A math intervention program to help students at risk of not passing Math 10 is in place at Len Wood Middle School, and is getting positive reviews.
After more than three months the students taking part in the program are giving it a thumbs up saying they value the class. They had comments such as:
“I used to be down about math and now I am really good at it.”
“Math is making sense now.”
“I am improving in my regular class.”
“I even help others in regular math class.”
“It’s a lot of math in a week but I am improving in class.”
Principal Denise Moore said her staff, working with Pleasant Valley Secondary School staff, identified successful completion of Math 10 as a barrier to graduation. She noted that students who struggled with math throughout elementary and middle school were often ending up on the Evergreen path, rather than a Dogwood.
Len Wood staff decided to provide intervention for struggling math students by increasing the amount of math instruction the students had each week. District Principal Val Edgell and Doug Smith, who is part of the district’s numeracy team, along with Len Wood’s numeracy teachers, worked together to develop the scope and sequence for this program.
From there, students who would benefit from the program were identified by classroom teachers and grouped by grade. Math teachers (Kim Poirier, Eric Evanoff and Stuart Matthews) each lead an intervention group.
The intervention groups meet three times a week where they focus on critical math concepts. One difference to other programs is that the students in the intervention groups are pre-learning the critical concepts. The groups preview the math concepts that will be coming up in their regular math classes, focusing on building conceptual understandings with a very hands-on approach. “This means that students already have had a chance to think about, and learn, the first stages of the grade level content so that when they see it in their regular math class, they feel like they already have a running start,” reports Moore.
Edgell comments the program at Len Wood, although still new, is showing huge promise and making so much difference for students. “One thing that is really important to understand is that for some students, math is the subject that is causing them to not graduate with a BC Dogwood. This has huge implications for job and career choices down the road. “
“One of the big parts of success in math is believing the you can be successful. Math is about so much more than just addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. While it is important to learn to calculate, many of us carry pretty powerful calculators around in our pockets (our phones). It is perhaps even more important to understand what concept to apply to a situation, and how to use technology to help solve a problem.”
“When our math teachers pull these students to teach the concepts before they learn them in the regular math class, it allows students to develop these understandings over a longer period of time, and, by using hands-on manipulatives, to build a base. Having the extra time, in a small group, using hands-on materials, is proving to help students really understand the “why” of the math concept, rather than just memorize a procedure. When the concepts are introduced to the whole class later on, the students are already familiar with the material and they essentially have a head start. They are able to build on the success of their small group instruction and not feel overwhelmed. This helps build confidence and resilience.”
Moore adds the intervention groups have now been going for more than three months and they are starting to see the results. Students are now excited to go to the intervention class, which was not the case at the beginning. They are saying things like “I didn’t know I could do math, but it turns out I can!”, and teachers are reporting that these students are actively participating and putting their hand up in class to answer to ask questions,” reports Moore.
“We want to thank our three math intervention teachers for the extra work they put into planning with the classroom teachers to ensure consistency of strategies, curriculum and constant communication about how the students are doing.”
Moore adds trying to fit this extra time in the student timetable has been a lesson in planning creativity, with the whole school staff pitching in to ensure the program is successful. Not only is time being “found” to have the extra intervention but if it happens to fall during a favourite subject of one of the students, the students are rescheduled into another class so that they don’t miss out. “Our whole school has had to be extremely flexible to make this happen.”
“It is early in the intervention still, but we are very excited about what we are seeing. We are really excited about working together with Pleasant Valley Secondary School (PVSS) staff to make sure we have a plan and path that takes these students through to a meaningful graduation,” adds Moore. “We are grateful to our three math support teachers, and to Val Edgell who meets monthly with the math team to help support, guide, and encourage.”