Monday, December 22, 2014

English Language Learners and Math

The language demands of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics leave many math teachers wondering about how to best serve their English Language Learners.  The following EdSource article highlights strategies of teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) in the math classroom.  The author stresses the importance of group work and connects each mathematical concept to the real world.  Teaching English Learners the Language of Math is written by a 7th grade math teacher in Oakland and focuses on the importance of interaction in the math classroom.

Looking for a more local resource? The Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA) unit at DESE has begun the process of creating 10 Model Curriculum Units (MCUs) that are ELL specific.  All of the units will be under the broad theme of social justice, and will be linked in some way to an existing MCU.  Local Greater Boston districts are taking the lead on creating various math and science MCUs.  The goal is to have the units completed by the end of the 2015 summer with the pilots starting in September.

Our final resource focuses more specifically on the power of starting math class with an application problem.  The author, Liana Heitin, channels Dan Meyer when recommending that math class begin with a word problem that is rooted in an image or a video.  Making Math Word Problems More Accessible speaks to the difficultly that many ELLs have with word problems and suggests ways of addressing this challenge.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Focus on First Grade Fluency

A few months ago, I posted about early numeracy without focusing on a specific early elementary grade level.  This week, I decided to narrow the focus on first grade.  We'll start with a resource out of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Did you know that many of the Model Curriculum Units (MCUs) now come with videos of the MCUs in action? The 1st grade unit, 'Math Detectives! Using Properties of Operations to Find Change Unknown' has an excellent video of the MCU in action!

Our second video comes from the 'Great Kids Milestones' website.  This site is an excellent resource for both schools and parents.  It offers a collection of videos for grades K-5 and walks you through grade level standards in writing, reading and math.  I am including the video, How Easily Does Your 1st Grader Add and Subtract?

Our final resource is the article, Responding to Critics of the Common Core Math in the Elementary Grades.  This article takes the three most widely used criticisms of the math Common Core State Standards and explains why the critiques are not valid.  The first criticism is surrounding a highly debated 1st grade math standard.  The standard (1.OA.C.6) requires students to demonstrate fluency when working with numbers within 20.  The authors do an excellent job of explaining why this standard is cognitively complex yet grade level appropriate.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Edwin: A Way to Integrate Initiatives

I attended the Edwin roadshow both last year and this year and have been very impressed with the progression of this tool.  Many kinks have been ironed out and Edwin can now truly be considered a one-stop shop.  When utilized fully, Edwin can be a place to track DDMs, access curriculum, create and analyze both formative and summative assessments, conduct interventions, and generate data graphs.  Although most of us are very familiar with how Edwin Analytics works, Edwin Teaching and Learning has remained a mystery to many.  The intent of this week’s blog post is to demystify this tool and give you some concrete Edwin Teaching and Learning resources.

The first resource is the most traditional: ESE's Edwin Teaching and Learning website.  If you would like your district to be an active Edwin user, this is where you need to start!  The website includes nuts and bolts of SIF compliance, archived webinars, and quick overview videos.

If your district has already committed to Edwin, you have access to live webinars as well.  Here is a list of the upcoming live webinars:

·         Entering External Assessments-What Makes it Quick 12/9 at 12:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm

·         Sharing Classroom Assessments-Grouping and Intervention 12/10 at 12:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm

·         Assessment Results for Teachers-Images and Addendums 12/11 at 12:00pm, 3:00pm, and 4:00pm

Our final resource is a link to Thinkgate TV.  Thinkgate is the mastermind behind Edwin Teaching and Learning and they have taken a Khan Academy type approach to their trainings.  Thinkgate TV offers dozens of specialized tutorial videos that support Edwin Teaching and Learning users through every step of the process.  This is a brand new resource that has the potential to be extremely valuable.