Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mastering Objectives in Accelerated Math

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar.  And don't call out!

Your math teacher teaches a lesson.  You may read from the book, do practice problems on the board, or even use manipulatives.  However, at the end of the lesson, the entire class gets the same homework assignment.  If you understood the concept in the first 5 minutes, you still get 20 problems.  If you have no idea what the teacher said, you still get the same 20 problems (which you can't do). It doesn't matter if you understood yesterday or not, because today is coming.  Repeat, repeat, repeat for about 2 weeks till it's time to test and move to the next major topic.

That's the way math works in many classrooms around the world...but not so with Accelerated Math.

When the class sits down to get their work done, each student is working on different objectives based on their personal skill level.  The STAR Test tells the teacher where to start students, and the student is responsible for the forward movement from there.

There are two ways a student can master objectives.

First, students will practice objectives over and over till they demonstrate a level of mastery over that objective (5 out of the last 6 questions).  Then, the teacher assigns a test over that objective.  Score well on that (4 out of 5), and it's mastered.

Second, diagnostics are a great way for a student to show the teacher that she understands an objective.  A diagnostic will generate five questions for each objective diagnosed.  If a student gets at least four right, the objective is mastered.  So, pretend you just taught your lesson on reducing fractions.  You know that kid who fell asleep 15 minutes ago.  She can show you in 5 questions that she got it and can move on to new material.  Awesome!

However, there is also that kid who has that glazed over "I have no idea what you're talking about" look on his face. What do we do with him? Easy. If his diagnostic comes in with less than 4 correct answers that objective gets rolled into his practices.  He will continue to practice that objective till he can test on it, then move on.

Whether mastering through practice/test or diagnostic, students still can move at their own pace and not be forced to move on till they are ready.

Now, every good teacher wants to make sure that each student TRULY grasps the skills and information taught.  The great thing is that mastered objectives tend to come back to practices a week later. After students answer questions effectively the objective will go away forever.

I love the individuality of Accelerated Math! No matter where you live on the bell curve of math skills, you can move at your own pace and truly master a topic.  It's a beautiful thing!

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