Teacher collaboration project – Math journals

journal

I have written briefly about one of the teacher collaboration inquiries that has been going on in our three schools.  In this post, the teachers have written an explanation of their work so far.  I am hoping that more of our teacher groups will do the same so we can post their work on this blog.

These rest of this entry is written by Teresa Zappavigna, one of the teacher triad members.

Our Triad team came together in early October to determine an area of focus for our students in our junior grades.  After examining EQAO scores, last year’s records, and our personal running records to date, our next steps became quite evident.  The attitude toward math and in particular, problem solving, needed to be addressed. Many times, students have the skills, but are thrown by the math language.  Students needed to find a tool to help students break down math  problems (scaffold their thinking) in order to understand:  “What do I know?”; “What do I need to know?”;  and “How can I help solve the problem/ What strategies can I use?”. A tool was introduced by our partners from St. Daniel’s.  They were in the process of working on interactive Math journals which help guide a student’s problem- solving process and encourages them to demonstrate their understanding of new math concepts in a personal and creative way (through re-enactment, art, poetry, music, crossword puzzles, etc.,).  Our intention is that if we explicitly teach problem solving strategies and provide opportunities for students to prove, explain and reflect on their learning in Math journals, then students will have more success in explaining their thinking while problem solving.  By allowing students the opportunity to express themselves creatively (be it literacy, numeracy, arts, verbal, kinesthetic, tactile,) we hope to make math fun for students who shy away from math.

We are still in the process of developing a routine using these journals with our students.  Our observations so far have been positive.  Students have been eager to share their rap songs, cartoons etc with the class and are often asking the teachers if we will be working on our “journals today”.  The atmosphere is changing and we hope to continue these “brag books” as a tool to help students develop efficient problem solving strategies.

Video of a student conference…Please watch both (one is the continuation of the other) In this video, teachers can see the importance of conferencing with students on their journals, EVEN if the student puts a GREEN traffic light on the activity. He or she might not fully understand the concept. The example is a student working on Place Value activities.

samples and photos from the teacher inquiry

 

math journal - grade 4

 

Sample of a grade 4 journal – this is a collaborative project in grades 4, 5, and 6 being carried out in three schools

Triad Project: The use of math journals to encourage purposeful talk

Yesterday, we spent the entire day with Lucy West.  It was a great day and I learned a great deal.  She asked us to tell her one thing that we would take away from the session.  I told her I would visit all of the junior math classes and really find out what they are doing.

This post is based on my observations in the grade 6 math class.  The teacher is using math journals as a way to get her kids to think about math concepts – today she is focusing on mean median and mode.  There was a good deal of very purposeful talk from the students based on their journaling.  The teacher’s questioning encouraged additional contributions from her students.

Math journaling is the project the grade 4- 5-6 Triad is working on this fall – three schools and the teachers in grades 4,5 and 6 are taking part in a collaborative inquiry on the benefits of using math journals.  Here is their inquiry statement:

If we explicitly teach problem solving strategies and provide opportunities for students to prove, explain and reflect on their learning in Math journals,

then students will have more success in explaining their thinking while problem solving.

Based on Lucy West’s talk, three simple things can change the learning culture of a classroom

  • turn and talk
  • tell me more about that?
  • who can repeat that?

All these were observed today!  Great lesson