Friday, July 27, 2012

As I sit here waiting for my 1-year-old to settle into a nap and my almost 3-year-old is watching “Toy Story 3” for the 374th time, I thought I’d reflect a bit about something new (to me) that I discovered last year.  As I was implementing Guided Math into my repertoire, a colleague of mine introduced me to the world of  What a world it is! But, before we get into that, let’s start at the beginning . . . .
Last year was a “pushing” year for me!   Instead of sitting back and resting on my heels, I began to push both myself and my students toward what “could be” rather than what was “good enough!”  With that in mind, I revisited my inner-debate about math fluency!  Is it developmentally appropriate to expect/strive for fluency in math facts from first graders?  If not, what should we be working toward?  If so, how can we get there? 
The enVisions (Pearson) math curriculum has a great spiraling curriculum that revisits “old” concepts constantly to keep them fresh in student’s minds.  As the “math rotation”/Guided Math concept (see previous post) developed in my head, I stumbled upon (Thanks, Sara Schlickbernd!)  This is a free web-based program for students, parents, and teachers that helps kids master basic math facts.  When you first join, there are great videos to help you implement the program.  There is a WONDERFUL student video that really motivated my kids to get started. 

Want to get started?  Here’s what you’ll find:
1. When you, as the teacher, join the site, you will have the opportunity to set up your class.  Once you’ve done this, you will be able to print pin #s for your students for both school and home.   
A list of student pin numbers.
2. Students will take a placement test and this will indicate to the program where the instruction should start.  There is a man or woman on the bottom of the screen who “coaches” students, giving them fluency cues. 
This is the result screen after the placement quiz.
3. Once the student’s “level” has been established, the program will start.  Each session takes 10-15 minutes.  My students logged on and completed a round every day at school during the Math Center rotation before they completed the game/center for the day.
4.  Many of them also logged in and practiced at home!  How do I know?  At the end of each week, sends you an email indicating performance levels, improvement, and # of log-ons at school and home.  Need data to show parents or your principal?  It’s all right there in one email!  It also prompts you to print out award certificates for students as they pass milestones.

This is what you will see in the email that is generated weekly.  You can go into the program and find more details about the colored dots but the short story is . . . blue shows that the student logged-in at home, green shows improvement, yellow shows a plateau, and red indicates a drop.
Honestly?  Greatest program since sliced bread!  But you can decide that for yourself by going to and checking it out!  Let me know what you think!

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