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 Flexibility Among Students, Teachers Pays Off at Washington

5/2/2019 12:00 PM

​Third grade students at Washington Elementary School are at the top of the nation for growth in math. Their conditional growth index, which measures growth among similar students, ranks in the 99th percentile in the United States on the Measures of Academic Progress or MAP test.

Washington's four classes of third grade are also part of the multi-classroom leader project (MCL), in which teachers work as a team under a grade-level instructional leader. An aspiring (student) teacher helps the team, which allows for extra flexibility to assess and group students for enhancement or remediation. 

Kimber Malmberg teaches a monolingual third grade class and is the lead of Washington's MCL project. Mrs. Malmberg, along with the other third grade teachers, discussed the lessons they are learning from the students' remarkable growth on MAP testing from fall to winter. Elizabeth Hand, Washington instructional coach, participated in the talk as well. 

These are edited responses to the question: What are the main reasons for your results? 

Kimber Malmberg (MCL lead): We are all on the same page. We follow the district curriculum map and the Plan-Do-Study-Act process.  If we have weak areas, we all work on the same areas. It's all about strategies — not memorizing. It's using manipulatives, arrays, patterns. It ties each math fact to a piece of literature. 

Joe Kowalski (bilingual): It encompasses many different learning styles.

Jimena Medrano (bilingual): It's based on a growth mindset and making real-life connections with math.

Elizabeth Hand: You've been incorporating more English in math.

Medrano: Because my math instruction is in English, every time I use academic vocabulary during math I bridge it to Spanish to make sure my students have a good understanding of the vocabulary. One of the main reasons I bridge during math is to prepare my students to recognize academic vocabulary during the MAP test, which they take in English. I also use MAP, Khan Academy and Prodigy data to help me drive and differentiate my instruction. 

Kowalski: I've been incorporating Math Talks. At first I thought it was just one more thing, but it has taken me to a different level. These are 10-35 minute discussions. Everyone in the class participates and asks questions. Students use the SMART Board to explain how they solved a problem. It's them, teaching each other. 

Malmberg: Every strategy is valued.

Whitney Riley (monolingual): There's more than one way to solve a problem, and we need to give the children the ability to explore that and the time and the permission to take a risk. Maybe come up with a strategy the teacher hasn't even thought of.

Kimber Malmberg, multi-classroom leader project lead, works with Washington students during their math instruction.
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