# PRIME Time Math PUSD

## Tuesday, July 18, 2017

### A Florida school district is banning homework — and replacing it with this

Elementary school students in one Florida school district are going to find a welcome new - but controversial - policy when they return to school for the 2017-18 school year next month: no traditional homework.

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## Friday, June 30, 2017

### David Wees on Twitter

Here is a nice Twitter thread to read through. Perhaps start by reading the article referred to in the initial tweet.

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Reading: Effective Teacher Professional Development from @LDH_ed https://t.co/P1BC3W1Z39— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"1. PD that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

content supports teacher learning within teachers’ classroom contexts."

"2. Incorporates active learning: Active learning engages teachers directly in designing and trying out teaching strategies."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

This is embodied in the "experience an instructional routine, prepare to teach, rehearse, reflect" model @GraceKelemanik taught us.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"Us" here being the instructional specialists involved in our math project at @NewVisionsNYC.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"3. High-quality PD creates space for teachers to share ideas and collaborate in their learning, often in job-embedded contexts."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

Is this true for basically the same reasons cooperative learning in classrooms can work? Or the group process research that's been done?— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

I seem to recall research on the best kinds of group working conditions. So there's more to this than just "make teachers work together".— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"4. Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

This seems like there's a lot of potential wiggle room here. I'll have to read the report further to see if best practices are defined.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"5. Provides coaching and expert support: Coaching and expert support involve the sharing of expertise about content and ..."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"evidence-based practices, focused directly on teachers’ individual needs."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

Well, that seems really hard. And maybe expensive. There are 88,000 teachers in New York City alone.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

What's the minimum coaching required here? Or maybe there's some kind of awkward triage model? "You aren't very good, here's your coach."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

More reading required to better understand the dimensions and limitations on this element of professional learning.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"6. High-quality professional learning frequently provides built-in time for teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes..."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"...to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

This seems related to me to @dylanwiliam's formative assessment strategy: "Activating learners as owners of their own learning".— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

Well that seems key. I certainly participated in lots of professional development I didn't ask for, didn't feel like I needed, wasn't mine.— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"7. Is of sustained duration: Effective PD provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice, implement, and reflect upon..."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

"...new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice."— David Wees (@davidwees) June 30, 2017

Was looking a study from @LDH_ed this week.https://t.co/ECJqA9zDca— Heather Johnson (@HthrLynnJ) June 30, 2017

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## Thursday, March 2, 2017

### What happened when one school banned homework — and asked kids to read and play instead

Mark Trifilio, principal of the public pre-K-5th grade Orchard School in Vermont, sat down with the school’s 40 educators last summer to discuss the soon-to-start new school year and homework — how much kids were getting and whether it was helping them learn.

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## Tuesday, February 28, 2017

### Scaffolding word problems

Word problems...ugh.

Of course we all know the trope: students can't do them, students hate them, blah, blah, blah.

Today I had a couple of very sincere teachers asking me how to help some of their students who are struggling with word problems. I did my best, but really I was just doing a bunch of hand waving and using big words like "pedagogy", "schema", and "comprehension". The truth is I wasn't entirely sure how to scaffold word problems for struggling students.

I perused my Google Drive looking for ideas and found these gems, so I thought I'd share them.

Click to view the Google doc |

### The 8-Step process for drawing the bar model for word problems

I got this many years ago at a Singapore Math training and often find myself reciting it as a mantra while I'm trying to solve a word problem. Interestingly, the same 8 steps are mentioned in Eureka Math Grade 1 Module 6 Lesson 1.**The 8-Steps of Model Drawing**

1. Read the entire problem.

2. Turn the question into a sentence with a space for the answer.

3. Determine who and what is involved in the problem.

4. Draw unit bars of equal length.

5. Re-read each sentence one at a time and revise the bar(s).

6. Put the question mark in place.

7. Work computations to the side.

8. Write down your answer to the problem.

Step 2 is really important because it verifies early in the problem-solving process whether the student even understands what he is trying to find.

Step 4 is surprisingly important. By starting with bars that are of equal length, the act of modifying the bars in Step 5 provides clues as to what kinds of math will be used to solve the problem. Resist the common urge to skip Step 4 and jump straight to creating the drawing! Once the model is accurately drawn, the necessary calculations practically leap off the page.

Click to view |

**How would this look for a 2nd grade problem? Check it out...**

*Brienne has 23 fewer pennies than Alonzo. Alonzo has 45 pennies. How many pennies do Alonzo and Brienne have altogether?*

Click to view |

### A graphic organizer

Long ago I was given a graphic organizer that accompanies the 8-steps. I modified it so that teachers can give the struggling student a sheet for each problem to be solved. The problem goes at the top and then there are work spaces provided along with the 8 steps explicitly listed along side.### What I've learned

Far more important than the calculations is the model drawing. Spend far more time with your struggling students on the model drawing, since it is far more important than the actual calculations. Once the model is drawn, some students will use subtraction to solve the problem, while other students will solve the exact same problem using addition. Using the drawn model to understand the problem is far more profound than simply teaching students to look for key words.**In a nutshell:**

Key words? Not good enough.

Drawing a model? Good!

.

.

.

## Thursday, January 26, 2017

### Rethinking Homework

If you are a mathematics instructional coach then I can't express enough how important it is that you join National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM). A benefit of membership in this fine organization is the Marshall Memo, which is a "weekly round-up of important ideas and research in K-12 education. This alone is worth the cost of membership!

Today in the Marshall Memo is a wonderful summary of an ASCD article about homework. Before you read the summary, please do two things:

1. Join NCSM

2. Join ASCD

Now, read on...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Originally titled “Does Homework Help?”)

