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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Improving the Curriculum Program: Math

In the next few weeks, I'll make sure that all children have exposure to all standards included on upcoming MCAS tests. I wish I could say that I would make sure that all children have mastered all standards, but simply put, we ran out of time particularly for those who came to the grade-level a year or more behind with regard to the expected standards mastery. You simply can't stuff mastery of two or more years of standards-based concepts, knowledge, and skills into most people's brains in short time--good learning takes time and positive approach. Hopefully, like last year, all of our students, however, will demonstrate substantial growth with regard to their math knowledge and ability, and hopefully they will think of math in a positive way--I know that changes to the curriculum will help us to meet this goal more.

To stuff learning into anyone's brain is not how learning happens anyways--we know that learning comes from rich learning experiences that engage, empower, and entice students to wonder, ask questions, problem solve, and debate--optimal learning is an energetic, participatory activity--one where we're fully engaged.

I'm happy that our math program includes all the expected standards. I'm delighted that we spend good time studying math, and I know we have an approach that helps many master the standards and almost all demonstrate good growth with math concept, skill, and knowledge. I want to advocate for, and seek more, time for rich interdisciplinary math learning events, and I want to continue to work with colleagues to find ways to help our students who need more and different get what they need--I think the first move we need to make is to add more skilled math teachers to the mix so that we have more people who are able to work with students who face challenges with the typical curriculum in creative and innovative ways. I also want to include more rich project/problem based learning activities which will pull in all learners in meaningful ways. The challenge with this goal has been time since we're already short on time to meet the expectations of the mostly-traditional curriculum we're expected to teach.

So how will I meet this goal and intent in the days ahead:

  • Read Boaler's grade five math book (see right)
  • Continue to advocate for improving our programs and staffing with respect to students who struggle with the math program--these students struggle for many reasons including the program design, readiness for math learning, time-on-task, time working with skilled educators, health issues, and more. Program improvements could include the addition of math specialists whose expertise is how to teach math well and foster optimal math programs for all students and in particular those who struggle for many reasons. 
  • Analyzing the results of this year's program with depth. Comparing those results with analyses of past years' programs. Making decisions about changes for the future.
  • Advocating for program changes that allow us to reach greater depth, engagement, and interdisciplinary efforts. 
  • Perhaps planning a summer recreation 2019 math program that will find me teaching math in engaging ways to help students who struggle. 
  • Integrating community building and cultural proficiency with early year math lessons that match the curriculum standards so we don't lose time with those standards. 
  • Creating a fun summer challenge related to facts study and learning -- perhaps having students complete the factor/multiple quilt project--that would really set them up well for fifth grade learning.
  • Continuing to update the grade-level math website, Magnificent Math.
  • Exploring Code.org and noticing how I might use this more for math learning and enrichment.
  • Potentially getting involved in the state's computational thinking effort.