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February 06
February Principal Message

"The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King.

We are at the mid-point in our school year and the beauty of the Belfast learning community continues to reveal itself. Preparations for the spring production are well underway, with many parents coming forward to join the production team to help with set construction and prop design. The show is evolving as students contribute ideas and collaborate to represent the essence of our place.

 

The first report card went home to families January 30, 2020. The document is a snapshot of your child’s learning at this point in the year and a piece of an ongoing conversation with your child’s teacher about your child’s strengths and next steps. Administration will be hosting a “Coffee and Chat” session February 11, 2020 at 8:30 am to answer any questions you may have about the report card.

 

Our Open House was well-attended by families interested in our Learning Through the Arts approach to curriculum.  Registration is ongoing.  If you have friends and neighbours that have not yet registered their child for next year, please encourage them to come in as soon as possible.  Early registrations help schools plan for next year.

 

As a School Administration, we seek feedback regularly from students, staff and parents to inform our work.  This month Grade 4 parents have the opportunity to complete the Accountability Pillar Survey. All surveys are anonymous. Results from the survey are offered back to schools in the spring to inform our School Development Planning.  Thank you to all parents that have completed the survey already; we want to hear from as many parents as possible.  We will open the Learning Commons February 18 from 8-9 am for any parents that would like to use our computers to complete the survey.

 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Education Matters for funding our school field trip to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for the performance of “The Hockey Sweater” and “Appalachian Spring.” It was a treat to be together as a whole school and share in a common experience. There were many priceless expressions on students’ faces throughout the performance. 

 

On a regular basis, we look for opportunities to continue the conversation with students about care for self, each other and our place.  This topic would be a great conversation starter at home.  Ask your child to add to this list of examples.

 

Care for yourself

Have the courage to speak up when you have a worry.

Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake.

Put forth your best effort in all you do. 

Ask for help when you need it.

 

Caring for others

Listen closely.

Respect others’ opinions and ideas.

Use kind words.

Consider your impact on others.

 

Care for place

Contribute to keeping the environment clean by removing wet boots at the door, picking up own garbage and returning borrowed items to their home.

Show care for personal belongings.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jacqueline Belcher

Principal, Belfast School

 

 

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September 01
Welcome Back

On behalf of the staff, we would like to welcome all students and families to Belfast School for the 2019/20 year. As the new principal, I have received such a warm welcome from the community; it is clear that my new home is a vibrant, caring place where teachers strive to create the best opportunities to engage students in learning. This year students will be encouraged to explore their creativity, challenge themselves in new ways, collaborate to gain insights from others and build relationships with peers and teachers.

 

I would like to invite parents and students to communicate with your child’s teacher, the assistant principal and/or myself as needed throughout the school year as we value student and parent voice.  Relationships and communication are foundational to the success of any school and I look forward to getting to know everyone in the Belfast School Learning Community.

 

As an educator and a parent, I live the wild pace that a new school year brings for families. Parents return to the routines of making lunches, checking backpacks, home reading, after-school activities and regular bedtimes.  This year I am inviting all of us to take up the challenge of slowing down a few moments each day with our little people to enter into conversation and share the stories of the day. For me this means putting my work or device down and focusing on being present. These stories are fleeting and precious and need to be heard.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault

Looking forward to a wonderful #Belfasty year ahead!

 

Jacqueline Belcher

Principal​

May 24
A New Principal for Belfast

Dear Families and Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that I have made the difficult, yet exciting decision to accept the principalship at Edgemont School for the 2019-2020 school year. This will result in a principal change for Belfast School. I would like to thank you, the parent community, for your support during my time at Belfast. Your commitment to student learning and caring for our community greatly contributes to the special environment that Belfast is known to be.

It has been an honour to lead the learning at Belfast. I am proud of the Growth Mindset focus our school continues to grow and the learning that both students and staff have done over the past several years. I am proud to say that I know every student and I am grateful for being a part of their learning journey. Serving as the principal at Belfast has been one of the most rewarding times in my career. Our community is truly special and I am blessed to have been able to start my years as a principal with this community.

