Math was hard for me in school. I didn’t enjoy the subject or the challenges it presented me. It was a requirement that needed to be fulfilled, and it was taught in a way that did nothing to inspire me.

I was not the only one growing up who did not get excited for math class.  Some of my classmates, who actually were really good at math, did not enjoy it either; most likely because people who struggled (like me) held them back and occupied most of the teacher’s time and energy.

Thankfully, the scenes from my own “math past” are not being replicated in our Lower School!

When I walk into math classes, I see engaged students and teachers working on relevant math experiences that are tailored to individual learning needs.

During the past two years, many of our teachers have been transitioning their math instruction to a workshop model very similar to our well-established reading and writing workshops.  The basic overview of the new approach contains three main components which all occur at the same time during a 45-60 minute class period, and students rotate through all three in a given math class.

1) Small group instruction— The teacher works with a group of 4-6 students, providing direct instruction on a math concept or skill.  The groups are based on the students’ ability and current performance related to the skill or concept being presented.  Instruction is differentiated by adjusting the pace of instruction, strategies used during instruction, and/or the actual concepts and skills being presented.

2) Guided Exploration and Application— Students work in partnerships or by themselves and further explore and apply concepts and skills previously presented by playing math games, using manipulatives, or engaging in problem solving activities.

3) Independent Practice— Students work independently in their math journals, or on other paper/pencil assignments, to practice and further support their understanding of concepts or skills previously taught.

While there are some variations in different classrooms,  the main objective is the same– provide instruction and learning opportunities that best meet individual student needs, enriching and supporting when necessary.

Is it working?

If success is defined by having engaged students and teachers who enjoy the process of teaching and learning math, then yes, it is working!

If success is defined by data and numbers, based on our latest CTP IV standardized test scores, then I would also say yes, it is working!

Results from 2013 CTP IV standardized tests:

Above Average*

Average**

Below Average***

3rd Grade (Quantitative Reasoning)

85%

14%

1%

3rd Grade

(Math 1&2)

85%

14%

1%

4th Grade (Quantitative Reasoning)

72%

27%

1%

4th Grade

(Math 1&2)

75%

25%

0%

5th Grade (Quantitative Reasoning)

87%

13%

0%

5th Grade

(Math 1&2)

89%

11%

0%

* percentage of Ravenscroft students who had above average scores in stanines 7,8,9

** percentage of Ravenscroft students who had average scores in stanines 4,5,6

***percentage of Ravenscroft students who had below average scores in stanines 1,2,3

National percentile rank of the median scale score of Ravenscroft  students in each grade:

Quantitative Reasoning

Math 1&2

3rd Grade

95%ile

91%ile

4th Grade

88%ile

87%ile

5th Grade

94%ile

93%ile

I love data, especially when the data looks like ours does, but I also recognize you really need to analyze three years worth of data to truly establish trends.  Since we have changed the timing of our CTP IV testing from fall to spring over the past couple of years, we will not have three years worth of data  until spring of 2014.

As we look to constantly improve and strive for excellence in all we do,  let’s keep talking about math this year….

 

Math tree image from: http://www.123rf.com/photo_11264060_art-tree-with-math-symbols-for-your-design.html

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