

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HIGH-STAKES TESTING OR CRITICAL THINKING

I (Clare) read this article in TC Record and I thought is sums up the dilemma so many teachers face. Teach skills but also teach critical thinking. They are so often set up in opposition that many teachers are left thinking they have to choose one or the other. We need to both! http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=20557

Assessing Critical Thinking in a Data-Driven Educational System

by Amanda Mattocks — May 10, 2016

The current educational environment has left teachers trapped between the accountability mandates of high stakes testing and the desire to provide an authentic, skills-based curriculum that is rich in critical thinking activities. As the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is implemented nationwide, teachers and districts should seize the opportunity to develop alternative assessment tools that incorporate more authentic measurement of students’ critical thinking skills.

HIGH-STAKES TESTING OR CRITICAL THINKING

 

The tension between high-stakes testing accountability and an authentic, skills-based learning environment infused with critical thinking has made the assessment of student learning a challenge for even the most experienced education professionals. Classroom teachers need to be both public servants responsible for aggregate student growth, and inspirational role models tasked with shaping future minds. The recently sunsetted No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002; U.S. DOE, 2002) narrowed the definition of learning to concepts found on multiple choice examinations that require mass data collection, equated student growth to test score improvement, and instigated punitive measures when schools do not meet national proficiency standards. In theory, the numerical data generated from the annual standardized assessment has held teachers accountable, but this has come at the cost of adequate curriculum depth, appropriate real-world skills, and deep critical thinking skills which are less easily measurable but arguably more important to foster. Tension remains between generating trackable measures of growth and providing learning filled with critical thinking activities. This tension may soon lessen given that measuring student growth and providing authentic skills-based learning are not mutually exclusive anymore; both can be accomplished simultaneously by working within the new assessment guidelines of ESSA.

EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT

 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) has the potential to diffuse the tension between high-stakes annual testing and authentic skills-based learning. ESSA calls for the systematic collection of data of a different nature than that aggregated by traditional standardized testing. According to the federal ESSA website, “Assessments must involve multiple measures of student achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding, which may include measures of student growth partially delivered in the form of portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks” (NCLS, 2015). ESSA will be fully implemented across the United States by the end of 2017 and public school teachers will have the opportunity to develop high-quality assessments involving critical thinking that mirror an authentic, skills-based classroom with a curriculum rich in performance tasks measuring higher-order thinking. While the job of developing authentic assessments for measuring skills-based learning and critical thinking is daunting, the educational community is already fertile ground for the ESAA’s requirements. Due to the fact that ESSA allows teachers to report data from interim assessments based on higher-order thinking skills, each localized educational community has the opportunity to establish the relevant criteria on teacher-designed rubrics and create skills-based performance tasks as long as the result is high-quality measurable data.

 

ASSESSING CRITICAL THINKING

 

After watching my students critically discuss complex themes like the American Dream and income inequality during Socratic-styled seminars, I became convinced that understanding and critical thinking are most evident when assessments incorporate real-world problems and performance tasks. Evaluating classroom discussion is challenging but worth the effort because of its curriculum relevance, authenticity, and rigor. Stanford Professor Sam Wineburg calls for students to think like a historian by “understanding that each of us is more than a handful of labels ascribed to us at birth” (Wineburg, 2001, p. 7). In order to reach this deeper understanding, students need to develop critical thinking skills, defined by the American Philosophical Association (APA) as “purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based” (Facione, 1990). Traditional social studies assessments that measure names, dates, and events have their place in education but cannot measure “higher-order thinking skills and understandings” as required by ESSA. A curriculum that includes skills-based activities have the potential to also measure critical thinking. Instead of testing students on factual recall, Wineburg required high school students, college students, and professors to read documents out loud, pause to interject their thoughts, and analyze the material they just assimilated (Wineberg, 2001, p. 7). Wineburg measured the interview transcripts for the presence of critical thinking using established criterion and then norm referenced the interviews to determine the depth of critical thought to assess the performance activity (2001).

