Struggling math students reach new heights Page Middle School, Madison Heights, Michigan

Struggling math students reach new heights

SUCCESS STORY

Intervention and digital learning elevate student achievement in math

Katie Monhaut, Intervention Math Teacher

“It’s okay to fail. Making mistakes is part of the learning process.” This is something I often tell my struggling students. There is a mindset at school that failure means the end and for some students this hinders their learning and ability to take risks. However, I have realized it is okay for students to make mistakes while attempting to grasp math concepts because they learn from them and grow.

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They work hard and most have been able to gain more than 1.16 years’ worth of growth in one school year. This is impressive for an intervention student.

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For years I taught sixth grade math at Page Middle School. I loved it, but it was a tough balancing act. I grouped students by achievement levels and tried my best to keep the struggling students up to speed, while trying to engage the higher achieving students and keeping them from getting frustrated because we were not advancing fast enough. Despite my best efforts to provide differentiated instruction, some students were not able to progress enough to meet the Common Core State Standards as well as state and grade-level objectives. Other teachers were also experiencing the same problems, so to help these struggling students succeed we formed math intervention classes.

Two years ago I started teaching these classes not only for sixth graders, but other grades as well. Our struggling math students take this class in conjunction with their regular math class. While most students need to go over a concept a few times and are ready to move on, these kids need to go over concepts several more times in a variety of ways with additional practice before continuing further. Teaching in small groups, I soon realized every child is so different in what they need to learn. At times I can see them start to shut down, so I try to shift their focus away from their frustration and encourage them to not give up. And with each accomplishment, we celebrate.

Seventy-five percent are passing their general math class with a 70 percent or higher grade average. Before the intervention classes were implemented these students were failing.

I have great tools to use like Pearson’s computer-based individualized learning program, SuccessMaker, which guides students to practice what they have learned in class. With the personalized instruction from the program students can revisit the specific areas where they were struggling. The program will not allow them to move on until they have reached a level of mastery. They work hard and most have been able to gain more than 1.16 years’ worth of growth in one school year. This means 75 percent are passing their general math class with a 70 percent or higher grade average. Before the intervention classes were implemented these students were failing. Working with these kids I have been able to help them break through their fears and failures to reach new heights.

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