Episode #258: Integrating Numeracy Beyond the Math Block: An interview with Kendra Jacobs
Join us for a lovely chat with Kendra Jacobs about mathematizing our world around us and bringing it into our classrooms.
Listen in and learn the one simple thing you can do in your classroom to get students to enjoy mathematics instead of despise it.
Kendra is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, facilitating ‘Teaching Children Numeracy’ and ‘Numeracy for Diverse Learners’.
She is the founder of Mathematizing 247, where her mission is to inspire and empower elementary teachers to create engaging, joyful, and equitable math opportunities.
She works as a part-time classroom support teacher, alongside educators to support strong numeracy instruction that nurtures the development of joyful, independent learners.
What You’ll Learn:
- The one simple thing you can do in your classroom to get students to enjoy mathematics;
- Why we as educators need to ensure that our students don’t perceive mathematics as only a societal access gateway;
- Why picking one particular part of your day to begin intentionally bringing out the mathematics is the best way to start; and,
- Why leveraging oral language and curiosity can bring joy into mathematics learning experiences.
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00:00:00:11 – 00:00:21:14
I think for me, my biggest magic moment was just pushing through enough to get into education. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and I needed just to do the bare minimum math requirements. Math was just a checklist, a societal access piece. I wanted to be a teacher. I needed to do what I needed to do and.
00:00:21:14 – 00:00:43:10
Join us here for a lovely chat with Kendra Jacobs about Mathema teasing our world around us and bringing into that world, into our classrooms. Listen in and you’re going to learn one simple thing you can do in your classroom to get students to enjoy mathematics instead of despise it. And Kendra is here. Kendra is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia.
00:00:43:12 – 00:00:49:09
Okanagan facilitating teaching children numeracy and numeracy for diverse learners.
00:00:49:11 – 00:01:36:09
She is the founder of Mathematician 24 seven, where her mission is to inspire and empower elementary teachers to create engaging, joyful and equitable math opportunities. She works as a part time classroom support teacher alongside educators to support strong numeracy instruction that nurtures the development of joyful, independent learners. John, Let’s dig in with our friend here, Kendra Jacobs. Welcome to the Making Mouth Moments That Matter podcast.
00:01:36:09 – 00:01:37:12
I’m Kyle Pearce.
00:01:37:12 – 00:01:40:09
And I’m Jon Orr, we are from makemathmoments.com.
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This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.
00:01:50:07 – 00:02:03:14
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00:02:03:16 – 00:02:18:13
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00:02:18:15 – 00:02:37:13
So you’re just about to hear a conversation that we recorded with Kendra Jacobs. And just to give you a little heads up, Kendra is presenting at the 2023 Make Map Moments Virtual Summit, where we talk a little bit about that here, plus all the other things she’s doing in her classroom. So if you have not yet registered for the summit, there is still time.
00:02:37:17 – 00:02:43:12
Get over there and register over at Summit dot McBath moments dot com, pal. Let’s go.
00:02:43:14 – 00:03:01:06
Hey, Hey there, Kendra thanks for joining us here on the Making Math Moments that Matter podcast. How are you doing here on a Thursday evening Getting late where we are but not really that late where you are. Where are you coming to us from? Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.
00:03:01:08 – 00:03:27:03
Yeah, I’m coming from Cologne on British Columbia and it is a little bit earlier out here. I work part time as a classroom support teacher, part time as an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus. And I have also recently just started a blog, Mathematics 24 seven to really share out the love of joy in mathematics.
00:03:27:08 – 00:03:31:09
Really, and just talk about all things math.
00:03:31:11 – 00:03:59:20
Awesome, awesome stuff. Can you tell us a little bit more about sometimes I like to kind of go back and think about what spurred you into math education. Give us a snapshot of that journey of coming from, I don’t know, wherever that journey started for you, but you got into math education or you got into education in general, but then something maybe turned if you were a teacher and then focusing on math, what was it about Math?
00:03:59:22 – 00:04:25:03
Yeah, I love that question because I think in many of the roles I hold now, I often hear you did a lot of math as a university, as a kid that was really are thing. And I would say that I didn’t always believe that in my first few years teaching, I was actually teaching only English and social studies the way that the school was broken up.
00:04:25:05 – 00:04:39:04
I was teaching grade six at the time and my teaching partner was doing the math and science, and so I didn’t really think about it at the time. I probably felt a bit lucky that I wasn’t teaching math and kind of poof.
00:04:39:06 – 00:04:40:23
Good thing is not made teacher math.
