Math program offers variety of methods

The Charlotte Observer
City News
Saturday, January 3, 2015

Seventh-graders work in small groups to learn math in a Teach to One classroom at McClintock Middle School.

Seventh-graders work in small groups to learn math in a Teach to One classroom at McClintock Middle School.

Seventh-graders at McClintock Middle School gather at work stations in Teach to One math classrooms.

Divided by wooden storage shelves, students review math taught by teachers, through online instruction and with each other.

Teach to One was created for middle school math by New Classrooms – a nonprofit organization created by Joel Rose and Christopher Rush as an offspring of their New York City Department of Education program School of One, which was named one of Time Magazine’s 2009 inventions of the year.

“It’s the way public education needs to go … it’s hard to differentiate education without technology,” said McClintock Principal Paul Williams.

Jennifer Brown, the school’s New Classrooms Director of Growth & Expansion, said the math program was created to reach each student at their skill level and help them move forward.

Seventh-graders takes exit assessment on Teach to One online program. Students share laptops across grades, that means one laptop is shared among three students – one from each grade.

Seventh-graders takes exit assessment on Teach to One online program. Students share laptops across grades, that means one laptop is shared among three students – one from each grade.

“At the end of every class, students take a five question skills assessment test and receive an exit ticket,” Brown said. “That exit ticket explains their progress and assigns their skill and learning modality for the next class.”

Williams said it’s a well-choreographed symphony, the way students and teachers move from station to station – 12 teachers always teaching different skills to different students in different ways.

There are several methods used to teach math at McClintock: live instruction, virtual instruction, small group collaboration, peer-to-peer instruction, virtual reinforcement, live investigation and small group projects.

Students are given four opportunities to learn a math skill, each time the program generates a new way of learning based on the level of difficulty for each individual student.

“By meeting students at their skill level, it makes education the same across the board,” Williams said. “It’s just not feasible to create an individualized learning plan for every student every day, but Teach to One helps us do that … we need this to support teachers and students.”

Dawn Salters, one of McClintock’s Math Directors and TTO teachers, said the program has been beneficial to all of her students. She said some have moved from being two to three grade levels behind to learning ahead of what’s required.

“In a traditional classroom, I had to teach to the middle – hoping the ones who were ahead didn’t get bored and the ones that were behind were able to catch up,” she said.

However, teachers have had to learn new ways to do their jobs.

“We’ve made students very dependent on teachers and we’ve conditioned teachers as the givers and owners of knowledge,” Brown said. “Twelve teachers equals a lot of distinct perceptions – we had to spend a lot of time working together, learning to collaborate in a new setting.”

Salters, who’s been teaching math for 10 years, said, “It’s been life-changing for these kids and it really helps (teachers) meet their needs.”

Brown and Williams said McClintock Middle School was the first school in the Carolinas to adopt this approach. They also said, since starting the program, the students’ math EOG scores have increased by 8 percent and the school’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment places McClintock students 1.8 years of learning math concepts ahead of the national average.

The program costs CMS $125,000 per year, Brown said. She also said that amount will decrease because the fee is based on need. There’s also an annual $225 per student license fee.

Math Director Dawn Salters stand with one her students, Joel Holder.

Math Director Dawn Salters stand with one her students, Joel Holder.

For everyone involved, it appears to be money well-spent.

Joel Holder, a 13-year-old seventh-grader, is in the program for his second year.

“The Teach to One math program is a fun and interactive way to learn math …. I’ve learned a large amount of math skills that I may not have learned in a traditional classroom,” he said. “I’m really enjoying math.”

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