Jon's Math Update 10-29-14

posted Oct 29, 2014, 9:31 AM by Cynthia Friedman

Dear Middle School Family,


I'm still working out the bugs in the system as we learn this 100% new Math Program in the Middle School this year.  As you can imagine, organizing a system that coordinates math education for 27 individual students at their personal level of math understanding and communication ability is quite a complicated process.  If I was just teaching math... it would still be quite an undertaking.


Thanks for being patient and supportive.


Starting this week, your student's mathematical language development will be monitored in two "Classes" in Jupiter Grades:  Math Proficiency and Math Progress.


Math Class Descriptions/Distinctions


'Math Proficiency' is assessed according to proficiency on a 1-4 scale, skill by skill, in alignment with the Common Core Standards.  (This is the 'class' they've been working with since the beginning of the year.)  The proficiencies will be assessed at your student's pace and will paint a clear picture of the math skills your student has mastered. 

If you want to see where they are in the big picture of meeting the Common Core math goals, look here in Jupiter Grades.  I've laid out the entire year in Jupiter Grades for how they have to work to successfully progress through the grade-level math work.  The title of the Math Proficiency classes are aligned with the grade-level work they're doing: "Common Core 6" is 6th Grade.  "Common Core 7" is 7th Grade.  "Common Core 8" is 8th Grade.  




We have a lot of work to do.  I'll be honest: Half of the class is not doing math on a regular basis.  If they don't do the math work, they're going to continue to fall behind.  


I absolutely, positively need your help to support your student's success in math.


'Math Progress' is where the rubber meets the road: "Is my student doing math?  They say they're doing math.  They say it's at their pace?  Should they be doing math at home?"  I'm sorry I left this loophole open for as long as I have.  I hoped the suggested due dates for the assignments would be motivation enough.  A Montessori teacher can hope, right?  It's time to close the loop.


Grading and Monitoring Progress


Math Progress is going to tell you "What math did my student do this week?"  It's a simple, binary, 'did or didn't' grade.  Most weeks there are 5 days.  


The assignments are short, so short!  But the math is language, not just 2+2.  We're learning to speak math, which means that we're learning to apply the idea of 2+2 to real-life situations and applications.  


Each math assignment guides the students through a focused mathematical process.  They need to complete the assignment in order to master the process.  In order to earn a "Did" grade for each day, they have to successfully complete an Exit Slip, demonstrating their mastery of the assignment.


Each math assignment shouldn't take more than 30-45 minutes to complete.  Each Exit Slip shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.  No exaggeration.


If students successfully complete 4 Exit Slips in a 5 day week, they earn an A.  3 Exit Slips is a B, 2 Exit Slips is a C; 1 Exit Slip is a D.  No math is an F.  Day 5 is extra credit/make-up.   Students can do more than 5 assignments a week, no problem.  Students can complete more than one Exit Slip on any day of the week at school.  (Exit Slips must be completed at school.)  Exit Slips for the week must be completed by the end of the current week.  


For short weeks, we'll shorten the requirement for the grade by 1 (If it's a 2 day week, they will only be required to finish one assignment: A for the week!)


Math Progress assignments cannot be made up for previous weeks.  It would defeat the point: regular, every day practice of mathematics.


Grades for Math Progress will be entered into Jupiter Grades ABSOLUTELY EVERY DAY by the end of the school day.  


Homework, anyone?  Yes!  Please!


Exit Slips must be completed at school, but the math assignments, themselves, can be completed at home.


Some students will require more time and support to complete an assignment, I know.  I've created this progress monitor to help your student, and you, their parent, understand how their movement through the math curriculum is going.  It's not a judgement of them as a person.  It's a communication of the math work they're completing.


We learn by doing, plain and simple.  If you look closely at the academic work your student is supposed to be doing, you will see a very slow, very determined plan in every subject: "Wax on, Wax off."  "Paint the fence." "Do, or Do not, there is no 'Try.'"  It's all very Karate Kid  and Star Wars.


High school will come sooner than you think.  Real life will come sooner than they can imagine.  


Create a System at Home


The rule of thumb I've adopted in my house (my son is in our class), is that no matter how caught up he says he is, one assignment must be completed at home each night before any TV, video games, or social media time is allowed.  Just one. If he shows (most of the independent work he has to turn in is online) he's all caught up?  (I make him show me.)  Math.  I always default to math.  It's what he needs to catch up on the most.  It's what they all need to catch up on the most.


If they need more support with the math than you can give them at home, then their 'go-to' at home should be other assignments like current events, or their writing work.  They could wrap up their science assignments, or do their map work for Africa. There's always learning work to be done.


Let's talk about how Carrie and  I can help your family balance your students' workload between home and school next week at conferences.  (They should still be doing most of it at school.  There's plenty of time.)


In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.


We're in this together,

Jon and Carrie