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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ideas bounced around with regards to algebra readiness in Middle School

• AFTER SCHOOL or before school algebra class taught for an additional fee (NOT BEING DONE @ my school)

• Bring in local university students or math-smart volunteers to provide additional resources at key times of the day. (CURRENTLY WE HAVE TWO PEOPLE coming in @ my school)

• Employ an organized teacher who can teach both classes at the same time in the same room, with 2 sets of lesson plans (for accelerated and for grade level). One group works on assignments/projects while other group receives instruction. Then switch. (We continue to consider individual differences in our program and differentiate instruction when possible)

• Consider utilizing administrators to co-teach during select times of the day (WE have done THIS @ my school)

• Proclaim the virtues of small schools, be upfront on what you offer (small schools are not for everyone), change the culture of unreasonable expectations, and develop the teacher to be adept at differentiating in class, thus better meeting the needs of all (WHETHER PERCEIVED AS SUCH, I BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING @ my school, ALWAYS WITH ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT. THE MESSAGING TO PARENTS NEEDS TO BE AS CRYSTAL CLEAR AS POSSIBLE)

• Elect a single day each week and call it "E" Day in math. E stands for either Extension or Extra Help. Send your additional resources into the classroom that day. That way you can have three different teachers work with each small group, either extending or remediating the kids as needed. (WE WERE DOING THIS @ my school VIA MATH LAB, PARTICULARLY THE 1ST YEAR OF IMPLEMENTATION, NOT CURRENTLY DOING SO)
• Differentiate in Grade 7, two levels - Pre-Algebra or Algebra I . By Grade 8, students either study Algebra I or Geometry. (VERY POOR IDEA THAT GOES AGAINST MANY SOUND PROFESSIONAL PRINCIPLES)
• Divide your math class into three groups: high, low and middle, and the math teacher work separately with each group during each class, doing leveled work in each group. While she or he works with one group, the other two groups can be working at problems at their desks. (SOMETHING LIKE This HAPPENs WITH THE APPROPRIATE SUPPORT, IN PARTICULAR, NEED HELP WITH STRUGGLING STUDENTS IN ORDER TO KEEP PACING APPROPRIATE FOR OTHERS. As a general principal, I would hope this is happening in many schools.)

• Split up the students for math, according to their ERB scores and report card grades. Math teacher takes the accelerated class (about 10 students) and the science teacher takes the grade level class (about 10 students). other 2 middle school classes are having English and history (occasionally Spanish) (TERRIBLE IDEA, IMHO, VERY PUBLIC SCHOOL, TEST ORIENTED APPROACH TO INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM

• Bring in another teacher with a prep time during math and have that person teach grade level math, freeing up the math teacher to work with the accelerated kids (SEEMS LIKE THE OTHER DIFFERENTIATING IDEAS TO ME)

• Cluster students in multi-aged ability groups for the given subject (math, in this case). 56 students in 4 sections=14 students. Play it off PE, Art, Music or Spanish. (OK, LET'S ADD EVEN MORE COMPLEXITY TO OUR SCHEDULE :-)

• Assess students and appropriately cluster as early as 4th grade. Teach math at same time 4th – 8th grade (TERRIBLE IDEA, IHMO)

• All 6th take pre-Algebra. End of year take CSU Algebra readiness test (MDTP). Remediate if necessary during the summer. Give same test in Sept. to now 7th graders. Those ready receive Alg 1 in 7th. Those not receive a two-year Alg. 1 class. Students in one-year program take Geometry readiness test (MDTP). If not ready, take second part of Alg 1 with their peers. (I LIKE THE READINESS TEST IDEA AND REMEDIATION, BUT NOT THE ALGEBRA IN 7TH GRADE. IT WAS ALREADY PUSHED DOWN TO 8TH FROM 9TH A FEW YEARS BACK. ALGEBRA SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED THE END ALL IN A MATH PROGRAM. THIS ALL FLIES AGAINST THE NCTM STANDARDS AND PUTS WAY TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON A SOLE COURSE.)


Lynn said...

Another idea for your list:

List math standards in simple English and call them "icans"("I can identify the hypotenuse of a triangle.") Let kids link resources --people, books, sites, videos, etc., and then rate and comment on the resources. You create icanographs (lists of icans) for your classes. They create their own icanographies. They can see what they know and don't know. Then they can find ways to help themselves and we can all see how to help them.

You have a simple, efficient way to track and generate reports on student and class progress--similar to the old gold star chart on the wall--

I'm building a prototype system right now. It's called icanology.
The beta version may be out by Nov 1.

Keep up the great work. Your kids are lucky!

ERKO said...

Wow, I loved this! It sparked so much imagination in my thinking of mapping out the schooling experience for my students. I look forward to your web site.

montgorp said...
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montgorp said...

This is a constant ongoing debate that (IMHO) will never go away.

We refuse to stream kids until Year 9 and then we take the whole year to sort it out: moving kids around over the year as they display their potential or lack there of.

We even keep the door open for late developers into Year 10.

We are a pastoral care focused school and refuse compromise this for the sake of looking good in the eyes of the academic hawks.

I agree about being crystal clear with parents about who we are and what our goals are. Parents can get very demanding about he "needs" of their child: particularly the parents of "gifted" children.

The journey is difficult enough holding all the various views and expectations of the teaching staff in tension without caving into the demands of "helicopter" parents.

Each child's learning needs do need to be met but only in the context of meeting the learning needs of everyone in the school community.