Supporting a Growing Open Network of Math Educators

I’m recovering from the Firefighter’s 10-mile Road Race in Thunder Bay today, and quite happy to be sitting for a bit, sharing some of the writing I found intriguing this week.

This week I am thinking a lot about what makes a successful open network of educators, and how to lead the building of a successful learning network.  As we think about the first two phases of #mathleadersneo and what Phase 3 will look like, we are considering different areas we will need to build on in order to be successful in working openly and mobilizing knowledge across the boards in northern Ontario and throughout the province.

I am particularly interested in the work of Stephen Downes and George Siemens and the theory of Connectivism.

As we learn more about connectivism, how can we apply this to our work in mobilizing the best learning about constructivist teaching right to the classroom level?  How will we support educators in becoming part of this network?

As well, I am interested in the work of Silvia Rosenthal Talisano around documenting learning and network literacy. I still think that the key is documenting learning in a meaningful way to share back with the wider network, but as Silvia says, some basic technical skills are critical for success in this work. For example, this week Julie Balen and Jaclyn Calder shared their brilliant work in #craftreconcilliation last year through a presentation and Google slides available here.

As well, I’m once again digging into the work of Dave Cormier around rhizomatic learning and cMOOCs. 

Since the shift here is to a participatory culture, a culture where learning is sought, how do we support educators in developing the new workflow needed to be part of this culture?   How do we initiate this change at the board level?

Of course we want our students to be contributing to the world’s knowledge. How many research papers are for a teacher’s eyes only? Why not create an authentic opportunity for students to share learning with the world?

And as we consider how schools need to change in 2017, I find myself once again reading the Modern Learners White Paper and the 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning.  In particular, “Develop and communicate in powerful ways new stories of learning, teaching, and modern contexts for schooling” – document what you learn and tell your story well in the attention economy.

The first principle,  “Have clearly articulated and shared beliefs about learning that are lived in every classroom”, reminds me that we are getting close to 2018 and the challenge to Ontario leaders issued by Simon Breakspear in 2015: Have a Clear Vision of what the learning will look like, and then get there.

In #notabookstudy, we have been listening to Cathy Fosnot each week, talking about the richness and depth of work needed as kids develop fluency with numbers.  This is often in conflict with parents’ understanding and experience with mathematics which is far more focused on algorithms and procedures.

Constance Kamii is quoted several times in Cathy Fosnot’s work.  Here is some of her thinking.

Liping Ma explains how arithmetic as a subject is taught in China.  Our classic understanding of math as computation limits how we think about the instruction of mathematics in elementary school:

“There is a misunderstanding of arithmetic in this country. Many people think arithmetic equals computational skills, and that’s it. Arithmetic has a theoretical core and there is intellectual depth to it.”

Liping Ma, 2013

To help us think about our education leadership as it relates to the role of parents in a child’s education, I highly recommend the Modern Learners Podcast focussed on helping parents prepare for the new context of school.


Keep learning!



Featured Image by Hoach Le Dign on Unsplash.






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