Friday, April 26, 2013

Today's Blended Math Program

The Math MCAS test is right around the corner in Massachusetts, hence we're in heavy math mode. As I've mentioned before, I really enjoy teaching math. It's amazing to relay concepts in pictures, numbers, words and problems, and then see students strive to understand and apply the concepts in meaningful ways. When students err, I point out that we've found an area for growth and understanding, and using a math workshop model I conference with students to tease out the errors to help students make meaning.

As I planned this year's review, I was once again amazed at the multiple resources available online and off.  It certainly is a "brave new world" of math education given the tremendous resources at our finger tips.

The key for the teacher is to blend those resources in ways that emphasize math practice, standards and mastery.  One book or text is insufficient today when it comes to math education as we now have the ability to craft a much more personalized approach to math learning for every child and family using the multiple resources available. Yet a streamlined online or offline text can offer teachers a solid guide.

This year I've been able to blend the following tools for math growth and strength. Typically I introduce a standard, assess, and then plan for the differentiated roll-out of the standard employing past concepts for review and new concepts for learning through the use of multiple tools.  I assess as I move along the standard path, adjusting instruction and materials as I go to best teach the students.

These are some of the wonderful math education tools and processes I used this year. I look forward to updating my class math website this summer to emphasize the best of tools and links as I move forward with math education and understanding.

Tools and Processes:

That Quiz: Free online program where students and teachers can easily make short (or long) concept/skill tests for student practice and assessment.  There is quick feedback and score reports for the teacher.

Symphony Math: An online math model approach to math education that places students at their current level and uses many personalized activities to move students up the ladder of math understanding.  What I like best about this tool is that it forces students to see numbers as models.

SumDog: An engaging online math game that meets students at their current skill level and provides many enjoyable, interactive games and contests for practice

YouTube: YouTube has countless math videos that explain concepts and provide wonderful ways to practice concept knowledge such as songs and dances.

The Internet: There are countless sites to find and print math worksheets such as There are also multiple creation sites that help one create tailored math practice materials such as crossword puzzles, comics and more for math practice and review.

Google apps: Google table provides a wonderful vehicle for quickly creating and sharing personalized, responsive math assignments, projects, sites and templates.

Paper/Pencil: Students continually draw, create and make math models to learn and explain concepts. Often they do this in their hard copy math journals.

Manipulatives: We have a solid supply of manipulatives that help students identify and depict mathematical concepts.

Xtra Math: This is a great site for fact practice which can be used at home or in school for free.  The site tracks students' progress and need.

State MCAS Materials: Problems and tools available online through the Massachusetts' Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

RTI: This year we started using the RTI approach in math.  This has given us more time and staff to target specific math learning needs for students.

Quick Time/iMovie: These two resources have been terrific for student and teacher content creation which emphasize "math talk" and explanation.

Math Workshop: A differentiated approach that includes a focus lesson, small group and independent math exploration and work, math conferences and share.

Math Project Base Learning: Engaging, meaningful math projects that provide multiple, relevant opportunities for students' math exploration, learning and share.

Math Tech Time: At this time a menu of differentiated, targeted math links are placed online.  Students work on computers and follow those links to strengthen their skill.  The teacher is able to conference one-to-one and monitor the class's work/efforts with a steady stream of online reports.

This short list demonstrates only a fraction of the wonderful math tools and processes available for student learning today. The key is to find the best tools; tools that are both streamlined and engaging hence leaving most of the time for mathematical thought, practice, share and presentation.

How do you create an engaging, standards-based, blended math program for your students?  How do you work collaboratively with your peers to create, develop and strengthen your program?  What tools, strategies and practice do you find most useful?  What challenges still exist?

I'm anxious to give Kahn coaching, Manga High and Tynker greater attention as I incorporate further tools. I'm also looking forward to building my students' ability and efforts with regard to brain-friendly lessons, math talk and problem solving. Math education today is one terrific area for learning investigation and growth--one that I look forward to developing more.  I look forward to your thoughts and ideas in this regard.

Related Information
Blended Learning Article