Math Students are Bleeding Out!


This is going to get me through another week! Thanks Mike!

Under the Dome

Let me explain.  There’s a math epidemic (remember Ebola 2014+).  Students are bleeding out from the gashes of their misconceptions of mathematics.  The lack of teaching conceptual understanding along with sacrificed opportunities to make mathematical connections is the double edged sword.  This is an epidemic, and some teachers, school systems and educational leaders are treating it like it’s a tiny scratch, instead of the pervasive threat to mathematical achievement that it is.

Here’s a familiar scenario:  A school’s test scores come back after the spring testing season (or mid-terms).  The scores show little growth from the previous year in the area of mathematics, and any change is not in a positive direction.  The knee-jerk reaction to the valid question, “What can we do to fix this?”  is to look for programs and technology that will fix the problem.  These are the same individuals who, way back in August, looked us…

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7 Things to Try Before You Give Up On A Student


What if this were your child? Would you want their teacher to give up on them?

Pernille Ripp

I have to admit it; I have not loved all of my students in the same way.  Not all of my students and I have clicked.  Not all of my students and I have had the best relationships.  Not for lack of wanting to.  Not for lack of trying, but sometimes it seems that bigger things are in play and the universe just doesn’t align.  And yet, even if I had a harder time connecting with a child, whatever the reason, I still had to be the very best teacher I could be.  So what are some techniques I have used to make sure that I connected on some level, even with the seemingly most challenging students?

Take it personal sometimes.  My mantra used to be “don’t take it personal” until I realized that sometimes a poor relationship with a student is indeed a direct reflection to how they feel…

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What’s New in 2015?


I’ve gotten into the habit of layering on change for my students. This is mainly due to receiving feedback and adjusting classroom structure to meet the needs of students. This characteristic will not change in 2015. Here are the changes I’m layering on so far.

1. Using our overview documents, the “power” learning targets were identified. I went ahead and entered all of them into my gradebook. By doing this, I can group together the formative assignments (my checkpoints along the way) with the summative assessment score for each target. As students demonstrate their understanding of the target, I’ll enter the score. Students and parents should be able to see the progression of understanding reflected in the gradebook as they work towards mastery. My hope is assignments will not seem so individualized.

2015/01/img_1401.png Here’s a snapshot of my gradebook.

2. I’m introducing a new station during small group rotation. Now we will have a station solely dedicated to flipped learning. It will still be a four station rotation, but the teacher has been removed from the rotation. This idea stems from a vertical team meeting I’ve recently attended, as will as a conversation with a good friend of mine.
Here’s the new setup:


3. Implement Nzmaths Numeracy Project. The plan of attack for this component will build one class at a time. With my 2nd academic class, I’m going to assess my lowest students using the GLoSS assessment. Once I determine their weakest domain and strategy stage level I will pull lessons from the book associated with their weakest domain. These lessons will be implemented in a small group setting. My lowest students will be pulled while we are doing small group rotation. Because I’m no longer a set station, I’m free to pull students from various groups for remediation/acceleration purposes.

For my 4th academic, I’m going to make the lessons from the Numeracy Project my main resource. Normally I use the GA Math Frameworks as my number 1 resource. And I will continue to do so for my 1st through 3rd academic classes. However, my 4th academic class is very unique and my instructional approach must be unique as well. My goal is to implement these lessons with built in scaffolds to build confidence, problem solving skills, number knowledge as well as strategy use, all things they are currently lacking.

4. So extrinsic motivation is in order for my 4th academic class. Therefore I’m instituting a “Superb” board and a no-hands community. I downloaded iLEAP Pick a Student app and entered each student’s name. This will be used to select students to share their thinking during math discussions. Everyone must ensure they are following the discussion in order to get a thoughtful response. When a thoughtful response is given, that student will be able to record their name on the Superb board. Once the Superb board is filled with names of students who gave reasonable and logical explanations, I will select 3 squares (like selecting bingo square). Those who have their name in one of the winning squares will be able to select a reward.

I’m open for feedback and suggestions.

Turtle Says Its My Secret Weapon


Have you ever heard of the 5 love languages? If not, they were developed by Gary Chapman a psychologist who studies people and their relationships. He says we all possess five languages that make us feel loved. There may be one language that speaks louder than others, which is referred to as our primary love language. The 5 languages are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts and Quality Time. For more on this visit, 5 Love Languages.

In years past, I’ve had students complete the profile for kids or teens. This would allow for more insight into building a relationship with students and getting to know them better. I learned the students “love language” and spoke it for encouragement and did my best to not use it against them for punishment. For example, if a student’s primary love language is quality time, I would make sure I stopped by their desk to check on them more frequently than others. Or I would allow them to work with a partner when others were working independently. If the student misbehaved I would do my best not to send them out of the class. If I did they could interpret my sending them away as I don’t love or care about them.

With 100 students it has been difficult to speak each student’s primary love language for the sheer fact that I cannot remember them all. However, because it’s just who I am, I cannot do away with them. So I make sure I’m multilingual, speaking all five languages. The more this is done, the more I can clue into which ones make more of an impact on certain students. Enter academics, the students begin to trust me, they let their guards down. This is the gateway for a safe environment for the students. This is the gateway for them to be down for almost anything. This is what Turtle said was my secret weapon.