Part 2: Resources About Unfinished Learning in Mathematics

Updated: Jun 30



Welcome back to part 2 of the 3 part series on unfinished learning in mathematics! In case you missed it, be sure to start with part 1 where I share my 3 top resources to learn more about unfinished learning. I also give a bit more context about why I am writing this series as well as how I feel about the terms “unfinished learning” and “learning loss” in mathematics. You can click here to read part 1.


Part 2 is all about identifying priority content!


When I facilitated this material in a workshop for one of my client school districts, a teacher had this to say about the material in this section of the workshop,

“I am excited to have such wonderful resources I can rely on as I prepare to educate my students and bridge the gap of their unfinished learning. I particularly appreciate how concise, relatable, and attainable the Grade 8 Mathematics reference sheet is. I feel more confident and assured that I will be able to teach the information needed to fill the gap and prepare my students to be successful in high school.”

Ready to learn about these resources to help you plan for your classroom, site, or district pacing for 21-22?


First, a note about remediation in math.


Before we dig in I want to share my thoughts on math remediation in this “unfinished learning” season we find ourselves in as we start 21-22 (and probably still in 22-23). I believe all students can achieve math at high levels. I believe it’s essential that we have high expectations for all of our students in mathematics (‘m talking about our students with IEPs in math, our students who have struggled with math for years, and our English Language Learners in our math classes). As a math support teacher at a high school in South Central Los Angeles I believed this, as an Algebra 1 co-teacher in Denver I believed this, and I still believe this today.

We need to give our students access to grade level content with appropriate scaffolds to help them be successful.

As we start 21-22, knowing that we will likely be in need of some remediation for math, we should still be planning to teach grade level content. Of course there are going to be gaps in their prerequisites this year more than ever, so we need to anticipate those and plan to integrate the necessary prerequisite skills when we teach the grade level content.


I do not believe that we should teach below grade level. For example, if you teach 9th grade Algebra 1, you should not assume that all students didn’t get 8th grade math and just start teaching 8th grade content. Instead, I argue you start with the most important priority content of Algebra 1 as your core content, be aware of the prerequisites for those priority content areas that your students might have missed in grade 8 (and even grade 7), and integrate those prerequisites from 7th and 8th grade when you teach the Algebra 1 content.


Whether you agree or disagree with my statements above, the resources below will still be useful for you.


Why do we need to prioritize math content?


We can assume that students will be a little further behind or “less prepared” in mathematics as we start 21-22. If you typically teach students who struggle with math, this is nothing new (something I discussed in part 1 of this series), however it might be even more pronounced this year. Because of this, there is NO WAY we will be able to get through the normal amount of math content that we typically cover in a school year. And that is okay. Read that again. It’s okay not to cover all of the material you typically cover in a year. We’ve just been through a global pandemic. Our students might have experienced death in their families, separation from family, or felt the economic impacts of the pandemic. I strongly believe that our focus for 21-22 should be on helping students enjoy mathematics and enjoy being in our math classrooms again, regaining a sense of normalcy and belonging.


So if we don’t - or can’t - cover all of the material we normally do, what content should we prioritize?


Thank goodness for the standards loving experts at Achieve the Core. They’ve created the most helpful documents for us that I can’t wait to share with you.


Ready for the goods?


Continue to the section of the grade levels you teach for either middle school or high school math teachers.



Middle School Math Teachers


Print (I like highlighting, crossing out, and marking up with pen a paper) the following documents for your grade level as well as the previous grade level.. Maybe even two grade levels

These documents will reveal your priority content. Focus on these concepts and let the others go (unless instructed otherwise by your school or district). Read it again. Let the others go.


Reflect

  • Read through these documents and make your own meaning.

  • What do you notice? What do you wonder?

  • What could you use to help you identify what to teach (and more importantly what content to let go of) in 21-22?


High School Math Teachers

Print (I like highlighting, crossing out, and marking up with pen a paper) the document, Support for Instructional Content Prioritization in High School Mathematics.


If you teach Algebra 1, Geometry, any high school special education math class, or the intervention/repeat high school math class, I’d also print the following for 7th and 8th grade:

These documents will reveal your priority content. Focus on these concepts and let the others go (unless instructed otherwise by your school or district). Read it again. Let the others go.


Reflect

  • Read through these documents and make your own meaning.

  • What do you notice? What do you wonder?

  • What could you use to help you identify what to teach (and more importantly what content to let go of) in 21-22?



Next up

In our third and final part of the series on unfinished learning in mathematics, I’ll be sharing tips about how to take these resources and use them to help you identify the potential gaps your students might have as they start 21-22. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re subscribed by clicking here!


Want more

Enjoying this series? If you’re a school or district administrator and would like help facilitating this discussion about unfinished learning and planning process with your math department, email me now (juliana@collaboratedconsulting.org) or check out my website to learn more about the services I provide as a secondary math consultant.


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