This fall, I am teaching Intensified Algebra in a two-period block to a wonderful group of ninth graders that are a year or more behind in math. (See this post to view some of the prep work I did over the summer.) While it is early days, I am becoming more and more impressed by the quality of the program.
Each day has the same basic structure. Students know what’s coming and quickly transition from routine to routine.
- Opener: 10-minute warm-up routine gets them engaged & ready to learn.
- Lesson Preview: Highlights the goals of the lesson.
- Core Activity: 30 minutes learning the new material.
- Process Homework: 10-minute partner routine to reflect on their homework.
- Consolidation Activity: 25 minutes for students to deepen conceptual understanding and skill proficiency, review/repair prior knowledge and analyze/discuss feedback on assessment activities
- Wrap-Up & Introduction to Homework: 5-minute routine used to highlight important ideas and activities in the lesson, and to make explicit the understandings from the day’s lesson that are needed to successfully complete the homework assignment.
Students use a problem solving routine to guide them. They track the problems they solve and the strategies they use. (At this point, they do more guess-and-check than I care for. They are starting to organize their guessing so that they can see patterns in the solutions.)
SPACED (distributed) PRACTICE:
The homework is thoughtfully designed to support students’ learning. Students use skills repeatedly over time.
- Homework: Practice with important concepts and skills developed in the day’s lesson.
- Stay Sharp: 5-6 Problems that help students to practice skills and concepts from that day’s lesson, prepare for upcoming lessons and review/reinforce ideas from earlier grades or from earlier lessons.
Students learn about their brains and how their attitudes towards learning impacts their learning. We routinely reflect on the importance of grappling with challenging tasks–prime time to grow dendrites. Last week, they reflected on skills that took them time and effort to learn–one talked about learning to bake, another learning how to tune an engine, others talked about learning to play a sport or an instrument. They are beginning to realize that learning math is just like learning other things–it takes time and effort.
So far, all the components of the Intensified Algebra program are working together beautifully. The teacher supports are incredible. The assessment structure is well thought out. The lesson plans work. The students and I are learning the routines that make it easier for all of us to focus on learning the math. I will update you on how we are progressing in future posts.
Married to Larry, an old Coast Guard salt and amazing man.I get to share Larry with our yellow lab, Sherman.
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