Critical to student success is a strong foundation in numeracy and literacy. Because numeracy and literacy support all subjects, every teacher at the school engages in professional development and discussion regarding these pillars of the curriculum. This allows for an integrated approach to these themes, where girls can see that the skills learned in their math or language arts class might be relevant to their music, art, foreign-language and physical education classes.
How have you worked with numbers today?
Numeracy extends beyond mathematical concepts and procedures; it is about recognizing and using mathematics in a variety of contexts everyday.
CGS has a cross-curricular approach to numeracy. Teachers work together to address mathematical learning. Authentic problems are ways to explore situations and problems and are more than tools to simply practice mathematics. In foods class, students double and half recipes. In physical education, students calculate their heart rate. In art and media students develop understanding of shapes, and symmetry. Students organize, interpret and categorize information and data from a variety of sources, in a variety of formats in Social Studies and Science. These rich and interdisciplinary experiences help students form connections and engage in the many quantitative demands of society. Examples of everyday mathematics include:
We all use mathematics daily in what we do. Involve your child in using numbers to solve problems and make those everyday decisions with you. For example:
- “Do we have enough plates and utensils for all the guests coming for the birthday party?”
- “We are doubling this recipe. How much of all the ingredients will we need?”
- “We are fertilizing the lawn. The fertilizer bag covers three square meters. How many will we need?”
- “This store is selling the game you want for 20% off of $27.00. That store is selling the same game for $19.99. Where should we shop?”
Art and Math
Art and math have a lot in common with each other. In fact you can see the math in art and the art in math! Patterns, shapes, geometry, symmetry, spatial reasoning, proportional reasoning, etc… are all a part of the arts (visual art, music and dance), as they are of mathematics.
Some of what you see your child doing in school in the arts, is also an engagement with mathematical ideas at the same time! By blending mathematics and the arts, students learn in ways that are intellectual, emotional and physical. Children learn in many different ways, and research tells us that participating in the arts is one way that is very engaging for all of us.
A child stringing beads in a pattern on a string or creating a patterned bracelet is creating an understanding of patterning, although to them it may look simply like a pleasing design. When a child learns to play the piano, they are developing mathematical understanding of the relationships between scales, notes and chords. Symmetry can be seen in the symmetrical features of a butterfly or in a design when building. Children may notice patterns in wallpaper, tile tessellations on the floor or on a phone cover, rhythmic beats or repeated choreography in music videos or chords in a popular song. There is math everywhere!
How might you and your child notice and name the mathematics in the arts (visual, music and dance) that you encounter? Making the links helps deepen the understanding of both!
Interested in more? Search on the internet for “golden ratio” to see an example of mathematics at work in nature and art!
In response to Alberta’s curriculum redesign, the pace of technological advances, and the growing need to be able to make meaning in a complex and ever-evolving world, Calgary Girls’ School teachers and students engaged in discussion and research to define and norm literacy beliefs and practices.
Literacy as Social Practice
One idea that rang true was the notion that literacy is social practice, something that is not nurtured in isolation. As such, exchange is necessary to evolve as a literate being. Consider the interaction between a reader and a book, a writer and their reader, a speaker and a listener, an actor and viewer; the ways for exchange to exist are numerous. It is this interchange what makes literacy a social practice.
Three other key ideas that developed from discussion were how to support learners in acquiring information, how to support learners in their communication and creations and how to develop foundational knowledge and skills integral to the range of traditional and newer literacies.
It is integral that we support students to be responsible, critical, ethical and safe as they gather new information and skills. It is critical to develop self-monitoring skills to question the safety and appropriateness of the digital content students explore, where information no longer is passed from the teacher or textbook, but is saturated in society and instantaneously accessible. As media diversifies, students must have the capacity to de-code and understand multiple-modes of literacy, so that they can be critical users of accessible content. Students are supported in recognizing the validity of resources and the multiple perspectives of the information they encounter to help them become active critical thinkers who are capable of finding the central theme or idea in an abundance of information.
Creating and Communicating:
In the process of acquiring new knowledge and understandings, students are given opportunities to create and communicate in an effective manner to a target audience. We support students to critically read the world and share their unique perspective through multiple modes of literacy. Communicating and creating is a process that is ever evolving. The work can appear messy as it grows in relation to formative feedback, becoming increasingly informed and polished; all stages of this process are valued. The challenge for girls to find their own connections, voice and perspectives as creators and communicators is ever-present. In being literate, students must bring an element of self into their work. This element of self includes a current worldview in relation to their developmental capacities. To share one’s self authentically also requires an element of risk and willingness.
Foundational Knowledge and Refinement:
To effectively acquire, create and communicate, it is important that students hold foundational knowledge and a set of strategies to continually refine their work. In developing foundational skills, the literary craft itself is honoured. Whether it’s music, art, written-text, drama or dance, the foundations and skill-set of any type of literacy is important in the making of a credible final piece. We help learners to develop skills in context, and provide opportunities to seek feedback to strive for improvement and accuracy. Building foundational skill-sets and strategies requires the opportunity to look to the masters in the given field to continually hone our abilities. The exploration of a canon of work provides an important understanding of the structures that uphold any literacy.