The photos below show a few things. Each student was given an index card and asked to write a measurable goal (something they could check off a list and something they could control). For example, “I will study 30 minutes each day” instead of something they hope happens, “I will get a 98.” However, I also asked them to name a target score (I won’t accept a goal of less than 85 because that is considered mastery by the state and while we may not all hit it, we certainly won’t if we aren’t shooting for it).
After this, I wrote all the measurable goals on the board and listed the numerical goals so they are all in plain sight for us every day (and so someone can consider “leveling up” and stealing someone else’s measurable action step). A note about the goal of doing a bit more than someone else. I’ve been sharing about my current running challenge with the kids all year long. We had a new FLRC Challenge for the spring season and I’ve found myself in a little friendly competition with a good friend. We’ve been logging miles on a local course and trying to be just a smidge faster than the other and trying to log the most miles on the course. I see this competition as making us both a bit better than we would have been without it no matter who “wins” ultimately. It is the same in academics – that friendly competition helps both parties! And if you are into running or just want to see what I’ve shared, here is my athlete page. If you select Taughannock Rim and Falls you can see just how many times I’m hitting this trail. I have to keep it going until August to win the sign for the course.
Below the goal pictures, you will see our groups in the after-school review session on our second day – finishing our bingo game. The time flew by (for me at least) and I think the kids had a good time and learned a few things along the way.
I think my favorite moment of the week came when a student said on Friday, “this is fun! I think I can increase my goal. May I change it?” I smiled and said, “Sure!” She upped it one point and said, “I may raise it another on Monday.” That’s really the point of all this after all – we’re learning and growing every minute!
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.
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.
Last year my son’s Chemistry teacher created a lot of assignments in Jamboard. He proudly showed me his work. At the time my Algebra kids were humming along with taking pictures of their work on paper. I was intrigued by his projects though and offered up the option to them to give it a try. The class agreed that it was too challenging to write on and it worked just fine to take pictures.
Math 8 was a different story. When I opened it up to them they were mixed. Some students preferred the format and others were really frustrated by it. Our school was using Google Classroom at the time and classroom played very well with my iPad. I could pull their pictures into it, mark them up and grade easily. It didn’t play nicely with Jamboard. So, last spring I offered Jamboard alternatives to students who wanted to use them but stuck with mostly traditional pictures of work.
In the fall of 2019, as part of a regular professional development day in October my district had someone come in and work with us on Social Emotional Learning Standards. We participated in activities, collaborated and I left feeling ready to come up with some ways to more intentionally teach and reinforce social emotional learning in my classroom.
I spent the weekend reading through the materials and came up with an idea of S.E.L. dice. I found a template and printed it out on 6 different colors of thick colored paper, put the activities I thought I could manage on them and printed up a key for myself. Each table bin in my 8th grade classroom got a single die and we used them regularly. My original project is linked below. The GREAT things about it.
Normally when we learn in our actual classroom space when we get to learn the Quadratic formula in Algebra, I have the song playing as the students come in. This is not my original idea – in fact I learned the song when my daughter took Algebra. Her teacher played it day in and day out for them.
This year we were in our virtual learning environment when it was time to learn the formula. Naturally I still wanted to follow the tradition and play the song. However, when I went to find the song, I found A LOT of songs. There was the catchy, familiar version that I know and love set to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel” but there were also so many others out there. People sang it to the tune of Rolling in the Deep, there were rap versions and more. I found a few and popped them into a playlist on my YouTube channel and shared them with my students.
This year our 8th grade Algebra class has the opportunity to “loop” with me as their teacher for a 2nd year. The benefits: we all know each other and our class systems are familiar. The drawbacks: students who hoped to get an opportunity to learn from someone else don’t get that opportunity and we can fall back into too familiar patterns with each other early in the year.
I’m happy to report that for the most part we haven’t settled into bad habits but instead I see new and better habits emerging. The kids have really let me grow as a teacher and I’ve let them grow as students. One great thing for our class is the addition of a new student. She is really organized and loves to color code her notes. The result? It is spreading!! I now have several students taking the time to add color to notes.
It was a happy accident last year. A student (or maybe it was me I don’t actually remember) wrote on our classroom whiteboard in marker. Not dry erase marker. Oh dear!! We’ll have marker on our board forever, I thought. Before panicking though I grabbed some paper towels and a water spray bottle and was so happy to see that it came off!!
This fall I took an independent study class. The class was full of things, but one portion was an app that required you to create a mind map. I really haven’t done that before, and part of the course required that you create one that could be used in your classroom. I created one for our current unit of study at the time: Integers.
Upon looking at it, I realized it could be a really nice way to keep everything straight. We discovered the rules for integers by using integer chips. I felt pretty good about the exploration piece of this. I pre-taught the kids in Math Lab so they’d have more time with the chips, and then we worked through the rules in our groups in class. Each day we’d add to the mind map. Occasionally, I posted a new picture of our classroom board mind map on Google Classroom. Continue reading “Integer Mind Maps”→
Calculators are a must have in seventh grade math class. Mrs. Dawson has math classes all throughout the day, and has found a system for making sure that calculators are always available when you need them. The students were asked to buy calculators, as well as the PTO kindly buying enough for everyone to use during class. They are a part of our shared bins on every table, which also includes highlighters, pens, sticky notes, scissors, pencil sharpeners and erasers. Most of these items the students were asked to help supply the classroom with, and they are definitely being put to good use. Continue reading “Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!”→
Gail Brisson nabbed some pictures for us as the kids were rotating through each station. View our slideshow below. Read on for more about our Pi Day celebration. Many thanks to our 3 parent volunteers that helped us with the day. We really appreciate your help! Many thanks to our judges and to all the Math 7 team members that made this day possible. It was a lot to coordinate but we pulled it off.