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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Math Program Design (revised 10/30/12)

What does your math program look like? Do you stick to one series or book, or do you use a myriad of materials?

I continue to think deeply about math education in my class.  Underlying my thought is the premise that math is a marvelous subject to learn and teach.  I want to make it meaningful, relevant and enticing to students.

I teach math in a multi-faceted way including the following components. The program is based on the Massachusetts State Standards.
  • Weekly Computation Practice in-school and at-home.  Children are encouraged to “climb the computation ladder” by practicing their fact/skill level and taking That Quiz tests (about 4 or more a week) and using other online venues such as FastMath, TutPup, SumDog, XtraMath and BigIQ.  I review student print-outs and emailed copies regularly and have mini conferences with individuals and small groups regarding their math computation development at that time.
  • Weekly Target Skill: Each week we’ll target one skill set.  Students will receive an introduction to that skill on Monday via a teacher lesson, videos and practice.  During the introductory lesson, our notes will be taken on a Google doc and/or anchor chart, then published on our class Math Website (new venue) for review, revision and addition. We will review the skill again on Wednesday and Thursday.  Then students will have a skill quiz (formative assessment) on Friday.  The page of practice links, notes and information will be posted on our class HomeStudy Google doc and NING, a closed social network, for student and teacher review.
  • Explicit Teaching: Each day I will spend time on explicit teaching related to grade level math standards (note class doc is a work-in-progress).
  • Practice Pages: I will assign a number of practice activities on Monday that will be due on Friday. The activities will come from many resources.
Link to Word Problem Strategy Video
  • Problem Solving Workshop (similar to writing workshop): Once a week we’ll spend an hour or more on math problem solving using multi-step math problems similar to those on the MCAS test and new common core multi-step problems. We'll review problem solving strategy, complete problems with small groups and partners, edit/revise and share.
  • Project Based Learning (PBL):  Students will engage in a number of collaborative math projects that integrate skill, concept, and knowledge to develop their math problem solving, communication and presentation skills. The Fraction Project is one example of this kind of project, and the "Khan" video project is another.
  • Differentiation: Friday formative assessments will dictate differentiation efforts. Differentiation will be based on individual student need and targeted through a number of practices including individual/small group efforts and multi-modal instruction. This year we will also employ RTI as a way of meeting all students' needs in math.
  • Math Writing and Communication: Students will practice explaining their thinking and questioning with Math Blogs, project work and problem solving workshops. The focus will be concise language/numbers and clear explanations that even a "first grader" can understand and learn from.
  • Math Talk: An opportunity to discuss and share our math thinking aloud.
The components above will be integrated as often as possible with other content areas. For example, this week I'm using relevant data to teach and practice place value skills. The components will also be integrated with each other as units evolve. Time and energy is always a challenge, so the pieces need to be well choreographed to sustain just right student response, motivation and optimal learning.
How is your math program different than mine? What critical points did I miss? What suggestions do you have for me? Thanks for listening.