Over the past year Chinook School Division has provided all kindergarten to grade 8 teachers with 4 days of professional development focused on a program called First Steps in Mathematics. First Steps is a program that was developed through extensive international research originating from Western Australia. The professional development course that our teachers participated in provided them with an opportunity to enhance their professional decision making about the mathematics they teach, student development of these mathematical concepts and the what help is the best help to move every student along in the class.
The main components of the program include: a Diagnostic Map, Diagnostic Assessments, Key Understandings and Sample Learning Activities. The Map shows the progression of learners from pre-school to about grade 8. It maps out the various stages that every child progresses through on their learning of mathematics. The phases of the map are Emergent, Matching, Quantifying, Partitioning, Factoring and Operating.
The Diagnostic Assessments are short tasks that reveal the students' thinking around a specific Key Understanding. Through these tasks teachers can gain valuable insight into their students' thinking and can intervene with targeted Sample Learning Activities that will help students to get back on track and progress to the next stage of their learning on the Map.
Last year our teachers focus was on learning about this new resource through professional development and in-class demonstrations with Math Coaches. This year they will be actively using the resources in their classrooms. You may hear about students doing a "Diagnostic Assessment" and being in the "Partitioning" phase. These are simply tools to help teachers understand their students and make the best possible decision about the mathematics that every child needs to experience in order to make progress.