Thursday, October 17, 2013

Differentiating Math Instruction

This summer my professional development as an educator included a week long course on math differentiation.  Although our discourse included philosophical discussions about education and math, we spent the majority of our time focused on how to use a math menu approach to teaching and learning.  The main idea behind a math menu is allowing some of your classroom math time to be devoted to intentionally differentiated student math tasks through the use of a menu. Students work through a menu of options, and teachers gear their menus towards successful learning outcomes for all.  Although the set up and execution of math menu varies by classroom and is based on learner needs, it is one excellent option for meeting math learners where they are and growing their skills and knowledge.  

I was privileged to attend this course with many classroom teachers at RES.  Although I am not directly responsible for math instruction, one of my roles as the enrichment teacher is to support efforts that lead to classroom differentiation.  I am excited that educators at RES are constantly striving to  meet the needs of all of our students, and I feel lucky to work to support teachers and our students in meaningful approaches to learning!  Our educators have jumped into developing models for math instruction that support our curriculum but also provide students with choice and differentiated tasks.  In addition this menu model allows for the teacher to have time with individual students or small groups to reinforce topics AND provide extensions and challenges!  

As a result of our teacher collaboration in the summer class, I am spending time in second grade classes three times a week during their math menu. Menu routines are becoming established and I am looking forward to learning with students in small groups and leveraging the menu format to support and challenge students during math.

This week I arrived in a class and was able to capture a snapshot of what menu time looks like.  I was so excited to see all students working independently, utilizing each other as a resource, and time and space for the classroom teacher to meet with an individual student and puzzle together over a problem.   I also loved to see students working all over the classroom.  I had the sense that math menu allowed them to make physical choices that supported their learning styles!  Student engagement is key to all great learning and I think math menu offers this to all students.

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