## Which One Doesn’t Belong? (WODB)

### Have you ever tried ‘ Which One Doesn’t Belong?’ (WODB) in your classroom?

WODB is a short, number talk used to get students thinking before beginning a daily lesson or math activity. Students are shown a picture like the example attached below (from mathbeforebed.com). Students take a close look at the picture and decide which object they think does not belong. After sharing their ideas, students are asked to explain their thinking to justify their answer. Here is why we love WODB in our Kindergarten class:

This gives students the confidence to share their thoughts and encourages them to take risks in their learning.

WODB shows students that there are multiple ways of solving problems

I am finding that aside from building confidence in students’ attitudes towards math, this activity builds community. Students typically begin with a strong opinion on why their answer is correct, but begin to understand and uncover the varying perspectives of their peers. It is also a great activity to practice turn taking, active listening and showing kindness towards others with different ideas.

There are multiple entry points

This activity is inclusive and allows students to use their own mathematical language to describe which one they believe does not belong. Students can participate in this activity regardless of their understanding of specific math concepts. In Kindergarten, with students ranging in various stages of development – this activity gives myself and my DECE partner a window into their thinking.

WODB promotes mathematical thinking and the use of mathematical language

When justifying their answer, students begin to use math words like bigger, smaller, shorter, taller, less, more and begin to use the names of shapes, numbers or symbols they are learning about. Students can activate their prior knowledge and apply their current knowledge while they work with educators to extend their knowledge. I often reframe what students are saying and repeat it back to them. For example, in the picture shown below a student may share that they think the “blue” one does not belong, “because it’s blue and the others are not” and I may say, “(student name) thinks that the blue rectangle piece does not belong”.

WODB can be used in any grade level

While I am currently enjoying this activity in Kindergarten, I think about all the ways this activity could be used with students of any age. As students learn new concepts, WODB could include pictures of fractions, decimals, equations and more. When students get comfortable engaging in WODB activities, they can even begin to create some of their own pictures to challenge their peers to think critically.

Which one do you think does not belong?

## “I like this math better than real math!”

### Fake Math vs. Real Life

“I like this math better than real math” was exclaimed by my grade eight student on Friday while we were playing Trust No One on Gimkit. Gimkit is a live, gameshow style learning that requires students to solve basic math problems in order to reach a common goal. Gimkit is an excellent way to see what students need more help with the math concepts taught that week and who understands what was taught. So why does my student consider learning in such a way “fake math”? I asked her and her response was interesting. To summarize, my student mentions how real math has to be with pencil and paper, must be boring and has to be done quietly. This is the exact opposite of the way that I like to teach math. It is interesting to hear the different perceptions of math from each student. After my student said this, I asked the class to explain the math concepts we were exploring in that Gimkit live show. My students then answered: solving for the greatest common factor, finding square roots, etc. I then explained to my student that all of that math is “real”.

My math program changes each year as I learn from different teachers such as the ones that presented last year at the OAME conference (more information can be found about that conference here: OAME) I like to integrate different ways of learning whether it be with whiteboards (non-permanent surfaces), manipulative based problems, problem of the week, asking the students which one doesn’t belong (WODB), solving patterns, estimating with a daily prompt (Estimation180) or my favourite, playing a math game that makes students think they aren’t even doing math. This was evident last Friday as my student thought we weren’t even doing real math.

I love hearing about all the different approaches to a math program. With the updated math curriculum in its second year, it is especially interesting to take a look at the different approaches to the financial literacy and coding programs. I am still getting used to the new curriculum but I love the easy online format that is available online: Math Curriculum I have printed this out and I look at what expectations work well together. I work with my grade team partners to take about what strands we report on each term. Ideally, I would love to try a fully spiralled math program but I am not 100% comfortable with this approach yet and am interested in learning more.

### Challenges in Math Today

With a split class this year, I am fortunate enough to tackle each lesson as a review for the eights and at the same time it being new content for the sevens. This allows for student teachers and a great review for the eights as last year was often interrupted by closures of classes and ultimately, the board. I am excited to teach the eights their new curriculum while inviting the sevens to try it out. At first, I viewed math in a split class as a challenge but now I just see it as an exciting opportunity to challenge students to be teachers and leaders. I look forward to continue blogging at my math program as the year continues. Next time you have the opportunity, ask your students if they consider any math task at any given time “fake or real”… a perception that I loved hearing last Friday!

## Final Reflections from a Remote Teacher

Wow, what a year it has been! And to think, we didn’t think things could get any wilder than 2020. I have taught grade seven online since the first week of school and am finishing up next week. I have learned so much this year about myself as a teacher and about the things that children go through each and every day. Taking away the physical aspect of school has been challenging for some students yet so beneficial for others. For most of the students in my class, it was an overall positive experience. I was so lucky to have my 29 incredible students for this online experience.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my students participated in an interview with me where they asked questions about their efforts in certain subjects.

