Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goodbye for Now (The 150th Post!!)

Thank you to all of you who supported me throughout my first year as District Numeracy teacher for the Six Nations school district. Many of you invited me into your classrooms or offices to discuss math initiatives and bounce ideas off each other to improve the math environment for our students, and i appreciate your collaborative vision and approach. i look forward to working with you again in the fall to improve our students' math performance, conceptual understanding and overall attitude towards math.

Please feel free to leave comments over the summer, if you have any neat ideas, items to share, or just want to let everyone know the square centimeter area of your sunburn (no photos please). i will not be posting regularly but i may add articles, videos and other tidbits as i come across them over the summer. As you know, a teacher never stops thinking or working.

Thanks again for all your support. It means a lot to me and by working together we strengthen the education system for our students and enhance their opportunities for a bright future. Nya:weh/Meegwetch.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
JC Hill (2:30 – 4:00)

Present: TerryLynn Brant (alternate for J. McNaughton), L. Martin, S. Hill-Bomberry, A. Anderson, J. Thomas, J. Restoule General

Regrets: J. McNaughton

Absent: C. Froman

Update on action items from last meeting (Explore Learning PD, Caribou Math Contest):

Neither of these items were presented to PAC, as incorrect information was given regarding the date for PAC. Both items will be presented to PAC in the fall.

Key Math 3 C. Froman to share Jamieson’s kit:

C. Froman was absent and no alternate from Jamieson was sent, therefore the materials were not shared again this month.

L. Martin shared some info she had about the kit. A. Anderson stated that she likes the reports that derive from the software.

L. Martin raised the concern that calculator use is expected in the curriculum and in the high school courses that students will be entering. She is unsure how this would apply or be reflected in the Key Math assessment; more specifically in regards to the computation section. She suggested perhaps that a teacher give such sections twice; once without a calculator and a second time with the assistance of a calculator.

Committee members discussed the concern and spoke about how a calculator could be given to the student to do those questions for the teacher’s own interest/assessment, but that the scoring of the assessment (and final report) may be inaccurate if a calculator is used, and that referral to the manual in regards to what expectations it is exactly that those particular computation questions are assessing (is it the ability to know algorithms or perform pencil and paper computation?) should direct teacher use and application of the Key Math assessment.

In the end, it was determined that the individual teacher/school/education staff would have to make the decision and use anecdotal notes to reflect the professional judgement used and implemented when conducting the test.

On a side note, T. Brant suggested a call out to the local high schools regarding their expectations of calculator use, as well as the perceived areas of weakness determined by grade 9 math teachers. She referred to a past occurrence where GEDSB grade 9 teachers met with Six Nations District grade 8 teachers and discussed the transition. J. Restoule General will ask GEDSB Intermediate Mathematics Coach Cam MacDonald about these items.

Wish List for future purchase decisions:

Each school was asked prior to the meeting to bring items forward in advance of the possibility of any monies being allocated for future district Numeracy needs (ie: Imperial Oil/SEED proposal).

They were also asked for a list of valuable professional resources in the area of Numeracy to add to the appendix of the District Numeracy Plan (ie: most valuable teacher books for use in the classroom).

Rulers and Calculators were mentioned as being tops on most teachers’ needs list. The committee discussed how these items are basic classroom needs, and not really math specialty items. Ordering of these items should occur through basic school ordering, and NOT any special math monies or proposals.

A. Anderson mentioned that other school boards will supply a list of items that students require, to parents, and the parents are expected to purchase these items themselves. Often the result is a greater sense of responsibility and caretaking of home bought items. T. Brant explained that INAC’s fiduciary responsibility of running education means that the schools must supply these basic education needs. She suggested doing math orders from teachers at different times of the year than other ordering, so that teachers are reminded to focus on such items as rulers and calculators or other items specific to their classroom’s Numeracy needs.

Different ways of maintaining proper inventory and equipment were reviewed. It was mentioned that several classrooms use a pocket chart system which ensures responsibility and accountability in regards to calculator inventory. Calculators are numbered and correspond with a particular student for use in the classroom.

L. Martin suggested a caveat to math material ordering (namely manipulatives) which requires teachers to describe how they will be using the materials they are ordering, to ensure value and accountability when it comes to math supplies and spending.

T. Brant presented OMSK’s items. She stated that the staff felt that they “don’t need more stuff” and that they are happy with the materials that they have.

What they felt that they do need, and would like to see future dollars allocated to, is Professional Development on how to do math. A DVD series that explains and teaches math was referenced as an idea.

Secondly, she mentioned the Spencer Kagan Institute as a highly valued and respected provider of professional development in Cooperative Learning. T. Brant described how the Kagan PD addresses the collectivist nature of our people and the learning environment we would like to have in our schools and learning of math. She suggested seeking other funding to help bring this in, such as New Paths dollars.

Finally, T. Brant mentioned the possibility of needing to renew the math textbooks in the school. She brought it up for discussion and consideration, as she believed the Math Makes Sense texts are close to 10 years old (ed.—it was discovered after the meeting that the texts were published in 2005). She suggested looking at new publishers, as OMSK did not originally choose Pearson, they chose Nelson, but had to order Pearson to match what the other schools selected.

Other committee members felt that the use of the teacher’s manual was key to the successful use of the Pearson textbook. Using the strategies and cooperative exercises laid out in the teacher’s manual reflects the type of learning and problem solving we want the students to be engaged in. It was reiterated that the textbook still should not be the focus of program planning (ie: follow and finish the textbook), but rather the curriculum should be supported by the textbook and other resources. L. Martin restated that the textbook actually has non-curriculum related activities that teachers need to be aware of when planning their program, and adjust accordingly.

