Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Like Accelerated Math

When I first arrived in my current position, I was told that one of the programs the principal had purchased was Accelerated Math. I was also told that the only teacher to have used it was the previous computer/ math teacher.

I only taught computer class the first two years, but spoke with the middle school math teacher and mentioned that we might want to start up the program and see what it could do. I wasn't too much help in how to make the program work in the class, but offered all the technical support.

By the time I started teaching a section of seventh grade math, the other teacher helped me learn the ropes of the logistical end of the program. After four years of using the program, I still improve on how I integrate the program for my students. It has a lot to offer.

The program has very discrete objectives for each grade level. We own libraries from third to seventh grade math, plus pre-algebra and algebra. The reason I like it so much is that it gives me an amazing amount of knowledge about how a student is faring in such things as: subtracting fractions with: like denominators, unlike denominators, like mixed numbers, unlike mixed numbers with no regrouping, mixed numbers from whole numbers, and mixed numbers with regrouping.

This granularity helps me focus my instruction. I may need to meet with just one child over a recess or two to clarify things or I may need to work with most of the class to clarify things.

In addition, I can see where a student or two still doesn't understand a topic from earlier in the year. This opens up the possibility of a discussion with the student's parents or tutor for specific areas of need.

Within the program, I first give the students a Diagnostic Test. If the student receives a grade of 80% or better on five questions within a unique objective, they show mastery of the topic. The topic goes away for two weeks. At that point, they must complete four more questions on the same topic over the course of the next practice worksheets. Once four questions are correctly completed, they have finished the review. In other words, they retained the knowledge after time away from direct practice. This is great for continued review throughout the year.

If a student does not master the topic, they can receive as many more practice questions as they require to master the objective. Through these practices, I can again determine when a student needs a more personalized approach to the unique objective.

My son is now in pre-algebra in the seventh grade. I can see for myself how it has helped him learn about adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers. Sometimes, you just have to do things many times and ask why you're getting the wrong answer before the rules start to sink in.

The program is worksheet oriented. Each student can receive individualized worksheets. Each worksheet corresponds to a scan card. As a teacher I can spend my energy on the problems that student gets wrong. The computer takes care of the scoring and tracking of data.

For many students, the continued practice does lead to the light going on for particular objectives. If you use this program, I'd like to hear your impressions. If you have questions, let me know and I'll give you my helping hand.

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