literate but not in math

Our focus in education for quite awhile now has been on literacy in reading.  It was a need, a need that we have and continue to address.  So before I begin this monologue, please hear me say we need to support reading.  It’s important.

So is math! A student also needs to be literate and fluent with math. Yet we don’t support math like we do reading.  We don’t provide interventions for math like we do reading. We pass students to the next grade even though they are not proficient in the skills and competencies for the grade they are leaving.  They can read so they pass.

We are harming students.  It’s negligence on our part as educators. What happens to a student who doesn’t master their multiplication tables in the 3rd grade? They struggle with long division in 4th, but they pass.  That lack of success (because we don’t want to say failure) compounds year after year, making a student believe they are stupid, that math is hard, that they can’t learn math.  But at that point in their education it’s ok if they can’t learn math, they haven’t had to so far.  They can pass to the next grade and the next and be grossly deficient in math skills.  Then they arrive at high school, where grades matter and courses must be passed to graduate.  This is how they come to me.

via http://project-collage.com/2015/08/15/what-about-the-other-kids/

The expectation when they arrive in my classroom is for them to learn Algebra 1. Seems simple enough.  Our curriculum is good, it’s aligned to our state standards, it’s vertically aligned with other grade levels. Oh, but students haven’t had to learn this wonderfully aligned curriculum. They passed from grade to grade because they could read.  Here is the task we’ve actually been given.

Algebra 1 hole

We are supposed to bring students out of a learning hole that is 3 or 4 years deep and help them climb the tree to learn Algebra IN ONE YEAR.  They haven’t had to learn math for a long time and now they have to learn multiple years of math to be successful. I use data and standards based learning.  I can show that my students are making progress.  Sometimes I only take them to the top hole and we sit in the grass. Yes, that means they don’t pass Algebra 1 the first time, but they learned.

So the argument I’m getting is, if they’ve learned why don’t they pass?  My answer: because they didn’t learn Algebra 1.  We never made it to the tree, we only sat in the grass and we celebrated that success. If we pass these students, we are as negligent as those before use.  We are perpetuating the problem.  If they pass to Geometry and Algebra II, they will be right back down in the hole we were trying to pull them out of.

People keep asking me what the solution is and I keep giving it.  WE NEED MATH RTI IN ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL.  We need to make sure these students get the support they need to be successful EVERY YEAR, not wait until Algebra I and hope I arrange a miracle that drags them from the bottom of the pit to the top of the tree with the snap of my fingers.

Help our students, support our students, show them they CAN learn math from the beginning. I want them to be successful too but you are sending me an impossible task and setting our students up for FAILURE, and not the kind you can learn from.

I’m climbing off my soap box for now, but even from the ground I will continue to advocate for RTI in math.  It’s time our focus is on literacy in more than just reading.


METC, ramblings

#metc16 Sharing My Voice

Wow, my brain is on overload after the METC conference in St. Charles, MO.  I’ve been inspired by George Couros @gcouros & Rafranz Davis @rafranzdavis to share my voice not just my creations.

I set up this blog a few years ago to share content and tech ideas from my classroom (and I fail at keeping up with that sometimes). I was encourage by Sean Nash @nashworld, our technology coordinator at the time, to share what I was doing in my classroom.  I will always be grateful to Sean for that push.  I love helping other utilize tech to enhance the learning of students.

What I have been neglecting is my voice that focuses on learning.  I share this voice on Twitter through edchats like #DitchBook with @jmattmiller, #SBLchat and #MOedchat. I share my voice in person with anyone who doesn’t run from me (and sometimes my “passion” is a little too strong and they do run).  I don’t share this voice about my passion for learning here.  I plan to change that! Everything I do is to help students LEARN.  I use technology to engage students, meet them where they’re at, and to enhance (change, reinvent…) content learning.  I use standards based grading to empower students to take learning into their own hands and to show them that learning is ongoing and happens at different times for different people.  I am passionate about grades reflecting learning and not compliance or busy tasks.

I still plan to share technology ideas – please use them – it’s our duty as teachers to share our ideas so others can benefit.  But, I also plan to share my thoughts and ideas about teaching and learning.  At least on the blog I won’t know if you’re running away 🙂

Thanks George and Rafranz for challenging me!  #geekyfangirlmoment

Geometry, technology, Uncategorized

Superhero Transformations

I found this project a few years ago and I’ve had the students create them on paper.  The products are always very impressive and students love the project.  The original link can be found here. This year I wanted the students to create online using Google Docs and Draw.  It was a little bit of a learning curve, but I like that the student used the transformation tools built into Google Docs.  I’ve posted a few examples below and also my updated version of the original project I linked to above.  It really helps the students visualize transformations and helps them use this vocabulary in context of their situation.

Comic Transformation Map - Madelyn Fuller




Information Sheet & Scoring Guide