A. Anderson added that the Super Source resource (that all schools received in the fall) can be effectively linked to Math Makes Sense to provide problem solving experiences and situations.

L. Martin suggested that any review or surveying of new resources/textbooks should possibly wait until after the next scheduled curriculum review, scheduled for 2011, with a spring release in 2013 and full implementation in September 2014.

ILTO’s items were shared by J. Thomas. She stated that T. Claus looks after the English program’s Numeracy items and that she is currently on leave and therefore did not have items sent forward. J. Thomas shared that the Immersion teachers gave her little feedback, other than the consideration that future math items purchased for the English program would very likely need to be translated for Immersion use, and that dollars/monies should be earmarked for that purpose.

She stated that the Cayuga Math Terminology document that was developed by T. Deer and the Immersion teachers for Kindergarten and Grade 1 has been very helpful, especially for those teachers with less fluency in the language. She felt continuation of such resources would be very helpful, and that the document itself was a good start because many of the terms for K and Gr. 1 continue on into the older grades.

JCH’s wishes were presented by L. Martin. She spoke of the need to develop a math program with resources in-line with the Locally Developed expectations in high school (focusing on three strands). This would better prepare students entering LD courses than, for example, providing these students with programming derived from out of grade level resources. It was suggested to ask Grand Erie personnel about this concept to help inform the development of the program.

She also shared that the tiered support system worked well at meeting the needs of students this year at JCH. The school looks towards expanding on the common teaching times in 2010-2011, by continuing to use common assessments (Numeracy Nets as one resource) and using the data to evaluate student needs mid-unit and rearranging them according to those needs for further instruction in either enrichment, reinforcement, or continual development. This may require more Numeracy Nets documents.

S. Hill-Bomberry and A. Anderson spoke about ECG’s wish list of items for future ordering consideration. They stated more assistance with Numeracy Nets and ONAP was needed; a copy of each resource for each teacher would be beneficial, as the initial ordering provided a copy for each grade only. They also cited Math Journals resources and info as an area of need.

There weren’t any professional resource texts brought forward for the Numeracy Plan appendix, apart from the Van De Walle series of Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics suggested by J. Thomas. She says she uses these all the time in her classroom and the activities and ideas have been excellent. She also mentioned how she uses story books and literature frequently in the classroom.

J. Thomas and A. Anderson mentioned how resources and PD that assists teachers in how to use literature in their math teaching would be of great value to the district. J. Thomas mentioned that teachers need to see how literature is used and that future PD could be offered in this area.

J. Restoule General shared the table of contents copied out of the Marilyn Burns’ Math Solutions Publications series of books that offer ideas and lessons surrounding the use of fiction and non-fiction texts in mathematics lessons. Several of these teacher resource books are in the schools now, yet teachers have commented that the texts referenced in the books are unavailable. He asked if purchasing the children’s literature to support these teacher books would be something the district should do. An example is the Marilyn Burns Classroom Math Library.

T. Brant and S. Hill-Bomberry felt that storybooks shouldn’t be purchased nor that district resources be used to buy children’s literature for math. T. Brant felt that teachers should check their school libraries first, and that these books should remain in the library. They may be given their own designated section, but should remain in the library. J. Restoule General mentioned that C. Froman was working on pulling these texts aside in the Jamieson library, but he was unsure what the next step was in this plan. C. Froman was absent and therefore not able to comment.

A. Anderson suggested that teachers go out and read children’s literature and to think about, keep in mind, and discover the math connections that can be made. She suggested the “Tumble Books” resource for online children’s texts.

ECG committee members stated that they believed that the original draft of the Numeracy Plan from the 2008-2009 school year had a list of Literature titles that support Numeracy learning. J. Restoule General shared the copy of the Original Draft that he received in June 2009, which did not have such a list. For this reason, the committee was asked to bring forward ideal texts to this meeting. Any future revisions to the plan and its appendix should include a Math Literature list.

Review 3 Year Plan in Final Draft Form with Electronic version:

Teacher/staff comments: There was some questioning as to why we were asking for staff input on this document. OMSK felt they had already given their input and were actively using the plan.

ECG committee members felt that the Numeracy Committee has to review the document before getting feedback. J. Restoule General reminded them that we did review the plan over the first Numeracy meeting (see October and November minutes) and had been awaiting staff input. They did not recall this and insisted that we take a very detailed look at the plan in September 2010. They also felt that we should review how successful we have been at the goals/focus areas. As reviewing the plan and the committee’s goals were on the meeting agenda for today, it was suggested the committee begin the review immediately, and not wait for September.

T. Brant suggested that we reformat the plan to 8.5 x 11” portrait layout so it would fit nicely into binders/deskbooks. She also pointed out some concerns that will need to be discussed at another review of the plan in the Fall (why “three year”?; where and how is the term “culturally relevant context” reflected in the rest of the document?).

T. Brant reiterated the document’s use of EQAO data at the district level to assess the achievement of the district’s Numeracy goals, using that data as the evidence or indicator of success. It was suggested that the data be inserted into the plan itself, possibly as an appendix.

Review of focus area one led to some suggesting the elimination of CCAT and PRIME as resources.

