Week 9 (March 15-21) Chapter 7: Changing the System-Assuring Quality of Program Components

  • 19 Mar 2013 5:33 PM
    Reply # 1246911 on 1243357
    Gail Stetson
    One of the Program Components that is a success in my building is Instructional Time.  We teach math 75 minutes each day, with the expectation that it will be 90 minutes per day next year.  For the most part, this expectation is met with understanding and even enthusiasm from most of the staff.  
    One of the Program Components that is a challenge for me is Instructional Materials.  When the author describes the “limited materials that may have worked well to deliver a program limited to the mastery of arithmetic”, he could well have been looking into my classroom.  I am frustrated and discouraged when I hear about or see web-based resources that are being used in current math instruction.  We have no interactive whiteboards or document cameras.  We were supposed to get a small group set of ipads in the fall.  It is now mid March and we are mired in debate about the appropriateness of this or that app and whether the merits of student engagement trump direct curriculum connection.  We recently acquired grade level projectors to use with our teacher laptops, but many sites that I check out at home are blocked at my school.  As Leinwand states, “Without access to such an array of nontext materials, teachers’ ability to deliver the kind of instruction envisioned in this book is severely compromised.”
     The tools and technologies that “graphically and interactively help bring mathematical ideas to life” are sorely lacking in my classroom.  The 4 bulleted items on p. 89 that are the “assumptions” of “an effective K-12 mathematics program” seem like impossible wishes.  
    Bake sale anyone?
  • 20 Mar 2013 3:14 PM
    Reply # 1247722 on 1243357
    Gillian Laird Sleeper

    I teach in an elementary setting and personally at my grade level, there is not enough time in our schedule for a 60 minute block of time specifically set aside for math instruction.  Although it is challenging for my early grade level (Pre-K) because I only have them for ½ a day, I believe that it could be possible for the other grade levels in the building.  However, I am confident to say that it is not consistently happening.  In fact, I am a member of our school’s CIPS (Continuous Improvement Priority Schools) team, and when we investigated amount of math instructional time each day in each classroom, the amounts varied tremendously.  So, having said that I have been striving to, at a minimum, have 30 minutes of math instruction per day in each of my classes.  I have made some improvement from the beginning of the year and I have seen some great gains with my students.  Integrating 60 minutes of math instructional time into an elementary setting for each day is challenging, but it is doable.  I am hopeful that by setting the example, my colleagues will also be impelled to try!

  • 20 Mar 2013 10:08 PM
    Reply # 1248055 on 1243357
    Susan Hillman
    My view is from the pre-service teacher perspective. I think one of the biggest challenges is for our pre-service teachers go out to the schools, and they see a more traditional way of teaching math--even if the school has Investigations or Everyday Math--the teacher may adjust it to be more didactic.  So I would have to say Professional Interaction is the challenge so that change can be realized and my students do not feel that what I am working with them on is a  weird, isolated way of teaching math. This challenge actually overlaps into the some of the other items identified later in his list (professional development and professional supervision and evaluation--sorry getting ahead a bit).  

  • 21 Mar 2013 2:15 PM
    Reply # 1248689 on 1243357
    Heather Dority and Kimberly Smallidge
    Our greatest success is that our school has increased the length of math classes K-8. K-4 classes are currently at a minimum of 60 minutes/day with admin working to increase it to 75 minutes/day, and 5-8 math classes are currently 70 minutes/day. Kudos to our administrators for instituting that change!

    We feel our biggest challenge is getting everyone to agree on what constitutes best practice in math. After reading Tracey H’s response, we feel we couldn’t sum it up any better than she did. We completely concur with the following: “Because on-going professional development tends to take place outside of the school day and on a volunteer-basis, teachers (and principals) do not share a common vision of what quality mathematics instruction looks like. A lack of shared professional development impacts most of the other components we've read about so far. If we have not engaged in p.d. together, we will not implement curriculum the same way. We may implement the same "what" but our "how" will look very different. If we have not been engaged in common, recent p.d., we will not agree when choosing instructional materials.”
  • 21 Mar 2013 8:57 PM
    Reply # 1249011 on 1243357
    Evelyn Krahn
     Since we have just begun our professional development to move toward our implementation of the CCSS of Mathematics it seems as if the greatest challenge is in the areas of professional interaction and curriculum. It 's a work in progress.

    My greatest success has been in the areas of instructional technology. I have been working this year on aligning my present math program to the CCSS and have found that using technology has been an important addition to my instruction. Having an interactive board provides the students the opportunity to project their mathematical thinking and participate in web-connected instruction.

  • 22 Mar 2013 8:56 AM
    Reply # 1249301 on 1243357
    Rhonda Fortin

    My district’s biggest challenge is having high quality Instructional Materials that align with the CCSS.  Last summer the district purchased Everyday Math for K-6 but the teachers in grades 7-12 are struggling, pulling from many different resources. They spend time finding resources instead of focusing on how best to teach the content.  With that, I guess I should include Professional Interactions.  If the 7-12 teachers were sharing the work in a systematic way, they would have the time to have those deeper conversations.