It has been my absolute privilege to work with and for the staff at Belfast School. Each of our Belfast staff is so passionate and committed to learning for every student! I know that the students at Belfast will continue to be cared for and supported by this amazing staff. The search for my replacement will begin immediately, and I anticipate the new principal will be announced before the summer holiday. I will remain the principal of Belfast School until the end of June and will work closely with the incoming principal to ensure a seamless transition.

Thank you Belfast for inspiring my learning and my heart.

Once Belfasty always Belfasty!

Sincerely,

Lori Holford

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April 29
Rich Math Tasks

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What a month it has been at Belfast! Students have celebrated their learning through performances and student led conferences. We have raised money for rescued animals at our community dance benefitting AARCS and cleaned up our community during our Belfasty Earth Day. We are proud of the learning that students do in classrooms and the tasks teachers design to extend learning outwards to our world!  I encourage family and friends to take a look at the news stories on this website that highlight many of the wonderful learning opportunities that are ongoing at Belfast School.

In this month’s blog post I will talk about one of the practices that we are exploring to increase student learning in math.

Low Floor High Ceiling Tasks

One of the main ways we challenge students to develop their fluency in math is through something called Low Floor High Ceiling math tasks. These tasks involve a true problem for students to solve. True problems are problems that students do not already know how to solve.These tasks challenge students to use all that they already know and apply their thinking in a new contexts. There has been much debate in the media about discovery math, and I want to assure families that LFHC tasks are not "discovery math". Tasks are designed so that students build on what they already know regardless of how basic or advanced their starting point is. For example students in kindergarten explored a task called “Shoes Under the Table”. In this task several students were to sit around a table with their feet hidden from view. The task was to try to determine how many feet were under the table without looking.

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Students used pictures, counting aloud and numbers to come up with an answer to the problem. Some of the skills their teacher was able to discover while students attempted the problem included which students could:

  • represent shoes in pictures,

  • explain their thinking,

  • count past 5, 10 and beyond,

  • count by 2’s,

  • use counting by 2’s as a strategy to answer the question,

  • were ready to do more

The task itself provided opportunities for the teacher to easily extend the challenges in ways that meaningfully linked to the original question (eg. How many toes are under the table?). With everyone engaged in a “just right task” the teacher was able to support students individual needs and offer in the moment instruction to those that needed it.  

Talking to the teacher afterwards she revealed that she was initially hesitant to give the students a task that there was not identified strategy to use, but was also amazed with the students' perseverence with the task. What she discovered about each student was far more informative than a worksheet where students either provided the correct response or not. What’s more, over time students developed a “can do” mindset about math challenges. Evidence of this showed up when we did our baseline assessments at the beginning of grade 1. These kindergarten students actually did better in the word problem questions on their September assessment than they did on the calculations! Problem solving is typically a much more difficult task for students, but because of their past exposure to LFHC tasks nearly every student was able to make meaning from the story problems and use what they already knew to come up with a strategy to solve them.

It’s not about leaving kids to their own devices. Part of the rationale for engaging students in challenges that they haven’t already learned to solve is to create a need for the learning that comes next. For example, students in grade 1 and 2 have tried several tasks that require them to organize their thinking. One task “Cats, Dogs, Parrots and Ferrets” posed the question, if there are 100 animal legs in the barn, how many cats, dogs, parrots and ferrets might there be.  

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While students worked through the problem several used pictures to represent their thinking, others used numbers and words. It became apparent to students that trial and error led to needing to count representations again and again. This was a long and labour intensive way to come to a solution. Once students had created a need to organize their thinking teachers were able to introduce the idea of grouping in 10’s or using a table to organize thinking.

There are many other examples from the last 2 years at  Belfast School that show that students are becoming more engaged in math! The benefit of Low Floor High Ceiling tasks is truly what we are able to discover about their thinking! I hope to highlight more of these in the weeks and months to come.

Happy spring everyone!

