Friday, 19 August 2016

Co-Constructing a Positive Maths Learning Environment

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to start my year...

I knew I wanted my students to:

  • think - Thinker
  • make mistakes - Courageous
  • develop a growth mindset - Knowledgable 
  • collaborate - Communicator
  • question - Inquirer
  • share - Communicator
  • create - Inquirer
  • have a toolbox of strategies - Knowledgeable 
  • develop skills - Knowledgeable 
  • learn together - CaringOpen-Minded, Principled
  • reflect - Reflective
But most importantly I want my students to enjoy maths, be Balanced.

When planning this out the learner profile fitted naturally with the climate I wanted to create this year.

So, where to start?

I wanted to give my students more voice in how we build a positive learning environment. I also wanted know the answers to these questions...

1. How do my students feel about maths? Do they think they are good or bad at maths?
2. What do my students already know in terms of skills and strategies?
3. What do my students think maths is? Where do we use it?

Now, question 2 will be answered after I have completed Gloss diagnostic interviews, set skills assessments and observed students maths journals. 

For questions 1 and 3, I created a simple timeline to gauge how they felt about maths. If you look really closely you will see that my students placed yellow dots about their feelings towards maths.
I then asked them to explain why they chose to put the sticker where they did.

Responses ranged from

"It's fun"
"It makes you learn"
"You need it for life"
"I enjoy maths because we can learn new things every time"
"It makes you smart"

"It don't like it because it is boring"
"I don't like it because I like words"

I then asked my students "Why do we do maths?" or "Why do we learn maths?"

I wanted to see their thinking behind why they thought maths was important or not important.

Responses included:

"So we can buy things"
"We can count more easily"
"We do maths to make our lives easier"

I then wanted to brainstorm with my students what a maths lesson should be like.
I used a look like, sound like and feel like chart to help generate ideas.

Using these ideas we then made connections between them and the learner profile attributes from our Essential Agreement wall. For example, we added can make mistakes to courageous and talking about maths to communicator

I used to have a separate Maths Essential Agreement, but the attributes of the learner profile cover all aspects of learning. Students should be demonstrating the same attributes across all disciplines. Last year I found that students found it difficult and confusing having two different agreements. Having one essential agreement simplifies this for them.

Now, I just need to prepare lessons that allow students to exhibit them!

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