Innovative Teaching to Promote Deeper Learning in Math - Waterloo Catholic DSB, Part 1

In 2017, the Technology Learning Fund – Mathematics (TLF-M) at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) bridged math curriculum learning and 21st century competencies spanning the junior division. Mathematics content knowledge focused on the curricular big idea of location and movement with a heightened focus on transformational geometry, through the use of math-tech enabled resources.

The goal of the cross-school network was to construct understanding of the curriculum expectations/big ideas and continuum of learning from grade 4 to grade 6, through job-embedded co-learning and reflections on both student and teacher learning.  The project aimed to build capacity of effective teaching and learning of transformational geometry through classroom embedded collaborative inquiry that incorporated different school contexts, 21st century competencies and technology.

Six elementary schools participated in the TLF-M network, with four junior teachers representing grades 4, 5 & 6, including combined grades and cross-divisional grades such as 3/4 and 6/7. 457 students participated in the project. There was a total of 23 educators that completed the professional development.

Through 2 full days of New Pedgogies for Deeper Learning (NPDL) training and 6 full days of job-embedded networked co-learning, teams of educators conducted in-class investigations of student work and lessons in classrooms, using a collaborative inquiry process (i.e. plan, act, observe, reflect). This process aimed to have participants identify and build knowledge about deeper learning. The WCDSB action plan for the Ministry's Technology Learning Fund included the purchase of licenses for 6 schools to receive training on the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning (NPDL) framework. In February 2017, educators participated in two full day facilitated sessions with a NPDL consultant and participated in 6 more sessions from February to May of 2017.

NPDL is a global partnership, created by Michael Fullan, which includes 1000 schools in 10 countries (14 school boards in Ontario). Deep learning is mobilized by four elements that combine to form the new pedagogies; learning partnerships, learning environment, pedagogical practices and leveraging digital. The Deep Learning Competencies, (collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship, character) are the skill sets each and every student needs to achieve and excel in, in order to flourish in today’s complex world.

Below is the project plan which documents the collaborative inquiry and professional learning cycle for one of the schools that participated in the project.