I am pleased to say that many of them took the opportunity to hand in extra assignments or to bump up current ones. My students also had a chance to reflect on the learning skills they were most proud of and ones that they hope to work on in the future. They also had great final reflections about their year online. I posed the question to them, “What are you most proud of about your grade seven year?” Here were their responses:

• The fact that I am in a class full of kind people
• I am most proud of my marks and grades. I have been working so hard and it has paid off
• Not getting distracted
• Attendance and coming on time
• How to use different websites, finishing my work on time and kind of mostly everything because online school can be hard sometimes
• My participation
• I think I am proud that I did everything on time and proud that I did well
• Improved on tech. skills
• I try my best and that’s what I’m most proud of
• Doing my assignments on time, coming to class on time and being respectful to others in the chat or either the mic
• I’m proud of staying in class and working on difficult work
• Participating, even if I get the answer wrong
• I’m proud that me and the class did a whole year of online school
• How well I did even though I was nervous starting
• I’m proud of my first term report
• Doing online learning and enjoying it even though I thought it would be boring
• Work through the MS teams platform, virtual activities and enjoying the whole experience
• I’m happy with my marks
• For making it through the year
• Not losing focus from the IRL transition to online learning
• The fact that i can learn both in this environment and outside in an actual school
• Being nice
• Online learning in general
• Finding a really good friend 🙂

As you can see, it was an overall positive experience as my students learned how to see the positive in almost all situations, especially, learning remotely.

I have also learned many things throughout this year. I have discovered some incredible new programs and have developed some new teaching strategies in math and literacy. I have also discovered some game-changing activities and routines that I hope to keep as a permanent part of my program.

Math:

I would like to keep using the virtual whiteboard in the classroom, having six (or however many iPads I have) students using the iPad during math. These students will share their strategies with their classmates after solving on their whiteboard platform. This will be a leadership opportunity and I am hoping as time goes on, all students will want to share their strategies. This was my favourite math teaching style that occurred this year as many “ah-ha” moments occurred as a result of the students sharing their work. I think it is much more exciting working on the whiteboards rather than coming up to write on the physical whiteboard. This will also ensure that students can work in their own space if we still need to worry about physical distancing. Other students will work in their notebook or physical whiteboard until it is their day to have the whiteboard app.

I would also like to save Fridays for games in math as a way to summarize the learning from that week. The games my class loved were: Kahoot and Gimkit (which offers about 12 different types of games within).

Language

This year I loved meeting with a small group one day a week to teach a lesson and then they would have the rest of the week to work on that activity. I received the most amount of participation during the small group sessions and by the following week, students always had their test completed. Many students commented about how their favourite part of the day was the small language groups. Having that small group size allowed all students to share and have a turn. This was actually the only time where I heard from students that did not participate in the main call. The setting of the small groups made them feel more comfortable.

I also want to make sure I have another class novel next year. I would love having students as the readers once again and they would pass the book to the next reader after they read a page or two. This was a great way to cover all the reading expectations which I would post as questions that would follow that days reading. They would answer these questions in the chat and in the classroom I would love to have this continue either by them raising their hands or by documenting it in a notebook.

Routines/Activities:

• Saying hello to each student in the morning
• Spending every Monday morning sharing about our weekends and creating a goal for the week (and if they met the goal from the week before). These goals contributed to their self regulation mark.
• Having student shoutouts at the end of each week. A student would raise their hand and give a shout-out to a specific student who went above and beyond that week or improved in something, etc. It could really be for any reason
• Independent work periods once or twice a week as catch up periods and instead of breakout rooms, having the middle table open for students who need one on one support
• Asking how everyone’s break was when they come back in from break
• Morning music until the announcements start
• Student-led movement breaks where students design and lead a 20 minute DPA activity on the days without physical education
• Discussing current events rather than hoping they didn’t hear the news
• Openly talking about all board holidays, special weeks or months in the year and celebrating in our class
• Cooking lessons led by students

Teaching online is an experience that I found very rewarding as it really tested all of us to see if we could handle this change. I know that as a teacher I appreciated the challenge and I know my students definitely rose to the challenge. I look forward to blogging about my in-class experiences in September!

Have an amazing summer everyone!

Note:

ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. The union firmly believes that the daily, in-person model of instruction and support best meets the educational, developmental and social needs of students, provides the best experience for support, and is the most equitable learning model for all students.

ETFO’s expectation is that elementary virtual learning in any capacity, including through hybrid models of instruction, will end once the pandemic ends.

## OAME Math Conference 2021: Equity Counts

I am very excited to write today’s post as I had the pleasure of once again attending the OAME math conference this year. The conference ran from Monday, May 17th and ends today Friday, May 2st. There were over 160 sessions to select from so it was hard to narrow it down to three per evening. I was offered a volunteer position with OAME to assist with moderating 3-4 sessions. This gave me access to the entire conference and as usual, this year’s conference did not disappoint. I would love to tell you about the exciting sessions I went to and some details about them. I also attached resources that were made publicly available and some ways I have already used my learning inside my grade seven math classroom.

Session Name: Supporting the new Elementary Math Curriculum: Educator Learning Modules
Presenters: Moses Velasco and Chantal Fournier
Summary of my learning: Moses and Chantal shared their presentation about ELMs. They shared a great resource as well! This presentation was geared towards more of a math coach audience which as I am not was not able to connect with much of their content. The ELMs were from 2017 and I know there were some questions about making new ones with the new math curriculum. Moses let the audience know that they will be coming out soon. The examples that we saw on the website were great! Feel free to explore their resource.
Resources: ———————————————-

Session Name: Assessment that Moves
Presenter: Jordan Rappaport
Summary of my learning: Jordan was a gifted speaker and he had so many important things to share. Many of them I implemented in my class the very next day. Jordan spoke a lot about virtues in math:

