Week 12 Conclusions/Next Steps

This case study has given me a clearer picture of the effectiveness of Common Core Math Standard methodologies. The main purpose of this study was to discover the benefits of CCMS strategies on low to middle level skilled math students. This study has brought clarity to the concept of CCMS, its flaws and strengths, and which students the strategies benefit most. The standards themselves are not as much of the problem rather it is the strategies set forth by text book companies for teaching to the standards. Teachers must use a discerning eye and be ready to supplement current strategies with known effective methods. Since finding the current strategies seem to only benefit average math learners this leads to further research into which methodologies are most successful for teaching arithmetic concepts to low level students. It would be beneficial to continue interviewing and observing low level math students to get a baseline of the thought processes they use to solve math problems. Is there a common thought process among them? Can we come up with yet another set of strategies to teach lower level math students?

Week 11 Reflection

I am looking forward to Jessica’s research presentation as she has found some strategies to help students with math axiety feel successful. I am sure I will be able to apply those strategies to my own students.

Christi was pleased to find that praising positive behaviors decreased disruptions. I commented on what a wonderful feeling it is when a new classroom management strategy works. It just kind of makes you feel like a rock star.  I think she hit the nail on the head when she stated, “It was fairly simple to implement, with the biggest challenge (being) the ability to change your own behaviors”. It’s amazing how one’s own attitude and behavior can have such a huge impact in the classroom, and in life in general.

It sounds like the data collection led to some successful results for most. Even if the data wasn’t ideal, or the results were slightly inconclusive, there was still some learning going on within each research project. It is all starting to come together!


Week 11 Application of Learning from Data

I am very excited to apply what I learned from my data to my classroom. Before this research project I was going back and forth between deciding to use CCMS strategies for teaching arithmetic or sticking to traditional methods. It was overwhelming to make a complete switch as I wasn’t sure if that would leave bigger holes in my students’ learning.

What my data supports is that CCMS strategies are most successful with students with average math skills. Students with lower skills just get buried deeper in their confusion with CCMS and higher level students get frustrated in the breaking down of every procedure. My take away is to use the various strategies in addition to my usual methods, as needed. Not every student needs to be hit with multiple strategies but if someone is struggling an alternate method may be just what they need. After being exposed to various strategies I feel I am armed with a wider variety of teaching methods to use when students are stuck.

However, in addition to implementing these new strategies I will also pay close attention to the scaffolding of the Common Core Standards in the layout of my course. The standards provide a rigorous progression with students constantly building upon previous material and this is something I agree with. However, as one teacher warned in the interview, “any textbook can slap on the label CCMS and have people thinking that this is how the designers of the CCS intended us to teach the new standards.” I will use the CCM Standards as my guide and look to various sources for CCMS strategies to supplement my teaching.

I believe others can apply what I learned to their classroom, by looking at the heart of CCS and not being sold by a textbook that this is the way it the standards are meant to be taught. There is no magic one-size-fits-all curriculum. Pick and choose the methods that work for you and your students, and have a variety to of strategies at your disposal to supplement your teaching and increase student understanding at all levels.

Week 10 Reflection

Meagan confirmed what I had been hearing from the teachers I interviewed, that CCMS leaves students with low level math skills in the dust. Maybe if the pace was slower they would have time to absorb the material, or maybe not. It was good to have another teacher’s opinion and interesting that it agreed with others I had already heard from.

Molly was concerned about over half of her students being absent for the second week of data collection. She was tempted to eliminate the data for that week all together and asked for suggestions. I advised her to include the data from week 2 and explain any variables that affected the data collection i.e. increased absences due to illness.  Also the data she consistently collected from the remaining four students over the three weeks could tell an important piece too, so I suggested she doesn’t eliminate it.

Meagan mentioned on her blog that for during her data collection the class disruptions have been cut in half. I commented how awesome it is to put time into a project only to have it benefit your classroom and teaching in the end. I think my class will be improved by my research project as well. It’s a good feeling.

I thought I had a grip on the Data Analysis Methods and which one I would use, however, after looking at links posted on the Leaderboard from the Twitter chat (super cool idea btw) I am slightly confused. I will work off the feedback from Dr. Jones and my classmates to clarify things.


Week 10 Data Explanation and Learning

From my observations, CCMS does not seem to carry much weight with students with weak math skills. Perhaps, as the teacher interview suggested, it can get too confusing for them. Students with strong math skills seem to fair the best with CCMS as they are the most engaged with the best understanding. Students with average math skills are engaged with a pleasing rate of understanding.

From the student interviews, the majority of third grade students used CCMS strategies to solve the presented problem. However in the fifth grade class, an equal amount of students chose to use their own method or the traditional method for solving a problem instead of CCMS. Perhaps this could be contributed to age. Third graders are still more compliant and likely to do as the teacher instructs, whereas Fifth graders are becoming more independent and not necessarily feeling compelled to regurgitate the instructed method.

The one teacher interview I’ve orchestrated so far supports my observations in that students with average math skills benefit from CCMS. They have enough basics that when an alternate method is shown to them, if they can grasp it, it helps with their overall understanding. The interview also confirmed my observation that students with lower math skills seem to become even more confused by the alternate methods provided by CCMS. However, even though higher skilled students go along with CCMS, when given the opportunity they will use the method that is most comfortable to them, this finding was supported in my student interviews and observations as well as the teacher interview.

