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Have You Heard about the LearnBop Pilot Math Challenge?

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Sep 23, 2014 9:35:57 AM

For all of us the 2014-2015 school year has kicked off, and we're thrilled to be off and running! 

Although you know new beginnings are under way, you also know there are instructional issues that have been identified in the past that will require your attention and focus during the new school year. It’s now that you often have to make difficult and hard instructional decisions based upon funding, facilities, and faculty as to programs and resources you can implement to address these issues.

One of the common issues I faced in teaching, and many of you face today, is that of identifying  and addressing student’ mathematics knowledge gaps. It can be difficult and time consuming to pinpoint exactly where the breakdown in learning and understanding has occurred and to identify specific  prerequisite skills and/or knowledge that keep a student from learning. But unless these gaps are identified and addressed,  students lag farther and farther behind and their achievement level continues to drop. And planning and implementing interventions that address the gaps can be another time management issue for teachers.

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Last year MS #385 in Brooklyn, New York faced similar issues.  They had middle school students who had knowledge gaps and faced difficulty in learning mathematics, students who couldn’t pass the state math exam because of their knowledge gaps.  But rather than do nothing at all because they couldn’t implement the program in all classes, MS #385 decided to start small in addressing the issue by piloting LearnBop in three teachers’ classrooms -  one 6th, one 7th, and one 8th grade. 

MS 385 found using LearnBop, our interactive tutoring algebra readiness program aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, to be an effective program for both identifying student knowledge gaps and identifying interventions to address those gaps. LearnBop’s data reports provided details information about students’ specific knowledge gaps as well as suggested interventions to address the gaps. 

 

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After one year, 96 percent of students who used LearnBop on a weekly basis at MS #385 passed the state math exam – up from just 25 percent who passed the exam the prior year. To learn about the school's experience with LearnBop from students, teachers, and the principal, view the video.  Now that MS #385 has seen the results of implementing LearnBop on a small scale, they’re planning full implementation for the 2014 – 2015 school year with all their math classes.  

So we challenge you to the LearnBop Pilot Challenge!  Take advantage of LearnBop on a small scale implementation level – identify and address math knowledge gaps by using LearnBop just one hour a week with a small population of your students.  Pilot it in all the classes in one grade, one class in each grade, as an intervention program for a select number of students in one grade or varying grades – whatever works best for you and your students. 

As part of the LearnBop Pilot Challenge, you’ll receive full implementation support including:

  • Full access to LearnBop and access to carefully curated content by our partner, LearnZillion.
  • Web or face-to-face meeting(s) to help your teachers onboard students, understand the system, and begin using it successfully.
  • Assistance in setting attainable LearnBop use and learning goals.
  • Regular check-ins with a LearnBop representative to ensure students are making progress toward the identified learning goals.
  • Specific advice and consultations regarding using the system to help students stay on track with their scheduled assignments and learning.
  •  CCSSM implementation as the problems and guided-steps are all aligned to and model and illustrate both the content and practice standards.
  •  Assessment preparation support in using LearnBop to identify key knowledge gaps and then to close those knowledge gaps, so that students are learning the math they need to know and prepared for large scale assessments.

We know there are always kinks to be worked out when implementing something new, so taking the LearnBop Pilot Challenge affords you the opportunity to experience using our program and to determine how it can best benefit and meet the learning needs of your students on a small scale before large-scale implementation.

 

Click here to learn more about LearnBop's paid pilots in your area:

 

 

 

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5th and 6th Grade CCSSM Instruction & Assessment Implementation Resources

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Sep 19, 2014 6:00:00 AM

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It’s been said that teachers make more than 3,000 decisions per day, which is reportedly second only to the number of decisions air traffic controllers make in a day!

Not only do teachers have to make constant minute-by-minute decisions throughout the day based upon students’ intellectual, physical, social, and emotional needs and development, they must also plan and provide instruction, monitor and evaluate student performance, develop and implement plans to improve student performance, and maintain required records and adhere to required procedures, policies, and practices. If they let their guard down for one minute, chaos ensues.

As if that’s not enough to think about, teachers often find themselves implementing updated standards and curriculum, which can result in the search for instructional materials and resources, and attending required training to address curricular changes and shifts within their course or grade. And all of this takes more time and requires even more decisions.

