Ms. Hahn’s math class was grappling with a welcomed problem. What purposeful ‘May Dos’ would further student learning and keep students engaged? Ms. Hahn and I devised options: coding math games and creating digital math journals. The students had other ideas—peer tutoring. The plan was music to my ears. Before coming to Windsor Mill Middle School, I was coordinator and elective teacher of a high-school AVID program, the core of which was the tutorial program. A group of five students and I developed a peer-tutoring system based on the AVID model that was grounded in students identifying a point of confusion and peer questioning. As part of the training, students practiced questioning a partner while the rest of the group provided effective feedback based on “I Can” statements. Discovery Ed Coach, Michael Capps pitched in by supporting students in learning the process of effective feedback. During the session, a practice tutor struggled to ask a question to move her partner’s learning forward. In true AVID fashion, an observer-student eagerly asked to join in. “I have a question!” he exclaimed. He posed his question. The group held its collective breath, and the hard-working student had an ‘aha’ moment and solved his math problem.
A cornerstone of Ms. Delenick’s teaching practice in 6th grade math at Windsor Mill Middle School is creating an environment where learning is personalized and responsive. Eager to re-invent her room from top to bottom as a place of inquiry, Ms. Delenick designed an Interactive Bulletin Board where students could create word problems for other students to solve. The activity is called “Draw a Story Problem.” Students select an operation, a set of numbers, and a setting from the pockets on the board, and create a word problem on a template. The student-generated word problem is then posted on the bulletin board for other students to solve. Ms. Delenick said of the activity, “Students have choice. One boy took the setting he selected—football—very seriously and researched the Carolina Panthers, so he could have an authentic reproduction of their logo in his problem.” Both the problems and the solutions give rise to vigorous debate and rivalries to create the toughest and most creative problems.
In my first grade classroom, I have been working hard to meet the needs of all my learners. For our current math unit, first grade students are working on addition and subtraction. I have a small group of students who have exceeded the first grade math standards for this unit, so I looked at the second grade standards and found some ways to enrich their learning. By comparing the standards for both first and second, I am able to see where my students who already mastered the first grade standards need to be for next year. These students watch a video teaching them the standards for second grade while I teach the rest of the first graders the standards for their unit in a whole group setting. After the whole group lesson we move to small group rotations. The group that watched the video meets with me for a short mini lesson and practice with the second grade standards. Following the mini lesson they complete appropriate lessons on Study Ladder. The students are challenged and engaged and they are not sitting through whole group instruction for skills they have already mastered.
Algebra students at Cockeysville Middle School worked to strengthen their skills with Linear Equations as they selected from nine stations. In some cases, 7th and 8th grade classes intermingled and helped one another as they worked through a mix of teacher led stations as well as self assessing stations. Students were assigned to their first station based on formative assessment results. From there, the students were able to choose from a 10-foot floor graph, scavenger hunts, a Jeopardy game on a large kiosk monitor, graphing calculator activities, laminated problem cards, or book work. Scores on a follow up quiz indicated the day was a great success.
Visit the Cockeysville Middle "Shine a Light on Math" website to learn more.
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.