Lori Holford

Proud Principal

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March 17
Alberta's New K-4 Curriclum

The year was 1985. Nokia released the first mobile phone weighing in at 11 pounds, the MacIntosh computer was touted as a mastery of technological design (with 128K of memory), and number 99 led the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup. It was also the year that the current fine arts curriculum was written.

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I realize we need to be realistic and understand that education is tied to provincial politics. However, there is no mistaking that we need new curricula. Whichever government stamps their name on the new Alberta Program of Study, changes will be made that will reflect the changing realities of a global and digital society.

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The newest draft  K-4 curriculum came out in December. It has been characterized as Concept Based. Some folks are understandably concerned or confused about what this means. At the heart of concept based curriculum is connected and purposeful learning. When teachers design learning that is concept based, they identify the Big Ideas that are most important for students to learn. All learning is then connected to these Big Ideas.


For example, a topic grade 4's currently study is Waste in our World. Arguably the Big Idea we want students to come away with is  “personal changes I make can have a big impact on our world”. When every aspect of students' learning links back to this Big Idea, students are able to connect their learning meaningfully to the work and learning endures. Similarly in grade 1 a Big Idea in math is equivalence. When students’ math learning links back to understanding that the equals (=) sign doesn't acutally mean “the answer is” but rather that both sides of an equation are different expressions of the same quantity, students develop stronger conceptual understanding that then sparks stronger and more active reasoning.


You can think of conceptual learning as a 3 dimensional. The first 2 dimensions are the content knowledge (facts we know) and processes (things we can do). The conceptual dimension anchors both content and processes to why the learning is important. The conceptual dimension also connects new learning to what is already known making the neural pathways stronger - the learning lasts longer.

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Generally, I’m really excited by the direction curriculum writers have taken. Though I haven’t committed to memory every detail of  the new curriculum documents, I do have some initial impressions of content, intentions and organization. Here are some things I like about the new curriculum:

  • I like that all learning is anchored to important concepts and that learning is interconnected

  • Low, middle and high level thinking is honoured - for example in math there is a focus on basic fact memorization required as well as the development of computational strategies and creative mathematical reasoning

  • Guiding questions are used to help us frame learning with and for students so that the can make connection to the Big Ideas

  • There are intentional links to literacy and numeracy across ALL curricula

  • Teachers have more flexibility to use their own unique contexts to teach the Big Ideas, rather than seemingly arbitrary topics

  • The Arts curriculum is much updated and honours the arts as a vehicle for creative thinking and problem solving (Arts Centred Learning folks know this already!)

  • Every subject is has been developed at the same time, with intention and with the same organization, this is important to teachers interpreting multiple curricula.

  • Developmental Language is evident in the learning outcomes - this honours personalization for students

  • 21st Century Competencies  are identified across all curricula - see diagram

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Much of what is outlined in the new curriculum puts into expected practice what would widely be considered as "Best Practice" already. The draft curriculum formalizes and will require all teachers to do what the best teachers have always done: Link learning to Big Ideas and help students to make rich connections between what they already know and what they are learning.  

For now, at Belfast, we are treading cautiously. We aren't pressured to adopt a new curriculum that may or may not come to fruition based on political outcomes. BUT we are continuing to identify and plan around Big Ideas because we know this is good for kids. I believe that whichever government puts its stamp on future learning directions, deep learning will always require intentional connection to Big Ideas.

If you have questions about the new curriculum and our approach at Belfast please stop by to chat, we’d love to hear from you.

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Lori Holford

Proud Principal









November 09
Grade 1's and 2's present Remembrance Day Assembly

On Thursday November 8 we held our Remembrance Day Assembly and I have to tell you that I am so very proud of the reverence, thoughtfulness and intentional work done by our grade one and two classes. We haven’t before had students in grade 1 and 2 lead the Remembrance day. I’m not sure why, perhaps we assumed that they wouldn’t understand the significance. Judging from the the presentations these young students gave it is clear that they were able to connect with the meaning of Remembrance Day and demonstrate exceptional focus and heart.

