My name is Faith Morrow. I am a math intervention teacher and math is my mission. I became hooked on Think Through Math (TTM) last year when my son’s 3rd grade teacher started using it in her class. Then I started using it with my intervention kiddoes in grades 3-5. This school year, I was at a new 1st-3rd grade campus in a brand new district where students and their teachers had not yet been wholly introduced to Think Through Math. We had used Think Through Math with a lot of success at my old campus, so I was excited to show it to new learners! My plan to get the campus excited about math happened in multiple stages over six weeks.
The 1st Week –Introduce Think Through Math – I first introduced it to my math intervention students and they LOVED it. I then talked to my principal about presenting the program to the teachers and the rest of the 3rd grade students. We started off by showing the “Student Launch video” in each class, pausing to answer questions. We stressed 3 things: 1) the importance of thinking vs guessing, 2) using the help during guided learning and 3) using paper and pencil to show work AND to record the models provided in help. We then ended each session by having each class set their own class’ goal. The students were super-hyped!
The 2nd Week – “We’ve been using Think Through Math, now what?” – After about 6 weeks, I met in a PLC with the teachers and showed them how they could use Think Through Math to track their students learning and look at reports. I also received permission from my principal to order 20 shirts for kids in the THINK 30 club from the Motivation Store. I used my conference times 2 times a week during this period to go into 3rd grade classrooms for Q&A with the students, and to offer any trouble shooting advice that I could. When in doubt, we emailed Think Through Math! Y’all ALWAYS answer back! For my intervention students, I started printing off their certificates (in color!) ANYTIME they passed a lesson, at home, at school, in my classroom, in the computer lab, etc… so they had something to take back to their class as a brag moment! My kids don’t often get very many brag moments when it comes to math, so we would take brag walks, and show the principal, the office ladies, the librarians, the counselor, the custodians, any adult we passed!
The 3rd Week – Sell the THINK 30 Club! Idea – The shirts FINALLY came in (those purchase orders take a while to get approved!) We put up a bulletin board in the hallway to showcase the THINK 30 Club and post the kids’ names as they made the club! The Principal started announcing THINK 30 club winners every Monday to come down to the office and receive their shirts. (I used the weekly reports that came on Sundays and downloaded them in EXCEL and then sorted by passed lessons and then sorted again by Teacher name to order the count for each class.) We also met as a grade level PLT with the teachers again for an open Q&A session regarding best practices using the program and to troubleshoot any issues.
The 4th Week – “A little bit of competition goes a long way!” – I would email each teacher their school ranking in terms of meeting their class goal. Some classes were in direct competition with each other, “We are only 13,000 points away from Mrs. H.’s class! We can catch them!” and some classes were competing against themselves, “Ok this week, everyone donate 2,000 points.” I would also send group messages (“Don’t forget you can work on Think Through Math at home on any device connected to the internet!”) and individual messages (“Wow! Katie! Look at you doing math on your weekend! Way to be a THINKer!”)
The 5th Week – “I LOVE Math” week – We planned an “I Love Math” week in lieu of Pi Day because 1st-3rd graders don’t do circumference and diameters of circles quite yet! With 3rd grade, we started a joint competition to wallpaper the hallways for every lesson passed. For every lesson PASSED, I would print the certificates and hang them up. This was the week after Spring Break, so I really didn’t expect the kids to be that into it! Boy, was I wrong!
We also had another shipment of 20 shirts come in, so the kids making the THINK 30 Club this week had a different shirt to show off their mad math skills! The first day we had over 60 lessons passed. By coincidence, this was the same week that Avatar items were ½ off, so the kids were going crazy! By the contest’s end at the end of the week we had remarkable results: 490 lessons PASSED! Over 18,000 problems attempted! A cumulative time of over 23 DAYS spent on math! This was just 7 classrooms! We wallpapered three different areas of the school. Because we had kids making the THINK 30 Club daily, my principal started announcing names EVERY DAY!
The 6th Week – Blow the top off! – For the upcoming week 6, I get to order more shirts because we are down to just 6 t-shirts left! The kids love hearing their names announced and seeing their names on the bulletin board. The momentum form the math week has really held. Kids tell me in the hallways, at lunch how many lessons they’ve passed or who’s on the leader board, they stop me at the baseball park to show me their shirts. At our school, math is cool!
Faith Morrow of College Street Elementary School, Lindale ISD, TX