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Topic: Number Sense and Computational Fluency
Replies: 92   Last Post: Jul 24, 2008 5:09 AM

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Missy Taft

Posts: 6
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Re: Action Research-New Strategies for Struggling Students
Posted: Mar 6, 2000 7:49 PM
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Well, Sam, you made my day! Thanks for the compliment! I'm doing
this project through Central Mass. PALMS. The study group will be
meeting on a regular basis so participants can give feedback and
assistance to other group members. I predict that I will be refining
my methods somewhat as I go along, thanks to their input.

I'm planning to use three different instructional strategies, each for
a period of about two weeks. We will stick to each strategy
exclusively during the two week period. Before each strategy is
implemented, I will administer a Math Attitude Inventory to the kids,
to gauge their attitudes re: self-confidence, willingness to try tough
problems, and perseverance. I will be doing observational
assessments, looking at homework assignments, and one written
assessment for each two week period. I will compare these data for
each strategy to see if any produced a positive change in attitude
and/or mastery of concepts.

Although I'm doing this project with the whole class, obviously, I'm
only analyzing data for 9 students for purposes of this project: 3 low
kids (who failed the 4th grade MCAS or scored 220), 3 medium
(proficient) kids, and 3 high-level (advanced) students.

I'm doing the unit on Name That Portion (fractions, percents, and
decimals). The three strategies I'll be using are: 1)focus groups for
peer tutoring. Students pick their own groups based on
problem-solving strategies they prefer to use (using 10X10 grids, a
Fraction Stax set, or just doing abstract "number crunching").
2)Differentiated instruction for the same assignment (using different
challenge levels for games, such as Roll Around the Clock, Fraction
Track, and Capture Fractions). 3)Differentiated instruction by
offering a choice in assignments (different packets of practice pages
dealing with multiplication and division strategies, and a choice of
mini-projects on weekly rainfall or percentage of fat in foods).

I'm finding, just in the planning phase, that Name That Portion is
highly amenable to the type of strategies I'm trying. It was not
difficult to break the activities down into different levels of
challenge or specific strategies, such as using 10X10 grids. The
manual basically suggests using multiple strategies anyway. The fact
that there is such a good fit between the content of the curriculum
and the strategies for differentiating instruction that I'm going to
try makes me think this is going to produce interesting data. I will
post results when I have them. A few people have requested more
information on my results, and I'd be delighted (thrilled that someone
is listening? flattered? happy to help?) to share what I learn.

I began the implementation of the first strategy today. The kids are
totally cool with this research idea. They got a kick out of doing
the Attitude Inventory (which I am going to analyze with the
assistance of our school psychologist). They picked between three
problem solving strategies (10X10 grids, Fraction Stax, and "number
crunching") pretty much the way I predicted they would. Most kids,
including all the weak ones, wanted to use the grids. 4 kids wanted
to use the Fraction Stax. My group of 4 "hot dogs", who are
aggressively self-confident, highly abstract, and extremely fluent
with mathematical reasoning, chose the "do it in your head and do it
10 times faster than everybody else" method. One kid, who is somewhat
language-impaired and exhibits a strong preference for concrete
manipulatives, pulled down the Fraction Stax on his own at a later
point in the day and worked independently on his paper (Finding
Fraction and Percent Equivalents). He is really getting into using
manipulatives to figure out these relationships.

This is really going to be fun. I'll keep you posted. Thanks for
listening.






Date Subject Author
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