When I was introduced to Think Through Math at the beginning of this school year, I quickly saw that it would be a great resource for me in my classroom. I especially was excited to start using it with a class of sophomores with whom I have a double period (1st&2nd) since they did not pass the Algebra Regents last year and are focusing on Regents Preparation for the January Regents. I introduced the program to them, and quickly learned where my students needed to prepare and focus to be successful on the Regents.
However, I also noticed that my students were not writing down the information in the journals I had given them, there was little or no growth in their scores from pre-quiz to post-quiz and I also needed a way to concretely grade the journals to calculate a grade for the class since 1st period every day all students go on Think Through Math for the entire class period. For this reason, I came up with a concrete and concise way that my students can keep track of their progress and see their own growth in the learning process.
Give students journals
These are binders which I had from last year which I recycled and gave to my students. Each student has a binder where they keep all of their notes. They are kept on the shelves in the back of the classroom (right next to the laptop cart). Students then develop the habit of coming to class and getting their journal and laptop before they even sit down.
Give students a bi-weekly update on their overview score.
Every two weeks I give students progress reports. I print out the class “overview” report on a large sticker, and cut out each line for each student. The student has a blank table with headings in their journal which they add the new line to each week. The student can then track their own progress and see what they need to work on. It also provides me with an opportunity to speak with the students about the time they have been working on the program and how they can improve their scores.
Provide a Guided Learning Checklist (GLC) for each lesson they complete
For each lesson provided I have created a checklist (rubric) for students to make sure that they are completing everything they need to. Each lesson, has a packet (which are kept in a bin in the back of the classroom) which needs to be completed. The checklist has places for me to provide feedback to the students on their notes so that they can make improvement. The which spaces of the checklist are to be completed by the students and the shaded sections are for me to complete. Each packet also contains the # of blank journals they need for the lesson and a grid for the practice and post-quiz sections to show their work. The packets are graded based off the checklist and calculated into the Classwork/Participation portion of their class grade.
Check their Journals on a Weekly (bi-weekly) basis
I check their journals on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This way I can give them consistent feedback on their note-taking and I do not get too overwhelmed in the end of the marking period when grades are due. It also lets me show the students their progress and how keeping accurate notes is positively affecting their performance and grades. While checking the journals I make sure to update and provide stickers on the cover sheet of their journals towards their THINK 30! goal. Even though my students are high school students they still enjoy getting stickers to show their positive progress towards their goal.
Print the Certificates
On a similar note, I print out the student lesson completion certificates on a weekly basis. I hand the out the certificates in front of the class so that peers see each other’s progress and work harder to complete and get their own certificates. They keep their certificates in their binders as a reminder of all the work they have completed.
Over all since using the Think Through Math program I have seen an increase in student attention to detail and willingness to try new problems on their own. They are able to make connections between concepts and take their time when reading through a problem.
Ms. Catherine Devine, Math Teacher – Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance
I graduated from the University of Scranton in 2011 with my bachelors in mathematics and secondary education. After college I spent a year teaching English to kindergarten and elementary age students in Seoul, South Korea. Upon my return to the United States, I spent another year home teaching in various school districts throughout Long Island. During this time, I developed differentiation techniques of how to mold the content to meet the student where they are and help them reach their full potential. In 2014, I started working at Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn where I am currently teaching Algebra I and Geometry.