Susan Jones

Creating a movable basic math feast

Blog Post created by Susan Jones on Mar 20, 2017

It's "spring break" so I have time to dive in and work on the basic math course. 

I want to design something that yes, people can dive in and use right away, but that can also grow and evolve, in OER spirit.  Here are some rambling thoughts to get me rolling:  


The New Community School is where I saw students who had been failed miserably by schools slowly ... succeed.  They use a highly structured reading program that is individually developed for each student.  I was slowly converted -- primarily because I was in charge of analyzing the student data & progress scores -- to appreciating that pretty much everybody made more progress when teachers stuck to the structure, thank you.   The students weren't bored -- I was.   We started -- even w/ kids who 'tested' as reading well-- with the closed syllables, and moved through the program methodically.   Yes, we went *tons* faster w/ the students with some skills, but building from the ground up meant comprehension and firm foundations, and -- perhaps more important -- actual confidence.  (Imposter Syndrome is huge w/ gifted kiddos w/ learning disabilities.)    Those teachers who always did the review and practice even of the basic stuff got much fatter gains at the advanced end.  Yes.  I'd have thunk more time spent w/ more advanced stuff would mean more gains.  R.O.N.G.   w/ a good five years of samples.   (By the way, yes, it's a structured program but yes, there's also a ton of 'authentic' reading.)


I remember asking in the interview about teaching reading comprehension.   It had always been something I just sort of figured out as I went.  The materials available were practice -- and if you got the questions wrong, you got shorter, easier passages.  There wasn't a way to *teach it.*   Well, at TNCS, they teach it.   The same way I had to practice what to do with my assorted  body parts one at a time and then put it together one piece at a time to learn to do butterfly right... you can do that with reading comprehension and it works. 


I think there's room for development of something similar for math.     Modumath does this awesome job of starting at the beginning.  I'm reading _Routines for Reasoning_ by   Susan Janssen Creighton, Amy Lucenta, Grace Kelemanik and.. yes, it would seem that there are structures for learning math comprehension just as there are structures for reading comprehension. 


So!   My task is to at least explore a math lesson structure that employs that.  My reading lessons generally went something like this: 

A.  Drill   (practice a skill that's automatic to keep it that way).

B.   Practice (review a skill or skills that are on their way to automatic)

C.  A little bit of new stuff

D.   Practice with the new stuff

E.   Application -- reading from a book of student's choice.    


Students also had 'independent' time for 20 minutes of the class period, for handwriting and language generation and assorted practice.   (All this stuff was created for that student -- so Scott's practice included lots of soccer references... Stacy's to oh, ostrich eggs since she was breeding them... yes, that was the fun part for me


Hmmm.   So, an online lesson could have: 

A.   Links for teacher or student to "face to face" activities w/ manipulatives and/or visuals.   

B.   Drill  

C.   Instruction -- but in short interactive clips (the way Modumath has about 2 minutes of talk, and then a question for you to answer).   

D.   Practice *of that*  --- with several options.   The "Connecting Representations" routine is one of the critical ones.   Too many students don't ever solidly connect 24/3 with 24 divided by 3...

E.   Finish with something fun.   

F.   Gamification.  Let students see their progress and the path they're on.   

Okay, 11:00 -- rambling time is up!  Happily I'll have others' input on things like ... visual layout...