Monday, July 11, 2016

'It's all about maths'

The 'It's all about maths' symposium focused on connecting mathematics across the curriculum...

Using Digital Tech to learn maths: Transforming the learning?
Keynote: Dr Nigel Calder

"Digital technologies are everywhere in our lives. We use them to communicate, research, process, record and for for entertainment. They influence the way we interact in the world, the way we live. We use them in work and play. How might they change the learning process?" (Nigel Calder)
  • Overview
  • Affordances
  • Influences on the learning process
  • Research projects
  • Some effective apps
How do you use digital technologies in your maths programme?
Technology might take the student 'somewhere', but it might not always optimise the learning. It is about the pedagogy and the learning, thus pedagogy is critical and it is not a matter of having apps or having technology, the reason becomes the critical thing. Apps should be about purpose/pedagogy for learning.

Affordances - What are they?
"Affordance implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment. They are not just abstract physical properties" (Gibson, 1979)
Visual affordance: Tinkerplots, Multiplier
Interactive apps: Sketchpad (look at: ‘geometry for young learners’ site), Touchcounts 1.0, Maths shake.
Tech gives non-judgemental feedback which might facilitate: risk-taking, an investigative approach, collaborative approaches, engagement, alternative learning trajectories, reshaping of the learning.

Moyer-Packenham and Westenskow (2013) identified app affordances as focus constraint, creative variation, simultaneous linking, efficient precision, motivation. These affordances interact and appear to be mutually influential of each other.

A five-stage developmental process when learning to integrate a particular technology:
- Recognizing (knowledge)
- Accepting (persuasion)
- Adapting (decision)
- Exploring (implementation)
- Advancing (confirmation)

Teacher knowledge for learning with technology: (when considering apps)
- Focus on the mathematics and learning outcomes
- Facilitating teaching and learning
- Re-organising learning - seeing connections
- Mathematical thinking and problem solving
- Self-correction and reasoning
- Making mathematics attractive and motivating
- Recording thinking and opportunities for collaboration

Aspects that underpin all themes:
- Student-centred
- Encouraging ownership of learning, eventual self-assessment and direction
- Get students to explain their thinking, it is powerful
- Teacher open to new technologies, ongoing learning
- School support with access to devices, reliable wifi, technology
- Herding cats... this is kind of what we do... it is not an easy job

- Task and apps should focus on the learning
- Foster creativity and self-directed learning
- Use them to optimise the learning situation
- Facilitate learning
- Give insights into students strategies and mathematical thinking
- The apps are built for purpose

Workshop 1: Making the most out of e-ako
Having a class in e-ako maths enables you to monitor your whole class' progress. Pathways are unlocked so you can look ahead and see what your students will see, but students will still need to follow the pathway. You can unlock steps by emailing Andrew.

Tip: Collate all students' names on a spreadsheet with a class email account. You can do this from eTap. Save as CSV file. Student names can then be important as bulk.

Workshop 2: Problem solving with juniors
Explore problem solving in a junior context
Task design
Integrating digital technology

How to problem solve with juniors?
1. Launch the problem (try and get them to read out problem themselves - literacy link here)
2. Independent think time
3. Small group sharing
4. Reporting back
5. Student self-assessment

Hints for Launching the Problem:
- Staging the problem - acting it out
- What do we know about the context of this problem
- Retell this problem to your partner
- What information do you know? How are you going to use it?
- Where is the question? What is the problem asking you to do?
Reporting back - Why is it important?
- To expose students to a range of thinking
- To foster mathematical communication skills
- To increase students’ confidence
- To clarify common misunderstandings
- To provide a foundation for the extension of a problem
- To highlight the mathematics inherent in the problem

Sharing back
Get students to role model and show what they did

Self-Reflection Questions to consider
- What did you notice
- What are the students' next steps
- What went well
- Goals for next time

Sites that provide pictures and video clips useful for maths problems:
Enriching mathematics
Put your students in a pickle
- The Mathematics Shed
- 101questions
- Have you got maths eyes

Workshop 3: Developing student agency through a growth mindset 

Agency and Growth Mindsets are both big in their own right. The aim here is to put the learner in the driving seat. However, when you are in the passenger seat for the first time, it is a very weird feeling, as you have to let go of the controls. Giving students control is a risk, but they are also taking the risk as a learner...