• Being creative
• Being a thinker
• Curiosity
• Perseverance
• Willingness to take risks
• Ability to collaborate

Jordan shared that these virtues are important to people who hire mathematicians and essential in every math classroom. We also looked at a forward thinking rubric which had three boxes and a large arrow on top. He talked about using this so students can see where they are and where they should move towards. For the topic of collaboration, on the left column on the rubric, you would put terms like excluding, not being supportive, etc. and on the far right you would put the expected behaviours (opposite of the left side). You would then circle the place where the student was at. Jordan mentioned that building a rubric should be a collaborative process and he starts jamboards and shares them with his students. They generate ideas together when talking about a specific math virtue, what you should see and not see.
How I used this in the classroom this week: The day after hearing from Jordan, I posted the virtues on my slide and asked students to share what their best math virtue is. This allowed us to engage in conversations about why they take risks, why others may not, etc. This conversation was so meaningful and I loved hearing from my students.
Resources:

http://fractiontalks.com/
———————————————-

Session Name: Designing Classroom Explorations that Engage All Students
Presenter: Gail Burrill
Summary of my learning: During this session, Gail spoke about many exciting topics. Gail shared that in her math classroom, she has her students complete various math tasks such as: book reports, research reports (math in art, etc.), write stories from graphs and many more. This connects math to many other subjects and is meaningful for students. Some other key takeaways included:

• Data driven tasks are important in the classroom
• Connecting math to student’s lives
• Gail gave an excellent example where students had to find the problem with Fred VanVleet from the Raptors as his shooting percentage was in a rut. They had to solve if there was a rut or not and look at percentages with his shooting statistics.
• Following instructions doesn’t mean your students have learned anything
• Turning procedures into problems because then students will want to solve them and remember them
• Vertical non-permanent surfaces
• Visibly random groups

Gail also mentioned a great resource where you can visit https://censusatschool.ca/ and have students answer: What do you notice? What do you wonder? These real life statistics engage her students for the first fifteen students of her class and she looks at real life scenarios. Gail also left us with some things to think about:

• How much time do your students spend..
• in silence?
• talking to peers?
• listening?
• presenting?

Resources: https://censusatschool.ca/
———————————————-

Session Name: Building Math Residue with Lessons That Stick
Presenter: Graham Fletcher
Summary of my learning: Graham shared many ideas that help students engage in explorations and lessons that really make students wonder, what is the answer to that question? I loved this idea from Graham:

• Estimation Waterfall: asking students to wait until they hit enter so that they are not just copying the student who always gets it “right”

Of course, the focus of the session was what makes a good task? Here were Graham’s steps:

1. Simple: Is it accessible? Avoid language due to any language barriers
2. Unexpected: Does it fire up the guessing machine? Do students actually want to know the answer?
3. Concrete: Do your students have any prior knowledge to connect to?
4. Credible: What validates the math?
5.  Emotional: Does it create an ah-ha moment?
6. Stories: How will the math story be told?

Graham also mentioned the following ideas which are important to know and to understand:

• Anyone can be good at math
• Listening to a student’s thinking is more important than the answer
• Graham showed a video of him working with a student and he was so patient, waiting to hear the student get the answer and listening to their process
• Right answers should only matter at the end of a unit (assessment/test). The journey along the way is for making mistakes and for building understanding
• A good math question makes you excited for the answer
• Teachers shouldn’t jump on their students when they see a wrong answer, they should question them and wait for them to have that ah-ha moment

How I used this in the classroom this week: The day after hearing from Graham, I asked my students join a jamboard and I posed the above statements to them. I had them disagree or agree and if they wanted, they could share their reasoning on the mic. Students had such incredible things to say about all of the statements and we even got one anxious student to admit that making mistakes along the way is okay!  A huge breakthrough for this student.
Resources: https://gfletchy.com/Be sure to check out the tab “3-Act tasks” for some engaging lessons that stick!
————————————————–
Session Name: Math, Social Justice and Actions
Presenter: Robert Berry
Summary of my learning: Robert Berry brought up incredible conversations that need to be had in our math classrooms. Robert shared a provocation for us: Who are our essential workers? What do you notice, wonder and how does it impact your community? Robert shared a lot of insight on how to create your own social justice math lesson:

• Learn about relevant social injustices
• Identify the math
• Determine how you will assess your goals
• Create a social justice question for the lesson
• Make student resources
• Plan for reflection/action

There should be conversations about connecting math with students cultural and community histories. This was a great session and I was so engaged in his presentation, I did not take many notes!
Resources: https://padlet.com/rqb3e/sjmathresources Attached are incredible social justice mathematics resources
————————————————–

Session Name: Some of my Favourite Problems
Presenter: Mike Eden
Summary of my learning: Mike is from the University of Waterloo and he shared many engaging math problems from various contests and from challenging math lessons. He asked people in the chat to share their answers and we looked at many ways to solve these challenging problems. I am sure you are all familiar with “Problem of the Week” from the University of Waterloo, well Mike took us further with these incredible problems!
Resourceshttp://: https://www.cemc.uwaterloo.ca/ https://www.cemc.uwaterloo.ca/contests/past_contests.html
—————————————————
Session Name: Slow Reveal Graphs as Social Justice Provocations
Presenters: Kyle Pindar and Jennifer Fannin
Summary of my learning: This was such an engaging session that used the website https://trends.google.com/trends/ to design slow reveal graphs. The focus of the lessons are asking the questions these key questions: What? So what? Now what? Also, what do you notice? What do you wonder? Slow reveal graphs are innocently framed as hard hitting social justice questions. Kyle explained how to make these slow reveal provocations using these steps:

