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School "C": ALiM report

Number of
students
Year Initial stage
Prop/Rat.
Final stage
Prop/Rat.
Time in programme Predominant
Focus
8 7 1 student - stage 1
7 students - stage 2/4
3 students - stage 2/4
5 students - stage 5
4x50mins weekly
8 weeks
Prop./Ratio
Fractions
Basic facts

This data reflects movement in the areas of proportion and ratio, fractions and basic facts, which were areas of focus for this study. Students found the testing situation stressful and therefore did not perform to their optimum or reflect the actual progress they were making in the teaching sessions.

Students' attitudes

Students were not motivated by maths and did not overly enjoy maths at the beginning of this study. At the end, students became proud of their learning and enjoyed coming to the sessions and learning new maths. In discussion with students they expressed how they enjoyed the sessions. The students particularly enjoyed arranging numbers to read aloud and wanted harder questions. They also liked to be out of the class in a small group situation as they didn’t feel pressured or embarrassed and it was quiet.

Advice for teachers and principals who want to accelerate learning for students

Ethic of care – knowing your students

For me the biggest part of success for this programme was that I worked with my own students. I had  holistic knowledge of these students. I could read them and direct them in ways that were beneficial. I was able to incorporate strategy teaching, which is missing from a CODSBRRICS programme that a teacher aide may take.

Having strong and well formed relationships with my students contributed to their success, as I was able to identify their specific learning needs, assess as we went along and give them a sense of achievement within the whole class. Despite the formal assessment showing small gains, as a qualified professional I was able to use formative assessment and my OTJs to see real progress for these students.

Programme

Having a clear and structured programme, with relevant tools (activities) to accompany each learning area, made it successful. The programme was easy for the teacher to follow, broken down into manageable steps. The weekly charts were particularly useful and related easily to accompanying assessment materials and resource (activities) information. To make this easier for teachers the activities could be included on the actual weekly plan.

Other elements that contributed to the success of this programme were the adaptations that could be made to suit the students' needs and the inclusion of strategy teaching. These enabled the students to make the connections and links between the programme and maths that the rest of the class were learning. The students liked the clarity of the programme, they knew the expectations of it and what to expect. It was set at a level where they felt they were challenged but were achieving.

Tools

The COSDBRRICS programme as a tool is a well organised and sequenced resource to aid in accelerating learning in maths.

It was important to be well prepared before the programme started with the physical resources for activities and games ready for use. Teacher knowledge of the programme’s key features was essential. It was necessary to provide a range of additional activities at an appropriate level for the students to extend their thinking, practise and apply knowledge, and revise the strategies taught.

The quiet area for these students was also highly important as they could concentrate on what they were learning and had no outside pressures to distract them. One student commented on how nice and quiet it was and that it made it easier to concentrate. They also loved the games and activities provided. They thought that they were easy games that they enjoyed and didn’t feel the pressure that they ‘had’ to learn something.

The students were enthusiastic enough to create their own games based on their learning.

Repetition

The repetitive nature of the programme was another aspect that contributed to raising student achievement. There was the repetition of teaching and timetabling and the students knew that they would be seen at the same time each day and knew the routine of the programme. The format of the programme with clear beginning, middle and end, enabled the students to be comfortable with the expectations. They had no moments of panic as there were no surprises.

They understood the terminology and were able to identify if any parts of the programme were left out. They often requested to do parts that they really enjoyed and would also ask for more challenging numbers  in dictation and number recognition.

The repetitive structure of the programme still allowed for increasing knowledge and skills due to the continuity of programme and teaching. I found that using this repetition was easy for planning for the students and resulted in students having ownership of their learning, as they knew exactly what to expect.

Profile of school, teacher and students involved

The school is a straight year 7-8 decile 3 school, with 376 students and is located in West Auckland. 54% of the students are boys and 46% girls. We consist of 57% Pacific Island students, 12% Maori, 9% NZ European and 22% Other.

The teacher is a second year beginning teacher with a high interest in raising student achievement in mathematics. Because all students were from her class she had a good relationship with them before she started this programme and knew their needs.

The target group consisted of two girls and six boys all of whom were working significantly below their cohort. The students have a range of learning needs: one student has dyslexia, two students are ELL, one student has behavioural issues, two students work with the RTLB, and one student has a history of transience (new to school mid Term 2, 2010). The students were grouped into two smaller ability groups. There were clashes of personalities in group two.

Summary of programme

The students worked with the teacher for eight weeks, with 4x25min sessions per week. While one group was with the teacher, the other group was practising with maths games or worksheets related to the strategies or knowledge that they had been working on. The students had a total of 4x50 minutes out of class working within the programme.

Students were withdrawn from the classroom and went to an empty ‘quiet’ classroom. Both groups went at the same time and worked in the same room.

The lesson structure followed the COSDBRRICS programme and included teacher adaptations and strategy teaching. These were important additions to the programme for these students.

  • Counting forwards and backwards
  • Counting in 10s, 5s and 2s
  • Ordering numbers 1-1000
  • Saying numbers up to quadrillions (as students requested it – challenged themselves!)
  • Dictation
  • Basic facts – doubles, instant recall to 20 add/sub
  • Revision
  • Place value/fractions as needed (strategy)
  • Game
  • Students independent activities (games, worksheets, puzzles etc)
  • Homework

Testing and student profiles were completed as and when necessary.

Key Features that contributed to the success/challenges of this programme

Challenges:

  • Time constraints
  • Absenteeism of students and teacher due to illness
  • Behaviour
  • ELL difficulties
  • Relevance and speed of testing (basic facts from NumPA)

Successes:

  • Two day course before beginning programme
  • Team Solutions support
  • Resources from Marilyn Holmes' programme
  • Quiet classroom
  • Students' attitude
  • Clear step by step programme
  • Student commitment
  • Student relationships – working with my own students
  • Teaching of strategy included with knowledge activities (connections – maths principle)
  • Small group
  • Students at the same level
  • Learning that boosted confidence and self esteem
  • Sharing successes
  • Everyday consistency
  • REPITITION AND ROUTINE PROVIDED BY THE PROGRAMME