Mr. Symington, our fine arts teacher has been working with grade one and two classroom teachers to help students to represent two poems. We all appreciated their lyrical representation of In Flanders Field by John McCrae. A new selection this year was a choral reading accompanied by a dramatic representation of Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade.


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One moment caught me by surprise. Students all clapped a thunderous clap and the chorus of young voices yelled out “Cannon to right of them,” student actors froze, reacted, dropped to the ground. Cannons continued to fire revealing a battlefield of fallen soldiers. So powerful, so meaningful.The audience was absolutely captivated!


For myself, as an educator, the school remembrance Day Assembly is the most meaningful assembly that i attend each year. It is not only a time to remember brave men and women who have placed themselves in harms way, it is also a duty to ensure that we make meaning of their sacrifices and ensure that younger generations will continue to honour this day and value peace.  


Our children may not understand the right to vote or the meaning of democracy, and they may not be able to comprehend the lives of children around the world, many of whom live lives without what we take for granted. Below is an excerpt of my address during the Remembrance Day assembly:


We hear that soldiers have fought and died for our country and for our rights. I wonder sometimes students, if you know what this really means. Adults have rights but did you also know that children have rights.   The United Nations has identified the rights of children in the world. You have these rights no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do, what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability, whether they are rich or poor..There is a long list. I’ve choses some of the most important rights for you to think about.


  • It is your right that all adults should do what is best for you.

  • You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously

  • You have the right to find out things and share what you think with others, by talking, drawing, writing or in any other way unless it harms or offends other people.

  • To choose your own friends

  • To health care,

  • To an education, and to be able to learn at the highest level you can

  • You have a right to proper food, clothing and a safe place to live

  • You have the right to play and to rest.

  • You have the right to protection

  • You have the right to practice your own culture, language and religion - or any you choose when you grow up.


Students, while you are watching or participating in the assembly today I hope you will keep some of these rights in mind and be grateful that you have them,  as you honour our servicemen and women today.


Lest we forget,


Lori Holford

Proud Principal


September 30
Leaves Fall, Math Grows!

The leaves are falling, snow is swirling, a principal friend of mine posted on Twitter that Fall is his favorite week of the year! Calgary weather is nothing if not surprising!  What is not surprising is how quickly our teachers have created community in their classrooms and how beautifully our students are re engaging in their learning.

You may recall that Math was a big focus of our school development plan and teacher professional learning last year. We challenged students in new ways, informed by deeper understandings of how math learning develops. Most importantly there were incredible changes in our overall attitudes and mindsets about Math Learning!  Teacher built conceptual understanding and confidence. Students developed belief systems about math that are breaking down barriers around what it is to be a math learner.

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You may have heard your child repeat Growth Mindset / Math Mindset messages such as “Mistakes grow your brain,” or “There’s no such thing as a math person,” or even “Thinking matters more than how fast I can get the answer.” From kindergarten through grade 6 students regularly tackled real problems so that they could stretch and reveal their thinking while ultimately making meaning of connected and complex math ideas.

Recently our Grade 1-6 students completed grade level math assessments aimed at revealing expected learner outcomes from the previous grade. What was interesting in our youngest students was how readily they tackled problems, sometimes more so than straight calculations. I believe this is a testament the meaning making inherent in the tasks teachers were designing for their students.


We call one of the strategies we use Low Floor High Ceiling tasks (LFHC).

Our focus on LFHC tasks aims directly at our goal to improve mathematical reasoning. It is an opportunity to see what students do when they are presented a challenge that they don’t already have a clear plan to solve. Student responses vary greatly and students are encouraged to work together, communicate their thinking and to share ideas. The teacher’s role is primarily to “get out of the way” and record student process and thinking. It is teachers’ chance to really see what students are able to do and ask questions that have students clarify their thinking. LFHC tasks offer an opportunity to create a shared experience for the instruction that follows and reveal to the teachers what direction their teaching should go next.