1. https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=CA Make sure you are using the Canadian trends (setting on top right should say “Canada”
3. Open up a blank google sheet
5. Delete the top two lines
6. Create slide show

Then, show your students these graphs, slowly revealing new features on the graph such as: the actual data, x axis information, y axis information and then eventually, the title (trend). Kyle and Jennifer discussed generating expected students responses so that you can be prepared to have these discussions as a class. They had great examples, specifically a graph showing the googling of “BLM” and you could see the spike on the day that George Floyd was murdered. Both presenters discussed how you would have that conversation with the class of what made these search results spike up in May of 2020? These are such great ways to have social justice discussions in class!

Overall, I am so grateful for the opportunity that was this year’s OAME Math Conference. I wish I had been able to attend/moderate more sessions but as an OAME volunteer, I have the ability to listen to recorded sessions I could not attend. I will listen to some over the next few weeks and post anything else I gather. I hope this post provides a snapshot of such incredible math presentations and all of their wisdom that they wished to pass on to math educators! I know it is late in the year to take in this much incredible math information, but this post will be here to refresh your memory after a well-rested and well-deserved summer vacation!

If you wish to learn more about OAME or how to attend the conference next year, visit their website: https://oame.on.ca/main/index.php

## Fun and Fresh Friday Math

After attending the OAME  Math conference in 2020, I was able to hear many perspectives about the math classroom and how it should look. One of the speakers was Gerry Lewis (@GLewisOCT) who spoke to us about spiralling as well as what the thinking classroom looks like. He spoke about many incredible concepts, my favourite was definitely an example of his daily math activities. There were many websites Gerry talked about and he described this as a “mini spiral” where you start to introduce spiralling with your students. You could do this by introducing these activities at the beginning of each class (10-15 minutes). Here are some of the websites Gerry introduced me to:

We have been spiralling since September and my students have enjoyed the programs listed above. It also is important to review the concepts of the week and I have done that in a few creatives ways. Our favourite thing to do is to review the concepts from the week in a “fun and fresh way” on Fridays. I teach online so all of these programs work well, particularity when students have a second device available.Here are our top three quiz apps. and a review from myself as well as my students:

Knowledgehook:
http://knowledgehook.com

My review:
Knowledgehook is available as an app or on any web browser. It is a live, gameshow style quiz game where the questions are directly linked to our Ontario math curriculum. You can actually find the strand you are working on and lead students through a three question quiz. Students never know who got what answers correct, which I think shocked them at first. Some students ended up sharing how many they got correct in the chat. I enjoy this because you can review the answer afterwards and there is no rush to enter an answer. It is a quick summary of student knowledge at the end of the week and works well. You can view the results after to see where students need help.

Student review:
My students enjoyed this app but they much prefer Kahoot (and other competition based apps).  I think they find this one a little bit boring since it acts as a type of exit card. They do not complain while playing but they request other apps. Again, I think at the end they are just eager to tell each other about their results, so this is what I think they are missing with this app.

My review:
This is obviously a great tool to use when reviewing concepts from the week. I like it because students are so excited when they hear it is time for a kahoot! I also like using this as a quiz option at the end of a concept but I always remind students to email me if there were any game glitches that affected their final store. I do not enjoy that I have to make my own kahoots to get exactly the content that I want. For a quick exit card, I much prefer knowledgehook. My students have not reacted when they receive a low score this year and I am thankful for that. That is another reason we continue to use kahoot to review, play fun games and sometimes, we just enjoy a random kahoot.

Student review:
My class has some competitive students in it so they do enjoy kahoot for that reason. I think they like to show that they were paying attention during the week and they get super excited when they win. Kahoot was the most requested activity when I read my students review of term one with regards to things that they want to continue. I know kahoot will always be a favourite activity and pairing it with math (which is often not a favourite subject) makes a good combo. I know students have mentioned it is hard to toggle between tabs, so two devices work best for this.

Quizizz:
https://quizizz.com/

Teacher review:
Best for last! So today was our first day using this quiz tool. This is a customizable quiz program where you can use a combination of your own questions as well as questions created by other people. You can select between multiple choice, checkbox, fill in the blank, poll and a few other options. The game format is very fun and I can see exactly how my students did during and after the games. It also shows an anonymous question review at the end to go over with your students to see how many people got each question right and wrong. All names are left out of this page. This program also allows students go through at their own pace so nobody is waiting for the entire class to answer each question. They also do not have to toggle between screens.

Student review:
I am still in shock after hearing this an hour ago but this is the favourite over kahoot. I did not think any quiz app could take its place! I just finished speaking to my students about why they prefer this over kahoot and the specifics are:

• self paced so students can all finish at different times
• the opportunity to 50/50 some of the questions like the millionaire show format
• you can power up and earn some cool features you have an answer streak which may include pausing the timer, etc.
• you can pick your own background and music during the game
• you can also retry a question if you get it incorrect (these results will be displayed to me if a student was incorrect during their first attempt)

At first, I expected my students to be frustrated because I was throwing yet another app their way. They were actually so excited to play and ended up enjoying it more than any other app. I will be exploring another program this weekend that one my students shared with me. He explained that I would like it “even more”. https://www.gimkit.com/ I encourage you to try it as well.

