Have you and your students ever just had it up to here with math?
I know I have.
After months of teaching the fifth-grade curriculum as prescribed, many students in my class were frustrated as they were struggling to meet grade level expectations. This frustration presented itself in behavior problems, a lack of engagement, and an overall dislike for math in my classroom.
As a novice teacher, I was feeling it too. I so desperately wanted to help my students grow, feel confident, and succeed with math. I began to question myself as an educator. I asked for help and feedback from my administrators, however, this was just not enough. Content mastery was within reach, but I knew I needed to make a change.
Following our winter administration of the MAP Growth assessment it hit me—I had valuable information at my fingertips from our MAP results! I knew what my students were ready to learn. I knew I couldn’t continue the cycle of teaching a concept, giving the assessment, and moving on to the next unit while a large number of my students continued to show gaps in their understanding. To meet them where they were, I needed to scaffold my instruction and build them up to grade level proficiency.
Excited to try something new, I put together these steps to change my whole group instruction:
1. Find your starting place
The first step was to identify my upcoming unit: multiplying and dividing fractions.
2. Break the content into topics or standards
Since my unit was about fractions, I knew I needed to analyze my students’ performance in Numbers and Operations. This would give me an idea of where I could meet my students instructionally.
3. Identify what your students are ready to learn
From there, I needed to see my class’ average, so I could dive deeper into the learning continuum and see which skills were within my students’ zone of proximal development.
4. Target key skills
Next, using the learning continuum, I could look at the Number and Operations area to identify skills that were within my class’ mean RIT range. I could see that while my lesson called for teaching multiplying and dividing fractions, the class, on average, was struggling with their basic understanding of fractions.
5. Differentiate your unit plans
Based upon the skill data I uncovered using the learning continuum, I knew I needed to scaffold the unit by adding precursor lessons about the fundamentals of fractions before we could move into multiplying and dividing fractions.
Once the planning was complete, I was ready for the hard work: the teaching. I was ecstatic to try this new methodology of instruction. I knew it would take me longer to get to grade level content, but my students would be receiving the instruction they needed to be successful.
As the unit progressed, I saw smiles on my students’ faces. I could see their confidence growing. The behavior problems during math dwindled because students were actively participating. Students were raising their hands. Why? Because I was meeting them where they were ready to learn.
I also could see the difference in my new approach as students showed improved mastery of the daily objectives and weekly quiz results. Elated by the fact that my change in instruction was working, my confidence as an educator began to grow.
If you and your students are frustrated, take a step back and ask yourself, “Am I meeting my students where they are?” If not, dive into your MAP Growth data to differentiate, scaffold, and grow!