Posted on September 5, 2020


Math Twitter Blog-O-Sphere for the win!

Cathery Yeh tweeted, oh, 21 hours ago that “4 yrs, 2 rejections, 3 R & Rs later… Honored/excited to share ‘Reimagining Inclusive Spaces for Math Learnign!’ Challenging trad models of differentiation, we share design principles to broaden competence & participation for ALL!” with a link to that article by Cathery Yeh, Trisha Sugita and Paulo Tan.

Clicked through and … that’s right, NCTM. One must be among the membership to partake. No danger of that happening. However, authors are generous and … it landed in my mailbox ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!!!! A little creative insubordination ๐Ÿ™‚ (No membership necessary to read about that.)

The article describes a student who, before sixth grade, was described as “struggling,” “anxious about mathematics.” That changed, and how? He’d been “included” in math classes before — but basically occupying classroom space, doing a completely different curriculum and activities, often boiling down to …. worksheets.

The article describes the design principles, including having access to the material through different modalities, independent time to make sense of things, and assorted other ways to stress that math is about exploring and thinking, not quickly calculating an answer.

I wasn’t surprised to see that the ‘inclusive’ lesson was from Illustrative Mathematics. Because it’s CC-BY they could modify the lesson; it was displayed with a visual picture of the ancient Mexican temple 24 meters high w/ 91 steps to get to the top…. no exact answer, but what’s a reasonable estimate of how high the 50th step would be?

This previously “withdrawn,” “struggling” student drew out a detailed illustration with numerical details and calculations.

So much cognitive dissonance. How can I explain this change without challenging so much of how we do things? Maybe this kiddo was just ready to blossom…

I’m lucky/unlucky enough to know better. At The New Community School, I watched students shift from withdrawn and struggling to … often still struggling, but productively, confidently struggling. Finding strengths (for this student one was art — which you don’t get to use with worksheets) and working with them *works.* I’d been in public schools where it was okay to say “well, no wonder they’re not doing well, (insert reason here)” instead of “They’re not doing well, that’s not acceptable. What can we do? ” and yes, it takes time and “required intentional instructional moves.”

One paragraph had me wanting a little more detail:

“In a typical mathematics classroom where work on this task is individual, Ryanโ€™s ability to represent abstract concepts with visual models may not be discovered. The collective nature of working and learning together created access to mathematics that historically was not supported in the past.”

I’m not sure how it was the “collective” nature of working and learning together that led to ‘discovering’ his abilities. I’m curious ๐Ÿ˜‰ Except … on re-read… the teacher has Ryan’s partner describe the drawing… I’m still wonderin ghow it was “discovered.”

… and yea, I’m frustrated. I’ve got the folks who didn’t get this intervention. My one student who was told “you’re in special ed, you don’t need to do math anymore” after fifth grade or so … yes, he *did* get through what he needed on the 3rd attempt, with the right teacher. This semester, it seems that they placed students in higher levelclasses than the assessment would indicate — and no, it wasn’t because they knew more than the assessment measured. FOrtunately it’s a very good teacher but … I’ve been usign that meter stick to show “if you are subtracting 45 from 51, you can start at 51 and move forward” as opposed to trying to count down 45 from 51 because we’ve had the calculator for that. It’s kinda lousy over camera and I’m going to try to set up a stand (I can snatch one of the other cameras) so it’s steadier. I’m also trying to find a coach for the student to talk to about managing academic load, etc — but of course those positions were slashed.

Referencing the article again… Unfortunately, the “different experiences” across ability status sometimes just suck. If you’ve learned “touch points, then use a calculator” — sorry, that’s not a “wonderful resource.”

Some of us chatted a bit about the idea that starting “a school” with things virtual … could be a website. A hub. Or we could use the vast spaces in the college what with so many online and a 20% enrollment drop …. it could be a community virtual learning center where people came to figure things out and get things done with good computers adn connections. I’ve sent yet another email to a local group…

Of course, we’re not in the U wing, and they don’t share these values. They’re about TRIMMING and PRUNING.

… but I’ve put in my proposal for OpenEd20 — the extra day afforded me tme to fix the pretty egregious misappropriation of a quote and add a bit of polish. Time to think about that ๐Ÿ™‚

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