I hope everyone can try out these three (or just one) fun Friday math apps! I know my students are so excited when Friday comes along because they can review the skills from the way in a fun way. I appreciate their excitement as we all know, sometimes we only get moans and groans when our students hear the word “math”.

I look forward to keeping you updated on future math quiz apps. Please share any of your experiences with me or any new apps that you have tried. Enjoy!

## New math curriculum experiences

For the past month, my grade sevens and I have been taking a deep dive into the new math curriculum, specifically, financial literacy. Topics we have covered have included the following:

1. Exchange Rates: how they come into play when travelling outside of Canada, how to convert to and from foreign currencies and how exchange rates fluctuate over time
2. How to plan and reach financial goals: so many students in my class have large goals for their futures such as university, buying a car, etc. which we discussed as our unit progressed
3. Financial Institutions: we talked about what institutions exist in Hamilton, how customer friendly their websites are as well as if students in our class have started savings accounts, etc. for post high school education plans
4. Budgeting: how to make a budget for immediate, short term and long term goals. We also discussed incomes vs. expenses and how you would save for school or another larger purchases
5. Interest Rates: we just finished today discussing how an interest rate could affect investing money as well as borrowing money over time

Over the past month, I have not heard one student ask the question that every teacher fears, “Why do we have to learn this? How will this help me in my future? These questions often come from inquiring minds of students who are frustrated with the math topic at hand and cannot seem to find the relevance. Not only have these topics been engaging for my students but this has been my favourite math unit to teach since I started teaching seven years ago. I wish I had been fortunate enough at a young age to learn about these topics so my parents did not have to walk me through them when I was 20.

I do wonder during some conversations if my students are too young to learn about specific topics, but maybe one day, they will look back on these math conversations and see the connection. Even though interest rates, etc. may not affect them today, it will still be more clear to them in the future when the topic is brought up.

Interesting (and challenging) discussions did come up with my students,  related to interest rates being haram in their religion. I discussed it with my admin. and those students were still able to learn about why interest rates could affect them if they need to borrow money for school, etc. It was interesting to hear that due to their faith, earning interest or being charged interest was haram. I recognize and hear what my students shared and continued to talk about how borrowing money in the future may involve interest rates in their future.

The other day while teaching remotely (at school) about interest rates, a teacher was nearby and heard our discussions. She was very interested in our discussions as a class and mentioned that she wished she had been taught these concepts back when she was in elementary. She mentioned how she learned a lot from our discussions and I felt great about that. I shared it with my class that these discussions will really help plan for their future and when they may not see the importance about learning how to find an acute angle, they hopefully will remember these financial literacy conversations one day.

I look forward to exploring other new curriculum topics in the future such as coding. It is a great day to be a grade seven math teacher when your students, parents and other staff around you realize the importance of these discussions! Now, to get there with other concepts taught this year 🙂

## The KWC

Sadly, I can’t remember who introduced me to the KWC but it’s a strategy that I have used in Math with students for a number of years now and I should really find the person and thank them. If it was you, please reach out and let me know! Particularly when solving word problems, a KWC helps students to consider the question, what they know, what they want to know, and possible steps to take in getting started and solving the problem.

Prior to the break, we were working towards demonstrating the knowledge and skills needed to make informed financial decisions. Using problems that we would encounter in the real world, students were tasked with trying to solve them and to justify their choices. In this post, I break down the KWC using one of the guided examples in our classroom.

K – What do you know?

After reading the problem, students are asked to list everything that they know about the problem. These are things that they know for sure based on the information given and sometimes, their prior knowledge.

Here’s the question that we worked on as a class as we started learning about how to calculate the sales tax:

As a class, we learned a new term – subtotal – and understood that total now meant the cost, including tax. We also determined that the operations we would use would be addition, multiplication, and subtraction. We learned that there were different rates for tax based on the type of item. In this case, adult clothing and children’s clothing.

W – What do you want to know?

This is the place where students can clearly state what they want to figure out, find out, or do. Restating the question in your own words helps to make sure that you really understand what is being asked in the question. In our case, this was a multi-step problem, so there were several things that we wanted to know:

• What is the subtotal?
• What is the total?
• How much tax was paid?
• Was it a good deal?

C – Conditions

This part is always one that is a little tricky for me. I often think of this section as the things that students need to watch out for but as in our case, I have used this section as the steps that we need to take in order to solve the problem. In other words, what are the things that we need to do to answer the question successfully? Through discussion, we broke down the problem and determined the steps involved in solving the problem so that when working in their groups, students could refer back to it. Even with the steps in place, there were groups of students who solved the problem differently. For example, for the third question, rather than taking the total and subtracting the subtotal to find the tax, some groups wanted to multiply the subtotal by the appropriate tax rate (0.13 or 0.05) and also state the amounts paid for the different rates. When it came to justifying their thinking for question 4, it was great to see that some groups asked questions about the discount for the sale. Many were eager to jump online to investigate the non-sale price and did calculations to determine how much of a deal it really was. Others thought about taking the total and dividing that by the number of items and thought about whether or not that was a deal based on the price per item. Different groups thought of different ways to use Math to justify their answer.

