Math woes

This weekend I corrected the first Math test of the school year and I feel like a failure. There are certain questions that nearly everyone got wrong. Some I know I did not spend enough time on with the class. We should have practiced more; I should have taken the time to explain things in different ways; I should have made sure to use the same language and structure as the test question; I should have . . .  well, should have, but didn’t. And now their tests scores are set and there’s no going back.

So, of course, the first thing I did was make plans to go back. I’m not having students retake the test, nor will I doctor scores, but we have a little wiggle room before I need to start the next unit so I’m spending some time re-teaching. If this is important to know, then it’s important to try again.

We also have the advantage of being able to form our own groups for the district mandated Math Intervention. While I am not a fan of this intervention model, I do appreciate that we are given some control over it. So, I am going over the formal test and some less formal assessments to see which standard each student needs to work on. If they don’t have the base ten system under their belts, then they are not ready to develop efficient strategies for working with larger numbers. If they can’t fluently work with numbers under 20, then let’s leave the base ten blocks in the tub and begin with some basic number sense and mental addition strategies.  I’ve started plugging my students into a table to help sort them into groups. The other 4 teachers on my second grade team will do the same. Then we’ll figure out the logistics of getting them into groups.

And, beyond those groups, I’ll spend a little of my Core Math time making the connection between this work with addition and subtraction and the upcoming unit on measurement.

Math is NOT my favorite subject so spending so much mental and creative effort here is not easy for me. However, Math is the favorite of many of my students and I owe it to them to help them reach grade level standards, and beyond. So, here I go.



3 thoughts on “Math woes

  1. Oh, dear, I just went through a similar scenario. But I had to ask myself, “Why am I testing the kids anyway?” Is it to find out where we need to polish our skills, or to find out how quickly we should move on? Is it to give the kids some feedback? Or is to prove that we did our jobs?
    When we feel like “failures” because most of the kids missed one question, we have to really take a step back. Was the question poorly worded? Were the mistakes all similar, in which case, did we just miss one tiny piece of this particular program’s particular take on this particular skill?
    And who the heck decided that every kid has to master every tiny skill and perfect every problem on the same day?
    I’m sure that your kids are learning math. I’m sure that they all know more about addition and subtraction than they did a month ago. That should surely be enough!

    • Thanks for the support! Yes, every one of the students did better on the “Post-Test” than they had done on the “Pre-test” so we are all moving forward. Cause for celebration!
      We’ll keep plowing ahead, while not forgetting that each of my 2nd graders is a beautiful person who learns at his and her own pace. It’s not easy for us teachers to go at all those different paces, but we do our best.

      • I agree with you on all counts! We do our best, as do the kids. Sometimes, though, I feel like we are testing just to pass the test….
        The tail seems to be wagging the dog, you know?

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