    Overall, the district’s greatest success is Instructional Technology.  The middle school has interactive whiteboards in every room and teachers are beginning to get document cameras. The high school is one-to-one and many teachers have their courses on Moodle. Less than half of the teachers have interactive whiteboards and half of the math department has document cameras.

  • 23 Mar 2013 8:38 AM
    Reply # 1249981 on 1243357
    Pam Meader

    Of the seven components listed, adult education lacks in instructional technology. We sell scientific calculators to our students and have, through grants, 4 lcd projectors now if you are lucky enough to have your classroom in one of the rooms equipped. Through another grant, we purchased 15 graphing calculators (TI-83) that I suspect are now woefully outdated. Despite that, we still try our best to keep up with new technologies.  In terms of time, our classes are two and  a half hours long but only meet twice a week.  However, the longer time does allow for math explorations and great discussions.  Due to budget cuts, however, our semesters (we do 3 in a year) have been cut back with our spring semester only being 10 weeks in length. That means I will be teaching an Algebra 2 class in under 50 hours, far less than the 180 hours suggested in the reading.  WE are offering several drop in times for extra help to counter this loss in time plus online sites for help.  As Nancy mentioned in her post, Portland schools k-12 are suggesting that math meet 1 hour daily plus find an extra 30 minutes per day to help students that may need more help plus accelerate those students that may meet standards early. I see this as a step in the right direction and consistent with what the author suggests.

  • 23 Mar 2013 5:28 PM
    Reply # 1250200 on 1243357
    Tom Light
    It was surprising for me to see the number of people who stated that instructional time was the missing component of their school/district program.  As Tracey  mentioned, at the K-6 level everyone has 75-90 minutes a day of math instruction.  Of course, there are various programs that rob from that time including intervention time, co-curricular activities, particularly chorus and instrument lessons and GT programming.  (Not a problem for most of these students, as they are often strong in math).  I believe at the high school time is an issue - except for AP calculus which meets 90 minutes/day - I believe all math classes meet 90 minutes every other day with a significant chunk of time devoted to starting homework. I do take issue with Leinwand's loose use of numbers when he states,
    Students whose formal mathematics period is sixty minutes per day receive nearly 180 hours of instruction a year, fully 50 percent more time than students in forty-five minute periods.
    This math doesn't work for me.

    I see two areas of weakness as we move toward the common core standards.  The first Tracey addressed eloquently
    While multiple components could be viewed as challenges,  I've decided that that of "professional development" deserves the most attention.  Because on-going professional development tends to take place outside of the school day and on a volunteer-basis, teachers (and principals) do not share a common vision of what quality mathematics instruction looks like.  A lack of shared professional development impacts most of the other components we've read about so far.  If we have not engaged in p.d. together, we will not implement curriculum the same way.
    This gap in PD opportunities also applies to educational technicians who do so much to help some of our students.  If it is difficult for teachers to understand and embrace these standards, with the limited PD time we have, it must be even more so for many of these support personnel.

    The second important weakness I see as we approach the common core (at least at the 6-8 level) is the area of instructional materials.  The MathScape program we use lacks some program elements and is short on engaging problems for developing deep understanding of the mathematics.
  • 23 Mar 2013 6:11 PM
    Reply # 1250223 on 1243357
    Tom Light
    I'm Back!

    I just read "The Next Generation Science Standards and the Life Sciences by Rodger W Bybee from the 2/2013 issue of NSTA's journal.  He made a point that ties directly to my concern about the need for instructional materials (and curriculum) for achieving the CC math standards.  Although his point is about science, I believe it is equally applicable to math.

      I believe we have gone directly from standards to assessments without addressing curriculum and instruction as the teaching and learning connection.  . . .
      I cannot emphasize enough the need for cclear and cohereent curriculum and instruction that connects [the standards] and assessments.  . . . When teachers at all levels ask - "Where are the materials that help me teach to the standards?" the educational system must have a concrete answer.  . . .
      If there is no curriculum for teachers, I predict the standards will be implemented with far less integrity than intended by the Framework and those who developed the Next Generation Science Standards.  [read Common Core Math Standards]

  • 24 Mar 2013 9:23 PM
    Reply # 1250870 on 1243357
    Peggy Brown
    Shawn Towle wrote:Reading:   page 86-92  (first half of chapter 7)

    In this chapter, Steve identifies 15 program components that he argues are critical elements that support a high-performance mathematics program.  This week, our focus is on the first 7 on the list.

    Which one causes you and your colleagues the greatest challenge?  Is there one that you feel that you would say is your greatest success?   Tell us about these.
    Instructional time is a challenge in our building as well.  We worked very hard, fighting for  300 minutes a week and we got it 2 years ago.  Leadership changes and shifting priorities eroded those gains.  However, the spotlight is on math again as our NECAP scores in reading were up and math were down in the same time period.  A seemingly direct link to the emphasis the district has placed on literacy.  

    We also are in need of a instructional materials as we are spending a lot of energy and time pulling resources together.  Time we could use for talking about instruction.

    We are doing well with instructional technology.  We are well connected and everyone has a document camera and projector.  We have accumulated and shared a variety of apps, games and online resources that enhance mathematics learning and engage students. Every student has a google apps for education account.  
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