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Monday, November 16, 2015

Using the Learning Progressions to Differentiate

I put together a review packet related to the place value/decimals unit the students have been working on. The packet was a collection of pages used in the pack to review the study we've done. As the students worked, I recognized that for some the tasks remained too difficult. While we're at fifth grade standards, there are a few students who are still mastering third and fourth grade foundation skills. What's a teacher to do?

In the best I've done the best I can with this, but this year I want to apply the learning progressions with greater depth. I want to make sure these students are building skill in worthy ways without too big jumps from one concept to the next. How will I do this?

First, I'll take a close look at the progressions as outlined below:
  • Kindergarten, Counting and Cardinality; K-5, Operations and Algebraic Thinking– This progression deals with early counting and how “much is in a group (cardinality).” The progression illustrates the basic operations including the kinds of quantitative relationships they model, and the type of problems that can be solved. 
  • 3-5 Number and Operations – Fractions– This progression illustrates the concept of fractions from grade three to five. This progression explores the concept of fraction as number beginning with fractions on a number-line. The Fraction Progression online professional development module is based upon this progression.
  • K-5 Progression on Geometric Measurement- This progression focuses on measurement in developing a conceptual framework for connecting number and geometry.
  • K-6 Progression on Geometry– This progression focuses on the development of geometry from kindergarten through grade six. The overview of the document indicates that the progression will address three categories essential to elementary geometry: geometric shapes and their attributes; decomposing and composing shapes; and spatial relations and spatial restructuring.
After that, I'll create some assessments to see where these students are one the learning progression for the topic we're studying. Then I'll begin building a program for them that matches our unit focus and utilizes our many online and offline resources as well as the educators available to help. I've always wanted to do this, but I never had the time before since I was teaching all the subjects. Now with a focus on math alone, I have more time to do this which feels good. I hope that, in the future, assessments will take into account the fact that students don't develop solely along grade-level lines. Due to many, many factors, there are many ways and timelines when it comes to student skill, concept, and knowledge development, hopefully by making the time to focus on the progressions and then to use that information to differentiate well, the students who are a bit behind will move forward with confidence and strong skill for both current and later learning.