This post is written to share how I use the premium version of Delta Math for classroom practice and quizzes/tests in a way that promotes mastery of topics. Thank you to the Trumansburg Education Foundation for supporting me by taking the time to learn about this and reimbursing my individual subscription. We have plans to use this as a secondary Math department in 22-23.
How I discovered Delta Math
Three years ago, my son was taking Algebra 2 and he came home and mentioned Delta Math as an extra credit and test correction opportunity. I checked it out and listened to him as he worked through things. I promptly asked his teacher for the details and started using it in my classroom. It was newish, and we weren’t doing a lot of digital work at the time. I used it occasionally, similarly to how his teacher used it. It was an optional extra, an occasional practice, and something that only the high achieving students really embraced.
Now, Delta Math has evolved! The world of math is not a bit the same as it was just 3 years ago. Digital options have forever changed the world of Education. Asynchronous is feasible, my students always have access to their tech, we have a paper shortage and are discouraged from using paper, we use PearDeck for formative assessment, we have IXL, I use Jamboard as a workaround because we don’t have a .pdf editor for students, and everything is housed in a Brightspace classroom.
Headed toward Mastery
How we teach is affected not only by how we are taught but by how we learn. I grew up with test corrections being offered to students who scored below a certain % and I was always “just enough above” that percentage to not be allowed to correct for half credit. When I was eligible, I did just what was asked. I redid the problem I missed. Usually, it was by copying a friend’s work or sweetly asking the teacher until they revealed enough that I wasn’t actually redoing the problem. When my own kids went through school they were typically offered retakes for any score. My daughter didn’t often take the teachers up on the opportunity. She was content with good enough. My son did any corrections allowed. I recall one day he came up to my classroom sobbing about a legit bad grade (below 75%) plunged himself into corrections. He desperately wanted me to give him the answers to get the correct work on the paper as fast as possible. He really didn’t know what he was doing. I supported him, forcing him to slow down and try to understand. What I saw here and at later times with him was that we approached the correction opportunity the same way; finish as fast as possible and get the grade.
These experiences, as well as my own mostly failed trips into facilitating meaningful corrections, led me to think about content mastery through retakes and extra practice.
Enter Delta Math
During the initial year of Covid, I didn’t use the platform very much. I struggled with staying up with the accounting piece, students not really embracing it, and all the other things that we faced as teachers that year. I largely used Jamboard and Google Slides with the occasional trip into Delta Math.
This year though, I’m further into my understanding of how Brightspace can support digital work, and I’ve learned some things from my first attempts. Delta Math has evolved to allow you to assign work to individual students (think extra practice and new versions of tests) and I’ve come up with some great ways to blend paper and digital experiences.
- I’m making re-tests and extra assignments optional for all students and having some success with requiring it for scores below passing.
- This is good for all students, but my advanced students do better with it.
- Students are still reluctant to show work. Think “back of the napkin” writing.
- I don’t use the Delta Math platform for their actual grades. I grade assignments and store them in Brightspace. I do this for all external digital platforms. Until kids understand this they can get confused.
- There is a TON of potential here. I think that as time goes on, I will be able to align my testing to standards more strongly and really use this mastery approach with this platform. I’m also using IXL in tandem with this. I think the two complement each other well.
Delta Math Slides Demo
And here is the demo that walks you through the 4 pieces of using Delta Math as an assessment and for extra practice/support for students as they seek mastery learning.
My next steps
I’m still very much stuck in the standard synchronous model with my students. My longer-term goals include getting away from us being in lockstep with each other. That is going to require a large shift in mindset from my students and strong implementation by me. Right now the barriers I face include:
- Strong student reluctance to learn from any video.
- Challege with students arriving with devices that are not charged.
- Short enough class periods that it is feasible for kids to stall just long enough.
- An overall mindset that the instructor delivers the content each day and students practice.
I had more success in flipping this model last year, but with the return to in-person schooling, I find that kids want to go back to what they know. I very much appreciate Delta Math in what it can do for individualizing the approach and think it offers a lot of potential for the future for me and for my colleagues.
Thank you to the Trumansburg Education Foundation for your support. For those reading this post unfamiliar with the Trumansburg Education Foundation, this is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2006. The Foundation can support any not-for-profit organization with a viable program that will benefit students within the Trumansburg Central School District.