This question took us a couple of Math periods to work through but it continued to help solidify the effectiveness of the use of this strategy. With gradual release – beginning with the teacher as a guide; moving into students using it in small groups, then partners, and then on their own – once students understand the problems they come across, they are better able to solve them with greater confidence. While students aren’t always going to stop and work through creating their own KWC, it’s one tool that they can use and when given problems to solve. I’ve seen students use it independently and confidently to answer all parts of multi-step problems.

## Creating a Classroom Action Plan Through Data Management

In a year unlike any other, I found myself so unsure as to what to expect as we worked to build our classroom community. Early on in the year we read the book, The Day You Begin and had several conversations about the things that make us each unique. This also started our conversations around the type of space we want to create – one in which everyone is honoured for who they are. Of course the word “bullying” came up in our conversations. The TDSB defines bullying as “aggressive behaviour that is typically repeated over time. It is meant to cause harm, fear or distress or create a negative environment at school for another person. Bullying can take on a number of different forms: physical, verbal, social or electronic, often called cyber-bullying.”1 With this understanding we realized that there are also many reasons why someone might be bullied. This was a great segue into our Data Management unit.

Students were tasked with finding data on different forms of bullying. With so much data on the internet, students found graphs and statistics that were all quite shocking. Many resolved to think about ways in which we could prevent forms of bullying from happening. To me, this analysis spoke directly to a specific expectation in the Data strand of the Math curriculum: D1.6 analyse different sets of data presented in various ways, including in stacked-bar graphs and in misleading graphs, by asking and answering questions about the data, challenging preconceived notions, and drawing conclusions, then make convincing arguments and informed decisions. Based on data, we were going to see how best we could make better decisions about our interactions with one-another.

One of the pieces of Data that we looked at was from a Brief Examination of Bullying Statistics in Canada from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada from 2013. Now I don’t know much about the organization but it was definitely exciting to find statistics related to Canada when so often, the statistics  are American. Contained within the report, we found a variety of graphs that we could use to interpret. One of the graphs that we looked at was the one below.

Students were surprised at first but when they actually sat for a moment and thought about the information presented, they agreed that the data makes sense and wondered what has changed in the last 14 years. For us, we started having conversations around times when we may have been made to feel uncomfortable about any of these factors or were indeed bullied, and the impact. Many students agreed that being treated unfairly or bullied based on these factors was something that shouldn’t happen in classrooms or schools. Now was the time for us to act!

Like every year, I try to create a space where everyone feels valued for who they are; one in which the statistics we had been discussing didn’t occur. I think all students also want this type of environment in which to learn. With this in mind, we created our Classroom Action Plan. With steps on how we would interact with one another, we created “the rules” around how everyone could expect to be treated in our learning space. Everyone contributed after a brainstorming session. Next, we all signed it and it’s up on our classroom wall. Some of the expectations include:

• Everyone is different. If there is something about someone that makes you curious, respectfully ask about it so that you are able to understand things from their perspective. Let’s learn about each other from each other, instead of making assumptions.
• Appreciate that everyone may have different ideas. Actively listen to what people are saying.
• When someone is hurt either physically or emotionally, take the time to stop and check-in to see if there is anything that you can do to support or help.
• When conflicts occur, seek help from the teacher or another trusting adult so that you are able to get the help needed to resolve the problem.

It’s quite the list and we have had moments where we have needed to go back to it as a reminder of the agreements we made with one another. With the changes after reorganization, we’re growing as a classroom community and I’m so looking forward to continuing to learn and grow together as a class this year.

## What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

When I started reading Ontario’s 2020 Mathematic Curriculum, I came across “Overall Expectations A. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills in Mathematics and the Mathematical Processes.”

#### According to the ministry document …

“This (Math) strand focuses on students’ development and application of social-emotional learning skills to support their learning of math concepts and skills, foster their overall well-being and ability to learn, and help them build resilience and thrive as math learners. As they develop SEL skills, students demonstrate a greater ability to understand and apply the mathematical processes, which are critical to supporting learning in mathematics. In all grades of the mathematics program, the learning related to this strand takes place in the context of learning related to all other strands, and it should be assessed and evaluated within these contexts.”

#### Social-Emotional Learning will go beyond teaching just Math …

“As of the 2019-20 school year, learning about mental health in Ontario schools will take place:

• through the newly enhanced elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum
• across the curriculum, as well as in Kindergarten, and
• as a part of students’ everyday experience at school

### Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills

• “Throughout the curriculum, students also learn to apply SEL skills.
• Because these skills are so important to students’ mental health and healthy development, SEL is now also a distinct section of the updated curriculum. This new section builds on Living Skills learning from the previous curriculum to help students foster their own overall health and well-being, positive mental health, resilience and ability to learn and thrive. The table below shows what students learn about and why.
 Students learn about: So they can: identifying and managing emotions express their feelings and understand the feelings of others coping with stress develop resilience positive motivation build a sense of hope and the will to keep trying for their goals building relationships support healthy relationships and respect diversity deepening their sense of self build an understanding of their own identity and feel that they belong thinking critically and creatively support decision-making and problem solving

Students apply these everyday skills as part of their learning across the other three parts of the curriculum, and in their experiences at school, at home and in the community.

A few examples of how these skills could be integrated with the other three parts of the curriculum (Active Living, Movement Competence and Healthy Living) are outlined below.