T. Brant recommended that the committee consider taking the next steps portion of the document and refocusing them as the new draft’s goals in 2010-2011. One of the next steps in focus area one states “provide timely feedback and intervention to students”. The committee sees the need to develop and describe how the feedback is given/developed, and/or discuss this area further.

A. Anderson stated that she felt that the committee has accomplished very little this year. J. Restoule General agreed that it seemed like we were just “spinning our tires” this year. Ongoing issues around committee member attendance and the 2:30 pm release time were seen as contributing factors to this sense of low productiveness.

J. Restoule General asked if the committee would like to set a date for the September meeting. S. Hill-Bomberry felt that it was too early to set a date. T. Brant suggested that we pick a day and time (similar to this year’s third Thursday of the month) but also mentioned that maybe we could review exactly how often we would meet (maybe once a term but for a longer duration). She also suggested getting a mandate for ½ day meetings or continuing with PLC style meetings using creative scheduling for releasing divisions of teachers. J. Restoule General felt that it was hypocritical to have the district’s priorities be Culture & Language, Literacy and Numeracy, yet not be supported when it comes to the supply teacher budget to allow for these committees to meet. S. Hill-Bomberry stated that it is “out of our hands”. T. Brant said we should push for that commitment in the fall. She also thought the committee should appoint a chair and a secretary position. This item was discussed at the May meeting (see minutes). S. Hill-Bomberry reiterated her viewpoint.

Comment was made about the fact that staff meeting agendas are very full and that discussing the Numeracy plan adds on to an already busy agenda. S. Hill-Bomberry suggested that the plan be broken up, one page per staff meeting, in order to make it more manageable for staff to review.

Numeracy Committee Goals for 2010-2011:

As this agenda item is intertwined with the review of the Numeracy Plan, it was discussed in the agenda item above, and will continue to be discussed at the next meeting in the fall.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Google Docs Use in the Classroom

Here is a website that explains how one teacher uses Google Docs in the classroom, notably the online forms feature. i will be trying this out to do a survey of preferred PD times for teachers. Look for more in the fall!

Learning Math with Calculators

Mrs. C. General at Jamieson school recently borrowed one of the math books available at the District Numeracy Teacher office. The book is entitled, Learning Math with Calculators and there are several copies available for sign out.

Mrs. General really enjoyed the resource and said her students did too. More importantly, she said it reinforced and helped some students better establish their understanding of place value.

She particularly liked the exercise "WIPEOUT" (page 33) which requires students to work in pairs and use their calculator to eliminate (or 'wipeout') a digit from the display of a 3 to 8 digit number, using a subtraction operation. For example, if the first student enters the number 12345678 and the second player decides to remove the 4, then 40 000 must be subtracted from the number displayed to leave 12305678. Play continues on until only zero is left in the display.

This is just one of the 50 pages of activities in the book, which comes from Marilyn Burn's publishing company, Math Solutions Publications. Remember, this book and many more are all available for sign out for education staff at Six Nations to try out in your classroom, or at home. The only catch is, you need to provide feedback (like Mrs. General did) so that other teachers know what great resources are out there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Apps For Special Education (or ANY education, for that matter)

This is a list of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch apps for education and special education. Each app in the list includes a one sentence description by the author.

The app descriptions were based on App Store descriptions and personal trials. The author did not personally trial every app. Promo codes were provided for iPrompts, iCommunicate, MathSpin, and My Friend Isabelle.

The app descriptions provide some information regarding iPhone, iPad and iPod touch compatibility. To adequately determine device compatibility, carefully read the app's description and requirements on the App Store.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch Apps for (Special) Education

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Running Records are a breeze with an iPod Touch

Another great article on how technology can improve our classroom methods and children's experiences with reading...

iPod, iListen, iRead

The learning landscape is shifting under our feet. It's an exciting and momentous time for technology advances in learning, from the explosion of interest in online courses to free videoconferencing to powerful new devices at lower cost, such as the iPod. Having worked in educational media and technology beginning in the 1970s, I dare say that more change has happened in our field in the last four years than the last 40.

Last fall, I presented our Digital Generation project at a conference in Hangzhou, China, organized by professor Michael Searson from Kean University, a leader in providing teachers-in-training with global perspectives, curricula, and study abroad. There, I learned about a creative use of the iPod for helping young students master reading, writing, and much more. I tell this story at greater length in my upcoming book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools (Jossey-Bass, June).

In 2005, Kathy Shirley, technology director for the Escondido Union School District near San Diego, observed a teacher conducting "fluency assessments" of her students, spending a full day in individual sessions with students, marking on worksheets the pace, accuracy, and expression of each student’s reading. The school had to hire a substitute teacher for the day.

Shirley, an Apple Distinguished Educator, had been using an iPod to record her own voice memos. The light bulb went off: Why couldn't students' readings be recorded on an iPod, on their own time, and reviewed by the teacher, on her own time? More importantly, could the act of students recording and listening to their readings improve their skills? Escondido's majority of 53 percent Latino English-language learners made the search for a better way even more urgent.

In 2006, the iREAD (I Record Educational Audio Digitally) project started as a pilot program in Escondido, with six teachers of English language learners working with low-performing readers, content experts, and IT staff. This year, more than 100 K–8 classrooms are using 1,300 iPods, and the program has expanded to include readers at all levels. Students use the iPods with external microphones to record their reading practice and assessments. The iPod Touch, with its larger screen, Internet access, and applications, enables a better multimedia experience, as students download audiobooks and songs and read along with the text of stories and lyrics.

