Posts Tagged "Think Through Math"

Teacher Shortages Force Districts to Rely on Online Courses

help-wantedAs the new school year approaches, schools across the country are in a hiring frenzy.  The layoffs from 2008-12, an increasing population of limited English speaking students and college graduates wary of going into teaching because of the uncertainty in that traditionally stable employment market, are just a few reasons why districts are scrambling to fill vacancies. The California Department of Education estimates that California districts have 21,500 slots to fill while fewer than 15,000 new teacher certificates are issued annually.  

How are districts filling the gap? As one rural Texas principal told me recently, “We’re having to rely on online courses more heavily than ever before.  High school math teachers are hard to come by in small Texas towns. So, smaller districts like ours are using self-paced online courses when we can’t find a teacher for the course. What’s scary is that we don’t really know how good the courses are.”  

Students can’t learn what they’re not taught. A material’s alignment to state standards becomes even more crucial when there’s not a certified teacher in the classroom to act as a safety net for a material’s deficits.  In such cases, students have to rely exclusively on the online course for the knowledge and skills he/she needs to master the state tests.  If the material is not well aligned, the district is setting the student up to fail.

Learning List gives districts peace of mind that the materials they are using are teaching their students what they need to know to be successful.  For each material, Learning List provides three types of reviews, including an independent review of the material’s alignment to state standards.  Our detailed alignment reports show specifically where the material (e.g., page numbers, lesson titles) is aligned to each standard and where necessary, which standards the material is not aligned to at all. If a material is not aligned to 100% of the state’s standards for a grade and subject, our Fill-in-the-Gap tool recommends additional materials – supplemental and/or comprehensive; publisher-produced and/or open educational resources – that fill in the gap to ensure that students are getting materials that teach 100 percent of the state’s standards.

With reviews for over 1000 of the most popular materials, Learning List has reviewed many online, self-paced courses (e.g., Compass, Edgenuity, Khan Academy, Think Through Math, US History.org, and Vschoolz) that can help districts fill in their gaps.  Subscribe today to find the materials that will propel your students to success!

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New Reviews: Think Through Math

[Source: Think Through Math]

[Source: Think Through Math]

Think Through Math (TTM) is a supplemental, online mathematics program for grades 3-8 and Algebra I. Resources support self-paced instruction in remediation and intervention programs. Across grade levels, TTM’s adaptive software adjusts content to meet individual learning needs, provides immediate corrective feedback, and motivates students through a system of extrinsic rewards. Instruction incorporates multiple representations of concepts (i.e., visual, numeric, and verbal) and includes resources to support students at each Response to Intervention (RtI) tier. Learning List reviews for these materials are now published through our service.

[Video Source: Think Through Math]

[Video Source: Think Through Math]

TTM is meant to supplement core math programs; lessons do not provide direct instruction in key concepts. At the start of each year, each student takes a placement test to assess learning gaps. Based on assessment results, students are prescribed an individualized “learning path” or sequence of lessons. TTM lessons are made up of six components. Most lessons begin with a (1) a Pre-Quiz and (2) a Warm-Up. The Pre-Quiz assesses students’ knowledge of the topic and the Warm-Up is a short game or set of multiple-choice questions that introduces the topic and links to prior knowledge. Core instruction is provided in (3) Guided Learning and (4) Problem-Solving activities. Guided Learning introduces concepts through example problems and guiding questions. Problem-Solving activities frame a five-step solution process that includes analyzing, planning, solving, justifying, and evaluating. In the (5) Practice section of the lesson, students work independently on practice problems. Lessons end with (6) a Post-Quiz over content.

Extrinsic rewards are central to TTM’s approach to instruction, and the program provides rewards in the form of points, badges, and contests. Across lesson activities, students earn points when they arrive at the correct answer. Students may use points to purchase items to customize their TTM avatar (e.g., hairstyles, accessories, clothes). Points may be pooled to purchase classroom pizza parties (500,000 points=$50 gift card to a pizza venue) or donated to a charity (10,000 points=$1 donation). Students also earn badges for achieving certain milestones, such as answering a question correctly on the first try, and have the opportunity to participate in TTM contests (e.g., students who pass 30 lessons qualify for a drawing to win a $200 Amazon gift card). Educators who have used the TTM program with students said in interviews that points were an effective motivational tool. However, they underscored the importance of teacher monitoring, noting that students could game the system in order to earn points.

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