00:04:41:04 – 00:05:21:05
Is It really did scare me. And then I transitioned to teaching grade three and my principal at the time said, Well, now you’re teaching everything. I had a real moment of panic for sure, and that really sparked my journey. So I left that conversation thinking, okay, I haven’t got literacy all figured out, but for sure I’d had some good practice with it at that point in my career and so the only thing I truly knew in that moment was I really wanted to bring the same joy that I’d been able to very high in literacy, to math and what I also knew was I didn’t really have that as a child growing up.
00:05:21:09 – 00:05:36:11
How on earth was I going to make math fun the way I had embodied that joy? And that’s really this that our journey ever since, just real learning deeper.
00:05:36:13 – 00:05:49:20
Got it. Got it. What would you say when you say that you wanted to bring the joy that you experienced in literacy, in kids experience, in literacy to math, What was currently preventing the joy already being there?
00:05:49:21 – 00:05:52:10
MM That’s a great question.
00:05:52:12 – 00:05:53:18
Just maybe in the student John.
00:05:53:18 – 00:05:56:07
Speak going deep lately on these episodes.
00:05:56:07 – 00:06:14:04
You’re interact with your students, you know you’re experiencing joy over here with them, with your self. You probably didn’t have joy at the time in math. You know, there is something there preventing that joy from being with your students as well. What was math really preventing joy to the students? What was going on there?
00:06:14:06 – 00:06:42:18
They know exactly what it is. Not now. But at the time I felt that oral language was not really an important part of math. And so we’d been having such rich, interesting conversations with the children about their thinking, about their wonders, about their opinions, their creative ideas. There was just so much conversation. And the only thing that I really my math experience had not been conversational.
00:06:42:21 – 00:07:05:19
We started realizing what rich ideas the children bring. They can think about things like I was learning more from them. Probably look at them. They were learning from me just by creating that space to really listen to their thinking. And I think, yeah, that was the missing piece for me. In my time, I hadn’t experienced oral language and math as a child.
00:07:05:21 – 00:07:33:00
Well, we as humans are social creatures, right? What I’m envisioning in my mind when you had said back then, because I think probably for everyone listening, maybe there’s a handful of people listening out there that maybe didn’t have the same experience. But for many of us, mathematics, what we were taught through the education system and through our parents and experiences around us was that math was a thing that had to be done.
00:07:33:02 – 00:08:02:10
It was a skill that we had to develop, but it wasn’t social. There was no discourse, there was no collaboration. It was really just mimicking. It was following steps and procedures. And we talk about that on the podcast quite a bit. And it’s definitely interesting that in language that’s happening quite a bit in a lot of other subject areas, that’s happening quite a bit and hopefully there’s some people out there that maybe a light bulbs gone off for them and maybe they’re going, Huh, Maybe that’s what’s missing.
00:08:02:10 – 00:08:23:14
If let’s say they haven’t found that joy, are they wondering how do I bring more joy? We get a lot of questions from listeners that ask us about that. How do we make kids enjoy mathematics more? And even just something as simple as that is making it a collaborative, a social endeavor can go a long way. There’s a lot to it, of course, as I’m sure we all know here.
00:08:23:14 – 00:08:47:13
But that’s a really great start. So when you think back, when you think about your math moment, we ask every guest this question, What does that look like in sound like to you? I’m going to guess that it probably sounds like maybe quiet, maybe some of the things I’ve described. But is there a moment that sort of stands out to you that pops into your mind when you think of your own experience as a math learner?
00:08:47:19 – 00:09:09:16
I would say that quite quiet. Follow the rules. Here’s what you do. Here’s how you do it. Get to the end. I think for me, my biggest math moment was just pushing through enough to get into education. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and I needed just to do the bare minimum math requirements to be successful.
00:09:09:16 – 00:09:11:05
Through the hoop. Yeah.
00:09:11:07 – 00:09:31:09
You math was just a checklist, a societal access piece. I wanted to be a teacher. I needed to do what I needed to do, and I don’t think was necessarily easy or hard. It was just to do it. I did feel great love in math. I had to do that. I knew I needed to do it just to get a good enough grade to get to where I wanted to go.
00:09:31:11 – 00:09:55:03
Yeah, you’re visioning that math was just a roadblock in your way. I got to push through this barrier just so I can get to where I really want to go. Math is preventing me from getting there. And that was your math moment, is that’s what you’re saying? Yeah. Right now that you’ve reflected on that and now that you’re on a journey of trying to change that for your students, how do you bring that with you?