 

Peter Boghossian, an educator in the correctional system, also created measurable data derived from performance activities. In order to promote the merits of Socratic seminars to colleagues, Boghossian analyzed transcriptions of his discussions about morality using a rubric designed from the APA’s definition of critical thinking. His students demonstrated their ability to think critically by evaluating, interpreting, inferring, and analyzing by engaging in these types of activities (Boghossian, 2006). By crafting a numerical rubric around skills-based performance tasks, teams of teachers can collect data on student critical thinking ability. Wineburg and Boghossian used two completely different alternative assessments designed to measure critical thinking and both performance tasks yielded helpful data regarding student abilities. Stanford’s History Education Group develops free content through their project called Beyond the Bubble which is aptly named for its goal to move assessments away from multiple-choice examinations (Wineburg, Smith, & Breakstone, 2016). The organization, led by Sam Wineburg, provides critical thinking assessments utilizing primary sources with numerical proficiency rubrics and scored example assessments (Wineburg et al., 2016). With localized numerical data generated from rubrics, teachers can collaborate and strategize pedagogical shifts to promote student growth and then report the relevant and longitudinal information to the state under ESSA, instead of the state collecting a single high-stakes examination and subsequently passing the data to teachers.

CALL TO ACTION

By creating rubrics for critical thinking performance activities, teachers can collaborate to generate meaningful data that can be reported to the state for accountability purposes. This means that nurturing a skills-based classroom rich in critical thinking and reporting achievement goals can happen simultaneously, which is an exciting prospect for both teachers and local communities. However, for change to take place in the classroom, departments and districts need to design rubrics based on higher-order thinking skills using performance assessments. As states implement ESSA in the next couple of years, teachers and districts should seize the opportunity to develop alternative sources of data that incorporate authentic assessments of critical thinking skills.

 

References

Boghossian, P. (2006). Socratic pedagogy, critical thinking, and inmate education. Journal of Correctional Education, 57(1), 42–63.

 

Every Student Succeeds Act, Pub. L. No. 114-95 (2015).

Facione, P. A. (1990). Research Findings and Recommendations. Newark, DE: American Philosophical Association.

 

National Conference of the State Legislature (NCLS) (2015). Summary of the every student succeeds act, legislation reauthorizing the elementary and secondary act. Washington DC: NCSL. Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/documents/capitolforum/2015/onlineresources/summary_12_10.pdf

 

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-110, • 115, Stat. 1425 (2002).

United States Department of Education (2002). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 executive summary. Washington DC: The U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/execsumm.pdf

 

Wineburg, S. S. (2001). Historical thinking and other unnatural acts: Charting the future of teaching the past. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

 

Wineburg, S. S., Smith, M., & Breakstone, J. (2016). Beyond the bubble. Stanford, CA: Stanford History Education Group. Retrieved from https://beyondthebubble.stanford.edu/

 

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: May 10, 2016
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 20557, Date Accessed: 6/11/2016 7:14:01 PM

Getting to Know Our Students

I (Clive) have long believed in having a warm, friendly class community and a good IMG_3114teacher-student relationship. However, my understanding of what this means continues to grow. This term in my graduate course with 22 students I seemed to develop a closer bond with my students than ever before.

As time went by, each would greet me in a friendly, open way with a smile on their face. They told me more personal information about themselves (often in emails about why they couldn’t be at class that evening!) Before and after class, at the break or in emails, they shared with me (and I discussed with them) individual matters, e.g., interest in going on to doctoral work; wanting to teach high school rather than elementary; wanting to take an individual reading course; moving from the public to the private school sector; the struggles of teaching while raising 3 children; not really wanting to be a teacher.

I found this closer relationship had several advantages:

  • There was a higher energy level in our engagement
  • Our interactions – and the class experience generally – were more enjoyable
  • Attendance was higher
  • I could better understand “where they were coming from”

This was quite apart from the help they received by discussing their individual concerns.

 

Sometimes people worry about an overly close relationship between teachers and students. However, a sensible teacher can figure out what is appropriate and what is not; and in general I feel we are still far too removed from our students. We need to be constantly developing appropriate links with our students, rather than being afraid of links in general.

