Daily 5/Daily 3 Choice Boards and Hyflex Learning

When I first set out to create these choice boards, I had one thing in mind: being able to successfully implement both the Daily 5 and Daily 3 programs in Grade 1 in a Hyflex learning environment. I have definitely accomplished this goal. What I didn’t factor in was how useful they would be each time we needed to pivot to full Distance Learning. And even more than that…how beneficial they were when I was the one who needed to stay home and a substitute teacher took over my class. 

Everything in one spot. No explaining to do. 

Most of my students can navigate the choice boards independently, allowing me to support the few that need guidance. When I was teaching from home while the students were in the classroom, the substitute teacher only had to make sure there were enough iPads for each child (8 to be exact) and we were off! If that wasn’t a possibility, the links were all there and photocopies could be made to use in class. 

When we needed to do a quick pivot to online teaching in April, again, no problem! As schedules were being adjusted based on feedback, and many of my colleagues were scrambling to change their plans, I was ready to go! I just needed to link my choice boards to the schedule, and Math and Language Arts were up and running.

After implementing this with my students for a few months, I knew it was time to collect some more formal feedback. I created and sent out a quick Google Form to gather feedback from parents and colleagues for my PGP. I targeted colleagues with a special education background, parents who were permanently on-line, parents who only experienced these boards because of distance learning, and a member of our administration who happens to wear three hats. This feedback will be very important, as it will allow me to continue to adjust these boards to meet the needs of my students. I am still waiting for some responses, however so far, the feedback has been positive and the choice boards have been well received. 

Parents appreciate the flexibility of the boards and that there are mandatory and optional activities. When we switched to distance learning for the month of January, I received the feedback that the board had too many options, making it difficult to know what was required and what was more of a suggestion. Therefore, at that time, I began starring mandatory tasks, which alleviated much anxiety for some students and parents. In addition to this, there are also personalized options for reading and math. Through my Google Form, I did get feedback that there seemed to be a gap in the amount of weekly writing tasks students were required to complete. Upon reflection, I realized that this truly was absent from my board, and I will spend time over the next few weeks adding in a mandatory written component, along with the spelling rules introduced this year. 

One final adjustment I have made at this point in the school year is helping students develop their independence and accountability. I have been spending time over the last 2 weeks teaching students how to submit their own work through Classkick, rather than having their parents take pictures of it and email it to me. Developmentally, this may not have been appropriate earlier in the school year, but students have now had lots of practice with Classkick as a tool, and they are much more comfortable with learning online. Therefore, although it is still a work in progress, I am excited to see them take on this new responsibility and deepen their skills even more. 

With feedback from parents and teachers, you’d think I was all set, right? Wrong! Feedback should not only be from the parents, but from the students themselves, too. This is when our Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Melissa Thompson, suggested using the ‘Poles’ function through Google Meet. As always, she was an excellent sounding board and I immediately created a pole to help me better understand how the students themselves felt about both the Daily 5 and Daily 3 choice boards.

Whether we need to revisit Hyflex learning or not next year, these boards are going to be a permanent part of both my Language Arts and Math program. Through the exploration of trial and error I have done this year, I am already thinking ahead to what will need to be true at the start of next school year. I officially launched these choice boards in January, therefore, I will need to create more phonics mats to add to the boards, to account for what the students will be learning at the start of grade 1. It is always necessary to start with a little review, as well as provide fewer choices in order not to overwhelm them. I am excited to find new apps and tasks to add next year! I am feeling very satisfied with these choice boards and am eager to share them with my colleagues. 

I have always described myself as a lifelong learner. It can sometimes sound cliche, but looking back on my 37 year of teaching, I can’t even count the number of new things I have learned this year! My perseverance and dedication to my own growth will hopefully continue to filter into my teaching, improving my curriculum while also setting the example for my students and colleagues that we truly are all “always on inspiring (learning) journeys”.




Math Daily 3 and Distance Learning-A Virtual Learning Experience

March 13, 2020 will be a date forever etched in my memory. One can say it is a day that every teacher realized that the future is now. For myself (and my colleagues) this was a realization that did not frighten or intimidate us. We have been preparing for this moment for over 2 years now. I am eternally grateful for the incredible learning opportunities our Head of School Dr. Jon Mitzmacher gave us and the incredible mentorship of Sylvia Tolisano in order to make this shift to Distance Learning pretty much seamless. An incredibly proud moment for OJCS. So how did this impact my PGP that I started at the beginning of the school year?

As I continue to make the shift from differentiation to personalization in Phase Two of Distance Learning, I was able to share a new math program that is all about self directed learning. IXL has just been introduced to my students and I am excited to gather feedback from both students and parents. Students begin working in the Diagnostic Arena, which will allow them to narrow down their personalized independent working level. They may click on “I haven’t learned this yet” when faced with a level that is presently beyond what they can do independently. What I noticed through Distance Learning, was that I was able to see first hand how our students have become very comfortable with technology and can use it to share their thinking. Flipgrid is a platform we use often, and can be used to reflect on what students learn in our math block each week. Each student’s voice is heard, and from these shared math explanations, we learn from each other. It is also a great way to evaluate what they understand and the strategies they have mastered. “Not all students have to master every strategy, but they do have to have a strategy tool box.” This is a direct quote from David Costello’s OAME2020 math online workshop (Developing a Mathematically Literate Environment) which I attended virtually last week. Following the online session I immediately reached out to my colleagues to share how inspired I was by his explanation of mathematical instruction,thinking and physical space. Part of personalization is having the students involved in documenting their thinking and reflecting on artifacts that display their growth. Flipgrid reflections are an excellent artifact for student blogfolios. Jamboard (yet another tool I have learned to use) is a way students can build their strategy toolbox during Distance Learning. Each student could create a list of math strategies they are comfortable using and this artifact can be placed into their blogfolios. At this point in my blog post, I had an “AHA” moment. I am most definitely ready to create, simultaneously with the students, blogfolios. Distance learning has accelerated my timeline. Learning new ways to evaluate students (IXL math program) having them use new ways to share their thoughts and strategies, creating blogfolios, all coming together.

Diving deeper into math strands is something I continue to work on with our math coach, Mrs. Chelsea Cleveland. After listening to an online workshop by David Costello, he reaffirmed what problem solving in my classroom should look and feel like. I agree that there is a big difference between providing practise in problem solving, versus having students really have to work on a problem. Working on a problem, possibly for days in order to refine strategies, revisiting their original plan, add new tools to their strategy toolbox or make errors in order to get closer to a solution, all part of the process. To quote my math coach, ” Don’t steal the struggle.” Distance learning forced my hand to make this happen. I have a better understanding that the problem itself is just a tool to help them with their mathematical understanding. In order to support them as they problem solve, ask why did you use that strategy and how did you know that strategy would work, instead of what strategy did you use. Go deeper! As I go deeper into my PGP, I  better understand how to set up each component of the Math Daily 3 program in order for it to run independently. This in turn allows for more one-on-one time with each student. I have also found new websites (brainingcamp.com, IXL, mathbuddyonline.com) to help make independent learning possible. The Daily 3 station known as Math Writing (problem solving) is where I will continue to challenge my students to go deeper. I will approach math as I do my literacy block, setting my students up to be able to self-monitor by using a strategy tool box they build for themselves, communicate their thinking to others and most importanly to have a strong mathematical understanding of all the concepts being introduced.