Beyond blended learning

After trying blended learning for a year, two San Jose charter high schools redesigned the math program, writes Diane Tavenner, CEO of Summit Public Schools, on Getting Smart.

In our pilot this year, we have five math instructors and two learning coaches who work as a team to support 200 students at one time. . . . Our math team serves as coaches and mentors, curriculum curators, developers and intervention specialists.

. . .  students are not in ninth or 10th grade and are not taking a defined math course such as Algebra or Geometry. Instead, they are progressing through a competency-based curriculum dependent on their own path and pace.

Each student has a personalized Math Guide that details what they already know (highlighted in green), what they should be focused on today (highlighted in yellow), and what they are not quite ready yet to tackle (highlighted in red). Students use their guides to set daily and weekly goals.

Our students begin math each day at their individual workstation.  They first log into their email to read a daily message from the math team, including a schedule of learning opportunities offered that day, along with available projects and seminars. Depending on their learning goal, our students can choose whether to remain at their workstation for individual, or with their peers, learning and practice using a host of online resources available to them as ‘Playlists,’ or participate in a seminar and other small-group projects taking place in the four learning spaces off of the main room. For those students who struggle with this autonomy, our math team provides mentorship and coaching to ensure students are on the right path.

Summit is collecting data to see how well the new system works.

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  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the most important sentence here is the last, “Summit is collecting data to see how well the new system works.”

    It is always possible for smart people to come up with reasons–often plausible reasons–why this or that will work or not work. But we never know until the idea is actually tried.

    If the data and the analysis are appropriate, we may know something useful three years from now.

  2. I agree with Mr. Sweeny that it’s good to figure out if something works.

    However, what exactly is wrong with going to programs already proven to work? Kumon, Direct Instruction, and Singapore Math come to mind.

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    ShortWoman, if you click the link you’ll discover exactly what’s wrong with Singapore Math and other fine math programs, for Summit. Summit students have widely varying math backgrounds, and are at widely varying levels. If the teacher just tried to teach a lesson from Singapore Math to all the students, some students wouldn’t be prepared to learn it, while others would be bored because it was well below their level. The individualized math curriculum allows each student to learn the next thing he or she needs to learn to progress in math, without wasting time either attempting a problem they are not ready for or doing a problem far too easy for them.