Teachers are trained to use the iPods, microphones, iTunes, GarageBand for audio production, and other digital tools. Student and teacher recordings are uploaded to iTunes, where teachers create playlists for each student. Students, teachers, and parents can then review progress, creating a powerful learning loop between all three.

The "Missing Mirror" in Language Instruction

As Shirley describes it, "Voice recording using the iPod provides that instant feedback loop, as students can easily record their fluency practice and listen immediately to the voice recording. It's difficult, especially for struggling readers, to 'step outside themselves' during the moment of reading. They are concentrating so hard at the act of reading that they have no idea what they really sound like. The iPod does something that even the teacher cannot do, provide a means for the student to receive feedback by listening to their own recordings. The iPod is very much like a mirror for students."

In 2008, the Canby, Oregon, district also began experimenting with the program, led by technology director Joe Morelock, also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Canby, a district of nine schools and about 5,000 students, now has about fifty classrooms using iPods of various types and the project has extended into high school, where students are listening to audiobooks and using video cameras to analyze their presentation skills.

Evidence of Student Outcomes

Escondido and Canby classrooms are seeing large gains in the speed of student reading, one part of reading fluency. In a Canby fourth-grade classroom of sixteen students, from the fall to mid-year assessment of reading fluency, when average increase in word count per minute (WCPM) is 12, the average in the iPod classroom was close to 20. (WCPM measures the pace of reading; accuracy is another component of fluency.) Most students achieved more than double the average expected.

In an Escondido fourth-grade class of ten students, average increase was 48 WCPM in just six weeks. At the start of fourth grade, all of the students lagged behind the 120 WCPM goal for third-grade completion. Within the six-week period, more than half of them had caught up and surpassed the goal for fourth-grade completion, making more than a year's progress in that period.

A pilot study of reading achievement using the Iowa Test of Basic Skills also showed impressive gains. A group of 12 fifth-graders in Escondido using iPod Touches averaged 1.8 years of reading progress in six months, compared with a matched group of students at the same school who averaged .25, a quarter of a year’s increase. Both districts are planning larger-scale studies of reading achievement.

Reading Success Becomes Contagious

I had a chance to visit Central Elementary in Escondido this May and was bowled over by the level of student enthusiasm for using iPod apps for reading, writing, geography, mathematics, and more. In these classrooms, students are leading their own reading. They want to practice their speed, accuracy, and comprehension. The iPod makes personal a process that has been painfully public. No struggling reader likes to have his or her weaknesses exposed in a group, in front of the entire class or their reading circle. The iPod enables more intimate, 1:1 reading instruction between a student and a teacher listening to each other's voices in audio files.

As the students get excited, teachers get excited, too. Success becomes contagious for everyone involved. As Morelock puts it, "This is the secret sauce to all of this: teacher motivation. We have heard teacher after teacher say, 'This has totally transformed my teaching!' 'I'm having more fun and being a better teacher.' 'I'm never gonna retire.'" One teacher told Shirley, '"Using iPods with microphones has engaged students more than anything I've ever experienced! These tools allow even the softest speaker to be heard and motivate even the most reluctant reader." Another said succinctly: "There's less of me talking and more of them doing."

A classroom set of thirty iPod Touches and a cart costs about $12,000. The iPods can be supplemented with five desktop or laptop computers for students to produce media, such as podcasts. It is a less costly model than the 1:1 laptop classroom and right-sized for elementary students, who can hold the key to their literacy in the palms of their hands.

Resources on iPods in Literacy

Shirley and Morelock have created a Web site and a third-grade classroom blog from Canby, including how her students downloaded Yoga for Kids podcast and the Pocket Yoga app to relax during test preparation.

The iRead project in Escondido was covered in a May, 2010 story in the local North County Times. The photo shows a student showing me her iPod screen, but it should have been a photo of superintendent Jennifer Walters, who joined the classroom visit that day. Her advocacy for this cutting-edge application of technology has been a critical factor in its success.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Differentiating Through Texting

Texting Education

Sandy Riggs asked her 24 freshmen biology students to text her what they thought DNA precipitation meant during a recent class.

What she got was a flood of text messages — one after the other.

“I never see this with hands,” Riggs said. “This is awesome.”

Riggs doesn’t always give her students assignments involving text messaging.

But the 35-year-old Collegiate High School teacher allows her students to text her about homework, absences, or just life questions and concerns.

Riggs said using texting as an education tool has increased her students’ access to her, their confidence and ultimately gained their trust.

“They know I care. They are going to be more responsive,” she said.

Riggs teaches college level classes as part of the Corpus Christi Independent School District’s Collegiate High School, located in Del Mar College East Campus’ St. Clair Building.

Damien Cisneros, 15, said he has texted Riggs to get help on homework assignments he didn’t understand or to clarify what assignment to work on.

He said in middle school, students can’t use their phones to text their teacher and it has helped him become a better student to know he can get in touch with his teacher outside of class quickly by texting.

“It gives us more security that she’s there for us,” he said.

Maria Rodriguez, 14, said she gets in touch with Riggs through texting at least twice a week usually with questions about homework. She said she appreciates Riggs making herself accessible to her students in that way because without that option she’d have trouble keeping up in class.

“I would be here after school probably every day,” she said.

Collegiate High School Principal Tracie Rodriguez said the science and English departments use texting the most with class assignments. Teachers can choose whether they want students to text them. The trend began with a student asking if it would be OK for them to text their teacher, she said.