00:09:55:04 – 00:10:02:05
How do you bring that moment with you and how do you think it is impacted what you’re doing with students on a regular basis now?
00:10:02:07 – 00:10:33:00
I think twofold. I think one big aspect from that moment is that I don’t want students now to experience that. I don’t want our children to do math as that gatekeeper for what they want to do and that just check the box to get through. And then the other piece to that is our family growing up played so many games and so I think that like board games, card games was just such a part of our family culture.
00:10:33:00 – 00:11:02:23
And so I think that was what complemented it. So that when I learned another side of joyous math in the education world, I was able to connect back to that experience. I think those two sort of experiences were necessary building blocks moving forward and not that every family can or should or has to play games, but it just really helped me to develop my critical thinking outside the box, thinking when I wasn’t necessarily accessing that.
00:11:03:00 – 00:11:25:05
Got it. We want to make sure everyone here and we said this in the introduction as well, but you are speaking at our fifth annual Make Math Moments Virtual Summit, which is coming up in November. And we’re excited that you’re presenting there. And I know that you’re going to talk about a number of things, especially about how math is embedded in our world and how we can help our students see that.
00:11:25:06 – 00:11:35:11
Tell us a little bit more about that. How do you see how students can mathematics the world and make use of what’s around us to actually strengthen their numbers since.
00:11:35:13 – 00:11:58:02
Yeah, I’m really excited to dive into that topic. I’m going to dive into primarily where math lives outside of the math block. We have such a precious as during the day carved out typically. And so I’m going to help us possible eyes around where we can mathematicians beyond however long we have scheduled with nine days for that math time.
00:11:58:05 – 00:12:29:05
So one of the things I see in many of the classrooms that I’m fortunate enough to be in is a lot of soft start times. So welcoming the children with different activities in the classroom that give them a chance to be social and have a lot of choice in ways and then transition morning with their class. And so I’m going to talk about how we can bring some magnetizing activities to some of the opportunities within that time and be really intentional about that.
00:12:29:07 – 00:12:56:02
And I think that what that really does is it really opens up those feelings for the children. It gives us this low floor entry point of if we’re doing math during, for example, a soft start, we’re not as rigid about what we’re actually doing or what we’re asking for the help from the children. And so it can give us a chance to play more games and really develop that critical thinking in a way where the children don’t even recognize they’re doing math.
00:12:56:04 – 00:13:04:09
You can notice and name it and help them build their confidence as mathematicians in that time so that when the math block comes, they’re already feeling good about it.
00:13:04:11 – 00:13:26:01
I love it. I love it. I’m wondering, without giving away too much from the summit session, because we want people to go and join you for that session. Remembering everyone who’s listening before the summit. The summit is November 17th, 18th and 19th, 2023. And if it’s after that weekend, you can check out the replays inside to make math Moments Academy.
00:13:26:03 – 00:13:43:12
What does that look like and sound like? Do you have an example of maybe an activity? Maybe it’s something that happened recently and you found was an opportunity for an educator to sort of mathema ties some of that soft start time that you’ve described here.
00:13:43:14 – 00:14:09:03
Yeah, one of my favorite examples often happens this time of year and it’s around using scales. And so putting out scales for children to explore with in the mornings and creating some provocation around that it being fall pumpkins are fabulous additions to those in our early elementary classrooms. It’s helping the children just make predictions and assumptions. Which one is weighing more?
00:14:09:03 – 00:14:21:05
Which one is weighing less? Sometimes they’ll put magnets with the pumpkins. And so how many magnets will equal one pumpkin? And so the children actually get into so many rich conversations.
00:14:21:07 – 00:14:23:10
We’ve had a few of those ourselves right now.
00:14:23:10 – 00:14:42:18
Exactly right. Where as soon as you said, pumpkins and mathematician, I’m picturing a pumpkin time bomb. We’ll put a link. We’ll put a link for those. You don’t know pumpkin time. You got to check it out. It’s definitely worth checking out. But I love the flexibility in the examples that you’re sharing. So taking something that might, you know, maybe be season specific, right?
00:14:42:18 – 00:15:08:20
Or like a theme that’s going on in the classroom and to be able to incorporate some of these other skills. What I’m envisioning in my mind as you’re describing these things, I’m envisioning students talking as you had mentioned, right, having this math discourse, this collaboration time, that really this opportunity for students to actually engage and enjoy. So there’s that joy, peace and joy, the math experience.
