Our Grade 6 team wanted to explore the use of technology in a mathematics classroom. We invested in one Elmo projector for the team last year and we wanted to expand our use of this type of technology to support student learning. One recommendation that came out of our district review was the need for increased technology to be present/used in all classes. We currently share the use of iMacs that were provided through the Grade 6 provincial math initiative a few years ago, and we wanted to add a practical tool to share student work and mathematical representations (via manipulatives/tools) when working on hands-on learning tasks. We also wanted to create common benchmark tasks to build more consistency between classes.
Professional Learning Goals
- learn about/share best practices for problem-solving in mathematics (what does our math program consist of, what resources are we all using, etc.)
- create benchmark tasks to build consistency in math programming between classes (and between English/French panels)
- explore the further use of document cameras in class (modelling and sharing) and learn about all the features/uses for documentation with the Elmo (e.g., tracking student work, portfolios, evidence through images, etc.)
- collaborate to share best practices and expand use of technology in various ways
Activities and Resources
- purchase Elmo (document cameras and other technology)
- receive teacher-directed training on various math topics
- generate a list of best practices/strategies used in class for mathematics (e.g., use as a high-yield math strategy, use within a three-part lesson, math journals, word walls, sharing manipulative models, etc.)
- meet regularly to collaborate on best practices, tracking of student work and creating common tasks (common benchmarks)
- meet regularly to discuss student progress
There have been more challenges than we ever thought possible. It took over a month to get an answer from TDSB about purchasing technology for the school and what vendors we needed to use. We also had difficulty with TDSB about how the money was going to be accounted for in school accounts without it being an audit problem (we also wanted to meet with both English and French panel teachers together, but that was not possible due to a lack of supply teachers at any given time).
We also had a very difficult time getting supply teachers early on, so we decided to change our sessions to be mostly done during in-school release time and not through supply teachers. Instead, the grant money was spent initially on technology, and then later on additional release time.
We also had issues with all the technology and carts arriving not assembled, so finding time to put it all together was difficult, and the principal did not want it all distributed until all the components had arrived. Our principal also had concerns about distributing different pieces of the technology without all the components being together and properly labelled (this required all components to arrive before we could assemble them). We have also had many discussions about how to house the materials and keep them secure, as all the technology components are not locked to the cart (nor do teachers have locked cupboards to store them at night).
In the end, we progressed more with our math knowledge and collaboration than we did with our technology understanding. We are hoping to continue our journey next year with the technology journey, now that our math knowledge was improved.
Enhancing Student Learning and Development
Our project enhanced student learning within all classes by providing a more consistent program for all Grade 6 students at the school, and will continue to do so in the future. Through collaboration, we have shared best practices to support student development and have implemented common practices (or are prepared to). We also increased student engagement through the use of technology in the classrooms that were piloting the technology (students really enjoyed using the Elmo when sharing work).
Updates on all math learning (through individual teacher PD sessions) shared with staff at grade team meetings/collaborative planning time. Also, benchmarks created as smaller groups were shared and feedback provided. Teachers shared the best practices they were implementing in class and how these strategies were impacting student success/learning (within both English and French panels).
Teachers who were piloting the technology carts (two teachers to start) shared how it was being implemented in their rooms, any challenges they were having and improvements (e.g., use a cart, use the iMacs, dongles needed, etc.)
We would like to share the project with all the teachers in the building (possibly new team members), and hope to do so once meetings resume in the new school year.
Our project was successful in many ways:
- we collaborated much more than we usually do (as a Grade 6 team and between English and French panels)
- we all chose to attend PD sessions on a math topic of our choosing (to meet the needs we currently have as educators and of students in our rooms) and shared the information we took from each session with each other during collaborative learning sessions
- we collaborated on creating a collection of benchmark tasks (including diagnostics and summative tests) to use throughout the year and be able to compare student learning between classes and English/French panels
- we finally got all the carts built, all the technology unpacked and all carts assembled/labelled to use
ONAP (Ontario Numeracy Assessment Package) Grade 6 by Nelson
Math Makes Sense – Grade 6 by Pearson
Teacher resource guide
EQAO sample questions (Grade 6 tests)
Ministry of Education
Leap Frog website – sample questions
These resources will open in your browser in a new tab, or be downloaded to your computer.
Samples of student work displayed and used as an example for all teachers to implement in classes (clear math focus/math wall).