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Take a look at what some of our teachers are saying about LFHC tasks in their classrooms:


  • We're challenged by some numbers, but we're not giving up! We'll tackled a task called Visualizing Numbers Made of Dots. It's a step forward from where we've been focusing, moving into multiples, factors, prime and composite numbers and geometric shapes. I'd like to further grow our cooperative learning skills as we look for patterns, make conjectures and act as skeptics. This week the social learning target [in math] will be building our understanding by sharing and cooperating with everyone. (Grade 3/4)
  • I had the kids do a sorting activity with emoji's which was outlined on Youcubed. It was really interesting to see who chose to group what with which. I took pictures while they were working and afterwards I put their pictures up on the smart board so that they could talk about why they chose to sort the emojis the way they did. For some they were really able to identify attributes, for others the learning was around working with a partner and even using scissors. I think as we do more and more of these LFHC task's I will begin to see more evidence of math learning. What I liked the most is that it gave us a really great platform to talk about how there is more than one right answer and how it ok to make mistakes because they make our brains grow. I want to give these kiddos that language and approach to math right from the get go. (Kindergarten)
  • We have begun our exploration of origami and what it can uncover for us mathematically. We began with figuring out how we could fold equal 8ths...so far we have discovered 8 ways. And we have one on hold that will expand on the idea of equivalence when the shapes area not the same, but that area is. Next we will be examining the "blueprints" of three origami animals to see what connections we can make to fractions, multiples and angles. (Grade 5/6)
  • In our class we have been working with dot collections to demonstrate creativity in math, as students share how they saw the groupings and [recombined] them to achieve a total. This week we will be looking at strategies to estimate, organize and calculate the total sum for larger collections of items (up to 100). My goal is to use photography to document all students work so that they can look at the photographs and reflect on their mathematical process. (Grade 2)


For parents who would like to learn more about Mathematical Mindsets  and how to support your child’s learning in a way that is aligned with the school we encourage you to take a look at the YouCubed resources for parents at YouCubed Parent Resources​

And mark your calendars for November 8th as we are planning for a brilliant 2nd Annual Parent Math Night at Belfast School!


Thanks for reading!
Lori Holford
Proud Principal
June 20
Looking Ahead - 2018-19


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As we end our year we are all looking forward to long warm days and quality time with our families! This last week we will mark the end of our school year with celebrations and goodbyes to some in our school community.  Our annual Summerfest tomorrow afternoon is paired with a morning #Belfasty Day exploring the richness of our Indigenous Communities. We would like to thank our teachers for their creative planning for each of our special #Belfasty Days this year. Each of these days has provided unique experiences that unites our community in learning together!

Next Tuesday we say farewell to our grade 6’s. This group of exceptional young people have been tremendous leaders in our school. They have brought us laughter and pride as they braved new challenges and while they embraced Growth Mindsets and Mathematical Mindsets. Their example to our younger students has helped our entire community to grow. Whether that be through literacy and numeracy leadership with our Kindergarten, grade 1 and 2 classes, organizing for social advocacy projects through the We Care Club”, or attempting to  teach their principal to “floss” (?)... you have been phenomenal examples of what is possible when you believe in yourself!  It is bitter sweet to see you grow beyond our little school but we know that each of you will always be part of our Belfast Family!

This month, our teaching staff has been very involved in planning for the 2018-2019 school year. Our student enrollment for next year is currently 230 students from kindergarten to grade 6. This is less than our 2017-2018 student enrollment and offers some challenges and opportunities. With a change in student numbers, we anticipate need to make some adjustments to our staff numbers, our room allocations and our configuration for the fall. Some of these adjustments are harder to predict given that we regularly see a number of new registrations during the first week in September. As a result our planning for next year is contingent on new registrations and therefore subject to change.