• Grade 1: To learn about positive motivation, students practise showing willingness to try out new skills and keep practising. (Movement Competence)
• Grade 2: To practise identifying and managing emotions, students try taking a moment to breathe deeply and refocus if they are feeling anxious or upset before starting a physical activity. (Active Living)
• Grade 3: To build relationships, students working in small groups practise welcoming everyone and being willing to be a partner with anyone in the group. (Active Living)
• Grade 4: As they learn about coping with stress, students explain how knowing about physical and emotional changes that come with puberty can help them handle those changes when they occur. (Healthy Living)
• Grade 5: To practise thinking critically and creatively, students make connections between being active, working towards personal fitness goals and mental health. (Active Living)
• Grade 6: To deepen their sense of self, students think about how stereotypes affect how they feel about themselves and identify other factors, including acceptance by others, that influence their sense of themselves. (Healthy Living)
• Grade 7: As they learn about coping with stress, students explain how to access various sources of support (for example, school staff, family, counselling and medical professionals) when dealing with mental health challenges or issues related to substance use. (Healthy Living)
• Grade 8: To practise identifying and managing emotions, students explain how social media can create feelings of stress and describe strategies, such as connecting thoughts, feelings, and actions, that can help maintain balance and perspective. (Healthy Living)”

### Supporting students

• “There is strong evidence that developing social-emotional learning skills at school contributes to student well-being and successful academic performance. Learning about mental health can also help to reduce the stigma around problems in this area. When students understand that many people experience mental health difficulties from time to time, and that there is support available when needed, they are more likely to seek help early when problems arise.
• As they develop SEL skills, students will also gain “transferable skills” (for example, self-directed learning, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and innovation) and develop “learning skills and work habits” as they learn to set goals, follow through and overcome challenges. These interconnected skills taken together, help foster overall health and well-being, and the ability to learn, build resilience and thrive. Helping students make connections among these skills is key to enhancing their learning experience in school and throughout their lives.”

### My first question was where did this initiative originate from?

#### Collaborative for the Advancement of Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

The concept was first published in 1997 Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators (Elias, Zins, Weissberg et. al., 1997) by the Association for Supervision of Curriculum Development (ASCD). It was coauthored by members of the Research and Guidelines Committee of the Collaborative for the Advancement of Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). According to CASEL it is a “trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL). CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances the experiences and outcomes for all PreK-12 students.”

CASEL provides training and resources for programs that support social-emotional learning such as:

“provides instruction in social and emotional learning with units on skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, friendship skills, and problem solving. The program contains separate sets of lessons for use in prekindergarten through eighth grade implemented in 22 to 28 weeks each year.”

Steps to Respect is a school-wide program designed for use in third through sixth grade. Implementation occurs in three phases:  school administrators take stock of their school environment and bullying issues; then all adults in the building are trained; and finally classroom-based lessons are taught.”

In a meta study The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions endorsed by CASEL and written by Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger (2011) universal social and emotional skills (SEL) participants demonstrated improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behaviour, and academic performance where school teaching staff successfully conducted SEL programs.

The use of four recommended practices for developing skills and the presence of implementation problems moderated program outcomes (Durlak et. al, 2011.) The practices used the SAFE acronym (Sequenced, Active, Focus, Explicit).

“New behaviors and more complicated skills usually need to be broken down into smaller steps and sequentially mastered, suggesting the benefit of a coordinated sequence of activities that links the learning steps and provides youth with opportunities to connect these steps (Sequenced).”

“Gresham (1995) has noted that it is ‘‘important to help children learn how to combine, chain and sequence behaviors that make up various social skills’’ (p. 1023). Lesson plans and program manuals are often used for this purpose. An effective teaching strategy for many youth emphasizes the importance of active forms of learning that require youth to act on the material (Active).”

“’ ‘It is well documented that practice is a necessary condition for skill acquisition’ (Salas & Cannon-Bowers, 2001, p. 480). Sufficient time and attention must also be devoted to any task for learning to occur (Focus). Therefore, some time should be set aside primarily for skill development.”

“Clear and specific learning objectives over general ones are preferred because it is important that youth know what they are expected to learn (Explicit). “

In other words, SEL programs must follow the SAFE practices and be well-executed in order to be effective. The meta study noted that only a small percentage of the meta research investigated did follow-up assessments to determine long term efficacy of SEL practices.

The meta study also noted that classroom teachers were the most effective in implementing SEL practices which usually included a specific curriculum and set of instructions such as behavioural rehearsals and cooperative learning. It noted that SEL programs were successful at all education levels.

The meta study included books/articles/reports that ranged in dates between 1955 to 2007 (e.g. 1955 to 1989 work = 25% of research included) and published/unpublished articles/books (e.g. unpublished reports = 19% of research included). The meta study excluded studies targeting students with behavioural, emotional, or academic issues. In addition, the meta study did not note effects on students with special education needs or the impact on students from lowers socioeconomic backgrounds.

#### Economic Value to Social and Emotional Learning

In The Economic Value to Social and Emotional Learning, the paper noted most SEL interventions had multiple goals and benefits and this contrasted with interventions to improve cognitive test results in a particular subject. The SEL interventions reduced aggression which “may also improve impulse control and later juvenile crime and/or may raise academic achievement”. The “measures of benefits are based upon a limited set of dimensions … actual benefits may be considerably higher if we were able to identify all effects” (Belfield et. al., 2015.) The paper examined the costs of Second Step at \$440 per student including instructional time.

