September TLLP Reflections

Our TLLP Team was granted an extension to continue our work until November. Our learning will be shared in a resource designed to support the development of 21st Century Competencies in math using blogging as a platform for learning. We meet one final time in November, when we will finish creating this resource which will be shared here, in the AMDSB EdTech Learning Community for you!

These are the reflections from the day…

Allison Plumsteel

Today gave our group a great opportunity to revisit how effect the Blog could be as a communication tool for learning and making connections. We had a discussion about the difference between learning goals and success criteria. Through discussion, we reiterated how important learning goals and co-created success criteria are to the understanding of concepts.

We also had an opportunity to explore blogs and look for excellent examples of math lessons and we looked at how we could use Math Talk with them. We have complied a slide deck of many ideas and resources.

Another key learning we discussed was making connections with others in our own Board and world wide communities through the use of the Digital Human Library and by using the Google Hangout. These will provide opportunities to connect and share learning to others outside of our school.

Nicole King

A summer break can certainly create a big to do list of all the new pedagogy you want to attempt for the new school year! Asking questions and time to collaborate with your teaching peers is always a fantastic way in order to get questions answered as we always have tech questions or ways to get around.

Today’s new learning?
~ google hangouts
~ using the digital human library to connect to educators/experts around the world
~ exploring math ideas through other teacher’s blogs in the board
~ tackling those pesky tech problems to get started for this year (cleaning out the cowebs of navigating around)

What are my wonderings and challenges?
~ how to tackle the big ideas, overall expectations vs specific amongst the learning goals and the success criteria
~ how to jump back in

My next steps…
~ setting up regular video conferences
~ connecting with blogging buddies (class blog to start)
~ setting up this year’s student blogs
~ open up more math talk tasks and accountability regarding math talk in the classroom

Cheers to a new year!!!

Kerri-Lynn Case-Schepers

  • Edublogs (adding new students, adding new Widgets, Plugins, adding/removing subscribers, trouble shooting, sharing ideas etc)

  • Reviewed new resources:  Big Idea by Dr.Small Grades 4-8

  • Discussed our understanding of Learning Goals and Success Criteria in math

  • Viewed a variety of teacher/student math blogs in search of new ways to communicate our math thinking and understanding

  • Experimented with Google Hangouts & creating surveys in Google Forms

  • Co-created a Slide Deck in Google Slides to share with others in our group

Charlene Stein

It was very helpful today to meet with my colleagues and to discuss our next steps with technology integration in math for this new school year.  We took some time to answer questions related to blogging.  It was helpful to take some time to work out some minor issues we were having which prevented us from moving forward.  We were introduced to Google Hangout, Google Calendar, and the Digital Human Library and were challenged to consider the ways we could use these platforms in our programs.  Later, we decided to branch out and do some research.  We took some time to look at other blogs, websites and resources for ideas related to math and communication.  We began to create a google slide to display our gathered ideas and to consider how we could add meaningful math talk through technology.  I am looking forward to sharing these ideas as a group and adding to this growing resource over time.

Anne McBride

Today our motivated group of teachers dove deeper into the world of blogging about math. How can we use the blog to showcase student outcomes in mathematics in a way that encourages ‘Math Talk’. Exploring multiple blogs from teachers in our board and saving examples in an easily accessible spot for our group was a great way to compile, organize, and analyze these findings. There are so many great things happening in our board! I am leaving this session with many thoughts for reflection. Showcasing our math lessons on the blog shows the overwhelming amount of communication and collaboration happening in math classes across out board. Now I am left reflecting on how to take those ideas, lessons, posts and activities one step further to encourage the blog as a platform for not just showcasing student outcomes – but for facilitating more Math Talk! My next steps will be to try out some of the amazing ideas I’ve learned from my colleagues today and to try taking things that one step further.


TLLP Reflections: Math Talk & New Learning Partnerships

Leigh Cassell
I am continuing to think about the idea of how we establish meaningful partnerships for learning in our classrooms and for what purposes. According to Fullan in his article How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning, New Learning Partnerships consist of 4 main elements: relationships, feedback, aspirations, and learning to learn. We spent some time today discussing why partnerships are important, and some of the ways we engage students in learning partnerships. One example that really resonated with me was shared by Allison Plumsteel. Allison uses “tripods” in her classroom – groups of 3 students that meet every morning before announcements to greet each other, share something about themselves, help each other with the morning routine, and start the day off on a positive note with a secret handshake and a “have a great day!” In relation to Fullan’s explanation of New Learning Partnerships, Allison has incorporated an activity (5 minutes) that is helping build relationships, develop communication skills through feedback, and establish community with a focus on student interests and aspirations, and the kids are developing outcome-based skills. Love it!

