Math Interest, fluency, and meaning – making.

MATH INTEREST

MATH FLUENCY

MATH MEANING MAKING

 

Math Interest, unlike motivation, means exactly what it says – that a person is interested in mathematics. Math as language, math as a way to solve problems, math as a skills set, math as a historical human phenomenon, math as a structure of the universe – or the human mind – or both, math as beauty and elegance, math as wonder, math as origami or baseball stats or airplane flying or biology or medical matters – or anything that people might have an interest to learn or do math because they want to, at their own discretion. Math motivation, on the other hand – often seems like someone else is trying to motivate other people to do or like something they don’t like or want to do. Math motivation sounds Skinnerian. I think of Math Interest in more Rogerian terms. 

 

The kind of interest I’m thinking of is not unlike when people enjoy reading and literature. Regardless, there are a million and one reasons to be interested in math – or perhaps seven billion reasons, one for every human on earth

 

Math fluency is the domain I think schools are most comfortable with and they tend to fall into things traditional schooling seems apt to attempt to develop as skills, practices, short term and long term memory related capacities and what I will call automaticity borrowing from traditionally used language for reading literacy. Fluency in this sense is what students can do and easily act on without a great deal of deep thinking. That is, can they carry out the basic math operations, can they recall and convert fractions, decimals, percentages, can they carry out the basic procedures required to demonstrate mastery on grade level standards or expectations. This fluency is what standardized tests have traditionally required to demonstrate mastery and now in new more demanding forms these skills and fluencies are the prerequisites for students to be able to work on problem solving tasks without the impedance of struggling without their automatic access. In simple terms, it’s hard to solve complex problems when you can’t easily access and perform the skills and practices needed to work through the problem.

 

Math meaning – making is the aim of the learning. We aim for learners to be able to understand the world they live in as well as conceptual abstractions through engagement and use of math language. This meaning – making  can result in a number of basic to complex outcomes including applications to real – world problems as well as wondering about the greatest questions and paths of inquiry. I see meaning – making as connected to fluency and interest. The more meaning we make the more we are interested in many cases, while the more fluent we become we are availed of greater opportunities and levels of meaning – making. Ultimately, meaning making is socially constructed from a Vygotskian view and these meanings are shared and connected through discourse and various forms of exchange. Math meaning – making takes place in every form of human interaction and scales  up and down with personal and mathematical development inclusive of interest and fluency components. 

 

Framing and discussing these suggested frames on math learning are intended to disrupt the systemically failing systems of math instruction that have historically turned the majority of learners away from interest and potential meaning – making all the while diminishing the fluencies that have overwhelmingly been the focus of math learning activities and targets.  

 

Principal Profile – Ryan Howatt

This year I have decided to write and post a monthly Principal Profile. Principals are key leaders in their community and within the school system itself. Rio’s principals are great examples of a diversity of pathways to manegament/leadership. We ask so much of them on multiple levels and they deliver and help our District grow and improve along the way. I hope these brief profiles spark more thoughtful consideration about their work and about the individuals who step up to this middle management/ Instructional leader challenge. So goes the principal, so goes the school in many ways. Our first profile is Ryan Howatt, principal of Rio Rosales Elementary School.

Principal Profile – Ryan Howatt

THRIVE19

This week we held our first annual THRIVE conference, THRIVE19. On two days in late September we came togethers as leaders in our educational community. Students, teachers, support staff, parents, partners, business and other leaders came together to celebrate and learn about what is THRIVING in our schools and educational community and to begin to touch on what still needs to THRIVE. We began with imagining three trees…. A THRIVING tree, a resilient tree and a tree that is just surviving. 

All too often, in our American society, we envision and resource our public schools as places that are just and should just survive.

But we are doing far more than surviving.. In many ways we are THRIVING. Perceptions and narratives though are powerful influencers on those within and those outside the educational community. 

And so this first THRIVE conference in the year 2019 held on the beach in ventura overlooking the great Pacific ocean, set out to establish and experience and reflect on the THRIVING. 

We thank everyone who came. Each was an integral element to the event. We will continue to process the experience by sharing and editing video captured, making websites, sharing thought exchanges, doing some additional surveys and other activities including planning for THRIVE20.

We especially want to thank those who presented or facilitated workshops, explores, or speaker sessions.

Thanks to Sabba Quidwai from Apple for her speaker session on design thinking.

