Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Evaluating the Math Program: What do you think?

I sat with a parent and we discussed, in part, the math program.

There were many positives including the following:
  • All standards were included
  • We include many multi-modal opportunities to learn and express that learning
  • Students had made significant growth according to data collected
  • There were a large number of check-in points
  • There is good online tech program support
There were also a number of challenges:
  • Are there too many tests? Are tests too long?
  • Is the program too narrow including mostly paper/pencil practice rather than richer, deeper math explorations?
  • Are we trying to cram too much in and not leaving enough room for worthy differentiation that responds to where learners are?
  • Did we include for the Standards of Mathematical Practice?
  • Should we include more 3D online programming and 3D study that's more interesting such as gaming and coding to support the program.
I thought about where we are and where we might go, and came up with the following thoughts:
  1. We may need to change the order of the scope and sequence a bit to better support our learners he Standards of Mathematical Practice, and teamwork.
  2. We need to think deeply at the start of the year about how we are going to manage the program for students one to two years behind with regard to the grade-level standards--what is realistic and meaningful with regard to teaching, practice, and learning in this regard? The standards progression matrix I mention below will help with this. 
  3. We need to think carefully about each piece of the program--what's working and what could change for the better?
  4. We need to include more floor-to-ceiling Boaler-like math explorations that invite all students into the wonder and excitement of quality math learning. These are the kinds of experiences that children go home talking about and naturally working on because the experience is so intriguing, thought provoking, and engaging. 
  5. We need to focus on positive teamwork, math talk, and debate
  6. We need to look for ways to include 3D math platforms like Minecraft and coding into the math program in ways that matter.
  7. Educators need to continue to develop their repertoire for the standards, computational thinking, coding, floor-to-ceiling explorations, cognitive science-driven lessons, and standards of mathematical practice. 
Personally, this evaluation leads me to the following actions:
  • study the new standards over the summer and create a standards/progression matrix to use for differentiation (does one already exist?)
  • re-read and watch materials related to Boaler's floor-to-ceiling explorations. Look for ways to include these explorations into the curriculum. 
  • take Google's Computational Thinking course
  • Re-organize the supporting website and teaching/learning materials
  • Possibly engage in some action based research related to math study.
I look forward to forwarding this discussion with colleagues in the days ahead as I work to develop my practice inline with system and state standards and student interests and needs.