Overall student progress in mathematics is stagnant, in particular mathematical thinking and communication are areas of weakness. We explored technology applications and teaching resources to improve student achievement and engagement. Our learning objective was to provide Grade 5 and 6 students with the tools they need to approach mathematics with a positive attitude. We examined resources such as Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets and John A. Van de Walle’s Elementary and Middle School Mathematics to develop mindset surveys, reflection questions and journal entries. Our goal was to empower students with tools to develop an open and positive approach to mathematical learning and an “I can” attitude.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
Professional Learning Goals
- Developed a classroom community based on growth mindset principles
- Identified effective applications for classroom use
- Met with program specialists to introduce students to coding and robotics
- Created growth mindset surveys
- Incorporated technology in daily lesson plans
- Gathered and evaluated resources
Activities and Resources
- We determined that getting to know our students was key to reaching our goals for our project so we implemented Jo Boaler’s “Week of Inspirational Math.” The next step was for students to complete a survey so we could determine their mathematical mindset and plan our next steps.
- At our first TLC meeting, we assessed the students’ attitude towards learning math from their survey answers. From this data, we set goals for our classroom community and planned activities that would enable students to develop a growth mindset.
- At subsequent meetings, we determined which resources were most effective and assessed how students’ attitudes were developing through a post-survey
- We connected with our school Curriculum Consultant and Math Facilitator to discuss appropriate resources to meet our goals
- We reached out to school board IT consultants and McMaster University IT students. They came to our school and provided a day of coding, allowing our students to make connections between math and technology (i.e., Coding/Geometry).
- We realized a need to narrow our focus and worked with school consultants to make our goals attainable
- We had planned on attending the OAME conference, however registration was full by the time we received approval/funding for the project
- Time and financial constraints didn’t allow us to observe classroom teachers outside our school
Enhancing Student Learning and Development
- Increased math confidence and student participation. Students can differentiate between a growth and fixed mindset and identify how their mindset can influence achievement in math and other areas.
- Students are able to more effectively identify their learning needs and successes
- Students independently use technology to help them communicate their math ideas and to clarify math concepts
We regularly engage in discussions regarding the classroom environment and teaching mathematics with colleagues and consultants. These discussions have been opportunities to share our successes and the resources we found useful throughout the project. The information we gathered and created has been saved in a Google folder that we can readily share with colleagues. We foresee our sharing as ongoing as we engage in conversations with other junior teachers about growth mindset and mathematics during Professional Development Days, in services or in conversations with colleagues.
Overall, we feel the project was successful in improving student attitudes and achievement through our professional growth. The greatest component of this project is that it gave us time to reflect on our learning needs as educators. We often find that the everyday demands of the classroom and the diverse learning communities require that we jump from one activity to the next, skipping over the important element of reflection. Participating in this project allowed us to get to know our students mathematical mindset and to select and create appropriate activities to engage them in mathematics. We were also able to connect with members of our professional community during our release time. Their suggestions directed us to valuable resources and assisted in our planning. In our classrooms, we observed students persevering on difficult math tasks and using growth mindset phrases more frequently. Student journal reflections demonstrated their understanding that mistakes are valuable learning experiences and crucial for growth and success. We appreciated the opportunity to work together to grow as educators and meet the needs of our students. We are excited to continue this journey.
Jo Boaler, “Week of Inspirational Math”
Khan Academy, “Growth Mindset Lesson Plan”
Khan Academy, “Learnstormers”
Elementary and Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally, Fifth Edition by John A. Van de Walle
Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler