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 Lathrop Teachers Use Skills Toolbox

3/21/2019 12:00 AM

​Small groups, a customized curriculum map and a new classroom culture have helped the second-grade teaching team at Lathrop Elementary School show remarkable growth on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. 

The three teachers have led conditional growth for their students that ranks in the 99th percentile nationally for math and in the 96th percentile for reading. Conditional growth measures the percentage of student growth relative to the expected growth of students at their achievement level across the nation. 

The Lathrop second grade team used the district curriculum map as a template and customized it. "We are very aware of what we need to be teaching and when," said Jesus Medrano, second grade bilingual teacher.

Tools such as the Prodigy math game for the iPad and Khan Academy's Khan mapping allow teachers to work with small groups of students and address areas of deficiency, while not wasting time on concepts the students already know. Those tools point out a need for intervention and allow real-time corrections in instruction. If a student scores below 60 percent on a concept like telling time, for example, Mr. Medrano works with the student immediately.

The MAP skills checklist (available for K-2) allows differentiated learning. Students know what they will learn next. If they understand a concept, they can move on. That allows students to progress beyond grade level, translating into higher-than-average growth on MAP. 

Students work together now and are more honest about concepts they don't understand. Immediate feedback has made it harder for students to be disengaged if they don't understand something. The collaboration and the new culture have made students more eager to get help rather than guessing on answers, Medrano said.

Kristine Lobato, Lathrop instructional coach, said Lathrop's second grade team is eager to learn and takes advice well. In addition, Principal Penny El-Azhari has made sure grade levels at Lathrop have an additional half-day of planning per trimester. 

The second grade team has embraced short-cycle goals and looking at data through the short-cycle lens. Four-to-six week coaching cycles focus a flashlight on student progress along specific learning targets. Two cycles run concurrently — one for math and one for language arts. 

The second grade team, which includes Dinah Hyslop (monolingual) and Araceli Whistler (bilingual), has really dove into the MAP skills checklists as a way to give students inside information about MAP tests. 

It's like the teachers are telling students: "They are going to ask you this," Mrs. Lobato said. "This is what they are really looking for."

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