She said at one time students were coming to class with incomplete assignments and texting was a way for the students to feel comfortable with getting in touch with teachers outside of class, she said.

“It’s very short and concise,” Rodriguez said. “The students have a greater understanding when it is to the point.”

She said at the school staff also communicate with each other through texting because some are spread out about the campus.

The school does still enforce a rule that cell phones can’t be used in class unless approved beforehand as part of a class assignment or in an emergency, she said.

In addition, parents haven’t expressed concerns about their student’s cell phone bills or texting charges, she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes the school can continue using technology in innovative ways.

“It’s the new age,” she said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A School that is Embracing 21st Century Literacy

Check out the St. Marys City School Mobile Learning Project.

St. Mary's Mobile Learning Vision

Scott Newcomb is very excited, and he has good reason to be.

A fourth grade teacher at St. Mary's in Ohio, Scott recently shared with us the work he has been involved in for the last two years at his school, with what he calls the Mobile Learning project.

In an email he sent to us here at the Committed Sardine recently about what he's been up to, he told us about how far the smartphone reach has extended within their classrooms, and what the future looks like for them.

"Every student in our school district from 3rd grade to 6th grade has their own mobile learning device," says Newcomb. "Our goal is to have a mobile learning device in every students' hand from 3rd grade to 12th grade."

Just like us, Scott Newcomb and the St. Mary's City Schools are eager to spread the word about mobile learning and the 21st century environment our schools are headed for. We urge you to check out their website here at SM Riders Mobile Learning.

Newcomb is proud to announce that they will also be presenting this year at Denver's ISTE Conference in June.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interesting Article on our Brothers and Sisters in Walpole

This article came up in the Numeracy in the News feed that is on the right sidebar of this blog. Remember to keep checking for this and other news by visiting the Six Nations Numeracy blog frequently...

A Great School, by the Numbers

EDUCATION: Walpole Island Elementary School

If the efforts of a model school program pay off, Walpole Island Elementary School will be the launching pad for future engineers, scientists and astronauts.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin was at Walpole Island on Thursday morning to announce that Walpole Island will become a flagship school for numeracy among First Nation schools across Canada. It is hoped that the numeracy program will eventually spread across Canada.

The funding for the five-year project will come from the Martin Aboriginal Educational Initiative, a charitable organization.

Martin is familiar with Walpole Island. During the announcement held at the school's gymnasium, he recalled how he used to come up to Walpole Island in the summer with his dad, former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Martin Sr. The pair would meet with Walpole Island band council and then go on fishing excursions.

Martin said if feels wonderful to give back to a community he knows well.

"It gives me a great sense of pride," Martin said of giving back to an area he is familiar with.

Martin said Walpole Island was chosen to become a model school is because they are progressive in terms of education. He also points to partnerships Walpole Island has with the Lambton-Kent District School Board and Wallaceburg District Secondary School.

On Thursday afternoon, Martin made the announcement that Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation will host the model school for literacy.

"They were chosen by people who looked around and said, 'look, this is one of the most progressive communities that you can work in," Martin said of Walpole Island and Kettle and Stony Point.

Walpole Island First Nation Board of Education chairman Bill Tooshkenig said the initiative will be a significant step in helping students improve their skills in numeracy, which in turn will enhance their success as they move on to higher education and success in the workplace.

The five-year project will be based on the curriculum and teaching strategies that came from Ontario's at-risk elementary schools.

The programs will include providing professional development to assist teachers, fund lead teachers who have training about the best practices and most effective techniques, developing a school improvement team that meets regularly to review school data and plan next steps, hire external experts to visit the school for a few days a month to assist the principal and teachers and plan for parent involvement and community engagement.

Martin said the approach being used has proved to be successful.

"Where it has never been attempted is among the First Nations. And there will be adaptations with the First Nations. We would like to see it across the country," Martin said of the model school approach.

One of the goals of Martin's charitable organization is to turn around the large dropout rate that exists for aboriginals in high schools.

Experts told Martin that the best way is to target students in elementary schools.

Since he has retired from politics, Martin has divided his time between aboriginal issues and issues in Africa.

Martin said aboriginal issues are important to him because aboriginal Canadians have to be given the same opportunities that other Canadians are given.

"The federal government, who has a responsibility for education, underspends substantially on a per capita basis. I think that is wrong morally, but it is also stupid economically. Aboriginal Canadians are the youngest and fastest growing segment of our population. Why in God's name (are we) discriminating against them in education," asked Martin. "We should want every young Canadian to have the same opportunity to have a good education. I think that's a Canadian value."

Walpole Island Chief Joseph Gilbert said that the model school program is a tool that can help change the future of not only the student body but the community as a whole.

"I see a great future for us," Gilbert said.

Friday, June 18, 2010

May Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes

Six Nations District Numeracy Committee Meeting Minutes
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
JC Hill (2:30 – 4:00)

Present: J. McNaughton, S. Hill-Bomberry, A. Anderson, L. Martin, J. Restoule General

Absent: C. Froman, J. Thomas

Review minutes from last meeting: Approved

Committee for 2010-2011: It was discussed at the strategic planning meeting that committees will strike a member terms of reference for the 2010-2011 school year. This would explicitly state roles and responsibilities of committee members.

L. Martin asked about who would draft the terms of reference and what the process would be. The answers are as yet unknown.

J. Restoule General asked if the committee would like to elect/appoint a chair for the committee. Members stated that the way things are currently run is fine and that J. Restoule General continue to act as chair.