In terms of appropriateness, one important point is to avoid having favorites. We should go out of our way to have meaningful conversations with – and hence get to know – every single student in our class. They will really appreciate it and our own teaching experience will be enhanced.

 

Is School Making Our Children Ill?

In the New York Times on January 3, I (Clive) came across a fascinating column by Vicki Abeles (Sunday Review section) about the negative impact current school “reforms” are having on children. According to her, they are undermining the health of students, both rich and poor and from kindergarten to high school.

Abeles has written a book (which I plan to get asap) aptly titled “Beyond Measure: Rescuing an Overscheduled, Overtested, Underestimated Generation,” and has produced documentaries “Race to Nowhere” (as distinct from Race to the Top) and “Beyond Measure.” But in the column her focus is on research conducted by Stuart Slavin at Irvington High School in Fremont, California, “a once-working-class city that is increasingly in Silicon Valley’s orbit.” In cooperation with the school, he anonymously surveyed two-thirds of Irvington’s 2,100 students and found that “54 percent of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression [and] 80 percent suffered moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety.” The school is trying to address the problem, for example by re-examining homework demands and counseling students on achieving a manageable course load.

Based on her own inquiries and reflections, Abeles attributes much of this anxiety and depression to the enormous pressure young people are under today to climb the ladder of schooling, with a view to getting into a good college and/or job. “Even those not bound for college are ground down by the constant measurement in schools under pressure to push through mountains of rote, impersonal material as early as preschool.” Apart from opposing this general approach to schooling, Abeles sees practical lessons that can be learned from Irvington’s approach. Toward the end of the article she suggests:

“Working together, parents, educators and students can make small but important changes: instituting everyday homework limits and weekend and holiday homework bans, adding advisory periods for student support, and providing students opportunities to show their growth in creative ways beyond conventional tests.”

 

 

Supporting Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

In my (Clare) course on Current Issues in Teacher Education one of the Image_Karastudents, Kara Dymond, did her final project on autism. She is a member of the Autism Team Program to Assist Social Thinking in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. I learned so much about autism in particular how to help children that I asked Kara if I could post some of suggestions on our blog. I know that teachers would find them useful and teacher educators may want to share them with their student teachers. Thank you Kara for letting me share your work with the wider education community.

An Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism/ASD) is a complex neurological condition which has implications for many aspects of functioning, including learning. The education system needs to be increasingly prepared to meet the diverse needs of these students, as Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States (Safran & Safran, 2001; Sansosti, 2010). Last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, as of 2010, rates of ASD were 1 in 68 children. Only ten years before, the prevalence was reported as 1 in 150 children. In this paper, rates from the US are reported, as Canada does not have a comparable federal ASD surveillance system at this time, though one is in development (Health Canada, 2012).

HOW TEACHERS CAN SUPPORT LEARNING IN THE CLASSROOM (for high functioning autistic students)

Establish a Rapport

When a teacher has a positive relationship with a child with HFA, it decreases the child’s anxiety and rigidity. It also increases their receptivity to feedback and their willingness to try what is being asked. This is the most important strategy to employ when working with a student with HFA. Some methods to improve your relationship include:

  • Ask them questions about and listen to them talk about their interests
  • Include their interests in word problems, tasks, and books available in the room
  • Have them present as an expert to the class on their interests
  • Reinforce the positive behaviours you see with praise and rewards when possible
  • Use humour with them (but avoid or explain sarcasm, which may be confusing)

Understand Their Need for Safety

  • Make things predictable by having a posted schedule and routines that are consistent
  • When changes happen, explain why they are happening and what is expected, as early in advance as possible
  • Follow up challenging activities with something calming for that student
  • Make your expectations for work and behaviour clear
  • Speak in a calm tone of voice and be consistent with what you say
  • Use clear language or explain language that is complicated or idiomatic