Our first priority is always to provide the very best learning environment that we can at Belfast School. We know that an important part of our planning is to ensure that our class configurations meet the needs of all students. We also know that our youngest students require smaller class sizes as they build a solid foundation for years to come. Based on the number of students in each of our grade groups, we have a  challenge when it comes to our organization. If we were to keep our current configuration, we would end up with our largest numbers in our youngest classrooms. For this reason we have had to think differently about how we arrange for learning next year. Our teaching staff has considered many possible options in order to ensure equity and opportunity for all our students.

Based on our current  enrollment, we expect to open in September with the following:

Grade

Number of Classes

Kindergarten

2

Grade 1

2

Grade 2/3

3

Grade 4/5

3

Grade 6

1

 

Again, our organization next year is subject to change based  on our actual enrollment in September. What doesn’t change however, is our commitment to making sure that we make the best possible decision that meets our students’ needs. Please note that our school office will be closed as of noon June 29th. the office will reopen August 27th at 9 am. Teachers will reach out to families by phone between August 29th  and 31st to introduce themselves and welcome students to their class. Classes resume Septemer 4th at 8:30 am.


A special preview: 

Next year we  look forward to introducing a new communal work space into our school. This space will become our Atelier or artists’ studio. We are very excited to have a dedicated space for artistic pursuits within the school that will act as our hub of creative expression and exploration!


We are also very grateful to our School Fundraising Council for their generous support of new classroom libraries in each of our classrooms next year. We have committed to investing $20 000 to greatly enhance student learning and encourage Joyful Literacy across the school!


As we enter our last week of this school year I wish to thank everyone who has grown  with us this year! We are indeed fortunate to do the work we do with the amazing students at Belfast School. 

I wish everyone a safe and happy summer break and look forward to seeing our returning students and families in the fall!


Lori Holford

Proud Principal, Belfast School

February 07
Inside the Classroom - The Big Drip in Room 5

We want you to have a glimpse into some of the learning inside our classrooms at Belfast.  Part of our School Development Plan focuses on the creation of Low Floor / High Ceiling tasks that engage students in solving complext problems. The following documentation of an interview with  Mr.  Sangster one of our Grade 3/4 teachers. He describes
a Low Floor High Ceiling task that students in room 5 have been investigating as a math inquiry. 


Inspiration:
Students observed the dripping faucet in the class.
Dripping taps are very common.
 
The Question:
I posed the question to my students: If the faucet drips once per second, is this a lot of water? The wait time before any response came was much longer than I anticipated. Some inferred yes, it is a lot of water. Some no. There was a lot of doubt within their inference statements.
 
The Conjecture:
I asked students to form collaborative groups where each group shared the same inference.
The group was tasked with creating a conjecture: a statement that clearly told their inference or prediction.
 
The Proof:
After conjectures were written and shared, strategizing began to build a proof that either proved or disproved the group’s conjecture.
The students lacked the experience and math skills to immediately see a path toward proof, however they struggled and truly collaborated in testing various strategies.
It was exciting to watch as they secretly looked for progress clues from other groups. In fact this informal sharing between groups was essential step to group advancement towards proofs of their conjectures.

Aha moment:
The first was when I introduced to them the 5ml medical syringe.  One group of kids realized that the syringe could be used to measure exactly how much was dripping. The next aha was when they realized that they needed a chunk of time to work with to accompany the measurements (eg, how much drips in 5 minutes?).  5 minutes was chosen because the students intuitively knew that it was an easy number to work with.  This led to…how many 5 minute chunks are in an hour? Kids who applied these understanding to a repeated addition strategy found this frustrating; one student said” this would be a good problem for multiplication!”  and then he proceeded to try to figure what this looked like.

Next Steps:
According to the Jo Boaler course I took, learning happens when the student have a need for new learning (a situation to anchor their leaning to).  We are now doing pre-multiplication activities, especially working with arrays (visual model) and games to meet this need of moving beyond repeated addition. The students are right on the cusp of using a decomposing 2 digit  x 2 digit multiplication into the place value parts.
                                   
Kids are already shocked that 720 ml drips in one hour; let alone the calculation over a day which we haven’t done yet! This will be our next step!
In addition I would like to extend this to a much bigger concept of the waste of water on a global scale.  What is the rippling impact of the waste of water?
 
