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Monday, January 09, 2017

Math Teaching Rerouted

I am a fan of the new standards, but I'm not a fan of teaching grade-level standards to students who are unready for those standards. Instead I support a progressive approach to math education where students begin at their mastery levels and add new learning to that step-by-step in engaging and developmental ways. For example if a child doesn't have a strong sense of counting and facts, I wouldn't want to rush that child into sophisticated calculations and problems. Instead, I'd like to strengthen the foundation and move forward in an engaging way to more and more sophisticated math learning. To do this requires scaffolding almost all assignments, personalizing tests, and creating enriching, floor-to-ceiling math explorations that build a love and interest in math as well as skill and proficiency.

In the past six weeks I hastened the math program to meet with relatively new systemwide expectations. The quickening of program expectations and teaching created some disruption and there's some catch-up work to do. This has created a rerouting of the math program that includes the following:
  • A need to meet with small groups and individuals who need some more support with past concepts of division, problem solving, and concept work. 
  • A need to practice and rehearse concepts, skill, and knowledge formerly taught in preparation for a systemwide assessment.
  • A need to teach problem solving with depth and purpose as many students struggle with reading a problem, understanding what it says, and then following through with a solution in a systematic way. 
All of these efforts can be scaffolded to meet the needs, interests, and skill level of many, but few of these efforts can be one-sized-fits-all in content or speed as all students bring a different profile to class in these respects.

In the next few days, we'll slow it down and personalize more. Today's challenging lesson has brought this need to light. 

The children are earnest and interested in learning.

The resources are many.

The ability to teach this way exists.

We can't rush the curriculum in ways that leave the students' earnest efforts, needs, and interests behind. Good learning is not rushed learning. I'll heed my own words in the days ahead.