Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Students in a Bubble

Never spoiled Sushi Plate
Who cares about math talk during the presidential debate?  Evidently, I did, maybe all day long.  Earlier today, I met the district reading coach and Special Education director.  Our topics shifted from identifying struggling students from the Measurement of  Academic Progress to brainstorming to the possible differentiation, instructions, strategies, grouping, and possible materials.  In our examination, it was clear to identify which kid have difficulties in each or linked areas of five reading components, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  There are some programs that we are currently using (STAR, Accelerated Readers, and Read Live Naturally) fit in the progress monitoring.  Three of us and my intern were quite ecstatic of how well we have been managing our students with adequate instructional grouping and models.   We were very hopeful.

Then, afternoon came.  I couldn't stop thinking about another meeting with the district math coach.  My anxiety level was getting higher as if I had already known it would not be going to be the same as the reading talk.    While analyzing data from the MAP math test, we easily found out the population that is called "in the bubble".  Students in the bubble are on or slightly below the grade level boarder line.  I asked, "I wonder if there is some progress monitoring tool for math.  As you know, Reading has a few."  The coach Lisa sighed, "I know."  We both knew there was a hard brick wall in front of us.   Unlike Reading, Math is tricky because there are way more learning targets than five components that students are required to master before the next grade level.  Specificity in the current state standards and upcoming Common Core State Standards are surely helpful to focus on mathematical skills.  But when you think about monitoring learning (mastering) progress on "bubble students", it is extremely overwhelming for teachers. 

Our discussion focus moved forward to what kind of tools, schedule, and human resources are possibly available.  Well, the teachers' plate is already full of good stuff, almost spilling out of it.  Think about it.  If you spill the food on the floor, sadly it is a waste.  How essential to keep only adequate amount of quality items on the plate!  Teachers must feed them all before the food is spoiled.  In that regard, I don't think I need more or new materials for now.  I would like to chew and taste each of food items.  Then my vision expanded the scene of the party that people enjoy.  This is when the collaboration chimes in.  Invite a team of teachers to discuss about food (instructional materials) we have.  Party is always fun.  Collaboration must work.