In this Education Update article, Alexandria Neason reviews the research on the impact of homework, which is decidedly mixed. One study showed a correlation between completing homework and better scores on unit tests, but the link was weaker in elementary schools. Other studies found no strong evidence of homework leading to higher grades. “We still can’t prove it’s effective,” said education professor Cathy Vatterott, author of a 2009 book on homework. “The research is flawed and idiosyncratic.”

What’s indisputable is that lower-income students find homework a challenge, and not completing homework has a disproportionate impact on their grades. Myron Dueck, a Canadian school leader and author, says one of the most serious effects of homework is “the exacerbation of social and economic inequities that already exist.” Students who are struggling with food insecurity, unstable housing, noisy and distracting home environments, inadequate computer access, after-school jobs or child care, and the normal challenges of adolescence often find homework too much to handle. And indeed, studies of high-school dropouts cite homework as one of the top reasons for throwing in the towel.

Given this gap-widening effect (“We are basically punishing them for their poverty,” says Vatterott) what should schools do? Neason summarizes some possible policy tweaks:

• Beef up the rigor and engagement of in-school lessons so that missing homework takes less of a toll on achievement. One district made a point of including music and sensory objects in heavily scaffolded lessons.

• Give students opportunities to complete homework in school with a conducive study environment and good computer access.

• Use homework to reinforce already-mastered skills or complete assignments that were launched in class rather than introducing new material. “Homework should reinforce students’ confidence in their abilities, not shatter it,” says Neason.

• Don’t assign busywork. Each homework assignment should have a clear rationale and add value.

• Don’t assign homework that requires students to buy special materials like poster board.

• Don’t portray homework as a test of responsibility. Students may be ashamed to tell teachers about out-of-school struggles that make homework difficult for them to complete.

• Rethink the weight of homework on grades. Students might be graded on what they learn rather than on process pieces such as homework assignments. One approach is to make homework optional and check for understanding with a quick quiz the next day.

• Rethink zero-to-100 grading scales, which have a devastating effect when a student gets a zero for missed homework. A 6-5-4-3-2-1 scale mitigates this effect.

• A variation on this is limiting homework to 10 percent of students’ grades or giving a grade of incomplete with time to complete it, perhaps during lunch or recess.

• At the elementary level, eliminate homework entirely. Some elementary schools have stopped assigning homework and encourage students to play and read after school.

“Does Homework Help?” by Alexandria Neason in Education Update, January 2017 (Vol. 59, #1, p. 1, 4-5), ASCD member log-in access at http://bit.ly/2k4lvyc

(Originally titled “Does Homework Help?”)

In this Education Update article, Alexandria Neason reviews the research on the impact of homework, which is decidedly mixed. One study showed a correlation between completing homework and better scores on unit tests, but the link was weaker in elementary schools. Other studies found no strong evidence of homework leading to higher grades. “We still can’t prove it’s effective,” said education professor Cathy Vatterott, author of a 2009 book on homework. “The research is flawed and idiosyncratic.”

What’s indisputable is that lower-income students find homework a challenge, and not completing homework has a disproportionate impact on their grades. Myron Dueck, a Canadian school leader and author, says one of the most serious effects of homework is “the exacerbation of social and economic inequities that already exist.” Students who are struggling with food insecurity, unstable housing, noisy and distracting home environments, inadequate computer access, after-school jobs or child care, and the normal challenges of adolescence often find homework too much to handle. And indeed, studies of high-school dropouts cite homework as one of the top reasons for throwing in the towel.

Given this gap-widening effect (“We are basically punishing them for their poverty,” says Vatterott) what should schools do? Neason summarizes some possible policy tweaks:

• Beef up the rigor and engagement of in-school lessons so that missing homework takes less of a toll on achievement. One district made a point of including music and sensory objects in heavily scaffolded lessons.

• Give students opportunities to complete homework in school with a conducive study environment and good computer access.

• Use homework to reinforce already-mastered skills or complete assignments that were launched in class rather than introducing new material. “Homework should reinforce students’ confidence in their abilities, not shatter it,” says Neason.

• Don’t assign busywork. Each homework assignment should have a clear rationale and add value.

• Don’t assign homework that requires students to buy special materials like poster board.

• Don’t portray homework as a test of responsibility. Students may be ashamed to tell teachers about out-of-school struggles that make homework difficult for them to complete.

• Rethink the weight of homework on grades. Students might be graded on what they learn rather than on process pieces such as homework assignments. One approach is to make homework optional and check for understanding with a quick quiz the next day.

• Rethink zero-to-100 grading scales, which have a devastating effect when a student gets a zero for missed homework. A 6-5-4-3-2-1 scale mitigates this effect.

• A variation on this is limiting homework to 10 percent of students’ grades or giving a grade of incomplete with time to complete it, perhaps during lunch or recess.

• At the elementary level, eliminate homework entirely. Some elementary schools have stopped assigning homework and encourage students to play and read after school.

“Does Homework Help?” by Alexandria Neason in Education Update, January 2017 (Vol. 59, #1, p. 1, 4-5), ASCD member log-in access at http://bit.ly/2k4lvyc

## Monday, January 9, 2017

### Female teachers’ math anxiety affects girls’ math achievement

People’s fear and anxiety about doing math—over and above actual math ability—can be an impediment to their math achievement.

Read more via Pocket

## Tuesday, December 13, 2016

### Why Kids Should Keep Using Their Fingers to do Math

Nearly all kids learn how to count using their fingers. But as kids grow older and math problems become more advanced, the act of counting on fingers is often discouraged or seen as a less intelligent way to think.

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