From: Tim Wilcox
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Subject: AM usage and strategies
I am the information systems specialist for our district. I support AM hardware, software and teacher training. We have three K-12 schools of varying sizes, all using AM 3-12 for the past three years. Many of the comments on this list are familiar, so I will try to address them with some conclusions we have made at the district administrative level. OBJECTIVE MASTERY- Educational objectives, curriculum frameworks, benchmarks - whatever you call them - are elements of a responsible educational program. It is not the teacher's sole responsibility to establish the basic curriculum because the teacher is not the only investor in the process. The teacher follows the guides given him/her and implements instruction according to the established objectives. AM is a great tool for managing these objectives. With a little preplanning, the AM objectives can be matched to the district or state framework. AM can show mastery and non-mastery of objectives daily, instead of waiting for the test on Friday.AM can be used as an end-of-the-year objective mastery tool. Unless teachers are keying objectives to assignments from a textbook or teacher made work and then assessing each exercise to determine percentage correct per objective, they cannot compete with the management capability of AM. AM PRIMARY vs. SUPPLEMENTAL- In our district, very few teachers have been successful using AM exclusively. Most teachers feel that a central instructional format (textbook, Saxon) tethers the students to the content. The AM practice then spirals around the objectives. Remember, the teacher assigns the objectives in AM and they should not be assigned in the order they appear on the AM assignment book, rather the order they are taught in the classroom. AM is not a curriculum, it is an instructional manangement tool. CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATION- This debate will never be settled because so much of the answer lies in the teaching style of the teacher. A large number of our teachers have adopted the "power lesson" approach where a 20-25 minute instructional period 2 to 5 times per week is followed by AM practice. During the practice, teachers are free from the whiteboard to remediate, reteach in small groups and assess progress. The teachers who (IMHO) structure the AM process with age appropriate independent resposibilities for the students see the greatest success. Those who constantly insert themselves into the process unnecessarily (scanning for students, manually printing subsequent practice exercises, using only AM management instead of quickscan) are overwrought with frustration and feel unable to meet time restraints. Those teachers who have a clearly defined classroom routine (1. get cards from box a, 2. complete practice, 3. seek help with problems, 4. scan your cards when finished, 5. review TOPS and place in basket for me to review with you later, 6. place used cards in box b., restart #1.) Seem to have more quality instructional time in their day. In other words, teachers who must CONTROL every aspect of the learning process are less likely to use AM than those who PLAN, STRUCTURE and ALLOW LEARNING. I also taught elementary school for 9 years, so I know how difficult managing and motivating can be with a comprehensive software package like AM. My question in response is "How many different learning processes are you monitoring and motivating in your classroom with a much less efficient return on your effort invested?" If you are not motivating AM then you are motivating something else, or your not teaching. I welcome any comments or questions.
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