Thanks to Terry Thoren from WonderMedia for his speaker sessions and  David Romano for workshops on StoryMaker animation software.

Thanks to Heli Ruokamo and Marjaana Kangas for their speaker and workshop sessions on playful learning.

Thanks to Jarkko Myllari and Ignacio Mendoza for workshop sessions with students showcasing summer science academy student leader technology activities.

Thanks to Sam Strothers from DMTI – Developing Mathematical Thinking Institute, Fawn Nguyen, and Cesar Rosales for math focused workshops.

Thanks to Dr. Maria Hernandez, Margarita Mosqueda and others for their workshop on bilingual learning.

Thanks to Steve Anderson from Thoughtexchange for workshops on thoughtexchange social media tools.

Thanks to Mike Vollmert and Heidi Baynes for their workshop on Rasberry Pi technologies and Mike’s beach walks.

Thanks to Joe Bruzzese from Sprigeo on his workshops on middle grades learning.

Thanks to Phil Shapiro for his multiple workshops and general contribution to the conference as a whole.

Thanks to partners from OUHSD, CSUCI, CLU, UCSB, CDR, Learning Priority, MJP computers, Ventura County Watershed Control,  Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones, and Feingold Law Firm, Sage Inc, A4E, and other partners for participating in the partnership forum.

Thanks to Juliet Herman and VCOE and Rio teachers for the VC Innovates workshop.

Thanks to Dr. Cordova, Dr Yeager, Dr. Hirsch Dubin and Rio teachers and students for workshops on Inquiry learning and instructional design.

Thanks to Oscar Hernandez and student leaders from RSD and OUHSD for the student leadership forum.

Thanks to Jay Sorenson from OUHSD for his workshop on HighSchool Technology.

Thanks to Gena Mathwin and fellow Rio teachers for their workshop on garden learning.

Thanks to Rene Hohls for her workshop on Library learning.

Thanks to Dr. Carolyn Bernal for her women in leadership forum.

Thanks to BiJian Fan for his workshop on origami math art.

Thanks to Dr. Jerome Clifford for his workshop on Summer Science Academy and beyond.

Thanks to Julee Vollmert for her workshop on empathy and learning.

Thanks to Heather Behrens for her workshop on the Rio/ Channel Islands Maritime Museum partnership workshop.

Thanks to Lacey Piper for her workshop on food and health.

Thanks to Rio art teachers for workshops and explores.

Thanks to Rio music teachers and students for their presentations.

Thanks to Dianne DeLaurentis for her workshop on the dramatic arts.

Thanks to HipHopMindset for their performances.

Thanks to TRSB – The River Songs Band for their performance of Songs of the Pacific

 

Thanks to all those in Rio who worked hard to plan and make the event happen. Thanks to the students – children – who wove the thread of THRIVING into THRIVE19 and who are the reason for the work.         

the THRIVE CONFERENCE is coming!

Come check out the Thrive Conference…..

9.23.19 version of the brochure is right below….

brochure long as of 92319

 

Public Schools in 2019

Public schools serve multiple functions in our 2019 American society.

  • They work directly with children, families and community to foster the development and learning of children.
  • They harbor children and keep them safe during the school day while most parents are engaged in work or other related activities.
  • They offer children and families the opportunity to engage with other children and families in the community providing social and other types of learning opportunities less easily accomplished in isolation.
  • They provide adults in the community with opportunities to learn and contribute to the community at large.
  • They foster the development of the citizenry in the American democracy.
  • They provide children with opportunities for affirmation and care by adults and children other than their family.

The list of functions provided by American public schools is extensive and far exceeds the aforementioned central roles. As each new school year approaches and I interact with parents considering what school to have their children attend, there are inevitable narratives that emerge. Some highlight test scores, others that tend towards the logistics of afterschool day care and many that attempt to look far into the future and connect the early grades experience with family’s aspirations for their children down the road. It is rare, however, to have deeply informed conversations about what schools actually do and what they actually are in a societal sense. This I think is partially due to public schools often having challenges in communicating their functions beyond the cliche or superficial level. Many times, as we all likely are, parents have the individual concern for their child. They want their children “to be challenged” or to “get the help they need.” Apart from the academic side of things, they want their children to have a safe environment where they can have friends and grow and develop their well being. 

