Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Maine

Prompt 4: Option A

14 Jan 2015 7:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

What are the biggest obstacles that you face in ensuring access and equity for all students? The authors note that, in many classrooms, the Mathematical Teaching Practices described in this document are inconsistently or ineffectively implemented (p. 61). Discuss how specific changes in teaching practices can help to overcome the obstacles you identified.

Comments

  • 20 Jan 2015 3:17 PM | Deleted user
    What are the biggest obstacles that you face in ensuring access and equity for all students?

    We are now implementing our third curriculum in 10 years. Although the curriculum is worthwhile, it
    is very time consuming to learn what and how to assess it. it is hard to do more than survive

    Discuss how specific changes in teaching practices can help to overcome the obstacles you identified.
    As we implement the new curriculum, we try as much as possible to discuss how to teach in the new units as well as what to teach.
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    • 28 Jan 2015 11:00 AM | Anonymous member
      I agree with Mary that "it is hard to do more than survive." During the past twenty years, I've been constantly attempting to improve my teaching practices as outlined by the NCTM Standards, the Maine Learning Results, and now CCSSM. I agree with much of what these standards have suggested for creating classrooms in which students strive for conceptual understanding rather than rote learning. However, the structure of our schools only minimally supports teachers moving in these substantive directions. Time for collaborative discussion and planning is rarely provided in most schools I've encountered; and I find that the pressure to 'cover' specific topics is increasing even under the CCSSM directive.
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      • 28 Jan 2015 12:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
        So, what can we do as teachers to support the teaching practices that we know work best? How can we convince our colleagues or administrators that there is more to learning math than "covering" topics. Is it that we think that coverage will ensure access and equity?

        What can ATOMIM do to help with this issue?
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        • 12 May 2015 8:44 PM | Deleted user
          I feel like we need to have more changes in class structures so we can mix and match groups of students to address specific needs. I have a few students who would like to accelerate and move more quickly in the program and do have the ability to do so. However, I am often asking them to wait or do more practice while I try to bring other students further along. It becomes frustrating at times because many needs are going unmet. Teachers and Administration should consider a variety of ways to mix students for instruction according to their current strengths and activities. I'd like to see something like a three tiered class structure where the current skills are taught in class......students practice and continue. Students who are not successful in class are assigned to a "repeat" class for more instruction using another approach or adding manipulatives and activities to make the learning more concrete. Students who exceed expectations are assigned to a "challenge" class that allows them another opportunity to apply their math skills in a real world application. Three teachers interact and exchange students as necessary to help all students reach high levels of participation, understanding, and success in learning. The class schedules would need to coincide some days but not necessarily every day. Teachers would have to agree to communicate with each other about student needs and then work together to plan lessons and activities to address them.
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  • 02 Feb 2015 6:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Ensuring access and equity for all are often a struggle. I see this mostly with the students who struggle in math. There are students who need more time that is allotted by the teacher's edition. In order to access the math, might mean that the students need more time with manipulatives, more time to make sense of the math, and more time to talk about their ideas. I am currently seeing this now in fifth grade classrooms as students work with fraction concepts.
    Principles to Actions presents obstacles regarding instruction and differential learning opportunities. I see good instruction happening much of the time in the classrooms I observe. I think the differential learning opportunities should be our focus; helping provide different ways for students to access the math being taught. This might involve rereading the teacher's edition and then planning lessons that are not all the same for the whole class. We've worked in professional learning communities to learn about differentiation but our next steps to implement what we learned are slow in happening. Continuing our discussions about lessons and how to implement them so that all students can access the material needs to be in the forefront of our content meetings.
    The chart on pg. 63 and 64: Beliefs about access and equity in mathematics is a great resource. It's helpful for me to keep the Productive Beliefs column in mind and share it with my colleagues.
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  • 13 Mar 2015 1:56 PM | Deleted user
    I think one of the key elements in this unit for us as teachers is our reflection on student achievement. The authors state “inequalities in achievement are perceived as the result of a hierarchy of competence”. Many of us view test results and grades this way, when in fact we should look at this inequalities as our failure, not the students. Did we meet our less competent students at a level that engaged them and provided an opportunity for them to advance their knowledge and understanding? Our job is not to provide an education to those that can perform at our expectation and then order the class through grades as to their ability, it is to advance the understanding and learning of all students. With that in mind I am fully vested in a differentiated class. I provide different work for different students. Some have deadlines while others don’t. So my biggest struggle is explaining to students why the work is different and how fair doesn't always look the same.
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  • 15 Mar 2015 3:20 PM | Anonymous member
    We currently use a math program that basically tracks students by placing them in math groups. Administration is not interested in moving to something else at this time. The program professes to be aligned with the standards, but after using it for two years, I don't agree with that assumption.

    Next year we are going to implement something new at the K-4 level. The regular math program will be used three days per week with flexible grouping, and on the other two days standards based modules will be taught. I teach 5-8 and am hoping to include my 5th graders in the same schedule. I haven't received permission yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    Even if this doesn't happen for 5th grade, I am very excited that after struggling for several years, we will have a 5-8 intervention period built into our daily schedule for at least four days per week. This will improve access and equity for my students.
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  • 12 May 2015 8:30 PM | Deleted user
    I feel that the greatest obstacle for student achievement in math is TIME. Our program materials lay out a plan for differentiating instruction, which would be more useful if time were not so limited. Also, I am primarily teaching in a whole group situation with behavior issues that do not easily allow for small group or more individualized instruction. What I am able to do is to assess student work and pull students "here and there" to review a problem or go through a procedure step by step. This approach catches a few students, but probably not all those who need assistance. Also, it requires more of MY time which also isn't always mine.....as in my breaks become meetings or conference times and I am unable to work with students.
    I also sometimes give assignments a bit ahead of whole group instruction. When we meet to review the assignment, sometimes we have more immediate teaching points to address. The students have made attempts already.....and by going through the steps all together, they can see where they need to adjust their thinking. Also, providing practice that involves creating problems and interacting with a partner can produce good results. The timing for this type of activity seems to be hit or miss in my classroom. Sometimes the activity just seems to click and the process is very productive and students are having "aha" moments and figuring things out. Other times it becomes too chaotic and students become argumentative and uncooperative. Then, nothing seems to be accomplished.
    It takes a lot of time and effort to remember to look from the students' perspective, but it is what helps me to more effectively instruct at an individualized level.
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