Math Reflections with Dr. E (July 2021)

Assess, Plan and Teach

In my last math reflection, I talked about accelerating learning for students. This month, I’d like to get a little more granular as students will be returning to classes before we know it. July and August are when so many educators are formulating a plan for how to get everyone back on track and moving through the learning that is needed for the coming school year.

During our May webinar, Three Best Practices for Effective Teaching this Summer, (available to watch here), I shared how to use the data-based instruction teaching and learning cycle Assess, Plan, Teach (APT) this summer to prepare students to return to class this Fall as ready as possible to tackle grade-level content.

  • Assess: We use all of the assessment data at hand that is pertinent-summative, formative; formal and informal.
  • Plan: We plan and determine what to teach, decide how much time we have and how much time to spend on the skill or concept, and then develop the delivery plan.
  • Teach: We teach in whatever environment we have and choose the math model we want the student to be using, concrete, representational or abstract. Not ready to work fully in the abstract with numbers and symbols on paper? Then determine how much time we have the student spend in a small group or 1:1 working with the pictorial and concrete representation (drawing out the problem or building it with manipulatives). How can you incorporate the research-proven CRA strategy? We would love to hear how you have been using CRA!

See your district’s teaching and learning cycle (which will be very similar to  the APT framework) to determine what current grade level skills you can immediately start to teach. Add in any supports that child needs or teach any missing foundation skills and you are on the road to this year’s content mastery. 

Personalizing learning for each student will be trickier this school year due to the probable disparities in their educational experiences during COVID.ut with access to tools (like our new digital platform, TouchMath PRO) that allow the quick determination of entry points and assembling a personalized learning plan, it is doable within the whole group, small group/centers or  1:1 instructional setting. 

What does this look like with math?

Because math is not totally linear, it scaffolds with concepts and skills being repeated and becoming more complex as students advance, it is possible for skills to be introduced just-in-time. The path to proficiency in geometry is not identical to the path for algebra, allowing for some learning to be done when it is time. But teachers will have to catch students up on the foundational skills- academic, procedural, and social-emotional that were missed last year and are essential for success and progress this school year.  I have to count backwards before I can subtract so that has to be taught or retaught if subtraction proficiency is needed for this year’s content. The scope and sequence documents for math curricula make it easier to determine what can wait. The APT framework needs to be part of how you prepare for back-to-school, being able to identify what students know, what they don’t know, and what skills they need to get back on track. 

In the coming months, we’ll dive into how to look at the data of where a student currently is and where they need to be to stay on track with their learning,  how to determine what grade-level content can taught with supports and where you need to go back to the foundations as there cannot be progress without those skills and concepts. 

Do you have a favorite formative assessment for back-to-school? Or a favorite CRA technique? Send me a note! ([email protected]) We would love to feature you in a future blog.

Next year will be hard work for students and definitely for educators. Make sure you get the supports you need from your colleagues, your administrators and the folks at the curriculum providers who can help you navigate this coming year. If you need any support with professional learning this summer, please reach out! The TMU team is here to help.