One thing to consider beyond these narratives is how their children and their family contributes to the lives and well being of others in the local community. By engaging with and in the local community schools families more readily help to construct and develop the type of community they want to live in. This is a more participative and citizen based approach than a strictly consumer based notion of school choice. Ask not what the community can do for your children but what you and your children can do for the community as JFK might have said. Of course the value to the consumer or citizen comes back to them when parents and families and children are more connected to each other in their local neighborhoods through one of the last public agoras in our American democracy (public schools). 

Rio will continue to invite all our local children and families to fully engage in co-constructing the best possible educational environments and outcomes striving to THRIVE as a system and community.

 

Spring is in the Air!

Spring is in the Air and Spring Break is upon us in the Rio School District. This means there are only 8 weeks remaining of the 2018-19 school year. We hope each and every child experiences opportunities to develop their learning literacies and their 5Cs; communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and caring. Our staff and some of our children are probably very ready to take a much needed break and rest from the flurry of activity that has been emblematic of the last few months of work in our schools and organization. For those who do get the time off, the two weeks offer an opportunity to reflect on what has been this year and what will be the final 8 weeks that remain.

All of the staff of the Rio School District wish each child and family a restful, peaceful, and reflective Spring Break and we look forward to finishing the year strong upon your return.

The Reading Classroom

The Reading Classroom

Rio School District children are thriving in many ways. Our recent years’ emphasis on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and caring has helped the adults in our organization create classroom and school environments that are suitable for young children’s development as full human beings as well as supporting their literacy development which is so essential to their success and sense of confidence in school systems and other contexts that demand high levels of reading, writing, and speaking. While I believe the above statement is evidenced in many ways we continue to look for the right mixtures of environment, tools, methods, practices to create classrooms across every school that help every child to progress to their maximum potential as readers.

This year we are focusing on reading interest, fluency, and meaning making. We put reading interest first in this order because we believe that fluent – meaning making readers are first and foremost interested readers. Next in the order is fluency that we basically define as the ability to decode and produce the text at a rate sufficient to support the reader’s meaning making of the text. Lastly, and most importantly in academic contexts like schools, we aim for children’s meaning making which includes their basic comprehension and understanding of the texts but expands to their ability and choices of ways to express the meanings they have read through writing, speaking, drawing or other media. This short post is a description of an idealized reading classroom from the point of view of the superintendent, educational researcher, and teacher. Its purpose is to spark further discussion and then actions across our District and others that have common goals in helping more children become interested, fluent, and meaning making readers.

In California we typically have 180 school days per year and we divide the years into things we call grade levels. We typically assign one teacher to a group of children for this year in elementary grades and more than one teacher to children in the middle grades years. Regardless of the structure I think it’s important to state early in the post that an idealized school context for readers is one where every teacher in every grade and every subject is a reading teacher involved and invested in each child’s development as interested, fluent, meaning making readers. This post is my description or listing of activities that are observable and should or could be observable in as many of those 180 days as possible across a school year. As a student of learning I know that in almost every context, repetition and time are key elements in learning. Things we do almost every day are understood by children as important as we have valued them by apportioning time to them.

So here we go, here is what a good reading classroom looks like from my point of view in terms of things you see commonly and every day as much as possible.

Reading classrooms let kids read freely for extended periods every day and give them choice in the texts they read.

Reading classrooms have many books in them and also provide access to libraries and other ways to access texts online and otherwise.

Reading classrooms have teachers and educators that read and model reading authentically in their lives not just as professional practice but because they are truly interested, fluent, meaning making readers themselves.

Reading classrooms provide daily opportunities for children to write about their reading and get regular feedback from their teacher and peers on this writing.

Reading classrooms have regular opportunities for all children to be read to. To hear read alouds.

Reading classrooms have teachers who have learned and who are learning about the reading process and who are constantly developing their practices to help children directly and indirectly to become interested, fluent, and meaning making readers through whole group, small group, and one one work with children.

Reading classrooms are visibly rich with texts and the artifacts of reading and writing.

Reading classrooms are very word rich in that they evidence high interest in the acquisition and exploration of words.. the basic units of language…

Reading classrooms have flexibility associated with the different children who populate them. They help the actual children learn to become or develop as readers rather than a homogenized standard established by others outside the classroom.

Reading classrooms have many opportunities for children to read with each other and to read the writing of their peers.

Reading classrooms have socio-emotional environments that create acceptance among all in the classroom for every child as reader regardless of their current status on spectrum across the three elements of interest, fluency, and meaning making.

Reading classrooms provide access and focus on texts that connect with the classroom children’s lives as well as new horizons they have never experienced.

