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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teacher tries 'just-in-time' math for students who didn't learn the basics

A veteran teacher at Denver's George Washington High, Joe Bolz knows his students didn't learn much math when their middle schools closed. Now they're in high school, trying to learn Integrated Math 2, a mix of algebra, geometry and other concepts.


CPR's Jenny Brundin explains how Bolz is using "accelerated" or "just in time" strategies to teach grade-level skills -- and the middle-school skills they need to solve problems.


“What skills kids learn in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are really foundational and heavy,” said Mary Pittman, president of the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics and math project director at TNTP.


Students learn more when they're taught at grade level, even if they haven't yet mastered some concepts, she believes. However, writes Brundin,"she said the strategy is difficult, takes a deep understanding of math, and takes high-quality learning materials, which not all Colorado districts have."


Math scores are way down everywhere, writes Brundin. In Colorado, fewer than a third of eighth-graders are on grade level in math.


Bolz's students lost social skills and self-confidence, he tells Brundin.

Bolz’s math class is fast-paced, chock full of competition, games, and working in small groups – all hammering home the ‘slope’ concept. Group work is particularly important, especially for sophomores. Bolz said that age group was hardest hit by the pandemic because practically their entire middle school was online.
Really just getting them to learn to talk to each other and to engage with each other and work with each other….that's been a bigger struggle this year than has been in the past for me,” he said.
. . . He checks in with a student working on a problem, asking if they can perform 75 x 2 in their head. They can’t.

After-school tutoring might help his students, but only if they show up, says Bolz. That will take a push from parents.


Many worry that fewer students will be able to enter STEM careers, because they won't have the math.

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5 Comments


Guest
Dec 21, 2022

Speaking from personal experience, I haven't seen any problems in the kids who spent middle school in the pandemic. The kids who spent A2 in the pandemic, a different story.

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Guest
Dec 21, 2022

" they do NOT have the required skills to succeed in high order math"


Oh, well, and you capitalized it, so it must be true!


Not that it matters. They'll be put in the classes anyway, whether you capitalize or not.

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Guest
Dec 20, 2022

If a student has NOT mastered their multiplication tables up to 12x12, doesn't know place value, order of operations, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, percentages, and

fractions, they do NOT have the required skills to succeed in high order math


75x2 = 150 (yes, I did the math in my head)


The decline in the general knowledge of each generation becomes more and more apparent when things I take for grants many persons aged 25 or less simply have no ability to do

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Guest
Dec 19, 2022

Is the question that they did not learn the basic or did not retain the basics past the last exam in whatever grade. Are teachers going to deny that they ability to retain information is a skill or talent that all students do not have equally.

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Guest
Dec 19, 2022

If "accelerated" teaching of basic math accomplishes any learning; especially among classes where students did not grasp the material in the first presentation, then we must conclude that routine teaching of math is a waste of time and young lives. Why not teach at the "accelerated" pace and with the methods and and materials that (here, are claimed to) work? Why would any caring and professional adult teacher offer any child anything less than the best, proven, teaching?

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