Give students ways to talk and think in a 'Growth Mindset' way, rather than them saying "I can't do it, I will never get to do it". The word 'yet' is powerful to use.

How can we encourage students to develop student agency and a growth mindset?
Move away from making all the decisions, what books they are going to read, what maths equipment / tools they are going to use.
Teachers also have to develop a growth mindset:
- Use technology to make both their own and students' learning richer
- Risk trying new learning
- Bring their own student passion into learning activities
- Let go of the need to control all variables
- Find ways to change even under adversity
- Value relationships with students
- Make a difference in student lives
- Network and connect with others for resources, assistance and support

Learning Mindsets/beliefs:
- Growth Mindset: Value mistakes and use them. Talk more about struggles and strategies to overcome them
- Sense of Belonging: Student Voice (What can I do as a teacher to help you more? What can you do to help yourself?). Ethic of Care
- Relevance: students will be more engaged if learning is relevant and they are given a choice
- Self-efficacy: when students understand their goals, they can monitor their learning and it is going to be more meaningful for them

Student Self Assessment 'tools' to support self managing:

When teachers and students focus on improvement rather than on whether they're smart, kids learn a lot more when they had a deeper understanding of themselves as learners, so they could build their own autonomy to change and gain confidence in their academic abilities

My aim with attending this symposium was to learn further how I can take sensible steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment through my planning. I wanted to make sure that I select the right approaches to address the needs of all my students. This day was worthwhile and I walked away with lots of new ideas to implement with my students.

Next Steps:
To put my learners in the driver seat by developing learner agency in our learning environment. To step back a bit and let the students taking a little bit more ownership. 

~ "Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas" - Albert Einstein ~

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reflection on Term 2, 2016

After a very busy ten weeks, the term has come to an end.

Although we worked hard on reading, writing and maths, other learning areas played a just as important part in helping students on their path to become risk takers and confident, life-long learners.

Areas that I [also] focused on was 'Digital Citizenship' to make students aware of the ‘dangers’ and to increase knowledge of how to keep themselves safe online and 'Digital Literacy' to enable students to create digital content and adding media independently. There were times that we had to revisit some topics more than once to ensure that students grasped the concept.

Students had a go at using the 'Quiver' app (for our inquiry topic) to colour a volcano picture and to then write a story about it. It was great to observe that some students were starting to think about how to share their learning, asking if they should write the story using the iPad (easy blogger jr) or in their books. I gave them the opportunity to choose.
The use of 'Explain Everything' to engage students with their reading books was really going well. My next step here would be to get them to use this ‘without instruction from the teacher’.
Students also enjoyed using the 'Write About This' app and we received some lovely feedback.

KidsedchatNZ had again proved to be a valuable tool to support our students' reading and writing abilities. One week I had one of the senior students running our tuakana/teina session, which was a great success.

I also included a lot more 'problem solving' maths activities and it was interesting to see how students approached the problem after it was launched. They were interested to hear what their peers had done. Some students were able to explain the process to others that struggled through the problem. This was powerful as students showed the solution in smaller steps to their peers.

To make our tuakana/teina buddy reading session with Room 3 effective, we looked again at the purpose of buddy reading and what needs to be focused on. Ideas were brainstormed on what effective buddy reading looks like, sounds like and feels like.

Students have been involved in many 'hands-on' and 'thinking' learning activities and their progress was evident when assessments were carried out. I feel incredibly proud of what my students and I achieved.

What is something new to try and where to next? 
To set up Skoolbo accounts for my learners to provide each one of them with a personalized learning experience to further improve their maths and language skills. 

~ "The expert in anything was once a beginner" - Anonymous ~