Anne McBride
Revisiting the topic of ‘Math Talk’ today was a worth while experience. The opportunity to record ourselves leading a ‘minds-on’ or a ‘consolidation’ portion of a math lesson for the second time, allowed for some valuable reflection. Through a scoring process we were able to see our improvements in our methods within multiple areas of math talk (‘Revoice’, ‘Turn and Talk’, Employing Wait Time’, etc.), and to make goals for the future development of the math talk within our classroom. We are going to revisit this in October to score our successes and challenges!
We watched a video today called ‘The Backwards Brain’, with a powerful message about how hard it is to unlearn something. Destin Sandlin, main guy in the video, demonstrated how everyone goes through life with bias even when we don’t realize it. This video related well to our challenge and struggle with incorporating and changing how Math Talk looks in our classrooms. Many teachers in the TLLP have been teaching for 8, 12, or 16 years! They’ve spent years learning how to teach math – unlearning a teaching style to make room for changes and new pedagogy is challenging. However, like in the video – if you persevere, one day – it will just click!

Allison Plumsteel
Today we had a lot of great discussion today in our May TLLP meeting. We had a great discussion about Math Talk and we were given time to reflect on how that is going in our own classrooms. I’ve discovered that I still need to do more work in giving my students wait time. We were shown a video called “Backwards Bike” and it really got me thinking about how difficult it can be to unlearn something, especially as an adult. Employing more wait time involves changing a habit that I have been doing for many of my teaching years. I can expect there will be failure while trying to change my habits but perseverance is the key to changing any behaviour.We also had some discussion on learning partnerships and how important it is to establish a community within the classroom from the get go in September. I do this in my classroom by having the students meet in tripods every morning to say hello, share, and to make sure that everyone is ready for the day. Establishing positive relationships allows for students to feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback to each other, which will help foster greater learning.My goal is to continue to work on allowing more wait time, as well as encouraging students to revoice the thinking of others.

Super 2’s
What is my new learning today?
Being a new member to this wonderful small group I was overwhelmed with such amazing conversations and topics that deal with everyday teaching. One of the main things that I learned today was that there is a community around you, we just need to put ourselves out there, be confident and know we are in this together.Today’s highlights of the things I didn’t know and now I do:
– there is a lot of grey area in our profession
– tons of technology tips to do with all iPads (teacher and students)
– the amazing tripodWhat are my wonderings and challenges?
One of the biggest challenges I face is not being the expert. With that being said, I struggle with not knowing something fully before handing it to the students and saying “ask me anything” but instead turning it over to the students so they are able to be the experts and grow and learn together.What are my next steps and commitments?
One of my next steps that may not happen until the new school year is the amazing idea about tripods. I cannot wait to encore orate such a solid, community building feature to my classes in the future.

Hilary Reinecker
I have to admit, at this time of the year I am feeling overwhelmed by other things so it was good to be able to get together and refocus today. Many great discussions about privacy and liability issues with advancing technology, math talk and collaboration. We spoke a lot about the importance of building a safe classroom community where students feel free to take risks and explain their thinking and are able to accept feedback as constructive help rather than criticism. It is also the time of year when I start thinking about changes I want to make in my program for next year and I have been inspired by many great ideas today. I know I need to talk less and have the kids share more on their blogs (even if it isn’t perfect). I am so excited that we have been extended until December so I can continue learning.

Nancy Bicknell
There were many interesting and thoughtful conversations that pushed my thinking and caused me to reflect. First, my thoughts centred around the notion that we are currently in a time of change-that technology is changing and evolving so quickly that our response at embracing it doesn’t always see all the ramifications (i.e. legalities) of it’s inclusion. What is the lesson to be learned from that? Perhaps it is once again about our students-perhaps the greatest skills that we can assist them in developing are the ones that allow them to be adaptive and flexible. I think if we navigate ourselves always with the student at the centre, how can we fail.

Second, my thoughts centred around the article by Fullan, “A Rich Seam”, Chapter 2. In this article, it states that the role of the teacher is to ” help students master the process of learning” and to support students in “monitoring how they are doing in achieving goals.” Hattie’s notion about the teacher becoming the learner and the learner becoming the teacher rings true once again.