Members in attendance were polled to determine if they would be returning as committee members for next year. Most felt that they would be hoping that someone else take the role as Numeracy rep at their school, as they “would like to see someone new” in the position.

S. Hill-Bomberry mentioned how she appreciated A. Anderson’s commitment to the area of Numeracy and commented on how A. Anderson’s expertise and knowledge (as a Math Specialist) is extremely valuable to the staff, the committee and the district. J. Restoule General echoed those sentiments. Both hoped for A. Anderson’s return to the committee next year.

Math Assessment Tools PD planning for Numeracy Nets (GEDSB opportunity): No one from Six Nations was in attendance at the GEDSB Numeracy Nets session. J. Restoule General did contact Cam MacDonald about the session and will share any pertinent information as GEDSB continues to roll out Numeracy Nets.

Poll staff for ideal PD time/style: In relation to this, it was discussed when is the ideal time to offer PD for teachers. S. Hill-Bomberry mentioned that the calendar committee is discussing dates and PD timetabling. Committee members discussed and concluded that a survey of staff be drafted to assess preferences of PD delivery times. This would be a ranked survey. Options to appear on the survey were discussed. These will appear on the survey, which will be drafted by J. Restoule General, passed through the Numeracy Committee and PAC, and then distributed to education staff.

One suggestion of “during school time” was brought up. L. Martin felt that we should not include this on the survey, as it may not even be an option realistically, and including it on the survey would set up expectations that would summarily result in disappointment. S. Hill-Bomberry felt that we should include it anyway, and mentioned that we may have to get creative in how PD is delivered within the school day.

The option of “during prep and/or lunch periods” was also brought up. Committee members felt this could be an option, though any PD offered during this time would certainly have to be on a volunteer basis, and could not be deemed mandatory.

CAT/Insight Testing (ILT/ECG) Comments: ECG members relayed comments from the staff, which included the opinion that conducting the testing at this time of year was poor timing and overwhelming, what with EQAO coming up and curriculum content to cover, as well as other classroom testing.

Some teachers thought the testing would occur earlier, some thought it was just going to be math testing. A question was raised about doing standardized testing instead of criterion based testing. Other concerns were that the data would take too long to return to the school in order to inform programming for next year. Another comment was that there seemed to be some strands missing in the math portion of the testing.

***It is important to note here that though the following facts did not occur at the meeting, follow up on some of these concerns prove some of the issues to be inaccurate or oversights. The CAT4 is both norm based and criterion based. Data from the CAT4 will be received in 20 business days, and the Math portion does in fact include all 5 strands.***

No ILT rep was present to offer their viewpoints on the testing.
The committee discussed examining the future use of these tests in the district based upon receipt of the data and subsequent feedback from teachers and education staff of the usefulness of the data.

J. Restoule General indicated that it is anticipated that the CTC will be offering the schools 50% off the testing in the near future, and expects that a decision will need to be made regarding the district use of the test at that time. The various options will be discussed at future committee meetings, with the aforementioned plan of using the CAT4 in grades 2 and 5 (and possibly 7), in order to focus efforts in advance of the EQAO testing years of grades 3 and 6 as one avenue to explore.

Further discussion and review needs to be done regarding this and other forms of math assessment for the district.

First Steps in Math PD Proposal Update: Any district staff inclusion in the First Steps in Mathematics Facilitator Course offered by GEDSB was “not approved based on feedback from principals,” as stated by Acting Superintendent K. Hill. S. Hill-Bomberry was asked about the feedback that principals provided to K. Hill. She did not recall discussing the proposal. Previous conversations that J. Restoule General had with J. Reuben indicated that she did not recall the proposal being discussed either. When J. Restoule General met with D. Dunnigan in advance of the proposal submission, D. Dunnigan seemed to have a positive response to the First Steps program and supported the initiative.

J. Restoule General will continue to work with GEDSB Intermediate Mathematics Coach Cam MacDonald to receive info and feedback about the program/course.

Explore Learning Teacher Passwords/PD Comments/concerns/feedback: Very little feedback regarding teacher use of this resource. Some teachers have asked for their passwords again, so there must be some utilization.

PD opportunity update: J. Restoule General shared the proposal that was written and submitted to K. Hill back in March. There is no indication that this has been discussed with PAC. J. Restoule General will ask to present to PAC on the second Tuesday in June.

He shared the Explore Learning materials he received at the OAME conference and indicated that Stephen Lippa continues to be interested and available to offer PD to teachers. The only cost would be his travel, which would be $150.

Understanding Math Proposal for Six Nations Proposal Update: The meeting and free trial period for software piloting of the full Understanding Math resource that was tentatively scheduled to occur in April with Rudy Neufeld of Neufeld Learning Systems was terminated by K. Hill and 3 of the 4 principals.

J. Restoule General returned the Professional Learning materials that Mr. Neufeld had lent us for the district’s perusal and will not continue any further on this venture based on principal feedback.

Math contest (Caribou) Classes involved: Committee members did not know if any classes participated in the latest Caribou contest, though it appears that no classes registered from the four schools.

Proposal to be approved at PAC for 2010-2011: J. Restoule General will ask for future participation in the contest to be approved at PAC. Clarification of what contests need to be approved and through what channels was discussed by the committee. It seemed that there was some indication that these are dealt with at a school level, while also needing to be presented to PAC.

