Q&A #2916

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Accelerated Math program

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From: Patrick McMartin

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003071201:36:29
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: accelerated math program

     I apologize for not responding earlier to your comments.  You
have addressed some important concerns regarding accmath. 
Communication with this program is imperative for it to work
correctly.  In all fairness to the instructor, if the teacher is new
to the program it takes a while to learn the in and outs of how to
manage the program correctly.  
     One of the greatest aspects of the program, when run correctly,
is the responsibility it places on the student.  Teachers, students,
and parents become very accountable for their performance.  The
teacher is informed of all aspects of the students performance. The
teacher is then able to communicate successes and failures with the
student and parents on a regular basis.  Communication is done by
generating student and parent reports that are sent home.  I inform my
parents of the in-and-outs of the program at an open house at the
beginning of the year, as well as, letters explaining the program.    

     You have a misconception that the program is done on a computer. 
The student's work is only graded on the computer by scanning bubble
sheets.  The child's work is done by paper and pencil, then answers
are bubbled on the bubble sheet.  This bubble sheet is then scanned,
and the TOPS report is generated by the printer.  This TOPS reports is
used to conference with the student and sent home for the parents.  If
at that time you have any concerns you should contact the teacher
     Accmath is very demanding on the instructor and parents, and we
need to work together to fill those gaps when we miscommunicate.  Go
to the teacher as much as you need to to stay informed. I tell my
parents to expect 2 to 10 TOPS reports a week, depending on how often
the student scans their work.  In a school year, my students that
struggle master approximately 40 - 60 mastered objectives.  The most
advanced students will master over 200.  
     This program allows students that are applying themselves to work
at their own pace.  If the student is not applying themselves, both
you and the teacher will know.  Again, communication is the key to
success.  Set a time to work with the teacher to explain what is
expected of both you and the child in regards to using accmath.  Find
out if your child has set goals, and how hard they are working toward
those goals.  Make sure the goals are attainable, and reward your
child for their accomplishments.  Remember the grade is only one
aspect of success.  Attaining a goal, working hard towards that goal,
feeling proud of your accomplishments - loving math, and (no. one in
my book)mastering as many objectives as you can in a year is all part
of a successful math student.  
     I had a child that averaged an A on their work, but only mastered
90 objectives in a year.  I also had a child master 180 objectives,
but averaged a high C low B.  Which student do you think was more
successful?  The A student did not apply themself therefore fewer
objectives mastered.  The C student kept running into walls, struggled
with objectives, but mastered them with determination.  The C student
also did 800 more problems and was very proud of the accomplishment.  
     Another misconception is that the students teach themselves.  The
teacher should teach using researched based methods.  They should use
manipulatives, the internet, text, education/entertainment computer
programs, whole group instruction, small group instruction, peer
instruction, one on one, song, movement, and any other method to get
their point accross.  Once these lessons are taught, then use accmath
to access understanding, communicate results, intervene when
necessary, and push the student just short of frustration.  Then
reward students for their accomplishments.
     Even though this note is untimely, I hope it is useful and
informative.  If you have any questions email me at my email address.
I'll be glad to help.  mcmartp@e-hps.net

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