Aleda Klassen: Creating multiple opportunities for success in math

Year: 2019 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Aleda Klassen

Mathematics, grades 10–11
Waterloo Collegiate Institute, Waterloo, Ontario

"In all senses of the word, Aleda is an educational leader. She has created a vibrant learning community within [the school's] math department, focussing on modern and effective learning strategies that best meet the needs of a broad range of students."
— Principal

Aleda Klassen's class bears no resemblance to a traditional one, looking more like a collaborative space at a tech start-up. She specifically asks to teach math courses for which attendance and interest are low, and develops hands-on projects to engage students—sometimes using chocolate.

Teaching approach

Aleda is a listener whose approach starts with careful design and thoughtful questions, which she uses to respond dynamically to any emerging student needs. In doing so, she creates a bespoke pedagogy and nobody feels left out.

STEM in the classroom

  • Integrates technology with a focus on student achievement: students collaborate at whiteboards to solve problems; she then uses her iPad and Apple TV to display solutions and walk through them with the class, asking students to explain their thinking.
  • Integrates technology into assessment: tracks student progress on her iPad and records daily observations and conversations with students, pictures of student work on whiteboards, results of student feedback forms; provides extensive feedback to students and catalogues their work.
  • Takes multiple approaches to teaching applied-level math: students demonstrate their learning at vertical white board stations, take an exit ticket from activities to reflect on the process, write tests in sections or explain their learning out loud rather than having to write it down.

Outstanding achievements

  • Transformed school's yearbook class into full-fledged journalism course and challenged students to imagine how they might engage with the world in this field: students take on roles in production of online and award-winning newspaper The Fjord that suit their abilities and interests.
  • Contributed to development of Minute School math app that focuses on intuitive and accessible math activities.
  • Led Board transition from a unit-based math teaching model to one in which teachers initially touch on all concepts and then build on them; this approach leads to deeper, long-term learning of the material, particularly for students who may struggle with a traditional approach to math.
  • Co-developed professional learning model for math teachers from Grade 6 to 9: they adapt the same problem for each level, collaborating and observing each other's classes to build continuity and to better understand the conditions their students learn in as they transition between schools.

Get in touch!

Waterloo Collegiate Institute
300 Hazel Street
Waterloo ON N2L 3P2

Twitter: @wciinfo

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