NROC webinar

Posted on September 26, 2017


A good one!     It was not about the magnificent shiny tools… it was about getting a team together and using the tools and involving the students in the process.   First — yes, in the two years they’ve been doing it, math “MAP” scores (I infer a standardized assessment of your skills) have gone up about two or three times as much as had been happening in earlier years.

It’s a voluntary thing — you sign up for (in freshman year) double time in math.   It is *not* “sit in on the ‘regular’ class and then spend the other time getting help.”   (There’s nothing inherently wrong with that model.)   However, they do have different *teachers* for the ‘second course’ (it’s a block schedule so instead of having 90 minutes of math every other day, it’s every day).   I suspect there was a fair amount of serendipity — it was easier to schedule that way and then you find out that works better for myriad reasons.

Not only are they getting more time in math… since it’s ‘blended’ learning they effectively make class size smaller.   The 20 or so in the class are split into 10 being taught, and two other groups being monitored by another person (staff or teacher) doing the computer work or working on projects.   They noted that it would have been impossible in a standard classroom because they needed the kind of space in a library-like setting to house computer stations, project stations, and teaching areas.

THeir goal:   to get away from these folks signed up for “PRe-alg” … with the teachers absolutely knowing that success was not likely b/c of gaps in their knowledge.  The “blended” part — that takes them down or up to wherever they are in that way that is actually supposed to work.

Another important element:   making weekly and daily goals and monitoring them.   You bet:   finding ways for these folks with histories of failure to have lots of little successes.   The whole “we’re going to find a way for you to learn this and to succeed and to own it” permeated their presentation.

It wasn’t enough for the students to pass the course.   Much of the structure and content was designed to prepare the students for future success — not with”well, you’ll have to do this later so we expect you to know how to do it now and if you don’t, you fail” but “let’s figure out what pieces are missing and help you build them.”

Early in the presentation they talked of shifting the focus from passing the course to finding out what was wrong and fixing it.  While that seemed like deficit language, its actual spirit reeked beautifully of growth mindset:   “Hey! You can’t do this … YET. Let’s get there!”   They might get fat grants if they infused a few magic growth mindset words in there…

… most important was their reflection that they had changed the culture about math at the school.  They said the positivity was leaking down into middle school — that struggling students knew there was a viable option coming up.   Wow 🙂

There were all kinds of other structures that gradually turned responsibility to students in there (and, I suspect, a bunch of them that we didn’t hear about).   Watch the thing 🙂