A new way to look at math

(L-R) ADSB staff Connie Traves, Shelley Predum, Blythe Servant and Christine Becking were four of the 37 ADSB participants who attended the Northern Ontario Mathematics Association (NOMA) conference.

The Northern Ontario Mathematics Association (NOMA) is committed to supporting the principles outlined in the Ontario First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework. This year’s Leadership Day and Mini-Conference was held in Sudbury on Saturday March 25th. Thirty-seven educators from Algoma District School Board (ADSB) attended the weekend conference and four were on hand at ADSB’s Regular Board Meeting on April 4th to share their learning.

The conference focused on closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in numeracy. NOMA partnered with Laurentian University School of Education to offer the conference which featured a keynote address by Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Her address was titled “Honouring Indigenous Knowledge in our Mathematics Classroom: A Model for Transformation and Reconciliation.”
Dr. Borden shared a model for considering ways in which Indigenous languages, community values, ways of knowing, and cultural connections can impact mathematics learning for Indigenous learners. She described the pedagogical implications of this model and shared approaches that can be used to support Indigenous learners in the mathematics classroom.
One of Dr. Borden’s big ideas was relayed in one statement: “You can’t hold the math in your mind until you hold the math in your hands.” This struck a particular chord with Blythe Servant, acting Principal at Mountain View Public School, who shared with Trustees an overview of the conference including its many breakout sessions which were tailored to all levels, Primary through Secondary.

Connie Traves, Principal at East View Public School spoke about how Indigenous languages are verb-based and how this impacts how we teach Indigenous students in math. Her take away from the workshop was the need to share with students the “action words” around math, not the nouns. For instance, instead of saying “we’re going to study geometry today”, an instructor could instead share images of spheres and cubes and ask what can these shapes do (roll, stack, etc).

Shelley Predum is a teacher from Mountain View. She shared her learning from a workshop called “Bring the Escape Room Experience to Your Classroom.” Christine Becking, teacher from East View shared her learning from a workshop called “Show Me the Math.”

This session was led by Dr. Borden who explained to participants how the program began in Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey communities in 2007. It invites students to work with elders, parents, grandparents, knowledge keepers and other community members to examine the mathematics that is inherent in community and cultural practices. Dr. Borden spoke about how one easily sees math being used in patterning in Indigenous beading, or in measuring the amount of hide needed to make a drum. Christine is excited to introduce some of the concepts she learned in her classroom as she recognizes the similarities between East View’s student population and the communities which Dr. Borden referenced.

Algoma District School Board educators thanked the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to
take part in this Professional Development and all spoke about the impact it has had on their


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