Is there anything you would do differently?
I might have provided the tools /practice to measure capacity of water first before I introduced the problem.

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January 09
Inside the Classroom - Ooooh! Groups OF!

This is the start of a series of posts that show  a glimpse into some of the learning inside our classrooms at Belfast.  The following documentation of an interview with  Mrs.  Ayer one of our Grade 3/4 teachers.

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What was the task?
I wanted to have students visually see what happens when you multiply a whole number and a decimal, so I gave students a series of 10 x 10 grids. We had a discussion about what one tiny square represented (hundredth), a row (tenth) and the entire square (one whole). Then I posed the question:  what is 6 groups of 1.3?


We talked about that we know what 6 groups of 1 is (6) and we set that aside.  But what is 6 groups of 0.3? I asked the students to color one group of 3 tenths.  Then I told them to color another group a different color, then another…


This is where we had a confused moment.  Some students were coloring in three hundredths, some were confused by what I meant by how many groups of tenths do we have (many said 3 instead of 1)...


After struggling for a bit I then changed the equation to one without decimals (6x3) and drew visual groupings of three on the board. “Oh!!! Groups OF!!!” ( the true languaging of multiplication; 6 x 3 means 6 groups of 3). Then they were able to understand that the three tenths were one group we were counting and then able to draw 6 groups of 3 tenths.


Some kids then asked, “What if I need the next grid because I filled in my first square? Is that allowed?”
Yes! The connection is that the one filled in  is a whole and then the remaining tenths left over became the decimal number (1.8).

decimal-grids.pngThat’s when a student said  “I just put my decimal between the two squares…” and everyone was like  - brilliant!!


We then tried a few more examples so they could practice and visualize. After this point is when they were let in on the trick of removing the decimal point from the equation and adding it back in afterwards.  Some students commented “Oh. That’s way easier.”

It’s important to understand what’s actually happening to the numbers. Students  need to know how it has grown or changed. Multiplying a decimal needs to be visualized so they can see why the number or place value is changing. If they only learn the trick they know the trick, not the concept.
What I found more often was that the visual learners liked using the visual over and over, whereas other students were ready to make the leap to using only the numbers; however, both groups can successfully  do the multiplication. 

What would you do differently?
I will work with the grids before introducing multiplication, so the students  really understand how decimals build to wholes. 

What are your next steps? 
We used this learning to EXPAND to applying sales tax in a ”build your own aquarium project.”  Several students used the  model to calculate sales taxon what they had purchased for their aquarium.  We will also use this same model to extend to fractions  (to solidify parts of a whole understanding) and to visually prove that fractions and decimals are different ways of representing equivalent values.

Reflecting on the School Development Plan: 
There is so much to celebrate here about mathematical learning, for both our students and our staff.  As our School Development Plan outlines, it is clear that students and staff alike are shifting their mathematical mindsets to one that encourages visualizing math, embracing mistakes as an opportunity for more learning, and working together collaboratively to discover new understandings in math. Actively designing and engaging students in rich mathematical tasks that go far beyond simple computation is allowing students to make deeper connections to mathematical concepts, and to view themselves as competent, confident mathematicians. And the staff as competent, confident math teachers!​


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A new principal had been announced for Belfast School! Visit our website for more information: https://t.co/LA3eGz28oQ Congratulations Jaqueline Belcher we are so excited to have you join us! #belfasty @CBEArea3

Wonderful to relive an amazing performance! #belfasty https://t.co/XlRFKX2dt8

RT @Loriholford: Assembly to kick off #Belfast’s #Earthday #WeCare community initiative and end of year wind up. @Dana_C_Fraser Thank you @BelfastCBE !! https://t.co/8rTHj8MmLU

RT @Loriholford: Our #Belfasty Earth Day was a big success @BelfastCBE read the story on our website https://t.co/QRnWiL2xgB Thanks #WeCare for your leadership! https://t.co/kd5vAO085D