Frequently Asked Questions


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Read through our FAQs. If you have a question you'd like to ask, email Duane at dhabecker@gmail.com


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ASSESSMENT

Question:

Assessments for grading purposes: there is not much as far as assessments other than the mid-module and final module assessments. Should teachers create other quizzes to assess individual assignments?

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:


There is a topic quiz available for every topic in every module. We recommend teachers use these as formative assessments throughout the module.


Entry link: Assessments for grading purposes:  there is not much as far as assessments other than the mid-module and final module assessments.  Should teachers create other quizzes to assess individual assignments?

Question:

Some teachers/kids are struggling on the fluency Practice. Some of those time tests are rigorous and some of our kids give up with frustration. Would you advise going back to basic facts fluency or trudging forward as the program indicates?

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:


When students struggle with the nature of those fluencies being timed, then don't use time. Extend the time for students to do those fluency practices. Minimize the emphasis on speed. To asses fluency, the teacher can simply observe students as they do the work. It is visibly obvious who is fluent and who isn't. No need for a timer to do this.


Entry link: Some teachers/kids are struggling on the fluency Practice.  Some of those time tests are rigorous and some of our kids give up with frustration.  Would you advise going back to basic facts fluency or trudging forward as the program indicates?

CUSTOMIZING

Question:

Teachers are complaining that the kids don't understand the concept in the lesson. Is your advice to move on or should the teachers reteach the lessons.

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:


In a typical teaching environment, teaches should pace each lesson to last one day. Teachers customize the lesson by selecting which (if any) fluencies to do, whether to do the application problem, which examples problems in the Concept Development, and which problems of the Problem Set are the "must do" problems. Even when students seem to be totally confused by a lesson, 90% of the time the proper thing for the teacher to do is to move on to the next lesson. I don't recommend many days specifically devoted to review...like on Fridays. Rather, I give a short culminating quiz at the end of each topic. This culminating quiz is formative for me and acts as review for the students. it kills two birds with one stone.

Entry link: Teachers are complaining that the kids don't understand the concept in the lesson. Is your advice to move on or should the teachers reteach the lessons.

FLUENCY

Question:

Some teachers/kids are struggling on the fluency Practice. Some of those time tests are rigorous and some of our kids give up with frustration. Would you advise going back to basic facts fluency or trudging forward as the program indicates?

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:


When students struggle with the nature of those fluencies being timed, then don't use time. Extend the time for students to do those fluency practices. Minimize the emphasis on speed. To asses fluency, the teacher can simply observe students as they do the work. It is visibly obvious who is fluent and who isn't. No need for a timer to do this.


Entry link: Some teachers/kids are struggling on the fluency Practice.  Some of those time tests are rigorous and some of our kids give up with frustration.  Would you advise going back to basic facts fluency or trudging forward as the program indicates?

PACING

Question:

I need some advice on how to pace each daily lesson.

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:

(This comes from my original post here: https://embarc.online/mod/page/view.php?id=3070)


Pacing is a common first-year concern. Here are some quick tidbits...
  1. Don't do ALL the fluency activities listed in the lesson. Only choose one, perhaps two of them. Perhaps, consider doing NONE of the fluency activities for that day.
  2. Do not turn the Application problem into a teachable moment. It is a time for the students to practice using their brain. It is a time for the teacher to collect formative data about the progress of her students. It should NOT turn into a 20 minute mini-lesson on how to solve the problem correctly.
  3. Be efficient with the Concept Development. Aim for 20 minutes maximum. To be efficient, the teacher needs to have decided the night before exactly the sequence of example problems to do for the lesson. Don't do ALL the examples in class. 
  4. Limit the time students do the "independent" practice (the Problem Sets) to ONLY 10 or 15 minutes! This means the Problem Set is a time-based event rather than a product-based event. Students are not expected to do ALL problems during the 10-15 minutes. 
  5. The night before, the teacher should decide which problems in the Problem Set are "must do's", "could do's", and "extensions". While students are working on the Problem Set in class for 10-15 minutes, they should do the "Must Do" problems first. Then the "Could Do" problems. 
  6. Save at least 5 or 10 minutes for the Student Debrief time. The teacher should pick one or two key debrief questions to ask the class. The teacher edition lists some questions the teacher might ask. Or the teacher can simply ask, "Would someone please explain their thinking for Question 4?"
All of the above can easily be fit into a 45 minute time period.

Entry link: I need some advice on how to pace each daily lesson.

Question:

Teachers are complaining that the kids don't understand the concept in the lesson. Is your advice to move on or should the teachers reteach the lessons.

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:12 PM)
Answer:


In a typical teaching environment, teaches should pace each lesson to last one day. Teachers customize the lesson by selecting which (if any) fluencies to do, whether to do the application problem, which examples problems in the Concept Development, and which problems of the Problem Set are the "must do" problems. Even when students seem to be totally confused by a lesson, 90% of the time the proper thing for the teacher to do is to move on to the next lesson. I don't recommend many days specifically devoted to review...like on Fridays. Rather, I give a short culminating quiz at the end of each topic. This culminating quiz is formative for me and acts as review for the students. it kills two birds with one stone.

Entry link: Teachers are complaining that the kids don't understand the concept in the lesson. Is your advice to move on or should the teachers reteach the lessons.

Question:

what are your thoughts/recommendations for having students work past their grade level standards once grade level standard mastery is met?

(Last edited: Friday, April 17, 2020, 7:57 AM)
Answer:

In general, I am opposed to it. There are numerous math concepts that could be explored in depth rather than just moving on to the next grade: combinatorics, discrete math, optimization problems, etc.


Open Middle and NRICH are two excellent resources for such problems.


I want to do all I can to prevent math from being something we race through. For students who need more, let them explore every beautiful nook and cranny of their own grade level before moving on.


All this being said I have had a few extreme cases such as a 3rd grader taking calculus and an 8th grader taking college courses.

Entry link: what are your thoughts/recommendations for having students work past their grade level standards once grade level standard mastery is met?

PROBLEM SETS AND HOMEWORK

Question:

Teachers are using your video lessons as part of their lessons before they do the problem sets, is that advisable or are the videos just for the teachers.

(Last edited: Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:14 PM)
Answer:


Yes...students are welcome to watch my videos prior to doing their work. I specifically made my videos using the homework problems, so I suggest students to the HOMEWORK problems so that students can have support at home. (Not all students have parents who can help with the math...so parents and students can use my videos instead.)

Entry link: Teachers are using your video lessons as part of their lessons before they do the problem sets, is that advisable or are the videos just for the teachers.