Q&A #1662

Math classroom structure

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 16, 1999 at 23:09:13
Subject: Re: Math classroom structure

I teach fifth grade, and tried something a little different this year.  Let
me start off by telling you that my "math time" schedule was horrendous...
25 minutes before lunch, and 30 to 45 minutes after lunch, depending on the
day...   I began most of the math periods this year with a short quiz of some
sort, often a "pretest" over what I was introducing.  Students could complete
the quiz and turn it in to me.  They could then do either of these: congregate
in the back of the
classroom to go over the answers to the previous night's homework, (if it was
the type of assignment that could be shared that way), or use some of the
math activities in the classroom individually or with a partner.

As they shared answers, or used geoboards, calculators, tangrams or any of the
other math materials in the room, I quickly checked
over the pretest answers and then grouped students according to their ability
to demonstrate understanding.  The remaining minutes before lunch were
used to go over questions they had on homework, or to share any "insights"
they had about the materials they were exploring.

After lunch, the ones who seemed to know what to do were assigned a
corresponding enrichment activity to complete "in the back" independently,
with a partner, or alone.  The ones who didn't appear to understand worked
with me "in the front" of the room.  For the last ten minutes or so of the
period I gave the ones in front time to work alone or with a partner, and
went to the back to review what they had done.

While not a perfect solution, it seemed to create an opportunity for those
who were "ahead" to work a bit deeper, while those who were a bit confused
were able to get more attention.  The students complained on days when we
couldn't follow this arrangement, so I assume they liked it.  The
groups were very fluid, with different students "qualifying" to work
independently on most days.  Almost 80% passed the Virginia Standards of
Learning test given this month, some with advanced scores, and several who
didn't pass were very close to the cut score of 70%, so I think it was pretty
effective in helping them learn the objectives.

 -Gail, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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