Thursday, May 02, 2019

Rigorous math program evolution

Our school system has a rigorous elementary school math program. I find myself thinking deeply about how to deal with this in positive ways.

I know that the rigorous program sets students up well for learning beyond elementary school. In general, our students move from elementary school with a strong foundation of math skill, knowledge, and concept. This is good. They also move along with a good foundation of math practice skills too--they persevere, use good problem solving strategy, and collaborate well. There are many checks and balances that help us to keep the program going with strength, and we have lots of wonderful resources with which to teach math.

The program, in general, is the result of lots of dedicated effort from educators, students, families, and administrators. Program growth has included lots of professional learning, debate, and decision making. And like any program work in schools, it's not perfect and needs to continually evolve, but all in all, the program is solid and positive. Teachers at the elementary level can be proud of the achievement students demonstrate by the time they reach the end of elementary school at fifth grade.

As I think of this program strength at the end of the traditional math teaching year and just before a great number of math assessments, I am thinking about how I will forward this program evolution next year-what I will do to improve what we do.

The strengths of this year's program have been that we taught all standards with multiple positive learning experiences. We also demonstrated solid fidelity to the math teaching/learning schedule and we offered substantial extra support to students.

The weakness of this year's program included one small scheduling complication, the need to re-think how we do RTI so that we offer greater consistency, and the need to finesse differentiation so that children at all levels of learning are getting a good dose of challenge, support, and apt learning.

What will I do to meet those challenges:
  • Re-organize and re-look at each unit to finesse the roll out with greater attention to apt differentiation and the best, possible learning experiences.
  • Work with colleagues to make a best possible schedule that includes expected daily/weekly time for math at best possible times of the day.
  • Organizing and updating math resources.
  • Adding a performance assessment to three or more units to offer a positive, scaffolded learning challenge for every student that involves personal conferences and editing with the teacher--this significant learning effort will provide every child with good attention, a positive opportunity to reach and show what they know, and good examples of apt learning to include in their showcase portfolios for later discussion with family members at student-teacher-parent conferences. One way to identify performance assessment topics is to look at the areas were many students did not perform as well on system and state-wide assessments, and build performance assessments around those areas. 
  • Professional learning by reading books by leading math educators and attending workshops so that I can incorporate latest research into the math program. 
Teaching is an evolutionary profession--to teach well we have to continually review, analyze, reflect, and revise. I look forward to seeing how students do on the assessments they'll take in the next couple of weeks. I'll use that information along with other less formal data to assess the program more, and then I'll get started on planning and prepping for the math year ahead.