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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Water Cooler Encouraging my students to take responsibility for their learning Reply To: Encouraging my students to take responsibility for their learning

  • George Garza

    February 2, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Hi Kelly.  Sounds like your are a great math teacher!   The school I teach in is performance based, which basically means the kids don’t move onto a new unit until they’ve mastered the current one.  This means we need to have a way to keep kids interested and motivated in their learning or else they stop progressing and need to repeat the course.  I’m working mostly with freshman, but here’s the three most effective things we do with them that really seems to help keep them motivated.

    The first thing is we set a goal as a class.  This last semester our class goal was that 77% of the freshman would get finish the semester, this goal was set by the kids themselves, with input from all of them.  We then made charts showing the goal versus a specific classes ( i.e. 3rd period or 2nd period) progress towards completing the goal.  We  put the chart in a prominent place, and talk about it every monday.  This gives the kids something to gauge their progress, and every kid knows that they are helping or hurting the group meet its goals.

    Another important thing we do is, also every monday, we meet with the kids one-on-one and check in on their progress in the class, have them tell me what their goals for the week are, and we talk about what help they may need to get to their goal, including coming after school, working at lunch, or just simply buckling down and doing what they know they will need to do.  During this time, kids I’m not meeting with are doing ixl, or some other activity that doesn’t need me.  It’s not the academically richest time for them, but the gains in focus and motivation for the week more than outweigh these issues.  We slow down a little at the beginning  of the week to go faster later in the week.

    The last big thing we have done is their is a chart, also in a prominent place, that has the kids names and all the units in the semester.  When a unit is successfully completed, the kid falls in that part of the chart.  The eagerness with which they do this blows me away. I’m not sure how this would work in a traditional school setting though.

    One thing we do to help the kids be able to track their own learning, which helps put them in the driver’s seat, is we unpack the standard they are working on a create a learning progression chart which is set out where the students can see it.  Then at the beginning of the unit, we have the kids make their own version of the chart, with their own language, and assess themselves on what they know and what they need still.  

        I’m a first year teacher and these are the things that stand out most prominently that our program does.  Incidentally, we had a 97% pass rate last fall, compared with 52% the year prior. before the department started doing these things, and our kids grew an average of 4 points on the NWEA over the same time.  The kids, for the first time for many of them, are enjoying math, and I can tell you it’s not because our instruction is great.  I’m a newbie trying to get the hang of how to facilitate using inquiry.  Almost everyone else teaches to the test and does direct instruction all the time.  I can only imagine the results we’d get if we also improved our instruction.

    Hope some of this was helpful.  If you’ve got questions I’d be glad to answer any you may have.