Speaking from the perspective of the struggling student, comprehending language intense math curriculum is difficult, multi-step problem solving is difficult, stamina to stick with and / or focus on a complicated problem is very difficult, and transference of learning to novel problems is very difficult. As I stated in my Week 5 post, many districts around the country are developing resources to assist general educators to align to the Common Core, but the resources are not yet showing up for students with special needs, yet the requirements to meet grade level Common Core Standards are already there.
On page 56, Leinwand states, “In fact it is nearly impossible to teach mathematics to students who cannot read, and it is extremely difficult to assess the mathematical understanding of students who cannot speak or write.” I have taught math to students who could not either read or write in English and barely spoke it. It is not impossible. Math is actually universal and not dependent on a student's ability to function in the dominant language of the instructor. This is not so far from the special needs student who struggles with reading and writing. A 'language rich' classroom is not mutually exclusive to teaching the ELL student or the student who struggles.
What ever happened to validity in that we need to be sure we are actually testing the content we are teaching. Computerized testing as the only alternative from Smarter Balance is an obstacle to most of my students being able to demonstrate their knowledge. Why should a student with reading or writing difficulty be penalized when being assessed in math?
At the expense of sounding repetitious, I would completely agree with what Jenny posted before and probably have very little to add. I have had the pleasure and the opportunity to work with her for many years and I completely agree with what she stated.
We do need much more time to discuss our instructional practices. It would be a huge advantage if our math learning area could meet more than four times a year. The discussions that we have during this time are invaluable and allow us to look at each other's practices, what we are doing each grade level, and how we plan on coordinating our efforts. Change is difficult and can only be maintained if we are allowed the opportunity to discuss what we do, evaluate our successes and failures, and learn from our peers. Every day at school is always busy but we do need to find more time where we can sit down and discuss what we do, how we do it, and the best ways to continue to move forward.
As I type this post, I am at Michigan State University attending the CMP3 Users' Conference. I am looking forward to having some time to talk with Shawn Towle about what is ahead, attending the various presentations, and then sharing it via a Google doc with the other math teachers in the building. But, we need more time to discuss and determine how we are gong to implement the changes. Time, time, time...
ATOMIM is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in New England.