Numeracy and Beyond

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Image source: wired.com

BY: KATHY MCDONALD

Numeracy and Beyond is the name of the Peel District School Board’s (PDSB) parent conference for 2017. This annual conference is the PDSB outreach to parents and all stakeholders in our community to discover new ideas that will enrich their children’s learning. Although registration is officially closed it is not too late to register online at www.peelschools.org/parents/conference . The conference is free with refreshments, lunch and conference materials provided to all attendees. To readers from other school boards please visit your children’s school board website to access any such conferences or resources that will enhance your ability as a parent or caregiver to better support your children’s learning.

The registration and exhibitors displays begin at 8 am. At 8:30 am, the conference opens with greetings and opening remarks as well as the keynote address. This will be followed by a refreshment break before the first workshop begins. After another break, the second workshop starts. Both workshops are one hour long. During lunch there is a  myriad of vendors and resource booths which are maintained for your convenience. The afternoon sessions begin around 1:15 pm and the conference closes at 2:30pm. Believe me when I say its time well spent. The workshops are designed for various age groups from primary elementary, junior elementary, middle school, secondary school as well as workshops that are of interest to all ages.

This year, keynote speaker Matthew Oldridge, will help parents conquer the important math ideas and equip parents to help their children at home. The “new math” will be demystified as Oldridge seeks to assist parents with understanding the way teachers are teaching math in the classroom today. Oldridge is a certified teacher working at the PDSB who is currently working as a math resource teacher. He strives to make mathematics an engaging and dynamic subject that will fill the students with a sense of wonder. He is a strong proponent for thinking outside the box. Math classrooms should be places of surprise and wonder. He brings to life Pythagoras theorem and relates it to the student’s everyday life. It is engagement magnified. He has given a Ted Talks as well as several other seminars and professional development to teachers. You can follow him on his twitter @MatthewOldridge. In fact, you can also follow me @TrusteeMcdonald.

Mathew, in fact, thinks it would be great if every student could say that math is surprise and wonder and playing with numbers. He is passionate about spreading his love of numbers to all he meets. He believes in a mathematical mindset like Professor Jo Boaler from Stanford. Oldridge believes kids need to be skilled with number concepts and skilled in arithmetic “but we need them exposed to powerful concepts..they need the power of their thinking”. He truly believes that classrooms should be wide open spaces for thinking. In Oldridge’s classroom kids often lead with the power of their thinking. Does pi ever end? Math is more than something that happens in textbooks and needs to be made relevant to kids in today world. Kids need to engage with each other and explore concepts. Math can be that vehicle by which kids can discover that that deal is actually “ a big rip off”. Or as Mike Bell puts it “a Debt Enhancing Act of Lunacy”.

There are about thirty workshops pertaining to numeracy. There are also workshops on literacy, science, special education and various ways to help your child succeed in school. So, if you want to motivate the reluctant reader or help your teen succeed in science this conference is for you. You may simply want to learn to advocate for your child, or help your child with a learning disability succeed in school. Well, come on over to Mississauga Secondary School on April 1st. This is not an April fool’s joke. You can learn how to boost your child’s self-esteem, help your child make successful transitions to middle school, understand the EQAO assessment as well as foster your child’s critical thinking skills. No one is judged or criticized. Just come to learn. You can even develop your own digital literacy skills and learn how to go beyond the Google search. This will equip you to help your teen with online research as well as updating you the parent with the latest trends in education. Need help coping with stress? What about the why’s, what’s and how’s of the IEP? The afternoon sessions will guide parents through the secondary school course selection process and myBlueprint, the French Immersion process or more math tips. Let’s face it, it is a win-win for all.

I vividly remember reciting a childhood gem in school every morning. In fact, it was printed on the back of our exercise books and became part of the mantra of each student: “ Labour for learning before you grow old for learning is better than silver and gold. Silver and gold will vanish away but a good education will never decay”. This song was originally recorded by Jamaica’s ska legend, Desmond Dekker and it still rolls off my tongue today. Save the date, April 1st at 550 Courtney Park Drive West, Mississauga.  Attending this conference will be one of the best decisions you could make this year. Tell them I sent you!  Journey with me as the PDSB seeks to give your children superior tools to equip them for their life’s journey. Walk Good. Belle Marché.

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