# Episode 226: What Can I Do When My Students Are Grade Levels Behind?

## LISTEN NOW…

## WATCH NOW…

In this Math Mentoring Moment episode we speak with a high school teacher who is in her second year of teaching. Teaching statistics and algebra 2, this educator became accustomed to teaching students who have come to class already motivated to learn mathematics. Now, she’s struggling to reach students working below grade level in a Remedial Math course.

Stick around and you’ll hear us dig deep on what’s really going on in her classroom and what small changes she can make so students start saying “I got this” instead of “I don’t understand this at all”.

This is another Math Mentoring Moment Episode where we speak with a member of the math moment maker community where together we brainstorm strategies and next steps for teachers to overcome pebbles they have in their shoe.

## You’ll Learn

- How we can use varying approaches to help students when they say “I don’t understand anything”;
- What to focus on first when it seems kids aren’t “getting it”; and,
- How do we help students work along a concept continuum so they can make the gains they need.

## Resources

Take the Make Math Moments Math Program Assessment Tool [Classroom Teacher & Leader Versions]

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**District Leader Resources:**

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The Make Math Moments District Planning Workbook [First 3 pages]

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**Other Useful Resources and Supports: **

**downloading the guide**that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Speaker 3:

I tried to explain to her why that should make sense because she says, “this doesn’t make sense.” And when I tried to explain to her that it does make sense, she said, “No, no, no, I don’t. I get that. I just need to know how to put in the calculator so that I get the right answer.” But when she doesn’t understand, there’s always a chance to put in something wrong. You know how negative numbers can work in calculators, so that’s [inaudible 00:00:24]-

Jon Orr:

In this Math Mentoring Moment episode, we speak with a high school teacher from Texas who is in her second year of teaching. She’s been teaching statistics and algebra two and became accustomed, we got the sense, to teaching students who’ve motivated themselves and now she’s struggling to reach students working well below grade level in her math concept course.

Kyle Pierce:

Stick around and you’ll hear us dig deep on what’s really going on in her classroom and what small changes she can start making now, so students start saying, “I get this,” instead of “I don’t understand this at all.”

Jon Orr:

This is another Math Mentoring Moment episode where we speak with a member of the Math Moment [inaudible 00:01:06] community, a person just like you. And together we brainstorm strategies and next steps for teachers to overcome the pebbles they have in their shoes.

Kyle Pierce:

Welcome, my friends, to the Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast. I’m Kyle Pierce.

Jon Orr:

And I’m John Orr. We are from makemathmoments.com.

Kyle Pierce:

This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six-step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

Jon Orr:

And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy, and balanced tree.

Kyle Pierce:

If you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.

Jon Orr:

Every week we’re going to help you gain some insight so you can stop feeling overwhelmed and gain back the confidence and get back to enjoying the planning, facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or educators you serve.

Kyle Pierce:

Today, we’re going to be honing in on the roots of an effective mathematics program. So listen in as we dig into the importance of the mathematics content knowledge of us, the educators, as well as knowing and understanding what it truly means to be mathematically proficient.

Jon Orr:

All right, so you’ll hear that in just a moment as we dive into this Math Mentoring Moment episode with . Here we go.

Speaker 3:

Just to introduce myself, this is actually my second year teaching. I may not look like it.

Jon Orr:

Congratulations.

Kyle Pierce:

Yeah, congrats.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. I graduated from Canada, so I just want to mention because I know you are are-

Jon Orr:

Yeah, nice.

Kyle Pierce:

Whereabouts? You got to let us know.

Speaker 3:

I have my undergraduate degree from Concordia University. I got my master’s degree from McGill.

Kyle Pierce:

Awesome, awesome. I was born outside of Montreal, so good stuff.

Speaker 3:

Nice, nice. Yeah, I got my teaching credential in the US though. It’s interesting, it seems to me that a lot of people are listen to are from Canada. It seems like Canada has many good teachers.

Kyle Pierce:

Hey, go Canada.

