Math Philosophy

Posted by Loralie Cole-Holmbo on 11/4/2016

       Gifted students often learn at a very rapid pace and can remember what they’ve learned with very few repetitions.  In Mrs. Cole’s math class, this rapid pace is sustained on a daily basis. 

       For each standard, we begin with the lowest level (4th grade).  The lesson and practice time generally takes 15-20 minutes; it would take a typical class 45-60 minutes.  After the students “get it,” we increase the difficulty of the standard (move to the 5th-grade expectations, generally).  If they demonstrate proficiency at that level within the class period, we then move on to the 6th grade standards. 

       Of course, each lesson is also differentiated.  I have given a pre-test for each set of standards.  Students who have already shown proficiency for a given day’s lesson will not join us for the first mini-lesson; s/he will do extension work for that portion.  If particular students are not ready to move into the 6th-grade level part of the class period, they are given problem choices to develop fluency at the 4th- or 5th-grade level before moving on.  I believe that I have set a class culture where it is okay to work at your own level;  it is not okay to compare yourself to someone else or make someone feel bad for not moving as quickly. 

       You might be wondering why your child has scored upwards of 9th grade on the NWEA but is working on grade-level standards in class.  The answer is that NWEA questions are all multiple choice, and in class I expect students to explain themselves using advanced vocabulary.  This adds a depth and complexity to the work that is not scored on NWEA.  The purpose of this is so that students who want, for example, a math internship in high school or want to go on to engineering or architecture as a future career will have the communication skills to back up their excellent math skills. 

       If you have any comments or questions about this or any other topic, I’d love for you to share them with me!  E-mail me at lcoleholmbo@sd27j.net .