The Power of Student Choice: Motivating Learners Who Struggle With Math
byMarch 18th, 2019 All Blog Posts
Outside of the polar vortexes and sudden snowstorms, winter is growing on me because there’s nothing like standing outside when it snows and having an opportunity to hear . . . nothing. I take advantage of those quiet moments as I watch the snow fall (or pause from my grumbling about shoveling snow) to reflect. When I was a school principal, I used this time of year to review my students’ cumulative progress on their benchmark assessments and to reflect with teachers on how to continue to meet students’ needs. My favorite part of those meetings was to hear and share student celebrations that added details to the stories of positive change that teachers and leaders were witnessing in their classrooms.
I continue this tradition at mid-year meetings when I meet with district and school leaders to discuss MATH 180 implementation and data. I often hear stories from leaders and teachers who tell me about how their students who demonstrated characteristics of struggling learners—such as being disengaged, unmotivated, or disruptive—begin to change their learning mindset and become engaged in mathematical conversations. It’s great to see the pride these students and educators have in their new knowledge in a matter of months.
MATH 180 is an intervention program to accelerate students’ readiness for algebra in Grades 5–12 and was designed to support teachers with making mathematics accessible by focusing on rebuilding key foundational concepts and skills in a blended learning model. Students are able to learn mathematics through meaningful practice and engaging in tasks connected to 21st-century careers and real-world mathematics, which provides them with the opportunity to see their knowledge put into relatable context.
During a recent meeting with a Virginia district leader, she shared how their special education students who are using the MATH 180 program are seeing success and are therefore more motivated in their learning. More than 60% of those students have shown an average gain of more than 100 Quantile measures halfway through the district’s first year of implementation. Sixteen of the students were originally recommended for a different intervention program but on this program have made an average gain of 300 Quantile measures or more.