Speaker 3:

So today I have come across this, well actually as you probably imagine a new teacher, every day I have new problems and today’s problem come from… Right now I have three subjects, statistics, algebra two, and then one class is called Math Concepts. For what I understand, this is the first year I did with Math Concepts, and from what I understand it is a class that they hope that we can help them pass algebra one test.

Kyle Pierce:

Got it.

Speaker 3:

So these students that I have, well it’s actually this year, I think they might want to try to change things because I have a few students, this is the first time they’re having Algebra one math class. So basically all my students have two math class. One is my math class and they also have another math class. So I have a very small class for that. And a few of them, it’s the first time they take Algebra one class, but this might have been their first public school experience or for different reason they think that they might need extra support.

Speaker 3:

And then the other couple of students I have, they have failed algebra one test, the state test, several times. I personally is new in Texas as well. So when I went through the teaching credential program I was in California and they use mostly common core, which is math one, two, and three. So the whole idea of algebra two, algebra one is new to me as well, how they separate things.

Speaker 3:

So I feel very difficult for one particular student because sometimes students have failed many times they just stop trying and that is another issue. And this particular student, I think she really, really wants to pass, but she has gaps that I don’t know how to address. Those are the one that is probably very obvious, like how to deal with negative numbers, how to deal with fractions and how to deal with variables with parentheses. And because I was teaching algebra two this year, last year I was teaching pre-cal, so when the gaps, it felt like elementary school stuff to me. I’m not sure how to address and I think she has been getting through it with the use of calculators. So I guess I’m going to stop talking but, yeah.

Kyle Pierce:

No, no, this is great and we’re going to definitely want to dig in here. I’m just jotting down a couple of things I’ve heard, so if it’s okay, I’ll just kind of restate what I think I heard and then maybe you can let us know if we’re on track and if maybe there’s anything else to add.

Kyle Pierce:

So it sounds like first of all, in your second year of teaching you have three different courses that you’re teaching right now from different parts of the curriculum or standards. So you’re dealing with statistics, you’re dealing with algebra two. I’m going to guess that in those classes you probably have a variety of students and different levels of readiness. But then in particular, it sounds like this third class, Math Concepts, is sort of where this question is revolving around. The idea that you have a lot of students who are essentially taking that class because they’ve likely had some sort of struggles with math, I’m going to guess.

Kyle Pierce:

And you’ve sort of insinuated the idea that some may have maybe given up on math, maybe given up on themselves in terms of being able to achieve. And it sounds like there’s one student in particular who’s been struggling with concepts that feel very elementary or very below high school level. And also there’s been maybe an over-reliance on the use of the calculator. That’s a very, very common challenge even with students in our higher level courses or courses that you would hope students have number sense. So it sounds to me you’re wondering what do we do when students are having challenges with some concepts that are well below where you might anticipate they could or should be for a specific course? Am I hearing you right and is there anything else you might want to add to that just to help us gain a good picture of the scenario?

Speaker 3:

I think so, and I guess I wanted to add to that is that these students who has been failing, they are close to be, like they’re juniors, and it is not like they want to get their skills up and that’s probably one of the reason why they wanted to be able to just get this passed. So next year they’re probably not going to take any serious math, they have enough math credit. They just need to pass so that they can graduate. It’s a lot different from helping the student who need to pass my Algebra two class per se. If they’re struggling, they want to pass and they probably need the skills for something else and they have a little bit more motivation to understand it. And the student in this class, they just want to know how to give the correct answers. I told my coworkers, this is the one class that I hate myself because everyone’s needs is so different.

Speaker 3:

I have a student who I think just disinterested, but I guess this particular student I talked about is that I know she would try whatever I give her to try, but then when I get to the point try to explain things like today I tried to help her to understand it is just combining like terms with negative coefficients or combining like terms with fractions. And I tried to explain to her why that should make sense because she says this doesn’t make sense. And when I try tried to explain to her that it does make sense, she said, “no, no, no, I don’t get that.” I just need to know how to put in a calculator so that I get the right answer. But when she doesn’t understand, there’s always a chance to put in something wrong. You know how negative numbers can work in calculators. So that’s kind of my struggle. What kind of things that I can do to… I don’t even know where to get started I guess.

Jon Orr:

Yeah, and I think this is not an uncommon situation. I know that you’re only in your second year, but it’s not an uncommon situation for teachers to be in future years that have situations like this. And I think you’re coming up on a class that probably you’ve got some kids because they’ve had some negative experiences in mathematics, they’ve been told they’re not so great at mathematics, you’re probably got some behavior issues happening in there because they’re not even really wanting to be there. And you’ve had some experience teaching senior students who, like you’ve said, don’t need any motivation to do the work that you’re asking kids to do the work and understand the mathematics. They’ve got the drive there because they’ve got external motivation or maybe some internal motivation to get that done or move on to the next level for various reasons. And then it becomes tough when we have a class where we’re working with a whole bunch of students who have no motivation to do the work and they probably have no support at home.

Jon Orr:

They’ve probably got no support or maybe even not even a trusted adult in the building. This is maybe the situation that you’re in. I don’t know if it’s probably similar. I know that I’ve had classes like this as well, so it’s not our fault that this happened, but it’s so awesome that you’re here bringing this pebble forward to chat about it, means that you’re already better and more equipped to start to handle this situation just by bringing this question up to and discuss it with folks just like us. So I don’t want you to think that you’re alone here. Everyone, you will go through this class that they don’t want to teach. And I know that when Kyle and I started the podcast, we talked about that. We both had situations like that where we were, “I don’t want to teach anymore because every day is a struggle, every day is a challenge.”

Jon Orr:

And then when we started to make some subtle shifts in our lesson structure or lesson design to focus on really helping that group of students, that’s when a lot changed for us and it was more of a pleasure to go to work and go to school all of a sudden and it kept us in the game. And I don’t think we would’ve been here if we didn’t make some of those changes along the way.

Jon Orr:

Because you’re recognizing this, what would you say you have done so far to try to get engagement with this group or motivate this group or bring this group around? I know that you said you were working one-on-one with some skills with this one particular student, but what would you say have you done so far that you’re like, “I thought this would work,” and it’s not working?

Speaker 3:

So in the beginning of the school year, a coworker of mine was teaching this class and she passed on some of her notes. So I use her slides, which is very much a test prepared type of class. We run through past questions and then we try to get some more practice and hopefully they can pass. For one, it is difficult to even motivate myself to do that because I don’t want them just to pass and imagine they pass the class, next year they will be in my algebra two class. I want them to understand.

Jon Orr:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

So I kind of want them to understand, I guess in the beginning I really tried to get them to practice, but what I noticed becoming a problem is that there are times that we can do the same practice and then the second day give them the same problem. They have no idea again. So not all of them, some of them, and also they have different issues. Some of the students have more trouble with distributing parentheses. Some students will be like this particular girl, she have… It almost like mental. I feel like that whenever there’s a variable, there’s negative sign, nothing makes sense.

Speaker 3:

So we can explain it and then she can do several problems that we work with together the same day. The next day it doesn’t work anymore. My feeling is that because she didn’t try to understand when you try to repeat the procedure, it’s very easy to mix things up because yeah, my idea is that she never tried to make sense out of it and then she didn’t seem to want to try to make sense out of it. And then I think I tried to put in some activities and the stacking cups activity, but they are really quick to, “let’s just put the cups together and see how many cups it takes.” It’s really hard to get them to focus in to make it more like an equation. So I’m not sure. And then I check some of the activities on your website, but some of them, I don’t know if I’m being too early to judge, they felt a little bit kiddish because it seems like it’s a younger group of standard. So I don’t know if I can get them engaged to do those things.

Speaker 3:

This girl I think I tried to use, I forgot what is the activity called, but then is the one that you kind of find a slope with HTV set is $50 or something? No, that wouldn’t make sense. But do you know what I’m getting at? Sorry.

Jon Orr:

Yep.

Speaker 3:

They need to find the initial values and then the rate of change. Yes, those she is really good. And so you sometimes you’re like, why so different when you give them this type of math, she kind of fly through it, it’s so easy. She finish in five minutes. And then you give them this type of problems that seems to be supposedly what prepare them to do this rate of change and she’s stuck.

Kyle Pierce:

Right, right. Well it seems like in a lot of cases, and I don’t know about this initial value and the rate of change piece, but one thing that you will find with a lot of the units that we create, and don’t get us wrong, we try to cover across different curriculums, so we’re talking about with very young students all the way to older students. So definitely the context can change. I’m wondering, do you notice, I heard you talking about things like using with parentheses, with collecting like terms.

Kyle Pierce:

Do you find that when this particular student is having success, are there any commonalities when you’re seeing success? So you had mentioned the rate of change and the initial value. My wonder is the problem more visual, often graphing for example, would be visual. And then also I’m wondering is it contextual? So is there sort of a story to it? Whereas when we’re talking about brackets and distribution and collecting like terms, oftentimes there’s an absence of that visual and absence of the context. Does that seem to ring a bell for you as something common between when there is success and maybe when there are struggles?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Unfortunately, this is one thing that makes me confused the most because as I mentioned, the rate of change, part of problems is that it was contextual problems and it is a contextual problem where you can identify which is the initial rate and which is the change. And then there was this particular exam problem that I gave them that has very similar context, but that one surprisingly… And it is about a weight [inaudible 00:16:40] , which you put a weight on it, so you should be able to figure out the initial values and then the additional weights. And she’s also in weight lifting. So it wouldn’t be the context that confuse her, right? If that makes sense. But then she don’t know how to do that problem. But now that when I’m speaking to you, I think that particular problem, the problems that you have, has graph in it. That particular problem does not have graph in it, so she had to formulate it. So maybe the formulate part that has confused her.

Kyle Pierce:

Interesting. And it makes me wonder, and hard to know for certain, but I mean these are maybe some ideas for you to maybe jot down as maybe exploring a little deeper. Something that’s really helpful for students is context. So context can be very helpful. But then also modeling. So whether it’s graphing, sometimes graphing can be challenging too, even though it’s visual. If I’m not sure how to graph right, then that’s going to be a problem as well. But one thing that you may want to think on is with all of the other examples where these students and this particular student have bumped into a bit of a wall, is trying to pause with that one concept and then sort of thinking, if this student isn’t successful with this problem, what’s the step before that problem? And then can I ask that problem and see and oh, if that student still can’t do that problem, can back up one more and continue kind of down this line.

Kyle Pierce:

And really what we’re trying to get you to almost envision in your mind is this continuum, this trajectory, right? Students when they come to you, they’ve supposedly accomplished all of this other mathematics before they got to you. Now, these particular students, we know for a fact that they have struggled along the way and it probably wasn’t just last year. They probably had struggles for quite a while. So part of our challenge, part of the mystery, and I’m going to argue maybe part of the fun of teaching a course like this is maybe less about them getting the thing that’s on the paper that I’m supposed to get them to understand, and more about having to problem solve as the teacher to go, “where are you? Because I know you’re not here because you’re struggling here.” And when students say, “I jotted this down because I thought this was really interesting,” I hear this a lot when I’m chatting with teachers is when students say, “this doesn’t make sense.”

Kyle Pierce:

And you had mentioned that, “well it does make sense,” and you tried to convince that student, but imagine if I was trying to convince you of something that was so abstract to you, it doesn’t make any sense to me. They’re not saying the math doesn’t make sense because I’m sure it does, but they’re going, “it doesn’t make sense to me.” So if we can peel back that onion a little bit and go, “where can I get to a place where this student feels like they’re making sense?” And then slowly start to bring the math content up a little bit. And that might take time and effort. I say might. It will take time and effort, but really through this progression, what you can do, what you’ll get answers to in doing this and actually maybe digging in a little bit on this idea, is you’ll get to know where they actually are, what assets they’re bringing with you instead of just sort of finding out that they just don’t know anything. Because they do know something, it just doesn’t happen to be the stuff in the curriculum currently.

Speaker 3:

I guess this is one thing that I’m trying to do right now and I’m trying to use Khan Academy because it has a range of problems. I’m trying to find a place where she can get pass on her own. And I say that I guess that’s one of the questions that maybe I have for you is that because I’m teaching Algebra two and other classes, which means that I don’t really know what comes before. And I guess especially this is my second year, so I know that she doesn’t understand negative numbers fractions that I told you about. But then what do they need before that I can give them a stepping point that they feel successful that I can build on. And I’m not sure how to go about finding that besides what I’m doing right now, like assign different levels of problems and hopefully it’s something that I know they can do. And then…

Jon Orr:

Yeah, I think what Kyle suggested is probably the best way. And you’re going to learn this as you go. Like you said, it’s your only second year of teaching. And we build up these continuums on strands of topics, skills that we put in our tool belts as teachers to realize and assess on the fly where students are on those continuums and then backtrack to find them the right spot. And I think that does take time. It does take repetition of working with kids to learn those continuums. Now you can read books to learn those continuums. You can look at the curriculum documents or your standard documents, stretch back to the previous grade. I know that you’re saying they’re not at the algebra one level, they’re before that, so find the standards and kind of look at grade levels below and keep going down until you see your student and see where they are on that continuum.

Jon Orr:

That can be helpful to build up your understanding of the content. ‘Cause I know that we do need to strengthen that if we’re going to help our students as best as possible. I’ve shared a story a number of times where I was thrown into a class where I had never taught accounting and because of that I didn’t know the curriculum well enough or I didn’t know the content well enough to know what comes before, what’s going to come after, what is the next grade level look like in accounting. I didn’t know any of these things and I found myself kind of not sure about how to help a kid move to the next thing because I wasn’t sure of this continuum of skills that built on each other in terms of say the accounting process. But we know that it is going to take time to do that.

Jon Orr:

So I think using Kyle’s suggestion about kind of go back, asking kids where they are on that timeline can help you get a sense of where you need to learn on your end, what skills you have to develop. The type of questions that we ask, too, are going to help with that. I know that I needed in order to help this group of students, that sounds like much like your group of students, I needed to learn and look at different ways of modeling the mathematics. So I used to help a kid… It’s ringing bells for when I helped a kid with collecting like terms. I would just repeat a little louder and a little bit again and a little bit like, “this is the way you do it and let me show you again with different numbers.” And it wasn’t until I started to represent these ideas with a different model.

Jon Orr:

So for example, I had been always using an algebraic model with three x plus two x and writing it this way and saying, “look, there’s a connection between these. There’s the same thing.” I’m stating the rules that we all come to know. But it wasn’t until I started to explore on my own and also with other colleagues and with the students themselves how to represent say in a pictorial version, maybe we use some algebra tiles, maybe we drew an area model to kind of show instead of using the tiles themselves, to show how we can represent these things a little differently. And then some students will grasp those ideas quicker than say the algebraic model. So I think a good suggestion would be to look into some of those models and then how to represent the particular way that you’re looking or the particular skill you’re looking to help your students with at that point. And it will come with time. We’ll learn these different models and different strategies that we can help our students with.

Kyle Pierce:

I love it. And just to kind of piggyback onto that, I think modeling is really important, but it also introduces, as Jon’s articulated, it introduces almost the need or the urgency for us as the educators to do the math. And really what we’re talking about at Make Math Moments, we talk about six parts of an effective math program and we’re kind of honing in on the roots of the tree. We kind of envision this tree and there’s all the different parts of a tree, the six different parts and the roots are what it means to be mathematically proficient. And if we want proficiency for our students, and this was a challenge I really had a hard time with, was I wanted my students to become fluent and flexible with number and operations and just to feel good about math. But what I realized is that I didn’t have the necessary fluency in order to help a struggling student.

Kyle Pierce:

I was algebraically able to represent and solve and find the answers. But it’s like when you’re trying to explain something to someone and they’re not understanding you and then you don’t have any other way to articulate what you mean. And if you’ve ever been in an argument with someone where you’re in a disagreement, if you just continue to repeat the same logic over and over again and they’re not making sense of what you’re saying, the only real way for us to make any headway is either for them to suddenly have an epiphany and understand what you’re saying, which is probably not going to happen, or I have to find another way to help them understand. You’ll hear people say, “wait, wait a second. Let me say it like this.” And then they frame it differently and they try to come at it from a different angle.

