Tag Archives: scores

Ten Percent Increase – Pt.2

During the last blog post, I described the circumstances at the beginning of the year (September 2017).  Teachers were fired up about comments made by our superintendent.   As a matter of fact, there were teachers who attended and spoke at a board meeting.  Let’s just say the board wasn’t thrilled by our superintendent’s words.  

And this brings us back to my school.  My principal called me into her office one afternoon and we had a long chat.  She wanted to make the after school intervention strictly about math. (We already do 4-5 hours of reading intervention each week within the school day).  She wanted to overhaul what was happening.  She wanted the after school program to have direction/purpose.  (I don’t know what the program was like in years prior).  She asked me what I could do for the school.  Um…..where/when do I begin?!?!  Off the top of my head, I bounced some ideas to her.  She liked what she had heard.  I got to work on the preparations.

She was looking for consistency across all grade levels.  She was looking for routines beyond the textbook.  My K-5 colleagues had been dealing with Envision Math for years, so they needed something fresh.  Biggest obstacle of all, we needed to make math engaging and worth a child’s time to come after school for 3 extra hours a week.

Here are questions that I grappled with before I started planning.  How do I hook students into an engaging hour of math afterschool for 3 hours a week?    How can they become active leaners rather than it becoming a study hall/homework help?  Most importantly, how do I convince my colleagues that my program is worth their time and energy?  How do I get everyone on the same page?

And for the next 6 weeks, I was teaching 6th grade and designing a full math intervention (from the ground up).

  • First I built a schedule and it looked like this…..

Screenshot 2018-09-13 07.28.35

Take notice that this was a schedule built on everything I learned in the past 4 years in conferences and via Twitter.  My principal was giving me the chance to train our teachers on all that I had learned (well….maybe not ALL…but certainly a lot).    

Here’s the breakdown of each component.

Number Talks – consisted of a bunch of pictures from my files and other websites.   Each teacher was given a a file of over 200 pictures that included “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, dot images, and powerpoint of any number talk images.  Some pictures were found on ntimages.weebly.com while others were pictures I have collected over the years.  All teachers had to do was find a picture they liked, show the image, and have a conversation.

Fluency Games – rather than practicing our fast facts with worksheets, students would engage in games/activities in which they practiced their facts.  I gathered all kinds of games from Pinterest or TPT (Only the free ones that looked worth while).  

Front Row/Freckle – this is a free website for students to get more experience with problem solving.  It’s engaging (unlike some others I’ve seen).  Students gain coins as they  conquer different topics.  They love it!  

Numberless Word Problems  Brian Bushart introduced math educators to numberless word problems.  Taking the numbers out of a word problem and then “layering” information helps students focus on the context of a problem versus becoming “number pluckers.”   

Performance Tasks  –  In the Envision text my teachers were using, the performance tasks were really weak.  Performance tasks can be effective for students to apply what the skills they have learned.  With a discerning eye, I gathered performance tasks for 7 grade levels (kinder – 6th) for them to practice with the students.  

I wish I had a picture of all the binders of information that was given to the teachers.  7 grade levels worth of all these magnificent routines.  Each binder was at least 1 1/2 inches thick.  Each teacher had number talk pictures downloaded onto their desktops ready to go.  They were thrilled.  Maybe I went overboard with providing  them with each and every single piece of this puzzle, but I didn’t want any excuse as to them NOT doing the program.  The only thing they had to do was figure out which performance tasks or game to use.  No research needed.  And NO EXCUSES.

It was a labor of love to put the program together.  However I would be remiss if I said it was all me.   It wasn’t all me.  I can put together an A+ program, but it achieving a 10% increase was a team effort.  There was buy in from every teacher at my school (including the Transitional Kinder team!)  There was support and leadership from our principal.  It was a school wide effort to help the students.  

  • We were the only school in our entire district to pull a double digit increase in mathematics.
  • 6th grade nearly doubled their scores!  
  • Every grade level increased!

I need to get packing for Palm Springs (CMC – South).  Excited to do not one, but 2 sessions on Clothesline.  Stop by and say hello.  

Until next time,

Kristen

Ten Percent Increase- Pt 1

Oh the joys of the start of school.  The smell of the newly sharpened pencils, clean unmarked whiteboards,  and teacher’s CAASPP scores being reviewed.

As part of my district’s annual tradition, we always start off with a district wide kickoff.  The Board of Ed waves and smiles.  Our district’s Teacher of the Year says a few inspiring words.  Teacher with mucho years of service are honored.  Lastly, schools’ scores are announced.  This year my school’s math scores went up 10%.  That was the highest math gain in our entire district.  Our superintendent also gave us a shout out in his speech.  

And that brings us to an interesting story of how we got the 10 percent increase.  

(Sept. 2017) Within my first month of joining the elementary school, our superintendent came to a staff meeting to do a Q & A with our staff.  It was an opportunity for him to speak to teachers about the going-ons of the district.  I saw it as the perfect time to ask him my burning question–math.  My exact question to him was I know that the district’s focus for the past few years has been the reading initiative, but what are you doing for elementary math?”   Since my position as the elementary math TOSA was dissolved months prior to this question, I wanted to hear directly from him .  My elementary colleagues were upset that they had gotten rid of my position (so many of them had been making such incredible strides in their teaching), however they had my back in asking this question. They also gave me a warm welcome in joining their staff.

The superintendent was completely taken by surprise and started telling us of his wife who teaches 2nd grade.  She and her colleagues always taught math like a checklist of standards.  They rather teach art instead. And so in his mind, he figured “elementary teachers don’t like teaching math.”   

Now let me paint you a picture...  with his statement…you saw wide eyes and gaping mouths.  You heard absolute silence (with the exception of a few gasps).  When the teachers’ minds finally processed what he said, slowly many of them started raising their hands and shouting “I like teaching math.”   His reply was “really, because your scores don’t show it.”  At that moment, there were a few people ready to start flipping tables.  

Now… I could very well give my opinion about this encounter with our superintendent, but I’m just gonna leave it alone.  Let’s just say that he didn’t leave with a fan club.  

If anything, this encounter got the teachers fired up.  In the days following, many of the teachers broke out their math t-shirts and truly showed their love of math. (It was also rumored that he was going to come back for a tour and they wanted to send him a message)  Here are a few of them…

 

Now…I know this doesn’t explain our ten percent increase.  However, it is the precursor to the rest of the year and the work that was done.  

In the next blog post….I’ll explain details our the math intervention that we put in place.

Until next time,

Kristen