### What does this mean to teachers?

In my opinion, I am sure that SEL programs do have an impact on students’ academic and emotional success. I also agree that learning should be social, in the context of a classroom, in collaborative groups and through discussions. What concerns me is that in order to be effectively implemented, SEL programs require a great deal of classroom teacher training and program costs.

Ontario’s Mathematics Curriculum includes SEL as a strand within the Mathematics curriculum. The ministry of education states that SEL “should be assessed and evaluated within these contexts.” Does this mean that for each subject like Mathematics, teachers will be assessing SEL skills as a strand of the subject?

I do not agree with Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills being included as a strand in the Ontario’s Mathematics curriculum for 2020. I see SEL skills as being incorporated into the learning skills elementary teachers already report upon three times an academic year in the Elementary Report Cards.

I wonder when the SEL resources and teacher training will be provided to Ontario’s elementary teachers. As the The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions paper reports, in order to be effective, teachers must be trained in SEL SAFE instructional strategies. In a time when education budgets are being cut, this sounds like an expensive initiative.

Collaboratively Yours,

Deb Weston, PhD

#### References

Belfield, C., Bowden, A. B., Klapp, A., Levin, H., Shand, R., & Zander, S. (2015). The economic value of social and emotional learning. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis6(3), 508-544.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development82(1), 405-432.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development82(1), 405-432.

Elias, M. J., Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Frey, K. S., Greenberg, M. T., Haynes, N. M., … & Shriver, T. P. (1997). Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators. Ascd.

Zins, J. E. (Ed.) (2004) Building academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say?. Teachers College Press.

Zins, J. E., Bloodworth, M. R., Weissberg, R. P., & Walberg, H. J. (2007). The scientific base linking social and emotional learning to school success. Journal of educational and psychological consultation17(2-3), 191-210.

Zins, J. E., Weissberg, R. P., Wang, M. C., & Walberg, H. J. (2004). Building school success through social and emotional learning.

## Distance Learning Ideas

During these different times, I’ve been planning for a new type of learning – distance learning – with little to no idea of how it might actually be implemented. As I plan, I thought there may be some who would find what I have done of value. I’m using this post to share some of the resources that I might use with students.

Language

Writing and Oral Communication

Persuasion is an art! To be able to develop a persuasive argument, you have to make sure that you have enough information to support your position on a matter. When you find topics that are of personal interest, people tend to have an opinion right away and can start to justify their thoughts. For this type of activity, I’m thinking of giving students one of the following prompts and asking them to come up with a persuasive argument including at least 3 supporting details for their opinion. Students can upload their arguments either in video or writing in a platform like Google Classroom and then they can possibly respond to each other’s arguments with counter-arguments. To extend this idea further, students can be grouped into teams based on their opinions and participate in a debate for or against the specific topic presented.

Possible prompts:

• When we start school again, we should have a 4-day school week. Do you agree or disagree?
• During the pandemic, people have been using masks and gloves to move around the city. There is a shortage in hospitals. Should people donate their masks and gloves to hospitals?
• When the pandemic is over, life will go back to being the way it was before. Do you agree or disagree?

In our class, we’ve been reading and investigating non-fiction texts. Students were also in the process of writing their own themed magazines based on their own research on a topic. To continue with non-fiction reading, I thought it would be great to take some time to continue to read online magazines or texts. While reading, students can take notes of what they are learning using a graphic organizer like this one from Scholastic. This is just an elementary example but depending on what you are focused on, you can create your own for your students. From there, I thought that students could use what they have learned to create an infographic on a specific topic of interest. Keeping in mind that infographics have a visual component, students can use a tool like Google Drawings to create their own layout for their infographics. One online magazine that is now making all of its content free is Brainspace. There are a variety of topics that might be of interest to students.

Math

I’ve found that hands-on activities have been the most well-received by my students and their families during this time. While there are a variety of Math games online – mPower, Math Playground, Prodigy, IXL – sometimes it’s nice to sit down and try an activity that allows you the opportunity to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. There are so many different activities online but one that I quite like is from The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. Their printable activities for students in Grades 4 to 12 are fun and educational ways to do mathematics and computer science while at home practicing social distancing. The resources include games, new problems to solve, applications, videos, pointers to existing materials on their website. Once they have finished solving the problems with their families, students can share their solutions and strategies with each other online in writing or in a video, using a platform like Google Classroom.

Design Thinking

Students can use our current pandemic – Covid-19 – to design something totally new! This is a project that can be done over time and students can share what they have been working on in an online platform such as Google Classroom. At each stage of the process, they can share their work with the teacher or each other.

Have students start by identifying problems that they are hearing about on the news or from online sources. They could write these on sticky notes, paper or using a tech tool. Teachers could use Padlet to create an online problem board for all students to include their ideas.  From there, students could potentially design an app or a solution that could connect community members as they are socially distancing themselves or something else that they have identified as a problem. The sky’s the limit!

After researching and understanding the problem, students can pick one specific problem, and focus on how it is affecting a specific person (user). Here are 2 recent articles (International Covid-19 and Coronavirus Affecting the Way We Do Things) that they can use along with other online sources.

Students can use this template – created in partnership with Smarter Science and the TDSB – to document their learning throughout the process. Once finished, students can create their own pitch for their idea, creating a short video or slide presentation for their peers.

These are just some of the ideas that I’m thinking about as we venture into this new type of learning next week. I’m not sure how it will go or what might work but I’m open to learning and trying something new.