The third grade students at Arcadia Elementary are becoming Subtraction Masters thanks to a unique approach their teachers are using. Felicia Walton, Matthew Morse, and Kathy Godfrey have created a leveled system and work collaboratively to ensure that all of their students are working and proceeding at their level of understanding. They began by breaking down the subtraction skills students should know by the end of third grade and ranked these skills into twelve levels according to their complexity, beginning with a basic understanding of subtraction to being able to solve complex word problems using multi-digit subtraction with regrouping. To make it more engaging for the students, they gamified these levels by relating them to Star Wars Jedi mastery levels.
To provide practice resources for their students, they used their Mimio software to create screen-casted tutorial videos that the students can refer back to as they practice at each level. They then used Go Formative to create sets of practice problems the students work through for each level. The video they created for each level is included in the Go Formative activity for that level, so students have all the resources they need to practice their subtraction in one place.
Not only did Mrs. Walton, Mr. Morse, and Mrs. Godfrey collaborate to create these resources, but these three teachers team up to teach the math. Students will go to one of the three teachers to receive small group instruction with other students who have achieved the same level. Mrs. Walton, Mr. Morse, and Mrs. Godfrey have the small groups in front of their whiteboards to teach the students and provide guided practice at their level during this time.
While the three small groups of students receive instruction directly from the teacher in their small groups, the rest of the students work at their desks using Chromebooks to access the Go Formative activity for their level, watch the video, and practice subtraction at their level. Once a student has achieved 80% mastery, he or she levels up to the next level. Go Formative allows the teachers to easily see where the students are at in their mastery of subtraction.
While this may seem like a lot of work, Mrs. Walton said that each video took them only about 10 minutes to create. Mr. Morse noted that, though there was quite a bit of front end work, using technology in this way has ended up saving them a lot of time. The level of student engagement is very high. One student, Amanda, noted that she really likes learning math this way because it’s fun. Through collaboration, blended learning, targeted instruction and practice, and use of technology, these teachers are ensuring that their students will come away with the math skills they need.
Spotlight Created by Jenny Peirce, Educational Technology Specialist and Team Leader.