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If students can figure out Total Motivation Math, they won’t have trouble with STAAR.
It’s not just lower level learners who need a challenge. Higher learners of all levels in Tina Meier’s pre-AP math class also need a push, albeit in a different way. Ms. Meier faces a daily challenge to push her advanced learners without leaving behind those who are struggling with certain math concepts. She found a resource that motivates both groups toward greater academic excellence when she used Total Motivation Math as part of a case study during the 2016–2017 school year.
“I’m trying to use Total Motivation Math to bridge these two levels—still challenging the AP students and the ones that are trying to get there,” Ms. Meier explains. She appreciates the resource’s logical format because it flows well and “gives her somewhere to start.” As Principal Odilia Martinez put it, Total Motivation Math “allows teachers to teach with discipline.” For example, using the Teacher Edition (TE) to go through the Introduction activities on Monday “helps get students all set up” for the week’s learning. Using an interactive whiteboard, Ms. Meier introduces the content and students complete the activities either online or in print in the Student Edition (SE). Moving to Guided Practice later that same day lets the class work together through some of the problems and complete remaining problems with a partner.
It’s not too easy for pre-AP students. It’s a good challenge for them.
The next day, Ms. Meier uses the Vocabulary Activity or chooses from the Instructional Activities in the TE to warm up the class before students complete Independent Practice in the SE online. The online format of Total Motivation Math is helpful because it “gives them the instant feedback and a grade,” she explains. Students who have shown mastery then complete the Critical Thinking activity mid-week. “It’s not too easy for [pre-AP students]. It’s a good challenge for them,” she notes. For those needing more support, she chooses an Intervention activity to complete in a small-group setting. Ms. Meier accesses Total Motivation’s online Reports to monitor progress and determine students’ standards mastery.
By Thursday, students complete the Assessment in the SE, but Ms. Meier utilizes a differentiation strategy by offering a choice for students to input their answers online or in print. Fridays are reserved for students to continue working on Independent Practice or do an Intervention activity in groups if needed. She notes, “If they complete the Independent Practice, I have the students work on homework. These students work in small groups while I work with the intervention groups.” With all these components working together, she says, “it gives me a good picture of where the kids are.”
After its first year using Total Motivation school-wide, Resnik Middle School earned the TEA Distinction for Academic Achievement in Mathematics. Ms. Meier’s class scores improved 17 percentage points as measured on the spring assessment, the class earned a 100% passing rate on STAAR, and 30% of students classified as “Masters Grade Level” in the new STAAR performance labeling system. Ms. Meier notes that “if students can figure out what is in Total Motivation Math, they will not have trouble with the STAAR.”
The wealth of activities available in both the Student and Teacher Editions saves time. “I don’t have to create any of that,” Ms. Meier says. Amanda Heavyside, instructional coach, loves that her teachers have “a buffet of things to choose from.” Ms. Meier adds that she’s been able to spend more time delivering “the intervention pieces for those students who are really struggling.” Toward the end of the year, one of those students recalled how hard the rigorous problems were for her at first. “But I kept working hard,” she said, “and doing all the work, and now I am getting better at math.”
Ms. Meier found that students who excel at math and finish quickly enjoy helping their fellow classmates. “They like to help some of the other students,” she explains. “It not only lets them do what they know how to do but also gives them the opportunity to be able to work with others who are not at the same level that they are and explain and reemphasize what I’ve taught them.”
Vocabulary is key in math, Ms. Meier says. “I really like the Vocabulary Activities and we do those quite a bit. There is such a variety, in addition to the different ways the vocabulary is being approached [in the TE].” Ms. Meier uses these activities as a warm up, which helps increase students’ understanding of the context for the problems.
Students who complete their work more quickly than others never have the chance to get bored with Total Motivation Math. There is always another activity to challenge them and keep them engaged with the content. “I can give [those students] the Critical Thinking piece. That helps to have that extra instruction because it still relates to what we are doing and stretches their thinking.”
Being able to practice their typing skills online in a math setting is a plus for Ms. Meier’s students. “They still do the writing; it just gives them a different feel for it,” she says of Total Motivation Math‘s online format. “It’s interactive,” she explains. “Because of the variety of ways that they ask the questions, it’s not just multiple choice.” The online format is “easier and more user-friendly for the kids,” which motivates them to learn and helps them build computer literacy skills.
Ms. Meier uses the wealth of activities found in Total Motivation Math to introduce new content, differentiate instruction, address learning gaps, and assess standards mastery. With all the resources and strategies right there, she spends more time teaching and less time prepping.
|Lower-Level Groups||Higher-Level Groups|
|Monday: Introduce content during whole group instruction with Introduction activities in TE. Model problems from the SE on the whiteboard as students follow along in print or online, then ask students to complete problems in partners.|
|Tuesday: Warm up class with Vocabulary activity (TE) then have students complete Independent Practice (SE) online, so they will have instant feedback.|
|Wednesday: Assign Intervention activities (TE) to small groups.||Wednesday: Assign Critical Thinking activity (SE) to learners who have shown mastery.|
|Thursday: Assign Assessment activity (SE), allowing students to choose online or print format.|
|Friday: Revisit Independent Practice or continue Intervention activities in small groups.||Friday: Complete homework.|
TE=Teacher Edition / SE=Student Edition
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