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Today was a PA day.

Growing up, I quite enjoyed PA days. Some days, I got to go with my mom to her school and read books in the library while she was doing PD. Other days, I went with my dad to the office and played Minesweeper or Kid Pix on his computer. I’m happy to say that these days, I still quite enjoy PA days, because they give me a chance to catch my breath and reflect more deeply on my practice.

Something our school has been working towards this year is seeing PA days not as mutually exclusive, topical PD sessions. Rather, we are given time to work with our colleagues to build something that actually has impact in our classroom. We started a “new, but not new” cycle of learning today in preparation for an upcoming co-plan, co-teach period, and I am partnering with two wonderful ladies to explore what teaching and learning fractions looks like in Grade 7.

I firmly believe that a strong foundation in fractions sets the stage for future success in math, so I’ve placed a fair amount of pressure on myself to teach this well. Ultimately, in Grade 7 we hope for students to have a strong enough understanding to be able to add and subtract fractions with like and unlike denominators. We were super thankful to have the Fractions Learning Pathway for reference, and are planning to have all our students start at the idea of representing a fraction in as many ways as possible. Then we’ll meet together to look at student work and determine what that tells us about our students and where they need to be supported and challenges.

We drew models, played with Cuisenaire rods and discussed how fraction circles are no longer encouraged. We unpacked the curriculum, filled in a template, and scoured books for open-ended problems. It was a full day of working (with a sweaty ball hockey session during lunch), but I do believe it was worth it.

One of the other things that I love about PA days is that it seems to ease you into the rest of the weekend. I played a bit of piano at school, popped into the local library to pick up “The Nordic Theory of Everything”, then came home and watched two episodes of Riverdale after putting my little one to bed.

All that to say: it’s been a solid day.