Reading classrooms provide access and engagement with a variety of genre of texts and texts on and in a variety of media.

Reading classrooms strike a balance towards fun in reading but save the space for struggle as is necessary and appropriate in the context.

Reading classrooms are writing classrooms, are drawing classrooms, are literacy classrooms, and are reading more than text classrooms. Reading text is one key but major thrust in learning environments that focus every child to become interested, fluent, meaning making LEARNERS who understand that reading texts is a critical part their learning.

The list could surely go on but I think I will leave it at this for the moment as an invitation to educators and readers out there to add to the post. I will gladly take your thoughts, comments and ideas emailed to jpuglisi@rioschools.org and then see where they go from there. A community of readers working together thoughtfully is likely the best way to support the development of the next generation of readers. In nearly three and a half decades of this work, my wife and I continue to look for ways to increase the numbers of children we are able to guide as truly interested, fluent, and meaning making readers. For child readers living in less economically resourced contexts this is critically important so that they do not fall into the statistical reality that Demography is Destiny. For all children, and for our country, a generation of interested, fluent, and meaning making readers is essential for our democracy to function as one that is driven by an informed and thoughtful citizenry.

 

Thriving

Thriving………….

thrive

verb

\ ˈthrīv  \

thrived or throve\ ˈthrōv  \; thrived also thriven\ ˈthri-​vən  \; thriving\ˈthrī-​viŋ  \

Definition of thrive

intransitive verb

1: to grow vigorously : FLOURISH

2: to gain in wealth or possessions : PROSPER

3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on thrives on conflict

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thrive. , 1.27.19)

Thriving. At this moment and in this age, the words thrive and thriving have become a new focus. They were always there and present, but now more than ever, I think the Rio School District and other Districts like it might benefit from this solitary focus. Thriving. Are the children in our sphere of influence thriving? Are our employees thriving? Are the families and the community we are part of thriving? What are we doing to promote this thriving? What are we doing to hinder it? If we set aside, and I suggest we do for many reasons, the definition to gain wealth and possessions, we are left with growing vigorously and making progress towards our goals despite and/or because of our circumstances.

Rio’s children need to thrive in every sense as whole, developing human beings. They need to flourish physically, socially, emotionally, creatively, intellectually, academically, and civically. In recent years we have joined and contributed to the now two decades old movement to help children develop what have come to be known as 21st century skills. We preferred the word  “practices,” for various ethnographic and pedagogical reasons. We jumped on board networks of educational institutions that seek to amplify the need for schools to break from old conventions and learn to teach for skills/practices such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. We embraced this movement, contributed to it in the last few years and raised by both modeling, rhetoric, and action issues of equity and asked questions and took actions aimed at who the 21st century should and could transform in schools.

This age of renovation and renewal is recycling many progressive concepts and the work of many progressive thinkers. Many of which I was engrossed in pondering and engaging with when I entered public professional education work more than thirty years ago. These much needed schooling changes are clearly moving in a better direction for all children, for all communities and families and for the American democracy which is so intertwined and driven like an engine by our schools and the development of the next generation of citizens, people, workers.

Here in the Rio school District, where many and most children grow up in homes and contexts with little economic means, with little immersion in academic language experience, and many with little experience with English as a language, I believe it is time to focus on this word THRIVE, and to ask ourselves as their caretakers, questions that inquire into every aspect of their thriving. I am particularly interested in and focused in on three major elements of their thriving, though every aspect of their thriving is likely important. It is hard to tell what every child will need to become who they should be and to find the promise this country suggests we offer; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I am focused on;

  1. Their happiness, safety, and feelings of well-being and nourishment when they are at school and in their homes.
  2. Their interest, fluency, and meaning making when it comes to the most valued literacies in academic institutions: reading, writing, speaking and maths.
  3. Their creativity and interest in learning and pursuing things they want to learn about which is directly connected to their freedom in the schools context.

 

Rio School District

“Educating Learners to Thrive

What we ought to be doing, and what I hope we are doing, is helping, guiding, contributing to, create contexts, environments, ecosystems, where and for children to thrive. In the coming weeks and months I will be working with others to ponder and take action guided by this focus and these words and to renew our assessment of ourselves along these lines. We are a little/big system with nine schools, more than 5,000 students, 500 employees, and a $60,000,000 dollar budget. I will be asking all our employees to begin by thinking about themselves and their own thriving as well as the children around them they come in most close daily contact with. Are they thriving? How can we tell? Can we measure this? Observe this? How will we know if we have prepared them to thrive when they leave us to go to high school and beyond? I can think of no better group of people to do this work with, there is much love and commitment here in the Rio School District community and a developing appetite for system wide learning and excellence.  

