Friday, April 06, 2018

Math Notes: Teaching Better

As students take a math assessment today, I find myself a bit frustrated--why?

First, the curriculum is so dense that if  you miss a day, it's hard to keep up. We missed several days due to illness and weather, so we're a bit behind, but the MCAS date does not change so if I want to review all standards prior to MCAS that means rushing the curriculum program which is not ideal.

Further, as I've noted multiple times, for students who come in a grade level or more behind it's very difficult and almost impossible to catch up to the grade level standards without substantial, consistent skilled help and time. In a typical classroom situation there isn't the time or available help to significantly support students who are far behind the expectations unless there is a dramatic change in the way schools are run and the expectations for classroom educators (I'm actually a fan of looking at this change).

So what's a teacher to do?

First, I plan to look carefully at the scope and sequence over the summer to review how time is used to meet the standards.

Next, I am going to look at ways to scaffold the unit expectations and reorganize assessment questions so that those who are struggling to meet the expectations of tests will have a chance to do well with a manageable amount of material. I am thinking of reorganizing the tests into a 1-2-3 organization where 1 is meeting essential standards, 2 meeting most standards, and 3 enrichment level. I'll think about this on my own and with colleagues. What I like about the 1-2-3 approach is that #1 warms everyone up, #2 is the grade-level standard, and #3 is that reach, and by organizing tests, units, and learning experiences this way everyone gets a chance to first focus on, learn and/or review the essential material and everyone is also welcome to reach too if that's what they are ready for.

I'm sure that I'l come up with a few more ways to build the program on my own and with colleagues in the months ahead, but this is a starting point.