May 9, 2012 by Brad Currie
Six years ago, the mathematics teachers at RMS were tasked with developing a new math intervention program. Many ideas were tossed around and the teachers decided to develop their own individualized program that would focus on supplemental skills the students need in order to be successful in their on-level math classes. Mrs. Petersen and Miss Newcamp spent the summer designing this program. At first the program started out concentrating on a few areas such as whole numbers, fractions, and integers. It has now expanded out to cover nineteen topics and continues to grow every year. In their program, they use a variety of resources in their program including VersaTiles, Learning Palettes, online activities, and various workbooks.
The program is customized for each student. Mrs. Petersen and Miss Newcamp have identified some skills that all students in a particular grade need to work on, but then analyze NJASK and NWEA test scores to identify each student’s area of improvements. They then give the students pre tests on skills in those areas of math. Based on the results of the pre tests, the students are then given assignments to complete. Once the students have shown a solid understanding of the topic, they are given a post test. To identify mastery, students must answer all questions correctly on the post test. Upon mastery, students are then given the opportunity to put up a success on the classroom success board. Otherwise, they continue to work on the skills needed and try again at a later time. Students have shown much excitement when they receive a success to put up on the board. Many of them ask what they have to do in order to gain mastery and post a success of their very own. This has increased the productivity in the class tremendously, and shows student’s intrinsic motivation towards their learning.
A big part of the class is to work on the students’ perceptions of math. Mrs. Petersen and Miss Newcamp show the students that they can learn math and become successful in the classroom and the real world. Their students are showing larger than average growth on NWEA test scores and many have shown proficiency on the NJASK test after taking this course. The students also set several goals for themselves throughout the year and reflect quarterly on their progress towards these goals. These goals and reflections give the students the opportunity to be responsible for their learning plan and increase their accountability.
The Math Fundamentals classroom is a very positive environment and we are very luck to have such a great program here at RMS. We look forward to continuing to help close the achievement gap in the area of mathematics.