Kim Littleton
Today was another informative day at our blogging TLLP! One of my big learnings today focused on how we store images and videos of our students. For our protection, it is important to upload student photos and videos to our students’ sites or shared folders at school, and not keep them on our personal devices or devices we take home. This is to ensure student privacy. My next steps are to teach my students how to comment on each others’ blogs as effective feedback, and use their blog sites as written consolidation pieces of their learning before and after concepts have been taught. I also learned about setting up spirit buddies or tripods with my students to promote positive relationships in my room. It was interesting to see the video about the man learning to ride the backward bicycle and reinforced the idea of teaching our students to develop growth mind sets. As always, I enjoyed all of the new learning and sharing that took place with my fellow bloggers!

TLLP Reflections: Math Talk Moves

Our TLLP team is continuing to explore new learning partnerships with our students in math, focused on student inquiry, and the meaningful application of assessment for, as and of learning. Our project aims to improve student learning in K-6 Numeracy, while at the same time leveraging the power of digital tools like the use of iPads and blogging to improve student outcomes in the areas of 6C’s (creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, citizenship, character, and problem solving). The focus of our last meeting (and future meetings) is improving Talk Moves in math, as well as in other subject areas. Teachers were asked to record themselves during a minds-on and/or a consolidation meeting. Throughout the day teachers in our group listened to and reflected on their Talk Moves to identify their strengths and next steps.

Here is the Slide Deck from the day (notes included):

Here are the Math Talk Moves Anchor Charts we created (feel free to make a copy, modify, and use these posters in your own classroom!)

These are some reflections from the group . . .

Jenna Lange

After listening to a recording of myself during a minds-on math lesson, I have recognized that despite my efforts, I need to continue to practice using various math talk moves. I need to continue to recognize the value there is on taking a step back and allowing the students to lead the discussion in a respectful manner. I need to figure out how to continue to engage students despite the use of accountability (e.g. cards) and wonder if allowing them an opportunity to speak with a partner before giving a response will help promote their confidence in sharing their thinking.

Going forward into my classroom, I am going to work on  student restatements, wait time and student generated discussions and questions to generate greater student accountability and deeper understanding of math content. I need to recognize that it is okay for me not to interrupt the uncomfortable silence and allow for this wait time. Finally, I realize the importance of remaining neutral when students give responses in order to avoid creating leading responses as opposed to student generated.

Hilary Reinecker

I was not very familiar with the concept of math talk prior to our meeting today and I feel like I came away with, not only useful information to implement in my teaching, but also a realization of some things I do when teaching that I need to adjust (i.e. I do too much of the talking).  My initial next steps are going to be to talk less and encourage more talking between both the students and I and the students and each other. I am also going to work on providing more processing time after a question has been asked AND after an answer has been given. In our discussions (class and smaller group) I am also going to work to have students restate and revoice to encourage repetition of ideas and our understanding of each other.

Another day with so much great information!!

Nicole King

I really enjoy teaching math. It makes sense to me as there is logic and clear pathways to learning. Spending time reflecting on my teaching practice and how I use math talk in my classroom has been worthwhile. It allows the time to reflect on what I am doing well, and next steps to what I need to attempt to provide an opportunity for richer conversations between my students. This is not a new concept, but will be something I really need to focus on again with my students as for whatever reason, I slip back into old (and perhaps, less effective teaching habits).

Some reminders I took away from today to embed into my next math lessons:

~ Teacher needs to talk less and stop ‘saving’ students by answering for them as whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning

~ Focus on star shaped discussions (teacher then student, student, student) vs teacher/student/teacher/another student

~ Wait time is required not only after a teacher’s question, but also after student questions and student statements

~ Teacher needs to remain neutral in responses and allow repetition of ideas rather than moving on and accepting the first right answer

~ Asking deeper questions using the Q-chart (also allowing students to ask deeper questions)

~ Co-create anchor charts starting to introduce the math talk language

Lots of reminders, refreshers that hopefully will show deeper understanding for my students. Slow down doesn’t mean more time, more questions, but being more efficient in the time we do have to process and apply with deeper understanding.

Here we go…

Charlene Stein

New Learning:
-even if a student gives a correct answer, ask further questions to clarify understanding.  The discussion isn’t finished with a correct answer
-we need to build our students’ capacity to communicate
-the teacher’s role is to re-voice and bring clarity
-“the person doing the talking is doing the learning – never say anything that a child can say”

-how much wait time to I allow during discussions?
-am I asking questions that promote deeper thinking?
-do all of my students feel that their input is valued?  Have I created a safe environment in my class?
-If I allow more opportunities to turn and talk, will I get more student engagement?