00:15:08:22 – 00:15:32:02
And you had said a lot of times students don’t even recognize they’re doing math. One thing that I might recommend for those who are listening is be more explicit to kids every now and again, too. It’s great when we kind of trick them into doing the math, but we also want them to recognize that you like math. It’s like taking those opportunities at times to say, Look at the smile on your face, look at the logic you’re showing and look at wow, look at that mathematician.
00:15:32:08 – 00:16:08:03
This mathematicians thinking and how they’re sharing that and all of those things. I love that idea. I’m wondering by taking this approach and you use the word intentionality or intention early on, being intentional is so key. It’s an important during a math block. But you’re saying about being intentional also in other parts of the day and other parts of the schedule, which I think is so key and so important, what would you say is the biggest benefit that you have witnessed, either yourself with students you’ve worked with, or maybe that you’ve seen other educators who are trying to implement these strategies?
00:16:08:05 – 00:16:11:21
What would be a big sort of win that you’re seeing?
00:16:11:23 – 00:16:36:02
I’ll talk about a different time of the day when we integrated math that where there was a really big win. And so I collaborated with a kindergarten teacher and we decided we would bring out some numeracy during the writing block. And so she was using a writers workshop structure. The lessons went on for an amount of time. I don’t remember exactly how long, but it was a series of lessons.
00:16:36:02 – 00:17:06:15
And so we read many math specific books and also not math specific books, but where there might be connections to math to inspire some of the math writing. And the biggest win from that was some of the more emergent writers who weren’t writing very much during writing. BLOCK all of a sudden just flourished. They were writing all these incredible math stories about how they went to the park, and they had some balloons and some tumblers blew away.
00:17:06:15 – 00:17:33:23
And this was how many they had left. The children were not writing all that much, some of them before this. But then the story structure and the math actually engaged them so much that their math thinking quite impressive, their written output was also significantly growing. And we just had this big aha moment of what a neat opportunity to really bring to life all those skills.
00:17:34:00 – 00:17:55:01
I love that. That’s such a key piece because I remember myself as a student and not enjoying literacy as a student. That was not enjoyable to me. I don’t know if I enjoyed math, but it was quote unquote easy to me. It felt like I could do it and get it done, but it was still just something on the list to get done.
00:17:55:03 – 00:18:25:14
But what you’ve kind of highlighted for me in that particular scenario is just this idea of allowing students to see that the different skills that we’re learning, the different concepts that we’re weaving in different blocks, actually they’re all connected, right? Being a great writer, you could be a great math writer. You could be a great student who maybe you didn’t think that you liked writing, but now you’re enjoying it because it’s incorporating something that you feel confident and vice versa, right?
00:18:25:14 – 00:18:57:13
So bringing writing into the math block for students who maybe feel more confident in their writing skills, but maybe don’t feel so confident in mathematics just to give them something that allows them to feel a sense of confidence, maybe a sense of comfort. And that sounds like a massive, massive when I’m wondering for those who are listening, if you were to give them something like, I really want to try this, what would you give them as maybe an idea, something that would give them just enough to get started where they don’t feel overwhelmed doing this?
00:18:57:15 – 00:19:15:16
Do you have any ideas you gave already? Some great ones you gave around this theme of pumpkins. I don’t know if this episode will be out before Halloween, so it’s not too bad. But what might be a good sort of starting point for someone who is looking to kind of be more intentional here, but they’re not exactly sure where to begin?
00:19:15:21 – 00:19:38:21
I think my biggest piece of advice was pick one area and start there. So I talked about sort of two key times within the day where we might be able to integrate math. But I would say just pick one time of the day. It could be gym class, it could be writing, it could be doing some more read aloud about math, But just pick one and then really deeply ask yourself those questions.
00:19:38:21 – 00:20:03:11
Where does and where can the math live here? And I think not only asking ourselves those questions, ask the children they know best. They will help you on that journey. And so I think that would be my advice would be pick one spot, investigate it yourself, and alongside that, investigate it with the children, because that’s when we truly learn and grow this from each other.
00:20:03:13 – 00:20:23:17
Through love it. Kendra What would you say if you could leave one last thought with our listeners right now. So they’ve been listening for a little bit of time now, and now they’ve heard all of the nuggets that you’ve been sharing the ideas. But if you could leave one last thought, one big takeaway that they could take away from this conversation, what would that be?
00:20:23:22 – 00:20:26:16
I’m going to say kind of two in one.