S. Hill-Bomberry indicated that she was unaware that students were participating in the contest at her school and expected that it be communicated better by the District Numeracy teacher (and all other District teachers excepting for the District Literacy teacher). She indicated how R. Staats keeps her up to date whenever entering the school via an e-mail. Committee members discussed the responsibility of informing principals of activities going on at schools and who was responsible and what the process was and how it could be best developed in order to be effective and yet not time consuming or prohibitive in nature.

J. Restoule General will commit to increasing communication of activities within the schools to the principals.

Key Math 3 C. Froman to share Jamieson’s kit: C. Froman was absent and will hopefully share the kit with the committee at June’s meeting.

L. Martin shared the frustration she’s had when attempting to order or inquire about the kit through Pearson. Representatives seem to not know what the item is or deny having it for sale. There are other barriers to receiving it regarding Special Education or similar qualifications.

J. Restoule General met a Pearson/PsychCorp rep at the OAME conference and can arrange a presentation for principals should they wish to see the latest resources that go along with the Key Math 3. This contact has been shared with J. Reuben, as OMSK was looking into ordering the new materials. Issues surrounding the difficulties ordering the kit were also discussed with the Pearson contact, and he offered to be personally contacted so as to correct and prevent any issues we may have.

OAME conference items to share: J. Restoule General shared the resources and materials from the OAME conference and offered to photocopy or loan any of them to committee members for their schools. He strongly encourages Numeracy leads in the schools (or any staff) to attend next year’s conference in Windsor, May 12th-14th, 2011. It would need to be included on staff learning plans, which S. Hill-Bomberry mentioned “could be amended at any time” to include this conference.

L. Martin took the opportunity to discuss the Rethinking Mathematics text that was part of a workshop on “Teaching Social Justice through Mathematics” at OAME. She spoke of the “warm heart, active mind” concept that we should hope for in our students and recommended the text for all staff in the district for its examples of pulling local issues into the Mathematics curriculum and planning of teachers.

GAINS Math CAMPPP 2010: J. Restoule General shared info on the CAMPPP which occurs from August 16th to the 20th at Kempenfelt Conference Centre in Barrie. Info can be found on the GAINS website; there is a link to the EduGAINS website available on the Six Nations Numeracy blog.

He has been in contact with the organizers and they have informed us that we are applicable for the Ministry funded CAMPPP, paid for in full (accommodations, meals, registration and travel) by the Ministry of Education Math GAINS initiative.

Spaces are available for teams of up to five until May 31st (this would be at least one principal, one math coordinator, and three teachers). After May 31st, spaces are on a first come, first served basis, space permitting.

Wish List for future purchase decisions: Committee members will focus on this agenda item for the June 17th meeting and are asked to bring their ideas/examples to the meeting.

Review 3 Year Plan in Final Draft Form with Electronic version Teacher/staff comments: This is still a draft and still needs to be presented to PAC for approval. The next committee meeting will involve reviewing the plan for next year. Committee members spoke of the need to emphasize the importance of focus area two; the professional development and learning of education staff in the area of Numeracy. Questions always seem to arise concerning math PD, such as when it will occur, how it will occur, and how teachers and staff are to be supported in their learning. Concerns about putting time and resources (human and financial) towards Math PD seem to continually arise.

Numeracy Committee Goals for 2010-2011: These will be on the agenda for the June meeting as well, in relation to the review of the 3 Year Plan, and concerns about PD.

Meeting adjourned

Attention Deficit Disorder: Ritalin Or Recess?

Attention Deficit Disorder: Ritalin Or Recess? The Committed Sardine

An interesting article about the value of physical activity for brain activity.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What a Fire We've Started

Check out this video and write up about a video project made by a young student set to Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. Read the write up by Ian Jukes that precedes it as well.

As the pen pals gather at the ILA today, think about the amazing possibilities for these kids, with futures and talents brighter than anything we can imagine. All we need is a little faith in their capabilities and little generosity in the tools we allow them to use.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Texting Figures

Here are some stats from a study on teenage texting. For the full article, click here.

Even though most schools treat the phone as something to be contained and regulated, teens are nevertheless still texting frequently in class.

•12% of all students say they can have their phone at school at any time.
•62% of all students say they can have their phone in school, just not in class.
•24% of teens attend schools that ban all cell phones from school grounds.
•Still, 65% of cell-owning teens at schools that completely ban phones bring their phones to school every day.
•58% of cell-owning teens at schools that ban phones have sent a text message during class.
•43% of all teens who take their phones to school say they text in class at least once a day or more.
•64% of teens with cell phones have texted in class; 25% have made or received a call during class time.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?

Financial Literacy survey

A Working Group is gathering information about Financial Literacy in the Ontario curriculum. We are pleased to inform you that a survey on financial literacy in now posted on the ministry website: A Dialogue on Financial Literacy.

It will be available for input until 5:00 pm on June 16th.

The Working Group on Financial Literacy welcomes the unique perspectives of students, teachers, educators, parents, community members and other groups. To accomplish this, distinct sets of questions have been developed and may be accessed at the survey link:

We encourage all OAME members to participate and make your opinions known through the survey.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grand Erie DSB Summer Program Offerings

GEDSB Summer Program Offerings
These are the 2010 Summer Programs that focus on professional development related to Numeracy. For a full list of offerings, see the Six Nations Schools website.

