Education Matters/Spring 2015
The Grade 6 math class at Bruce Trail Public School in Milton has taken mathematics instruction to new levels this year through the use of video and peer to peer collaboration.
While incorporating the instruction of traditional math concepts, the class has introduced video programs such as WeVideo on Chromebooks and unique math collaboration between younger and older students to help each other better understand and grasp mathematics learning. The goal is to deliver engaging math instruction and improve confidence among students.
The junior class begins with an open ended question that students solve and explain their thinking by making a video. Then they meet with the younger grade students and guide them through a problem related to their math work. Junior mentors not only get an opportunity to review the technical aspects of creating a video, but they are also able to solidify the key aspects to clearly communicating the solution to a problem.
Teacher Linda Dela Paz explained the new approach was created to help improve math results. The project allows teachers to consider how to best deliver engaging and differentiated math instruction for junior students.
“Our focus begins with problem solving and includes small group discussions,” she said. “We use technology like Chromebooks and engaging math activities to create a sense of belonging for students, which will improve student attitudes toward their math learning.”
Teacher Andrew Skinner, who teaches the technology needed to participate in the math approach, said it's unique because it was developed with the input of students.
“This math class is unique because it is specifically developed from student input. Also, the program is developed and delivered in collaboration with many staff including classroom teachers, technology support and ESL programming,” he said. “Often technology in math is used for repetitive practice through drills. In our project, we’re using technology as a tool to create, share, collaborate and critique. We’re breaking down the walls of the classroom to take our math learning to a larger audience by using online tools like Padlet and Edmodo. This is something we know can produce great results in literacy and we’re taking those successes to the math curriculum.”
The math approach is used for many different math curriculum connections, said teacher Jan Embree-Dickson.
“A teacher could take this concept and merge it into Number Sense throughout the year or integrate it into other math strands,” she said.
The math approach can be successful because students are particularly drawn to the use of technology and working with others, Dela Paz said. She noted she thinks students connecting within cross grades will help close the gap between Grade 3 and 6 math results.
“This project naturally fosters collaboration,” she said. “The work done with other classroom peers makes math discussions more connected to their experiences and creates a natural pathway for critical thinking, reflection and improved performance.”
Students appreciate the unique math approach.
“Using video to show your thinking is easier and people will understand you when you are showing them visually,” said Ahmad, in Grade 6.
Added fellow student Liv: “You really don’t realize your mistakes sometimes on paper, but when you record it and play it back you realize your mistakes more because you hear yourself trying to explain it.”
“We would like parents to know this class format provides meaningful math learning opportunities, technology that supports differentiated instruction, and time for teachers to connect with smaller groups of students for guided instruction,” said Jan Embree Dickson.