Manage the Environment

  • Help the child to know what they can do if they need a break (e.g. a safe spot to go to for a certain length of time, break options such as getting a drink, pacing in the back of the class, etc.) and what your expectations are regarding when and for how long they can take a break
  • Offer them a quiet place to work, such as a desk carrel, if needed
  • Start the day with a task they like to decrease any anxiety upon arrival, if possible
  • Seat them in an area facing a section of the class with fewer visuals to decrease distraction
  • Seat them with supportive classmates
  • Pay attention to sensory stimuli that distract or agitate them and do what you can to minimize these. Create a plan with the student on what to do if there is a factor (e.g. heat) that you cannot control (e.g. they have permission to go to the bathroom and splash cool water on their face at any point, and they can sit near a window)

See from Their Perspective

  • Monitor their understanding of different situations and relationships
  • When you notice a behaviour or thinking pattern that is different from same-age peers, consider its long-term impact and what skills need to be taught instead
  • Have private check-ins with the child to discuss misunderstandings and help them to see the perspective of others and how their choices can affect how others feel
  • Explain things logically
  • Include them in problem-solving and making a plan for how to cope when they are stressed
  • Recognize that when they are stressed, you will have to reduce your expectations

Be Specific

  • Explain logically and clearly what is expected or not expected
  • Give genuine, specific praise that lets them know what you liked about what they did (they may not know what you are referring to if you simply tell them “good job”. Instead say, “I like how you raised your hand – good job!”)
  • Give specific constructive feedback (e.g. “Please stop tapping your pencil. It is distracting.”) so they know what to do and why
  • If you want to see a skill again, remind them to do it again, before the lesson or activity when they are expected to exhibit the skill

Explicitly Teach Their Areas of Need

  • Point out the hidden curriculum when you notice they do not know it.
  • Consider teaching them about the hidden curriculum of tests. This includes what concepts are most important; how to tell what questions require a more in-depth answer (e.g. how much space is there to write in and how many points is the answer worth); how to determine what a question is really asking (e.g. short-answer questions beginning with “What is …” often mean “Tell me everything you know about…”)
  • Draw their attention to intentions and feelings of others – both students and characters in books. (e.g. “How does that character feel when…” and “how do you know?”)

Structure Opportunities for Interaction

  • Help send them out to recess with a plan of what to do and who to play with
  • Engage peers to invite them to talk or play a game they like at certain recesses
  • Teach recess games at gym time so they know the rules and can practice
  • For longer recesses, consider having them be office monitors or library assistants with other peers
  • Highlight their strengths in front of peers and in group projects

Re-Conceptualize Challenging Behaviours

  • Try to understand why a child might be feeling overwhelmed
  • Remember that behaviours signal a lack of skills and can improve with teaching
  • Prevention is key. Recognize you may have to change your approach or things in the environment to set the child up for success next time
  • Anxiety is like a teeter-totter. Your reaction can either bring them gently down or send them flying into a meltdown or complete withdrawal
  • Know your student. Learn their body language so you know when they are in the early stages of frustration and you can prompt them to take a break or reduce task demands
  • Always de-brief after a challenging moment, once the child is calm (this may be the next day). Find out what was upsetting them – they may share important insights that can help you create a plan for next time
  • Stop talking. Children with HFA cannot process language when they are upset

Teach Them Organizational Skills

  • Provide time each day or week to clean their desk and describe your expectations
  • If packing up is problematic, have them pack up what is needed from the morning before lunch and what is needed from the afternoon at the end of the day
  • Instead of the agenda, create a daily homework checklist where subjects are prewritten and materials needed for home can be circled. The only writing needed will be page numbers and questions required
  • Instead of numerous duotangs and notebooks, provide students with a binder for all subjects, divided by subject, and with pockets for loose sheets to be filed later. This may improve students’ ability to locate what is needed and to be ready for each lesson
  • Take and print small photos of subject materials (e.g. textbooks, notebooks) and put them up on the board as a visual reference for what is needed for that subject

