Discovery Middle School Leading Innovation – Special Education Math

Discovery Middle School Leading Innovation – Special Education Math

I viewed a video of a Kindergarten student that was able to describe exactly where she was in her writing goal, where she had been and what needs to be done to move toward proficiency of the goal. I briefly shared the impact this video had on me with Special Education teacher, Joanie New. She was motivated to try something similar with her math students. We broke down a standard and identified the success criteria which ultimately became the progressions towards proficiency for that math standard. She posted them in her classroom and used them to track student growth towards the goal.

Although we believe all students would benefit from having their learning targets made visible, we felt this was especially important for students who tend to struggle with mastering content and expected to do so at the same pace as their peers.

The progressions were used to track learning, in addition to helping motivate students to move towards being proficient in the standard. We’ve found that when students were not provided with the same structure that they tended to struggle with comprehension of the standard. Joanie is very intentional about identifying the goals, naming the vocabulary associated with the goal and having students have a visual cue to help them track progress.

As a coach, I’ve had the opportunity to see the impact in and out of Joanie’s classroom. The work she is doing has been shared with other teachers and they now have started to do similar work of sharing the targets with students so they can see the progression towards a goal.  These teachers like the visual for students and have started incorporating with other units, sharing with other teachers in the building as well as with collaborative teams outside of the building. It is exciting to see teachers take ownership, see the impact and share with others. We hope it will spread like wildfire!

Teacher Feedback:

“For a student that struggles emotionally, it has made all of the difference between being motivated or not in math and now math is his favorite subject.  That didn’t happen until we started Visible Learning. For him to see what he has to accomplish ahead of time has motivated him to work and he feels more successful because he tracks his progress.  He knows how much work he has to do each class period and he does it. He used to be so disruptive that the rest of the class couldn’t work. I love it because it helps me be organized and I use it to stay accountable to the curriculum and then use it to remind the students of our work.  They place a symbol next to the progression as they complete it. If they say they can’t do something, I show them the progressions on the board and remind them that they CAN already do it. I am not going to give the final assessment until I know they are ready. It really helps them emotionally.  Personally, it helps me be organized in the chaos of a differentiated classroom.”

Student Feedback

Students had a positive experience with learning at their own pace on the goal they need to show growth.  Some of the things they like about this way of learning are:

  • Going at their own pace
  • Not waiting for others to move on if they are already ready for new learning
  • Less stress

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