Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Creating an Intervention Course - Planning Activities

This is the third post in a series about creating an intervention course.  The first post can be found here.

The pacing guide discussed in the last blog post, gave me an outline for the first unit.  I have a better understanding of what concepts we want to teach.  This in and of itself feels like a huge improvement from what we have done in the past because we now have some direction.  There are so many great resources and activities.  I could spend a whole month on some of these topics: area and perimeter, fractions, percents.  In looking for activities I have some criteria in mind.  

  1. It must allow the students to play and explore ideas.  
  2. It must elicit conversation so that teachers get a better understanding of student thinking and misconceptions.
  3. It must help create understanding and make connections (not practice skills and procedures that are memorized).
  4. It must have some support for teachers who are facilitating the activities.
The teachers I work with are great.  I am truly blessed to be surrounded by dedicated, passionate math teachers.  When we adapted CPM curriculum 6 years ago we were all in.  It was a very tough year, but we embraced the teamwork, collaboration, and hands on activities.  We have truly transformed our math classrooms.  I do not need to worry about doing any PD around what math class should look like.  Now that we know what it should look like, we also know that it can take a lot of time to plan quality lessons and tasks.  And as much as the teachers understand math at their grade level, we do not always understand what conceptual teaching looks like for grade levels below ours.  I have dedicated a lot of time over the past 4 years learning elementary math so that I can be a better middle school teacher.  The downside of that is that I lost my work / life balance and wore myself too thin trying to do it all.  Because of this I want to find resources that provide that professional development for teachers.  

The 2 main resources I plan to use are Jo Boaler's Mindset Mathematics books and Illustrative Math Open Up Resources.  These two resources have lesson plans for teachers and resources at grade levels below 7th grade.  These are both great resources that allow students to explore the concepts with quality tasks. I don't want to overwhelm teachers with too many resources at this point, so while there are many other quality resources that fit my description, these are the two I intend to use the most.  I will supplement with other resources if I can't find what I am looking for in these to places.  

As I am filling in the pacing chart with activities and learning targets I am also linking to notes below the table.  One of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions is anticipate. I think it was Jon Orr, in one of the first Make Math Moments that Matter Podcast, who said  

he tries to think about the least amount of math a student could use to solve a task.  

So this is what I have been doing.  Not only anticipating the least amount of math, but thinking about what skill sets they need in order to choose a more sophisticated strategy.  This is going to be important for teachers to make note and ask questions to elicit student thinking.  Often times in middle school interventions students know other strategies, they just don't feel confident using them or they have a go to method that they use whether it is efficient or not.  Some students have actually become so efficient at strategies that should not be efficient (like count by ones) that it can be hard to get them to move forward in their thinking.  These are all things that we need to uncover through conversations.    

With the start of the school year, I am doing the anticipating and writing my notes.  The goal is to do this with the teacher team once we get rolling and have time to meet.  Here is an example of some of the notes I've written:

My first meeting with the teachers will be tomorrow.  We need to discuss success criteria and the first few activities.  

I will let you know how it goes.