Increase Their Productivity & Output

  • Whenever possible, reduce the writing requirement as writing can be laborious for students with HFA. Use visual organizers, fill-in-the-blanks, true or false, or circle the correct answer
  • Task instructions should be given one by one, with exemplars if possible
  • For large tasks, give students with HFA broken-down components of a task to do one at a time. Sometimes too much work on one page can seem overwhelming
  • Change how work or tests look on the page by increasing the font, reducing the number of questions, and having more space on the page
  • Giving some options can help with open-ended tasks (but not too many options!)
  • Give time countdowns so students know when they are expected to transition to another task. This can be difficult for students with HFA
  • Give processing time. Ask a question once and wait. You may have to ask again in a different way. Too much talking might mean they have to re-start their thinking process all over again. (Too many prompts can also be frustrating for a child who is trying to process the first instruction you gave)
  • Consider alternative ways of expressing knowledge. Most students with HFA are visual thinkers, so can express their knowledge better in comic strips than orally or in writing
  • Consider allowing them to type
  • Consider a break schedule to increase motivation and productivity
  • Harness their interests, especially if they are going to elect to do them anyway. If it is a half-hour work period and you know they tend to only be productive for ten minutes and then get distracted by doodling or reading their favourite book, give them a special interest break when they are at their productivity limit. Pair it with praise and tell them they have earned five minutes of their interest for working so hard. Breaks help to free up working memory and re-focus the child, and giving them a special interest break (rather than taking it away) builds your relationship. After their time is up, ask them to get back to work
  • Consider providing breaks during tests. More time does not help without giving breaks to free up working memory
  • Implement a reward system if they are still struggling to meet your expectations. They may need motivation to attempt something that is very difficult for them (your school board’s Autism Support Team can help you to design a successful model)

Respect, Support, & Develop Their Independence

  • Give students help when they need it, but also give them time and space to try work on their own. Give an instruction and then circulate around the room, returning later to see what they can do independently
  • Gradually increase in your expectations for their independence
  • Reward trying to do something that is hard for them
  • Encourage them to take on positions of responsibility in the classroom and around the school (but do not surprise them with this – ask in advance what they would like to do from a list of options)

Robertson Program for Inquiry-Based Teaching in Math and Science

This past week I (Clare) met with the Robertson Foundation Program for Inquiry-Based Teaching in Math and Science. The program is housed at the Jackman Institute of Child Studies (JICS) and in short I was blown away with the work they are doing. The team includes: Bev Caswell, Jisoo Seo, Zach Pedersen,  Larissa Lam, Dr. Joan Moss, and Zack Hawes

Here is a short video of Dr. Bev Caswell talking about the program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=16&v=ROGrNfqI8_8

The purpose of the Robertson Program is to create, demonstrate, and disseminate ImageFamily-Math-Night-collageinquiry-based teaching models for mathematics and science by focusing on both teacher and student inquiry. The crux of inquiry-based learning is critical thinking- an essential skill for teachers, who strive to deepen students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics and science in authentic ways and for students, who choose to pursue academic and professional careers in the STEM professions (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

One of their initiatives has been a collaboration with “Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB) schools and the First Nation communites they serve.  Family Math Nights were designed collaboratively with indigenous instructional leaders, First Nation educational counsellors, school board numeracy facilitators and the Robertson Program/Jackman ICS/OISE team. 

First Nation community members and RRDSB educators developed activities  – such as canoe symmetry, creating tangram clan animals, wigwam construction, exploring number patterns through Metis jigging – that raise awareness of concepts of geometry and measurement embedded in local cultural practices. As well, school board numeracy facitlitators and OISE team offered activities that reflect current research in spatial thinking – a strong predictor of overall math achievement.

This deeply collaborative and respectful approach to planning Family Math nights – designed under the leadership of First Nation communities in collaboration with the school board – highlights a model of success being used across the RRDSB.

Hosting a Family Math Night at your school is an opportunity to build and strengthen positive relationships among home, school and community. Not only that, children of all ages get a chance to see math as an inclusive, playful, engaging and accessible endeavour.”

For more info check out their website: http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/robertson/