This data indicates that students with high math skills will find their way. They can follow CCMS but at times may prefer a quicker more traditional way to solve a problem. Students with average math skills benefit from the alternate strategies presented with CCMS. If they are struggling with solving a problem traditionally or understanding the concept, the methodology in CCMS most likely can make the light bulb go on for them. Unfortunately, students with weak math skills will be further confused and disengaged when being presented multiple strategies to solve a problem. My findings support that CCMS strategies would work best with average and high level math students who are having difficultly with a specific concept. CCMS strategies can be used as an alternate method of explaining a concept if the traditional strategy is unclear.

Raw Data & Initial Interpretations

Week 9 Reflection

I advised Megan to continue collecting data during her math class. She has started teaching math in groups and is noticing less disruptions. Since her goal is to try and reduce class disruptions I suggested she continue to collect data during this time to see if it is actually the different instruction that is helping the class or if it was maybe just the newness of the instruction. Either way, she will be able to analyze the data.

I explained what I understand data triangulation to be to Stacy and Molly. I understand it to be collecting data from more that one sources using more than one method of data collection. I also shared with them Dr. Jones’s explanation from the twitter chat that “triangulate just means you have more than two types of data/information about your question”. Hopefully that cleared things up for them.

Ben gave me encouragement on my choices for analyzing my data, however, after reading other classmates’ blogs I realize that I am leaning highly toward quantitative data organization. I don’t think my math brain can resist, I am asking questions and collecting tally marks but automatically categorize them and chart them in my head. I believe I can present a qualitative summary of the results even though they are displayed in charts and graphs, and also have the qualitative summary of teacher interviews for further analysis.

Week 9 Data Analysis Choices

I plan to use the Content Analysis method to analyze my data. I chose this method since I will be able to look for recurring patterns in my observations and interviews. I am looking to see if CCMS influences the learning of kids with certain math skills over others. I will present my findings on how engagement and understanding with CCMS is distributed between students of various math levels in a bar graph. The vertical axis will represent the number of students, the horizontal axis will represent the three math skill levels: weak, average, and strong. Each skill level will have two bars, one representing the number of students engaged using CCMS and the other representing the number of students understanding of the material using CCMS. I also am looking for how many students are actually using the CCMS strategies that were taught when working independently. The student interviews involve a single question “How did you figure that out?” their responses will be categorized into CCMS method, traditional method, or own method. I will create a pie graph representing the percent of students that used each method. Finally, I am looking for teacher perceptions on teaching with CCMS. I will write up a summary of the interview data from the teachers dividing it into the overall view of CCMS, the inconsistencies in their responses, and  their suggestions for teaching with CCMS.  By comparing the summary of the teacher interviews with the observations and interviews of the students that were performed over a number of weeks, I hope to establish validity in my research through triangulation.

Week 8 Reflection

I was concerned with particular students moods on the days I am observing as I have found one day they are cooperative and willing to discuss their thought processes and other days they are difficult to reach. Brian suggested I ask a standard set of questions which I am planning to do, but he also suggested students use a self-rating system. His suggestion reminded me that the students in particular that I am thinking about already carry around cards with happy or smiley faces recording how their day is going at various intervals. If I pay attention to that I will be able to make a note of it and use that information when analyzing my data.

Apparently the Saxon math curriculum that Kristen uses has oral assessment pieces that she has just started implementing. She validated my belief that you can get a much better view of students ability when you hear them explain their thought processes. She suggested from her experience, the more observations the better, sound advice I am going to adhere too!

Jessica was interested in some conflicting data she gathered from one student in particular. He was disruptive in math class but when asked how he feels about math he said he likes it and is really good at it. I asked if it is possible he is bored as that could be what is causing his disruptive behavior. In our district, one of the key assessment pieces for Quest (talented and gifted) students is how they handle themselves in class. It is typical for students to be disruptive when they are not feeling challenged. She may have just identified the root of one of her disruptive students behavior. How great would that be?

Week 8 Initial Data & Collection Plan Revisions

The bulk of my observations will need to be started next week as there are only 2.5 school days this week due to parent-teacher conferences and an early release for teacher collaboration. The abbreviated week has led to rearranging of regular class schedules as well as students in complete Halloween mode. Next week when they are back to a routine, and with the holiday behind them,  I will have a better opportunity to collect my data. However, there are two revisions I already see I need to make:

1. I must schedule multiple observations to accommodate for student attitude and willingness to cooperate. Originally I had intended to observe one lesson, and interview students during another. However, I’ve already encountered students who one day are on task and more than willing to talk through their thought processes, and the next day are distracted and disengaged. By performing the observations and interviews over multiple lessons, I hope to interact with each kid on a cooperative day, and therefore be able to collect data.

2. I must take more time in assessing student math levels. In my observation I will make note of each students’ math foundation (strong – easily understands math material with little to no explanation; average – understands material with little struggle after instruction; weak – needs additional help and still struggles with content). However, I recently discovered myself incorrectly assessing a student. I assumed a student’s disengagement and stall tactics were due to lack of understanding, but it turns out the student is at the top of the class for math. By giving myself more observation time as stated above, I will be able to get a better feel of each students abilities. I will also ask for the teacher’s input so as not to skew my data.