Strong Connections is a valuable time for teachers and students to create relationships.  Kelsey Berkowski is a Grade 3/4 multi age teacher at South Oaks School and she created many opportunities to build connections with her students during these 2 days of Strong Connections.  Kelsey taught Grade 3 last year and was able to carry with her a group of students from last year to join her class this year as she moved to teaching a Grade 3/4 class.

One of the opportunities Kelsey created to explore her students mathematical understanding was using a math routine called Counting Collections.  During this learning experience, students were given a variety of collections to count.  Students were encouraged to think about ways to count the collection efficiently and how to record what and how they counted their collection.  While Kelsey was observing the students counting she was able to take note of the different strategies the students used and what types of skip counting they used to count their collection.  This is a highly engaging mathematical experience for students and provides teachers the opportunity to observe and have conversations with students about their mathematical thinking.  Choral Counting and Counting Collections is a book that provides details on how to incorporate this routine in classrooms from Kindergarten to Grade 5.

Kelsey also wanted to create an opportunity to have authentic and meaningful conversations with her students.  She decided to do this while she and the students created an art piece.  Using the book Only One You by Linda Kranz as inspiration, each student created their own painting of a fish which is now displayed as a collective art piece in the classroom.

Finally, Kelsey incorporated time for her students to engage with the app SeeSaw.  This is an app that can be used to document student work, have students complete activities and communicate with parents.  Kelsey created challenges for her Grade 4 students to complete within SeeSaw with the set intention that once the Grade 4 students understood and could use the app independently, they could support their Grade 3 classmates.

These are just a few examples of how one classroom teacher designed experiences for Strong Connections that were built upon the guiding principle of wanting to make personal connections with her students through conversations and also observe her students understanding in math.

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