Making Math Matter: Moderation and Making Partners

Division(s): Primary, Intermediate, Junior
Level(s): Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8

Making Math Matter by deepening strengthening the school community's conceptual understanding of the mathematics their children and students are engaged in and access through the Ontario curriculum.

After administering formal assessments (PRIME) to identify student learning needs, teachers will collaborate to formulate very specific interventions based on research-backed best practices (Leaps and Bounds, Cathy Fosnot, Jo Boaler). Teachers will meet to co-plan how to best implement these instructional strategies in their practice and work to integrate these into the lessons specifically designed to target student need. After designing tasks and lessons, teachers will come together to moderate student work using a PLC-type structure. In addition to designing lessons and implementing strategies, teachers will try to engage parents to specifically target their child’s learning needs by providing parents with engaging materials (games, manipulatives, etc.) to target the individual needs of their children. At the conclusion of the program, we will re-administer PRIME to track growth and provide an overall progress monitor.

Team Members

  • Samantha Spitse

    Greater Essex County District School Board

  • Carmela Calvaruso

    Greater Essex County District School Board

  • Stephanie Molenda

    Greater Essex County District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • Increased professional content knowledge in mathematics (learning guided by a mathematics instructional coach)
  • Improved student achievement through data-driven instruction
  • Developed a breadth of instructional strategies that translate across disciplines
  • Met the goals of our board and School Improvement Plans
  • Developed leadership qualities
  • Familiarized and provided team with best practice resources and time to engage in a meaningful way with those resources


Activities and Resources

Using the structure of mathematics moderation, teachers developed an instructional continuum to pinpoint the areas of strength and need for their students. Having a continuum allowed us to see the trajectory of learning that a student goes through when developing a conceptual understanding of mathematics.

The data allowed us more precision in our own needed professional learning.

Unexpected Challenges

It was very difficult to schedule professional learning due to conflicts with the system calendar and the availability of occasional teachers.

Mathematically programming for ESL classroom proved to be challenging in those classrooms as rather than focus on content learning of teachers, we focused on altering the programming so to allow for more differentiation. Teachers in the ESL classrooms worked to adopt a guided math program which provided their students not only differentiated programming, but choice and voice in what they learned.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Students reported that they were more engaged in mathematics and their attitudes as well as perseverance showed marked improvement. As measure by the Pre- and Post-PRIME Assessment, students showed significant improvement in concept attainment, especially in the areas of focus (measurement and fractions).

As well, because so many resources were purchased aimed at improving positive disposition and a growth mindset, there will be more tangible resources available to teachers and students in the following years.


Through the use of school-based learning days, we were able to include other teachers in our project throughout the year.

We also shared our PRIME results at an area Professional Development Opportunities and submitted them to be used in a presentation to the trustees.


Project Evaluation

Our project was definitely a success and, while it didn’t go exactly as planned, we dramatically increased our own content knowledge in mathematics and improved our pedagogy. Student data indicates tremendous growth in the areas that we concentrated on (fractions and measurement).

In retrospect, we needed to have more time spent collaborating with one another and more release time. While the books and resources we purchased were welcome additions to math programming, we feel money would be better spent on release time.

Resources Used

Jo Boaler – Youcubed Mathematics

Minilessons by Cathy Fosnot

“In contrast to investigations, which constitute the heart of the math workshop, the minilesson is more guided and more explicit, designed to be used at the start of math workshop and to last for 10 to 15 minutes. Each day, no matter what other materials you are using, you might choose a minilesson from this resource to provide your students with experiences to develop efficient computation. You can also use them with small groups of students as you differentiate instruction.”

Thinkfun and similar games

“At ThinkFun, we’re passionate about our effort to make learning fun. It drives everything we do – and every game, brainteaser and puzzle we create. We love being the spark that ignites young minds and gives children an early learning advantage.”

Teaching Math with Meaning by Cathy Marks Krpan