Next Steps:
-remember to allow wait time after asking a question before turn and talk
-during consolidation, ask the class to articulate strategies they notice in student work, rather than asking the students having completed the work to share
-try using the popcicle stick strategy for student participation

Anne McBride

The big idea of ‘What is Math Talk’ – is a concept that even though already exposed to in the past, we were all able to learn so much more about!

What is my new learning?

We explored a chart of effective questions to ask students during math talk. The questions could be placed on a spectrum from simpler questions to rich & deeper questions that spark critical thinking and encourage increased communication. Moving towards deeper questions takes student answers from being one to three words long to more in depth full sentences. To prepare for our gathering today we recorded ourselves teaching a math lesson to review and analyze today (we recorded a minds on or a consolidation portion of our lesson) – what an eye opening and worth while task! My next step will be to take my questioning away from the simpler: what is? Where is? who is? and move towards: when will? how might? why would?

Another next step on improving my classroom math talk will be to encourage the star formation in our classroom discussions: teacher – student – student- student – student…as opposed to the traditional back and fourth: teacher – student – teacher – student. Moving towards deeper and rich questions will help foster increased student communication to make this possible. Along with this I have learned about the importance of giving students more wait time! As teachers we often jump in when there is silence to ‘save’ our students. I want to move towards employing longer wait times (an important aspect of math talk) to…not interrupt student thinking, to slow down and give students more time to contribute.

Kim Littleton

Wow, what a great day of learning!  I consolidated my thinking/learning about math talk in the classroom today.  Susan G.M. provided us with many resources to further our thinking around math talk.  I learned from listening to a video by Lucy West, that students have 2 responsibilities in the classroom: to speak and be heard and to listen and expect to be listened to.  I also learned that by slowing down consolidation discussions and allowing students  to hear/restate/listen to concepts numerous times, it allows for deeper understanding of math concepts.  Today our group collaborated to create a series of posters to help us implement math talk into our classrooms effectively, and I am looking forward to using the two strategies of Restating (students share their learning in their own words), and asking, “Who is ready to restate?”, in my classroom as my next step.  I’m wondering if allowing this extra time for students to listen to key ideas and concepts, will enable them to retain their math learning with less time needed for review in the future.  Time will tell!

Sherrie Hearn-Smith

Today, we focussed on math talk. It was a timely reminder of comparing the percentage of time that I spend talking during math class compared to the amount of time that the students spend talking. My new learning would be to step back and try to generate more student talk and questions. Whoever is doing the talking, does the learning. Also, that it is good for students to revoice the main ideas a number of times so that the last few students can catch on. I need to include more wait time after students give answers as well as after questions. This will stop their thinking from being interrupted. For next steps, I will be attempting to implement those ideas in my math class.

Allison Plumsteel

Math Talk!! We spent the day today learning about Math Talk and how it can have a positive effect on student achievement. It first starts with the student’s responsibilities to speak up and to listen and expect to be listened to. This begins with creating a culture and expectations about what active listening looks like and how to do it. There are several key Math Talk Moves and we created anchor charts for each move. This will be a helpful resource to keep my own goals of increasing math talk in my classroom, on track.

Next Steps: I will help my students develop an understanding and practise active listening skills. I will also begin to try using the Math Talk Moves in my own daily practises. Lastly, I will have my students use “I can/I know” statements more often to document their learning and understanding.

Kerri-Lynn Case Schepers

New Learning:

-we were introduced to ‘Talk Moves’ strategies to use in the Math Classroom (adapted from Classroom Discussions:  Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Chapin et al, 2009)

-discussed the importance of conversations in the math classroom and how it allows students to ‘negotiate meaning together‘ (ideas, opinions, strategies, solutions), which ultimately increases their depth of understanding

-we created and printed off Math Talk Moves anchor charts for our Math classroom using Google Slides

-used Popplet and Padlet to share our background knowledge and new learning throughout the day

Next Steps:

-I need to work on having my students become more accustomed to explaining why they say what they say

-I also need to give my students more time to turn and talk with other classmates in order to give them an opportunity to clarify their thinking in a low-risk setting


-Will using Talk Moves in my math classroom not only improve my students understanding, but their retention of math concepts as well?