That’s where many teachers are right now with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). While they embrace the CCSSM and its focus on coherently linked topics within and across grades, as well as its emphasis on the study of fewer topics with the intent of developing conceptual understanding, they find themselves feeling overwhelmed as they search for instructional materials, resources, and relevant training that addresses the specific curricular content shifts and practice changes.

And that’s where many 5th and 6th grade teachers are. The increased and shifted focus on multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions in 5th grade, the increased focus on algebraic expressions and equations and shifted focus of ratios and proportional reasoning in 6th grade, and the emphasis on teaching for conceptual understanding at all levels has left many teachers searching for quality instructional and assessment resources.

These content and practice shifts are at the heart of LearnBop. Our program is informed by the CCSSM along with relevant research about problem solving and how students learn best. We’ve harnessed the expertise of some of the best math educators in the U.S. to develop our automated tutorials, which are specifically aligned to the Common Core content and practice standards. 

The spirit and intent of the CCSSM and meaningful connections of the content and practice standards are conveyed throughout our program. And the graphics, diagrams, questions, and hints in our program support the conceptual understanding of mathematics and clarify CCSSM content and practices for both students and teachers. The adaptive step-by-step guided tutorials that simulate working with a one-on-on tutor communicate perseverance in problem solving and productive struggle, while at the same time connecting important math concepts and skills within and across grades.

LearnBop simultaneously assesses, diagnoses, and tracks student mastery at the same time. As students solve the problem step-by-step, LearnBop acts as a formative assessment, collecting data at every step and providing it to the teacher, pinpointing Common Core concepts and skills that students have not mastered going all the way back to elementary school. 

Individual student progress on each concept is provided in immediately-available detailed reports, which include all responses to the initial problem and each and every step of the problem that a student has responded to. The report shows all problems aligned to a specific concept that a student has completed, so that a teacher can monitor work progress. 

Students can complete assigned Bops anywhere they have internet access, including during class time, in computer labs, during before/after school programs, or at home. Teachers can print our recently updated Workbook for each Bop they assign to students that includes workspace for students to show their work on each step. So LearnBop can be used in a variety of ways both in the classroom and during extended learning time to assist students in learning important concepts and skills outlined in the curriculum.

In a traditional classroom setting, as described in our whole class instruction blog, LearnBop is an effective tool to introduce a lesson and guide students through problems with hints and prompts as each individual learner needs them. The instructor can assign students Bops aligned to the lesson concepts to check for understanding and mastery that students can complete during computer lab, on classroom laptops, or at home.

LearnBop is also applicable for the “flipped classroom” approach where the instructor first assigns the Bop(s) for students to complete in the classroom, in the computer lab, at home, etc. and later presents a lesson addressing the concept that students have learned about in the previously assigned Bop(s).

Our program serves as a great intervention tool. The LearnBop data reports pinpoint a students’ knowledge gap and provides recommended intervention Bops and videos that can be assigned to individual students, small groups of students, or the entire class to support them in learning the concepts and skills they have not mastered.

The flexibility that LearnBop provides in offering differentiated instruction through the assignment of concepts based upon individual student learning needs also makes it a valuable acceleration tool. The step-by-step guide, complete with instructional videos, supports curriculum acceleration and allows students to learn concepts beyond their grade or level.   

We value your feedback so we invite you to share your questions, comments, and suggestions about teaching and learning mathematics. Thanks!

Have you seen our Building a Strong Math Program: A Back to School Guide for Teachers and Administrators?

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Topics: Teachers Using LearnBop, Implementing the Common Core, Resources, Teaching & Learning, Algebra & Algebra Readiness

Developing Mathematical Habits of Mind = Experienced Problem Solvers

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Sep 3, 2014 6:30:00 AM

Mathematical_Habits_1Have you ever had one of those days when things just weren’t clicking like they should? Then it dawns on you that you failed to carry out one of your daily habits or routines? Most likely you had some distraction, which resulted in you omitting just one simple act. But oh how that one simple omission can wreak havoc on your entire day!!!

