Thursday, February 7, 2013

Explore +4 Unwrapped!

[submitted by Sharia Warnecke, Instructional Consultant]

There are so many successful ‘school stories’ to celebrate in our school division! Currently we are hearing about many exciting learning experiences in our classrooms using Explore +4. This structure is the brain child of Kira Fladager, LJ Dowell-Hantlemann and I. Three years ago, after witnessing the success of ‘The Sisters’ Daily 5/Cafe, we believed in a need for a similar numeracy structure that would also incorporate Math Makes Sense resources.  


Explore+4 is a structure to develop independence and stamina in math. It focuses on curriculum outcomes and individual student goals. Explore+4 is inspired and adapted from Gail Boushey and Joan Moser’s (2006) The Daily 5 and Math Daily 5. It has been developed to support the curriculum, Regina Public Schools’ Numeracy Framework and Math Makes Sense, the key resource for Kindergarten to Grade 9. There are 5 components to Explore+4; Explore, Math On My Own, Math with Someone, Math Sense and Math Talk. 


The best way to make sense of math is by “doing” math and exploring math concepts. By exploring math, you are bringing your own meaning and background knowledge to the concept. You need to bring your own background knowledge as you attempt to solve it. It soon builds confidence.
Components of Explore:
  1. Rich open ended task that is Outcome driven and differentiated to meet student’s readiness and background knowledge
  2. From Math Makes Sense (Pearson) or other resources such as Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by John Van de Walle
  3. Whole class or strategy group
  4. 10 - 15 minutes


The best way to become a better mathematician is to practice each day. This is your chance to apply what you have learned and independently practice math. This allows you to make sense of what you have learned which leads to better retention and deeper understanding of outcomes and big ideas.
  1. Extending the Explore through a variety of activities
  2. MMS Practice and Assessment Focus questions (Venn Diagram to give choice)
  3. Van de Walle tasks


You get better at math when you work with others. This is your chance to work with a partner showing what you know and sharing strategies and solutions. Math with someone helps you develop more time to practice strategies, check for understanding, hear your own voice and share in the learning community.
  1. Completing a MMS Practice question with a partner
  2. Reading the text book together and checking for understanding
  3. Sharing strategies and using math language

Daily work with numbers and strategies for operations builds fluency and accuracy. This is an essential foundation for doing math. It is important to work with different types of numbers and operations all year long. You have to interact with numbers every day to develop a deep understanding of numbers and operations. A repertoire of activities designed to reinforce basic number sense and curricular outcomes should be introduced and rotated throughout the year.
  1. Daily work with number sense
  2. Develop independence and stamina in math
  3. Reinforce fluency and accuracy
  4. Practice basic facts
  5. Build on curricular outcomes
John Van de Walle activities, Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks and Math Makes Sense games and activities; Online manipulatives and websites


We need many opportunities to talk and read in math and to listen to good examples of mathematics strategies, vocabulary and non-fiction reading strategies. As we develop more math vocabulary, we become better readers in Math. We learn to show our understanding concretely, pictorially and symbolically.
  1. Math vocabulary / word walls
  2. Math journals
  3. Real world problems
  4. Reading text books
  5. Non-fiction reading strategies

A math notebook should be developed to keep track of individual student’s progression with curricular outcomes. Outcome rubrics, Assessment focus questions, and student reflections can be kept together to show evidence of learning for each student. Goal setting meetings with individual students and record keeping for instructional groups can also be part of the math notebook.
Possible Assessment Process
1. Unwrap outcomes and plan for differentiation
2. Pre-assess outcomes using resources like Numeracy Nets, DNA, MMS
3. Plan activities for the unit
4. Use pre-assessment to create individual student goals
5. Conference with individual students or small groups to monitor student goals throughout the unit (formative assessment)
6. Complete post-assessment for the unit


In order for students to be independent learners in the classroom, pre-planning in management, organization and differentiation must be considered. The following are suggestions for successful implementation of the Explore+4 structure:
  •       I-Chart / Anchor Chart
  •       Management Boards
  •       Word Walls
  •       Math Bindes
  •       Organization of Manipulatives
  •       Math Notebook / Pensieve
  •       Educational Technnology
Our early vision also included an opportunity for teachers to collaborate and share plans. This year LJ and I have worked with teachers to develop unit plans that are currently being posted on the RPS mathematics website.

I am always excited to hear and see all the success stories! ConnectEd will make that possible!

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