Site Meter Josh's Blog: Ramp Up Math

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ramp Up Math

I visited two middle schools today and had the opportunity to see a few Ramp Up classes. Ramp Up is a program from America's Choice that we have begun to implement in all of our middle schools this year. It is designed to give children extra help that will prepare them for Algebra. As we know, access to Algebra is the new civil right of the 21st Century - if students don't master it, their chances of success in college decreases significantly.

I spoke to a few teachers and students about the program and I want to share a little of what I heard and saw. All of the students were fully engaged in learning Algebraic concepts - some were working alone, others in pairs or groups. Teachers were circulating through the class, checking for understanding. I asked students if they liked this way of learning math and whether it was easy or hard. Some said easy, some said hard, but all of them said that they liked learning this way. One student gave me a lengthy explanation of how he approached a problem based on the distributive property. I was struck by his clear grasp of the purpose of each of his steps - he knew the steps to follow and understood why he had to take those steps. Another student told me that he liked math better this year because "now I'm getting the concepts."

The teachers gave me very honest feedback, which I appreciated. They didn't say that everything was great or that the program could never work. One teacher told me that the mini-lesson at the beginning of the day that was supposed to take 5 minutes actually took 20. Another told me that he's been a "traditional" math teacher for more than 20 years and that he's struggling, but that since the kids are "getting it," it's worth it. I also saw the school math coach and the district teacher on special assignment for math at the school, visiting classrooms to understand how we're doing with the program.

It's always very difficult to implement a new instructional approach and Ramp Up is no different. Given the hard work and committment I saw from our teachers today, and the engagement and enthusiasm of our students, I'm more convinced than ever that we're on the right path.

1 comment:

Ayannali said...

I would like to know more about Ramp up. What are it's particular stratigies, which grade is it geared for? 6, 7 and 8th? Are all students in the Middle Schools getting this program?