Our lives are full of habits – routines, actions, or behaviors that are so well formed that they happen without any thought on our part. There’s just something about our habits and routines that adds organization and structure, helps us to make sense of our world, and overall helps our lives run smoothly. 

Teachers are pros when it comes to modeling good organizational skills and habits. They’re also experts in demonstrating and modeling correct mathematical procedures. But as you and I both know, learning and doing math is more than knowing and understanding how to carry out math procedures.

It’s the mathematical habits of mind, or modes of thought, that enable us to reason about the world from a quantitative and spatial perspective, and to reason about math content (Levasseur & Cuoco, 2009). These habits, a composite of many skills, attitudes, and likings, enable us to behave intelligently when confronted with a problem to which the immediate answer is unknown. They’re the habits that empower us to use our mathematical knowledge and skills to make sense of and solve problems.

There are two types of problems solvers – experienced and inexperienced. It’s been said that, “Inexperienced problem solvers don’t know what to do when they don’t know what to do. Experienced problem solvers do know what to do when they don’t know what to do.”

Experienced problem solvers know what to do when they don’t know what to do because they’ve developed the mathematical habits of mind that enable them to behave intelligently when confronted with a problem. Without being reminded, experienced problem solvers automatically employ the steps in the Polya’s (1945) four-step problem solving process in an attempt to solve a problem presented to them.

1. They begin by first making an attempt to understand the problem and ask clarifying questions that help them interpret and understand the conditions of the problem.

2. They make sense of the mathematical situation at hand and choose a strategy, tools, and/or models they see as relevant and applicable in solving the problem.

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3. They use the strategy they’ve chosen and if that strategy doesn’t work, they try a different strategy – all part of perseverance in problem solving.

4. They take one last look at the original problem, the strategy and processes used, and determine if the solution is reasonable and viable.

But the mathematical habits of mind cannot simply be taught or learned by studying a list. They are best learned when students are immersed in classroom experiences that enable them to engage in the learning of mathematics concepts through problem solving, making and using abstractions, and developing and applying mathematical theories. Classrooms steeped in the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice (MP) provide ideal opportunities for students to learn and develop these habits as they:

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When students have experiences in making sense of and solving problems and communicating and using precise and appropriate mathematics and mathematics language, they have opportunities to develop the overarching habits of a productive mathematical thinker. The productive thinker knows that it may take more than one attempt to find the solution to a problem and it may require trying more than one strategy.

Problems that can be approached from a variety of entry points are always more palatable to students. When you present students relevant, interesting, and challenging problems that can be approached and solved using different strategies, you give them choices. They have choices in to using variety of tools and models for solving the problem. This in turn helps them to reason about, look for, and make use of structure in solving problems. All of this leads to increased opportunities for understanding important math concepts and skills which strengthens their ability to explain their thinking and reasoning as well as critique the reasoning of others. 

You play a vital role in the development of mathematical habits, in conveying a mindset that fosters productive struggle and emphasizing the value that wrong answers can have. You set the stage by embracing a mindset that fosters productive struggle and the importance and value in grappling with problems. The more you engage your students in learning and doing mathematics, the greater the chances of them developing the mathematical habits of mind of a productive mathematical thinker – an experienced problem solver who does know what to do when they don’t know what to do. 

We value your feedback so we invite you to share your questions, comments, and suggestions about teaching and learning mathematics. Thanks!

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About the Community

 

Cindy Bryant, LearnBop Director of Learning The LearnBop Community is an informal PLC for 5th - 9th grade math teachers moderated by Cindy Bryant, veteran teacher, former NCTM Board Director, Presidential Awardee, and former state K–12 Math Director in Missouri. Share ideas, best practices and what works for you with your peers to help every student unleash their potential.  Contact Cindy.


Connected Educators Month Webinar!

Topic: Self Directed Learning

Time: Wed, 10/22 at 11 a.m. ET
 

Research has shown that as children grow, they have an increasing desire for autonomy. Self-directed learning is one way of harnessing that natural desire to help achieve a meaningful learning experience that will last through adulthood. This webinar will look at how teachers can encourage and promote student self-directed learning.

 

Note: Registration closes at noon on Monday, 10/20. 

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