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[August 14, 2009]

Math program aims to improve students' scores: RE-1 teachers training for Math Add+Vantage MR

STERLING, Aug 14, 2009 (Journal-Advocate - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Results from this year's Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) show math continues to be an area students in RE-1 Valley School District struggle with. That's why RE-1 teachers have been participating in Math Add+VantageMR training this week.

This was the second training for teachers; other teachers participated in the training in July.

Math Add+VantageMR is a Math Recovery program designed to support K-5 mathematics assessment and teaching. It can also help with identifying specific areas of concern for struggling middle and high school students.

The four-day training was led by Mike Busch, from Albany County School District in Wyoming.

During the training, teachers learned how to do an assessment process that involves a one-on-one video-taped interview. They watched video-taped demonstrations and then spent time doing interviews with real students.

In the interview, teachers will ask addition and subtraction questions using chips under two different pieces of paper. They will say and show the number of chips under both pieces of paper and then ask the student to add or subtract them.

During the interview, the teachers may also use flash cards and ask the student to read the problem, then solve.

Once the student is done solving the problem, the teacher will ask them how they arrived at their answer. There was discussion about how to get students to explain what they did. Teachers were encouraged to ask questions like "How would you teach someone else to do that?" After the interview is complete, the teachers will watch the tapes again and complete a coding schedule that involves looking at: What the child got correct and incorrect, if the child needed time to think, if the child did any self correcting, if there were teacher prompts, if the child counted down from or up from a number, if the child uses groups, etc.

This will allow the teachers to be able to gauge whether students have a true understanding of the problems or not. Also, this information can also be given to other teachers the student has later on, so they can get a feeling of where they're at.

During the training, the teachers also talked about constructs and how to rate a student's construct from 0 to 5 based on their understanding.

They also looked at an example of a student assessment profile they could use to identify what a student knows and what the student needs to work on.

"It's very beneficial for (students) that are going through programs like RtI (Response to Intervention)," Busch said.

There was also discussion about several guiding principals of classroom instruction. They include getting students to think hard; remembering that assessment is not just documenting but observing students in class; developing instruction procedures to help move students further; making sure about where students are and where they need to go; giving students enough time to do their work and reflect on their own thinking; and working with other teachers.

With the start of school fast approaching, the teachers will soon be using what they learned at this training to help students with their math skills.

To get more information on the Math Add+VantageMR Program, visit www.mathrecovery.com.

To see more of the Journal-Advocate, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.journal-advocate.com. Copyright (c) 2009, Journal-Advocate, Sterling, Colo. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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