Cultivating Literate and Numerate Learners through Effective Teaching Strategies

I was recently asked this following question:
Can educators / do educators transfer effective literacy strategies to support student achievement in numeracy?

My initial response: Of course! 
However describing what this looks likes, sounds like, even feels like in the classroom is a more challenging of a task. 

As described by Fiore, LeBar, & Scott-Dunne (2014) in the 4 Roles of the Numerate Learner, it begins with building relationships and cultivating a classroom community. This transcends content areas and provides the foundation for learning. Daily community circles where students have the opportunity to share their thinking and perspectives is central. Students begin to recognize that it is a safe place to share and connect. They take on the role of listener and speaker and feel their way through these roles. 
In community circle, we share our triumphs and our failures, each equally celebrated knowing that we learn the most through our challenges. Taking the time to talk allows me to better understand my students' unique lived experiences which shape their interactions in the classroom. The creation of a nurturing classroom community allows for the application of the strategies shared below.

Although their are many more high yield teaching strategies, I have tried to capture my Top 5. They can be applied in both literacy and numeracy instruction and have been pivotal in student learning and achievement.

Accountable Talk
Through accountable talk students begin to recognize that they have a voice and are accountable for the learning of the classroom community. In Literacy, this includes sharing predictions, questions, and thinking about texts in large and small group discussions. Connecting with the characters and events presented in texts allows students to appreciate the perspectives and lived experiences of each other. In Numeracy, this involves solving inquiries with collaborative groups and sharing thinking with classmates. Students learn that it is okay to disagree and question as it is through 'being uncomfortable' that we learn new things. In our Number Talks students are asked to share the strategies they use to solve mental math. As a community of learners we discuss efficient strategies and learn from each other.

Responsive Teaching
Responsive teaching requires educators to remain tuned in to the learning and conversations happening in the classroom in order to capitalize on unexpected opportunities for learning. The "just in time" nature of this strategy elicits high levels of engagement for students as the learning is purposeful. It also demonstrates how content areas are interconnect as authentic inquiries often involve multiple subject areas.

See Math Learning - Just in Time for reflections on what this looks like in the primary classroom.

Formative Assessment
Formative assessment as a learning strategy in literacy and numeracy instruction allows for educators to 'feed forward' the learning. It is not about looking back, but looking forward to what is possible. It embraces the "not yet" mentality of growth mindset. In Literacy, providing comments to student writing using GAFE allows for them to apply feedback immediately in order to improve. When feedback aligns with co-constructed success criteria students are better able to reflect on next steps. 
Formative assessment helps determine guided reading sessions that focus precisely on individual needs. The same is true for math assessment. Quick check-├Čns (eg. ticket out the door, Google forms) allow for responsive teaching based on need.

Make Thinking Visible
Documenting learning journeys using D2L and GAFE creates opportunities for reflection, connection, and celebration. Students are able to revisit material, share their thinking, and reflect upon their learning. Using digital tools promotes home connections and student engagement outside of school. Learning is everywhere!
Gradual Release of Responsibility
This is the strategy that impermeates all others. It is not linear, but highly cyclical in nature. It allows educators to meet students where they are and promote student accountability. It asks us to think about who holds the cognitive load in the classroom. Who is doing the `work`of learning? Students need opportunities to collaborate, think independently, and also receive direct instruction. Balance is key. In Numeracy, we might begin with a collaborative inquiry task, gather information from this task, and plan shared/modelled approaches based on student needs. In Literacy, this might look like a read-aloud "think aloud" followed by small group shared reading to practice reading strategies. 

Improving Practice with Sarah Brown Wessling - Excellent video on Gradual Release of Responsibility

How do you transfer effective literacy strategies to support student achievement in numeracy? 
What strategies would be included in your Top 5? 


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