Teacher Training in Colombia: English Literacy for Early Grades and Math Problem Solving

Curriculum Services Canada is not only an educational authority in Canada, but internationally as well. Recently, we collaborated with Colegio Colombo Britanica in Cali, Colombia for strategic planning and improvement of their English literacy and math problem-solving teaching strategies. Our English learning initiative focused on pre-kindergarten to primary-aged students with the goal of achieving academic level bilingualism. Our math improvement initiative went deeper into problem solving for later primary to secondary levels. Both programs focused on teacher training practices that prioritized developing an effective classroom learning environment as well as new teaching techniques.

colombia teacher training

We brought in specialized consultants to match each of Colegio Colombo Britanica’s priority needs. The early literacy focus was spearheaded by Wendy Goulden while math problem solving was championed by Kathy Kubota-Zarivnij. According to Wendy, Colegio Colombo Britanica made her feel very welcome! “The participants were so keen and eager to learn together and were an amazing group of people. I feel richer having spent this time learning alongside the teachers in Cali. Together, we identified ways to support the English language skills of students and collaborated in identifying student learning needs, personal learning goals, and strategies to improve the literacy outcomes of the students.”   

Kathy remarked that tIMG_1974here was little language barrier with the teachers. All of the discussions were well-supported by the skilled Spanish interpreters, the teachers who did speak English, and the notion that mathematics is a universal language. “Together the teachers worked on solving problems with solutions that showed a mathematics trajectory from junior to early-secondary mathematics. They experienced the co-construction of new mathematical insights and examined our use of bansho (board-writing) for each mathematics reasoning task/problem. They leveraged their developing mathematical insights to design problem-solving lessons, focused on specific mathematics learning goals with associated success criteria. I was so fortunate to work with these passionate, knowledgeable, and insightful mathematics educators; that is, ‘The Dream Team!’”

Over the three days of professional learning, 32 teachers and 3 principals participated in activities with a focus on supporting deep understanding of the reading process and what it means to live a literate life. Participants also explored various instructional approaches that could be used during the upcoming school year to strengthen literacy and math teaching and learning.

For more information about teacher training with CSC, go to www.curriculum.org.

Wendy Goulden has spent 30 years in education.  She comes to us as a consultant having worked for a large school board and taught in a variety of elementary grades.  As a system leader, Wendy IMG_2576worked as Program Consultant and Coordinator of programs for many years.  She has worked on a variety of initiatives with the Ontario Ministry of Education.  In addition, Wendy  also teaches at the post-secondary level at Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College (formerly at  Charles Sturt University).  Wendy is a curriculum specialist in areas of literacy and early learning.

Kathy Kubota-Zarivnij is currently is coordinator of mathematics professional learning, innovation and research at Havergal College.  She was previously an elementary school principal and principal program coordinator for mathematics, kindergarten to grade 12.  At the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Kathy’s work focused on mathematics professional learning across the province of which several initiatives were inspired by the results of her PhD research.  In addition, Kathy also teaches AQ and ABQ mathematics courses at York University and OISE/U of T.  She has been a contributing author to mathematics textbooks and mathematics resources for teachers, as well as professional articles and book chapters.  Though Kathy was past president of OAME, she continues to be co-editor for the Abacus, a part of OAME’s quarterly journal, The Gazette.


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