00:20:26:19 – 00:20:27:02
00:20:27:03 – 00:20:53:17
Bonus say oral language and curiosity. And I think that at the beginning we started with how to bring joy to that math time. And one of the big takeaways from that West engage in that oral conversation is bringing the social side of math to life. And then with that, if we are engaging in those conversations and oral language, it gives us an opportunity to be curious.
00:20:53:17 – 00:21:04:22
And so if we’re thinking about integrating math beyond the math block, bring that lens of curiosity to both ourselves, the educators, as well as the children.
00:21:04:24 – 00:21:24:23
I love that. I love that. That’s some great, great takeaways. A two for one, which I love. Kendra, Where can people find more information about you? We know you’re going to be at the virtual summit, my friends. So Summit dot make math moments dot com, get in there for free. Make sure that you’re checking it out and check out Kendra’s session.
00:21:25:00 – 00:21:40:16
But how about for those others who are looking to learn more about you? Maybe get caught up with you and maybe learn more about what you’re up to in the whole mathematic thing of the outside of the school block or outside of the math block, I should say.
00:21:40:18 – 00:22:02:05
You can find me on Instagram and on Facebook, on Instagram. It’s that massive advising 24 seven in that 24 seven is quite sneaky stance or represents all day every day. So thinking about math all of the time and then you can find me at W WW dot magnetizing 20 47. com.
00:22:02:07 – 00:22:22:12
Yeah I will throw that in the show notes for the link to the summit in the show notes as well. Kendra, we want to thank you for taking some time out of your busy day and joining us here for our session on mathematics ing and talking all things about bringing math into our classrooms in different ways. So thanks so much and we look forward to seeing you live in a few weeks.
00:22:22:18 – 00:22:25:20
I’m excited to join you. Lives will be a great weekend.
00:22:25:22 – 00:23:12:15
Awesome. Thanks so much. Have a great evening and we’ll see you soon. Well, friends, it’s been awesome bringing Kendra on. And like we said at the top of the episode, we’ll be seeing Kendra at the 2023 virtual summit over on November 17th, 18th and 19th, 2023. It’s a free event to attend live. Hey, guess what? If you’re listening to this and it’s past November 17th, 18th and 19th, 2023, you can join the academy and dig in to all of the session replays, but not just from this year’s summit, not just from last year’s summit, but from five full summits that we’ve had over the past five years and counting, plus all of our other self-paced
00:23:12:15 – 00:23:16:00
online courses and problem based lessons.
00:23:16:04 – 00:23:45:10
So in this episode, Kyle, we chatted with Kendra, and I think when she talked about mathematics in our world, you’re thinking about our tree, our classroom tree. To me, I think where the work that she’s doing and the work that she talks about on the podcast and also what’s going to be in the summit is thinking about your branches eberechi some of your pedagogical moves, the choices that you’re thinking about, what bring into the classroom, to give that to your students, to expose to your students, to emerge to some of the mathematics that you want to emerge in your classes.
00:23:45:14 – 00:23:58:00
To me, that’s a pedagogical move. That’s a thinking about some of the teacher moves. That’s one of the branches of our tree and strengthening that is always going to be beneficial to you as an educator, but also your students.
00:23:58:02 – 00:24:26:17
Awesome. Hey, friends, listen, if you found something interesting here in this episode, something of value. Hey, maybe it was the virtual summit at Summit. Don’t make math moments. Dot.com. Maybe it was something you heard from Kendra or from John. Or either way, it would be amazing if you took just a moment to pause. Hit that subscribe button and leave a rating and review over on Apple Podcasts as well as over on Spotify or on YouTube.
00:24:26:21 – 00:24:41:15
My friends, it goes a long way to making sure more math moment makers, just like you find all of this wonderful, wonderful learning content. Do us that solid again. Take a moment rate and review and be sure to subscribe.
00:24:41:17 – 00:25:02:23
And if you are interested or curious about the six parts of an effective math program and haven’t yet gone and taken our classroom assessment or our district assessment, that will help you pinpoint which of the six areas that you could focus on a little bit more you should head on over to make math monster.com for such grow make math moments dot com for such grow.
00:25:03:00 – 00:25:10:11
And you can take our assessment over there and you’ll get emailed a full report of where your program is on that assessment.
00:25:10:13 – 00:25:14:18
Well my friends, until next time I’m Kyle Pearce.
00:25:14:18 – 00:25:15:18
And I’m Jon Orr.
00:25:15:24 – 00:25:18:21
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