Martin Luther King Jr. Remembered

On this day, 1.21.19, I have taken a look at the “I have a dream speech” again and selected some quotes from it. The speech, of course, should be taken in its entirety and full context. Still, I thought this selection might serve a purpose. I took the time, as I do each year, to revisit MLK’s texts and to reflect on where we are as a nation in relation to them in time and space. Some 51 years after his death. and some 56 years after the speech, there is no doubt we have come far in many aspects of the evolution of our society in terms of laws and the general views about race and gender and civil rights that the younger generation commonly uphold. Still, it is also obvious that these past decades have done little to alter the deep injustices in our society that were born from slavery and other elements of our nation’s origin.

These quotes are among the ideas I will reflect on today. I work to keep MLK and other pillars of our dreams alive in me and my work every day, though this auspicious day marks an opportunity to stop and reflect. There is probably no greater or more potent opportunity to contribute to MLK’s dream of the world as being an educator and working with children in one form or another. Thanks to all who have taken up this ” teaching” work in the past, the present, and who will do so in the spirit of guiding the next generation to construct a better world.

Here are the parts of the speech I have been reflecting on.. I was going to provide my thoughts.. but for the purpose of this post thought it better to let them speak for themselves.

Looking at quotes from the I have a dream speech (8.28.63) on 1.21.19 MLK Day

source: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

“greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

“…But one hundred years later (All right), the Negro still is not free.”

“…sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

“One hundred years later (All right), the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

“…This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men (My Lord), would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“…We have also come to this hallowed spot (My Lord) to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. (Mhm) This is no time (My Lord) to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” “ ….Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

“…I have a dream (Mhm) that one day (Yes) this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed (Hah): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (Yeah, Uh-huh, Hear hear) [applause]..”

“ … (Yes) we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation (Yes) into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. (Talk about it)”

“ … “Free at last! (Yes) Free at last! ”

S.T.E.A.M. : What’s it all about?

S.T.E.A.M. : What’s it all about?

 

S.T.E.A.M. learning focuses on science, technology, engineering,arts, and math. These disciplines and practices have become more prominent focal points for school  curriculum and learning activities in recent times. The Rio School District has been engaged in developing S.T.E.A.M. learning for the last six years. S.T.E.M. learning has long been valued due to its connection to our modern society’s emphasis on these content areas in the world economy. Rio makes sure to include the Arts in our learning activities for its various important connections to human development.

 

The Rio School District is charged with two basic aims; protecting the children in our supervision and educating them in preparation for their academic experiences and future life. In educating children we are tasked with guiding student literacy such that they can read, write, speak and do math at the levels that California standards based curriculum demands. In addition, we are charged with helping children develop as full human beings and citizens of the United States of America. The arts serve both literacy and human development in a multitude of ways. There are many fully developed reasons to support arts in schools. The following links provide some easy reading on the subject;

 

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-importance-of-art-in-child-development/

 

https://artinaction.org/resource/arts-education-important-21st-century-learning-5-reasons-go-stem-steam/

 

https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-topic/arts-education

 

https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/nea_arts/neaARTS_2013_v1.pdf

 

https://www.giarts.org/article/elliot-w-eisner-role-arts-educating-whole-child

 

For many Rio students, S.T.E.A.M. learning helps to engage and motivate them to develop their basic literacy skills. Many Rio students depend on their schools to provide  opportunities that more affluent families can afford to support outside school. Rio children continue to have opportunities to experience and learn from a great variety of S.T.E.A.M. activities including visual arts, music, drama, dance, robotics, coding, drones, video production, animation, gardening, environmental science, maker activities, and the list goes on and expands each year. These opportunities support their learning and interest in reading, writing, speaking and math while developing their skills and practices in communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and caring.

 

S.T.E.A.M. learning is also an attempt to un-silo student learning and break down the walls and divisions between school subject areas so they can be more authentic and real world. The Rio School District’s aims to provide each child the opportunity to develop their academic literacies and grow as a full and whole human being and citizen is also anchored in providing children a variety of experiences that they can personalize and pursue as their interests.