The workshops contain the following information:

Workshop Title
e-Centre #

*Junior Mathematics (Grades 4-6)
Day 1: Junior Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 4-6
August 16 & 17
TRC – Computer Lab

*Teaching & Learning Through Problem-Solving (Grades 4-6)
"The most effective method for developing and consolidating students’ understanding of mathematical concepts …is teaching through problem-solving." This two-day session will go beyond the Problem-of-the-Week to focus on how problem-solving can be an integral ingredient in your mathematics program. It will help teachers and students to understand and connect the big ideas in mathematics, and focus on improving students’ communication of their mathematical understanding. Participants are asked to bring a copy of
A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, K-6
Volume 2: Problem-Solving and Communication.
Gr. 4-6
August 17 & 18
9:00am - 3:00pm
Joseph Brant Learning Centre – Thayendanegea Room

*Junior Mathematics (Grades 4-6)
Day 1: Junior Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 4-6
August 18 & 19
Haldimand Support Centre – Haldimand Room

*Junior Mathematics (Grades 4-6)
Day 1: Junior Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 4-6
August 20 & 21
Doverwood Public School

*Primary Mathematics ( Grades 1-3)
Day 1: Primary Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 1-3
August 23 & 24
Doverwood Public School

*Making Mathematics Accessible for All Students
This hands-on, active, 2-day workshop will focus on creating a high quality math program for all students, using Guides to Effective Instruction in Mathematics and LNS resources.
Key focus areas include:
-what a high quality program looks like, feels like, sounds like
-creating a rich, differentiated math environment, including manipulatives and technology
-three-part problem solving lessons
-instruction and assessment before, during, and after.
Gr. 1-6
August 24 & 25
9:00 – 3:00
Joseph Brant Learning Centre - Thayendanegea Room

*Primary Mathematics ( Grades 1-3)
Day 1: Primary Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 1-3
August 25 & 26
TRC – Computer Lab

*ICT Collaborative Technology Training - parts 1 & 2 (provided by Virtual GrandE Project)
Part 1: Participants will be exposed to VIDEO-CONFERENCING, SKYPE, and ADOBE CONNECT tools with the goal of considering their viability for safe use within daily teaching and learning practice. Participants will also be exposed to a number of video clips and real-time video connections during the session.
Part 2: Prerequisite: Completion of Part 1. Participants will further examine our current ICT tools with the intent of framing their use within the classroom. The links between ICT tool usage and student safety, differentiated learning strategies, as well as student engagement strategies will be explored.
While both of these identical sessions are open to all GEDSB teachers, part 1 of the training should be accomplished prior to beginning PART 2 of instruction. Teachers can sign up for these two training modules separately or together on eCENTRE, as desired.
August 27
Part 1 – 9:00am-12:pm
Part 2 – 12:45pm-3:00pm
TRC – Computer Lab
Part 1 (am) – 8945
Part 2 (pm) - 8947

*Primary Mathematics ( Grades 1-3)
Day 1: Primary Mathematics (Grades 1-3): Looking at GEDSB Math Alignment Project and, Ministry Resources and Student work samples.
Day 2: Learning to use the Smart Board in your math program (linked with the GEDSB Math Alignment Project )
Questions? Email Nancy Norton (
Gr. 1-3
August 30 & 31
Haldimand School Support Centre – Haldimand Room

*Differentiated Instruction (Grades 7-10)
Two day session on DI in intermediate classes. The focus will be on utilizing new Ministry of Education material and practical ways of incorporating DI into the following subject areas: English/Language, Math, Geography, History, Career Education, Science, and Business. Day two will be in a computer lab. Participants will leave with practical lessons which can be used to differentiate instruction in their classrooms.
Gr. 7-10
August 30 & September 1
9:00 - 2:00
TRC – Alexandra Room

*ICT Collaborative Technology Training - parts 1 & 2 (provided by Virtual GrandE Project)
Part 1: Participants will be exposed to VIDEO-CONFERENCING, SKYPE, and ADOBE CONNECT tools with the goal of considering their viability for safe use within daily teaching and learning practice. Participants will also be exposed to a number of video clips and real-time video connections during the session.
Part 2: Prerequisite: Completion of Part 1. Participants will further examine our current ICT tools with the intent of framing their use within the classroom. The links between ICT tool usage and student safety, differentiated learning strategies, as well as student engagement strategies will be explored.
While both of these identical sessions are open to all GEDSB teachers, part 1 of the training should be accomplished prior to beginning PART 2 of instruction. Teachers can sign up for these two training modules separately or together on eCENTRE, as
August 31
Part 1 – 9:00am-12:pm
Part 2 – 12:45pm-3:00pm
TRC – Computer Lab
Part 1 (am) – 8946
9:00 – 12:00
Part 2 (pm)– 8948
12:45 – 3:00

Friday, June 4, 2010

Show Math

Here is a very interesting (and challenging) website that encourages students to have fun while solving tough math riddles. It plays like a virtual board game, where teams of (or individual) students move their character around the board, answering math problems to advance and collect prizes/tokens.

You can select your grade level to adjust the level of difficulty, as most questions are pulled from Mathematics Competitions in different provinces and school boards. Be can become addictive!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Statistics Canada

Looking for something to do this June? Check out Statistic's Canada's Learning Resources.
There is plenty of resources sorted by school subject (Mathematics, Aboriginal Studies, Environment, etc.) with resources organized into three tabs, Key resources (animations, articles and maps), Lessons (elementary and intermediate), and Data (tables and databases).

Make late summer learning authentic by bringing in relevant, real data for your students to use. Investigate social justice issues, create graphs based on local classroom data regarding environmental behaviours, and participate in the Census at School.

All this, and more is available at the site. Click any of the links and begin to explore!!!