“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Thursday, 21 March 2013

EQAO Math Preparation

I had a teacher ask me the other day what my area of specialty is as I seem to like math a lot.  Here's the funny thing, I don't, or I should say I didn't.  As a kid, I struggled with math, in fact I HATED math. You would be surprised how many gifted kids do.  It is a myth that all students are gifted in ALL things. Math truly was a foreign language to me.  When trying to learn the multiplication tables in grade three and four, I remember thinking that a simple sentence 7 x 7 = 49 was akin to dog x pig= monkey.  I just didn't get it!  As an adult, and as a teacher I realize that I didn't have any conceptual understanding.  I didn't realize that 7x7 just meant 7 groups of 7, and that if I added them all up I would 49.  A concept which seems so simple now, baffled me then.

I am very aware that math can cause anxiety in my students.  Even the brightest students can struggle.  Some teachers assume that gifted students are ahead in math and they don't want to bore them with repetition, so they give them harder and more complex challenges and concepts to learn.  I am fortunate that in my board, we are not allowed to teach at a grade ahead.  I am teaching the grade 6 Ontario curriculum, and that is what my students are assessed and evaluated on.  

EQAO (Education Quality Accountability Office) tests students in grades three and six each year in Ontario.  The tests are administered in late May and early June.  These tests always cause a certain level of anxiety with all students, but often more with the gifted.  Some students struggle with the time allotted (even though they are allowed to take more time, all students must finish before they are allowed to leave the room~ say for recess or lunch), others struggle with figuring out how to answer "inside the box" questions, and others are just not motivated to write extended answers or show what they know, because "I just know it".

Regular readers of this blog know that I don't teach math in a traditional manner.  I can only assume that I do this because using the traditional approach did not work for me.  I try to teach math in a meaningful, fun, challenging and approachable way.  I try to link it to the world the students live in.  That being said, I cannot avoid the assessments each year.  My school is ranked #1 in Ontario by the Fraser Institute.  The report card they produce uses EQAO data to rank the schools in Ontario based on the results of the grade 3 and grade 6 students.  I have parents and other educators asking me all the time, "What do you do?" " Is it because you teach the gifted class that your students do so well?".
I am sure that is part of it, my students are the top 2 percentile, but that is not the whole picture.  As I stated earlier, not all gifted students are innately gifted in mathematics.

So what do I do?  Day to day I collect data to help assess what my students do and don't know.  I assign DAILY MATH  questions each day.  When I review the student work each day, I look for individual and group patterns in their results.  Is there a specific type of question students struggle with?  Is there a concept that they don't understand?  I work with individuals, small groups, or the whole class to address any challenges I find. I do this right away, and I make sure I follow up, to ensure that all the students have mastered the concept.  I use pre-tests before I teach a unit, or I use some other form of diagnostic assessment to find out what the students know and don't know.  I then try to tailor my teaching and their experiences to their individual needs.  I choose to use high quality, engaging materials to teach math and I use a lot of technology.  I use programs such as Geometer's Sketchpad to teach all the geometry concepts.  Students in my class are engaged in mathematics daily and I try to make it applicable to their real lives.  I teach problem solving strategies early in the year and then the students complete Problems of the Week.  We talk about math a lot, we work in groups, we find a variety of ways to solve problems and seek solutions.

BUT...I do teach students how to respond to questions on standardized assessments such as EQAO.  Some would say this is taking time away from my quality mathematics program, and those same somebodies would be correct.  The students need to be prepared though.  It is unfair to spend the whole year without showing them what the assessments they will spend almost a week of their grade six lives completing, look like.  To that end, I have created a variety of resources for students to use in my classroom.  I would like to share one with you.   The booklet below is simply a compilation of all the grade 6 Patterning and Algebra questions which EQAO has publicly released on their website in the educator's resources section.  I have taken all the questions and formatted them into a booklet for student use.  I have the students do a few pages per day, and we discuss what the answers might look like.  You can find more information about scoring of EQAO and the rubrics used at the link above.

I originally started transforming my existing student package(s) into a product to sell BUT I checked with the copyright of the released questions from EQAO (@Queens Printer Ontario) and discovered that I cannot copy or redistribute the items for commercial sale. That did not stop me!  I wanted to put together a nicer package for my students to use this year.  I also wanted to make each page one question only.  This allows the students to focus on the question on the page and I have given them a prompt asking them to show how they know their answer is correct.  Many of the questions on EQAO are multiple choice, but I want my students to show me what they know.  At this point, I can still use the data gathered to assist them with their thinking and learning.  For the questions which are NOT multiple choice, you will see the original EQAO prompt (e.g. Justify your answer) and the space for student work.  I hope you enjoy using the booklet I have created.  I am going to create one for each of the strands of EQAO in grade six.  

** Special note to my American blog reading buddies.  I checked the CC expectations for Pattern and Algebra in grade 6 and my package appears to meet many of the same standards you might be teaching if you are using Common Core.  Please let me know if you find this package useful.

If you would like to receive a copy of the booklets I am in the process of creating for the other four strands, leave me a comment below and become a follower of this blog (if you are not one already) so that you will receive notice when I am finished.

Happy Friday everyone!

Freebie Fridays

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  1. This is great! I'm going to share this with some of my team members. Thanks for the share!
    Middle School Matters Blog

  2. Glad you can find some use in it Stephanie. Creating it was a work of love...took forever for a product that cannot be sold...but ultimately it's for the kids, and because of that I decided I would share it with anyone interested. I'll be sure to let you know when I get the other ones finished!

  3. Hi Sidney!

    I found your blog from the All Things Upper Elementary linky. Your freebie package looks great! I am also an elementary teacher in Ontario, but I teach grade five. Great to have found you! :)


  4. Glad that you found me Erin! Make sure you link up with the Blog by Province too! Hope you are having a great Easter weekend!

  5. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing! I will be using this in the coming weeks. I would love to see the other strands. Thanks again!

  6. Karen,
    That's great to hear. I am going to have answer booklets available once I get all the other books done. I wasn't going to do it, but decided I could put them on my teacher store on TPT. Keep your eyes posted. I will be working on the other booklets over the next couple of weeks. They are a TON of work to create!
    Happy Easter:)

  7. For some reason, I was unable to download the grade 6 Patterning and Algebra questions although it could be printed. There was no "download" tab. Is it me?

    I had created something similar from the NYS math tests but it is not helpful since the introduction of the common core. To add insult to injury, NY stopped publishing past exams and we are unable to keep a copy. :-(

    That being said, I would love to know when you complete the other booklets.

    Thanks for your kindness and generosity.

    1. Hi! Sorry you are having trouble. You have to click on the image, which I assume you did. Once the google doc opens you click on the printer icon...this will open up a black dialogue box on the lower right of the page. You should see a variety of icons..one of which is a DISK..this is the SAVE icon. Click on this and it will save to wherever you choose.

  8. thanks for share..

  9. Hi there! This is great! Have you completed booklets for any of the other strands? If so, would you be willing to share??

  10. This is great! Have you completed booklets for any of the other strands? If so, would you be willing to share? Thanks!

  11. You can download the number sense and numeration booklet here http://www.teachersnotebook.com/product/sidneymckay/grade-six-number-sense-and-numeration