Monday, October 3, 2016

Support Math Class: Update

It has been a while since I got to post anything.  It has been really busy.  Math team has started (I coach JH and HS).  Robotics is in full swing (I coach HS and JH).  Add in lots of other family commitments and I have barely been able to keep up with teaching, much less blogging.

So here are the updates on how the Junior High Support Math Class is going.

Circle Talks
We now do circle talks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We have some kids who go to band or choir during class so they are only in class 2-3 days a week.  So by doing circle talks on these 3 days we guarantee that every kid has circle 3 times every two weeks.  I do have some who are in class every day and they obviously get circle 3 times a week.

On Mondays, we ask about their weekend.  On Fridays, we ask about their week.  I had a breakthrough last Friday as I asked about the "highs" and "lows" of their week.  They suddenly were sharing a great deal about their week instead of just a one- or two-word answer.   We also talk about what they are looking forward to for the upcoming weekend.

We also continue to use the If book.  The book is full of interesting questions to get the students talking.  We give one student the book, another student picks a number from 5-129, and then the student with the book picks a question from that page.  We try to get in a couple rounds of this every time we have circle.

The kids have really begun to enjoy their circle time and ask for it when I am slow to get it going on Monday, Wednesday or Fridays.  They also do ask for it on Tuesday and Thursday.

Number Talks
We continued to use Estimation 180 for number talks for quite a while.  At mid-term we switched to Which One Doesn't Belong.  Another number talk designed to get the students thinking and analyzing.  The kids have really taken to this one and enjoy trying to come up with as many reasons as possible that each object doesn't belong.

We will soon begin our number talks based on calculations.  They will focus on Number Sense.  I plan on using this book by Pamela Weber Harris as the basis for these talks.

We have also begun using the DreamBox online system.  Most of the students really love it.  We are currently under a 3 month trial period.  We can have unlimited students for $300.  When the 3 months is up we are hoping to show growth and convince the district to invest in this program for the math support programs.  Once the trial is over the pricing scheme will go back to a per student cost.

The first week I let the students work on whatever standards they wanted to in a grade level band from 5th-8th.  This week I narrowed their focus to the grade level standard we covered in normal math class this quarter.  I got more questions today about the math, but they still seemed to really enjoy doing DreamBox.  We usually try to get 10-15 minutes in per day.  We are going to set a class goal for lessons completed per week, but we haven't gotten that done yet.

Grade Level Standard Help:
During DreamBox time, I have started pulling small groups of students to work with on their work for their main math class.  This has seemed pretty effective so far for some of the students.  We will definitely continue this to help them achieve their grade level standards.

Overall, things are going really well.  I hope to put together some data to show growth.  Just wondering what data to look at.  I want something besides MCA scores.

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