Supporting Students of Special Populations
The Texas math Solution is a core Tier 1 curriculum designed to promote collaborative learning for every student. Our blended curriculum has two major components, Learning Together and Learning Individually. Each of these components has adaptive components to meet the needs of your special populations and emergent bilingual students
The Carnegie Learning approach is a strengths based approach. It can often feel that as educators, we are having to quickly ascertain what information students don’t know and design instructional interventions to address student’s weaknesses. To foster true collaborative learning, students must feel supported and start their journey feeling confident in their mathematical abilities for true collaborative learning to occur. A Carnegie Learning classroom is not a silent classroom and perfection is not the expectation. We hope that students are always willing and able to engage at a high level with each other and with mathematics.
The Texas Math Solution has a number of components that support students of special populations:
- MATHia Accessibility: click here to read about the ways that MATHia can support students of special populations
- NIMAC: NIMAC offers support for low vision learners
- There is digital assistive technology in ALL the digital lessons, digital assignments and digital assessments.
- Answer eliminator
Active - Learning Together component of the TXMS is built for true collaborative learning, allowing students the ability to discuss the mathematics and by producing artifacts. They need to talk, write, and show what they know as often as possible. This helps every student, as at times, writing can be a barrier for special population students. The TXMS collaborative approach allows students to speak about math before they have to write about math. As questions progress throughout the text of our book, give your special populations or Bilingual students options for how they would like to answer the questions:
- Write their answer in their home language
- Draw their answer
- Speak their answer out loud
The method to which they are answering the questions for themselves is not important, so long as when it comes time to share they are able to share and explain their answers.
Collaborate – As noted above, the collaborative classroom environment is vital for successful implementation of the TXMS. The TXMS is designed to give teachers the tools embedded in the lesson for students to speak and write about their learning as part of the lesson. This feature allows teachers to spend their energy on designing appropriate collaboration for their students, and less time designing the resource they will use to meet the learning goal. The facilitation notes are also there to help teachers who might be working on their questioning as a professional goal. more that educators can focus on how to facilitate collaboration and less about what questions to ask or what skills you are looking for students to master at the end of the lesson.
Engagement – To do that, first come to an understanding of where a student is with no judgement of where they should be. This allows you as the educator to uncover what they understand and meet the student where they are. The checks for understanding are there for the students in the lessons, you do not need to build them in or spend time planning for them. Instead, focus your planning time around what meets the needs of your students (consider group sizes, if a group is stagnant how do you motivate them etc.)
During resource class there should be a lot of teacher led facilitation with structure from the textbook. Below are two strategies to consider.
One strategy is to ALWAYS start with the explicit instruction activity in the lesson (often activity 2) and then go back to the investigation activity (often the getting started and activity 1). The reason for this is that, by design, activity 1 focuses on guided discovery and activity 2 focuses on explicit instruction. We know for some students, this can be a confusing and overwhelming concept, so by having them complete Activity 2 first and then move to Activity 1 it will give students prior knowledge and allow them to participate in the guided discovery activity.
The second strategy is to prioritize the learning goals and establish how much should be done in a lesson. When you begin to plan your lesson, identify what is the essential understanding that all students must get to and then plan your closing. From there, work to back fill the lesson. No matter what, make sure you get to the closure of your lesson. Students in resource will benefit from this concrete step and it will assist in retention for the next lesson.
What happens for students who are in an inclusion class? What specific differentation strategies should teachers be thinking about to keep students engaged in the lesson and moving forward with their peers?
The TXMS textbook lessons are built so that students purposely have space to have thought partners as they. They can do the math and talk about the math. When a collaborative classroom exists, the students can speak safely and openly about the math and not be worried about making mistakes.
If a student requires shortened assignments, do this on a one by one basis with students that leverages the existing relationship you have with your student and allows you to continue to build a relationship with your student so they feel safe and comfortable in the collaborative space you have created.
To remove anxiety for students, consider using MATHia time to pre-teach material for the upcoming lesson. Using MATHia time to build in an initial introduction to the upcoming lesson gives students the opportunity to preview the instruction that is upcoming and will empower them to find success during the whole class lesson.
For more resources on building a collaborative classroom, please references the articles below:
To keep your bilingual students engaged, allow them to use their home language in the classroom. Remember, in bilingualism there is not an attempt to replace the home language. Work with your student to facilitate ways of transitioning to using English in the classroom that align with their language acquisition journey.
Start the year with an understanding of your student’s TELPAS rating so that you may intentionally plan your questions and strategies to help them progress toward advanced-high fluency and eventual exit from the ESL program. Once you know their TELPAS level, you can start thoughtfully bridging your interventions to move them to the next level and plan intentionally for that transition. A benefit of this tier 1 product being open for collaboration, it helps students because they are listening in English, they can read in English and they can respond out loud. Slowly, they will be able to build confidence and skill for reading and writing, but the collaborative nature of the solution provides them with a fully immersive spoken language environment to develop their skills.
It is not recommended that you revise MATHia sequences or content. For students who are in resource who are not making progress, if you revise the MATHia sequences, you are taking away their ability to engage with grade level mathematics content.
Instead, consider a guided MATHia practice with a slow release model. Begin with concept builders where you, the teacher, facilitate the learning and everyone will work and stay together, when students get to a mastery level workspace, gauge the level of the classroom and then you can have students begin working towards an independent working model in that workspace.
Consider setting small and attainable goals for independent MATHia usage in a mastery workspace:
- Students will work for 10 minutes independently
- Students will work towards self-sufficiency where the end of year goal is 30 minutes of independent MATHia work time
- Build stamina for students
If a student becomes stuck in a MATHia workspace:
- Work with them 1:1 to tutor them and provide additional instruction to advance them forward.
- Once they have made sufficient progress in the tutoring, manually advance them forward in to a new workspace to keep them on grade level
When we consider accommodating Bilingual students in MATHia we must consider that there are two skill sets bilingual students are consistently working on in the math classroom. The first is mathematical skill and the second is language skill. As the teacher, you must decide which skill the student should focus on during a given class period. Carnegie Learning recommends that during MATHia days, remove the language skill barrier so that students can focus primarily on building their mathematical skills.
To do this consider the following language accommodations:
- Have every student turn on Text to Speech on the first day of class. This way they can feel empowered to self-select when they need help reading and when they don’t help. This is a great way to build in self-advocacy instead of students having to rely on your assistance.
- Teach students how to use google translate and add it as a chrome extension. They should be able to turn it on and off so they can create bilingual text in the workspace.
The Skills Report that is provided by MATHia is an incredibly valuable report. It is important to note that this report has nothing to do with grade level knowledge and everything to do with foundational skills of math, essentially, knowledge built on knowledge. The skills that are listed in the report transcend grade levels.
To be able to develop a strengths based approach to instruction for your students, you must understand the terms of meeting a student where they are. The skill data from MATHia gives you this information and it allows a more encompassing understanding of where the students are in their mathematical journey. At times, students cannot articulate where they are struggling or what components of the math they don't understand. The Skills Report is a wonderful tool in helping to mitigate the guesswork and provides a great assessment of their strengths and weaknesses as you target your individualized instruction moving forward.
Carnegie Learning hosted a Texas Math Solution webinar on Support Students of Special Populations. Watch Stephanie Doran (Senior Director of Customer Success) and Julie Stowell-Moss (Manager of School Partnerships in Texas) as they discuss supporting students of special populations.