Kyle Pierce:

Well, in mathematics, it’s kind of like us with the algebra. If we just continue to say the same thing over and over again, we’re hoping for an epiphany or we have to come at it from another angle. And it doesn’t mean the algebra goes away forever. We want to come back to it and we want to bring it back together. But the only way we can do that is to be well versed in what it is we’re trying to teach. So if you’ve ever been in an argument where you believe something but you’re not actually as well versed as maybe you thought, you oftentimes end up losing the argument because you don’t have another way to address or to prove or to convince the other person. And really in mathematics, when students are struggling, oftentimes what they’re saying is, “I don’t believe anything that you’re saying because none of this has made sense for probably a handful of years.”

Kyle Pierce:

So it’s been a long time since any of this made sense to me. So really it’s up to us. It’s not our fault. I want to make sure we’re clear on that. It’s not our fault when students are struggling, but it is our responsibility and you’re taking this responsibility seriously by being here and trying to seek solutions for these students. So I congratulate you on that. It’s our responsibility to try to go, “Hmm. If a student’s not seeing it this way, how else can we come at it?” And oftentimes for me, what I see and what research is telling us is that really if we come at it with models, as Jon’s mentioned, and try to articulate and use strategies that are developmentally appropriate.

Kyle Pierce:

So again, it’s sort of this idea of if we can back it up, and I know in the chat we had Rose share Achieve The Core, a link there that might be helpful for you, something for us to think about. It doesn’t matter what the standards say earlier. What matters is how did we get here? And again, for many years I didn’t know how I got here. When I was completing the square with students, I was like, “I don’t understand how I got here. I know how to complete the square, but I don’t really understand what’s the step before you get to that place and what’s the step before that?”

Kyle Pierce:

And that work, if we as educators spend time thinking about these things and doing that math and almost taking a problem that a student’s going to struggle with and maybe going to the lunchroom or to your department prep room and going with some of your colleagues and saying, “Hey, here’s the problem. How can we teach this in a way that would start 10 steps earlier? Can I back this thing up 10 steps and start with something that everyone’s going to get and take one step forward, help them get that problem, take one step forward.”

Kyle Pierce:

And that’s not going to happen overnight by any means, but it is one of those things, especially being in year two that you have this massive long career ahead of you. If you start that work now, you’re not going to be the best teacher on the planet by tomorrow or next week or even next year, but you will become a better teacher every single day. And you’ll eventually get to a place where when you bump into these challenges, you’ll look at it just like that and you’re going to persevere through and you’re going to go, “okay, I’m not sure what to do.” And even being open with your students is a great option too. You say to them, “I’m not sure what to do, but we’re going to think on this and we’re going to come back. Let’s pivot over here and let’s work on these problems and I’m going to try to come back to you with something that’s going to make a little bit more sense for you.That’s the challenge I’m going to put on myself to try to help you with that.”

Kyle Pierce:

And I promise you, every time you do those little activities and every time you think about that, it’s going to make you a better teacher and you’re going to feel more capable to help convince those students with varied approaches and they’re going to start to go, “holy smokes, this does make sense. That thing you just said right here, this makes sense. And now I’m seeing how that connects to this one over here.”

Kyle Pierce:

And that’s really like the magic of effective math instruction, which unfortunately for all of us, most of us, we didn’t experience ourself as students. So it’s almost like magic to us because we never experienced it as students. We were just told one way and some of us made it through and others didn’t. Well, you’re dealing with the others who wouldn’t have made it through back when we were going through school. So you’re taking on an amazing, amazing challenge here. And I don’t know, I want to flip it back to you and get your thoughts and perspective-

Jon Orr:

Yeah, what’s the take away right now?

Kyle Pierce:

[inaudible 00:30:44] Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you feeling energized? Are you feeling like, “you know what, I think I can do this if I spend a little bit of that time trying to grapple with these problems and bring down the bar a little bit for my students.”

