As this school year kicks of I wanted to share a success that one of my teachers has already had early in this year. We always wonder what will stick with students over the summer when their minds are often on anything but school! When Damien Cooper presented to our board last year he shared with us that over the summer students lose up to 80% of the content they had learned in that school year. They only retain around 20%, obviously this varies with each student but on average this is true. I was blown away by that statistic and it made me think even deeper about what we teach and how we teach it. What are the enduring understandings that we want the students to take away.

This leads back to my success story that I want to share which isn’t directly related to content but has huge effect on math learning. I am a huge fan of Jo Boaler’s mindset messages and the way she advocates to teach math. I have spent a lot of time in different classrooms sharing her message and having teachers work on mindsets in math. She believes everyone can learn math, that we have to challenge our students while creating environments in our classrooms where students are safe to make mistakes. A place where math discourse is evident, where students build on each others ideas and argue and defend their math solutions. Mr Poropat is one teacher who has really worked hard on creating this type of environment in his classroom.

This year he has started off the year doing Jo Boaler’s “Week of Inspirational Math” from her youcubed.org site. It is a whole week of math tasks that are set up to be high engagement, low floor high ceiling tasks that help build these wonderful math learning environments. Each day starts of with a mindset video to help improve students mindsets and ends with high engagement task. The first day also has part where students create two anchor charts, one for how they like their math environment to be, the other for what they don’t want their math environment to be. Here is the connection to what sticks with students over the summer or becomes a permanent part of the way they learn. Mr P has the pleasure of having his grade 6 students from last year again in his grade seven class this year. Check out the anchor charts they made, these all came from his students!

Mr. P was super stoked when they completed this activity, all the work we have been doing to help build a math learning environment is clearly paying off! The message stuck, they had not done any work with this all summer and his students returned feeling this way about math class. We knew that this group last year had really bought in and understood how having better mindset can improve their math experience. It is still just amazing to see that it has stuck! Let the math learning continue to explode. Mr. Poropat is not the only teacher I work with where this is beginning to happen. It is the first class where we have got to see the same kids the next year knowing they had been exposed to this type of learning environment. If you haven’t seen any of Jo Boaler’s work I recomend you read her “Mathematical Mindsets” book and visit her youcubed.org website.