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BUILDING THINKING

CLASSROOMS

Aleda Klassen

Aleda Kassen (she/her) first learned about Building Thinking Classrooms when she was a consultant with the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), supporting mathematics teachers at adapting their instructional and assessment practices. When she returned to a school as a classroom teacher, she committed to implementing the thinking classroom practices. She found her classes buzzed with energy, thinking and questions; students developed relationships with, and discovered strengths in, each other. Throughout the next four years, Aleda embraced these practices fully, and she worked with colleagues, both informally and formally, to nuance them to meet the needs of individual students and adapt them to subjects beyond math, even when instruction took place remotely. 

 

When the Grade 9 Destreamed Math (MTH1W) curriculum in Ontario was released in 2021, Aleda worked in a hybrid role: teaching MTH1W and coaching teachers in WRDSB. She witnessed teachers’ excitement and students’ learning as more math classrooms became spaces that invited and elicited more student thinking through the routines, set-up and teacher moves that were being used. Throughout this time, Aleda shared regularly on social media about what she was doing in her classes along with the resources she and colleagues were co-developing. These resources, implemented through a thinking classroom approach, continue to be used across Ontario. Her sketchnotes that make explicit the ways in which thinking classroom practices work towards equity have also been used widely.

 

In Aleda’s current role as a consultant with WRDSB, she works with a team to support destreamed curriculum implementation as well as literacy and numeracy secondary classrooms, including grades 7 and 8. When teachers participate in professional learning sessions that she facilitates, they find themselves standing, in random groups, experiencing tasks that elicit thinking (in a range of subjects). They leave having reflected on their experiences, energised to apply their learning to their own practice. She is an experienced facilitator in both workshop and classroom-embedded learning spaces, who is passionate about engaging adult learners in meaningful experiences and conversations about teaching and student learning.

Aleda was a recipient of the 2019 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in STEM. She has also presented, and facilitated workshops, at various conferences, often connected to Building Thinking Classrooms, including Ontario Association of Mathematics Education (OAME) (2019, 2022, 2023) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (2019, 2023). Her most recent workshop at OAME 2022 and upcoming workshop at NCTM’s Annual Conference 2024 is titled, “Blending Thinking Classrooms and The 5 Practices to Increase and Sustain Students’ Thinking.” At OAME 2024, she will be a featured speaker.

Aleda looks forward to working with school districts in their learning about building thinking classrooms.

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