Speaker 3:

I’m definitely energized and I thank you for that. It’s still overwhelming in the sense that because as I said, that one student I brought to your attention, there’s several ones and I’m trying to think how I can bring everyone… Is there something that I can do that will help everyone in the same time? But I do feel like I have a point that I can get started for tomorrow, or not for tomorrow’s lesson, but for me to get started to think and to find things to look for. I do have some algebra tiles where I might just start there. So I think that’s where I thought about too. And then, yeah, so there’s also these pieces where I can actually get them to work on things, but I feel like what you have talked about have gave me more confidence to try.

Jon Orr:

Awesome. I love that.

Kyle Pierce:

I’m glad.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. Appreciate that.

Jon Orr:

I’m glad you’ve got your next step and you’re thinking about that. I think that’s amazing and we’re glad to be here to help you.

Speaker 3:

Thank you.

Kyle Pierce:

All right, my friends. In today’s episode, our focus area was on the roots of our six parts of that math program. We envision this as a tree, and the roots of the tree are really important because they represent the mathematics content knowledge of the educators in the room. And of course, we want to be sharing that content knowledge with our students. It also really highlights the importance of understanding what it really means to be mathematically proficient. If our math programs don’t consist of educators with a deep conceptual understanding of the mathematics, hey, I don’t blame you, I was there and I’m still working on it, as well as promoting the instruction that promotes and develops the five strands of mathematical proficiency, our tree that we’re trying to nurture will not get the necessary water and nutrients to thrive.

Jon Orr:

Yeah, and if you were listening carefully, you probably heard kind of make that recollection that we needed to focus on a different way of coming at a problem and helping our students kind of understand that problem. She was struggling with the student kind of frustratingly giving up and not understanding it. And we talked about kind of coming at it from a different perspective. Eventually we kind of wrapped around the idea of thinking about using models in different strategies for to focus on and kind of go learn about and come back and then help their students use different representations to come at the problem from a different way, which is like what Kyle just said, all about the roots of our tree, building our own content knowledge, our own proficiency around the mathematics and around how the mathematics is represented.

Kyle Pierce:

Hey, what did you take away from today’s episode? As we always say, both Jon and I learn so much through these discussions. Something that comes to mind for me that might be helpful for you, if you can relate and you hear maybe some of the challenges you’re experiencing just like is experiencing, you can head over to makemathmoments.com/tasks, and you can check out our full units of study. In the teacher’s guide in each unit, we actually take you through each and every lesson, and we do so from a conceptual understanding point of view. So it’s really focusing in on the roots, which is incredibly important. So if I say something like partitive division, and that doesn’t mean something to you, that might mean that you need to work on the roots of your mathematics program.

Kyle Pierce:

Hey, if this didn’t resonate with you and you’re wondering, “what part of the tree should I be working on?” You should head over to makemathmoments.com/report where you’re going to have the opportunity as a classroom teacher or as a district leader to take an assessment that will help you hone in on the area that is of most need or most need of your attention right now.

Kyle Pierce:

Maybe it’s the roots, maybe it’s the leaves, maybe it’s the trunk, it might be any of those six parts of the tree. When you fill out that assessment, 12 minutes is all it’s going to take, it will give you a customized report. If you click on the teacher survey, it’s going to be all applicable to your classroom. If you click on the district assessment, you are going to get all things that are helpful to you as a district or school leader in order to drive your math program forward.

Jon Orr:

Hey, in order to ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes as we publish them every Monday morning, be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. And also don’t forget show notes, links to resources, and complete transcripts from this episode can be found over at makemathmoments.com/episode226. Again, that’s makemathmoments.com/episode226.

Kyle Pierce:

Hey, thanks for listening in to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast where we help you grow your mathematics program just like a tree so your impact can reach far and wide. Well, until next time, Math Moment Maker friends, I’m Kyle Pierce.

Jon Orr:

And I’m Jon Orr.

Kyle Pierce:

High fives for us.

Jon Orr:

And…

Kyle Pierce:

High five for you.

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