Blended and Personalized Learning During a Primary Math Block

magical math featured image

Stacey Shapiro
Zilker Elementary, 1st Grade Teacher
This is my 25th year teaching in AISD and seventh year as our campus CIC. Each year I’ve focused on technology in my classroom with my early childhood learners and helping others use technology as a tool for collaboration and creativity in the classroom. I am also a Seesaw Certified Educator and a BrainPOP Certified Educator.

As I reflect on my teaching practice and my students’ progress this year, I am so grateful for the opportunity to use technology to reteach, reinforce and extend concepts during my mathematics block. We have several options for using technology from the district, some of which I am just becoming familiar with and would like additional training or a chance to become more familiar with them for next year. I would like to share what has worked for me and what I would like to learn more about for next year.

My math block is very similar to my language arts block. After a daily fluency warm up using my EduDisplay, I introduce the daily topic whole group. I usually read a story or show a video. Then we practice the concept whole group.  After I send students back to their table to work independently. They have a choice as to how they would like to practice and demonstrate their knowledge of the concept taught through Math Centers. 

I have been doing Math Centers for several years. I follow the acronym B.U.I.L.D.: Buddy Games, Using Manipulatives, Independent Math Games, Learning with Technology, and Doing Math. Every activity reinforces the weekly skill (or reviews the prior week’s skill). It is not crucial that students complete every activity each day since they all reinforce the same skill.

A few years ago I felt as though I was using too much paper, so I transitioned many of my activities to using dry erase activities, games, etc. that all reinforced the current skill we were working on. Currently, my only center that using paper and pencil is “Doing Math.” It is their Math Notebook activity that is differentiated based on their needs. They complete two Doing Math activities each week.

Every day students have one “Must Do” assigned to them and then they have the choice of many “May Do’s.”

Their daily “Must Do” consists of either a D- Doing Math activity or a Seesaw activity. I differentiate the Seesaw activities based on my students’ needs. I utilize the Seesaw activities from the District Seesaw Activities Library as well as from other contributors. I utilize the folders and have taught my students how to find and choose a “just right” activity for them. By using folders, students are able to find the math activities quickly and  I am able to assign different activities to different students, too.

I can also use Seesaw for students to reflect on what they have learned during the week or questions they have. Since the parents have access to their Seesaw Journals, they are able to see their child’s progress and know what to reinforce at home, too. Tap the link to hear one of my students’ reflections.

After completion, students choose from the other activities or may get pulled back to the back table for a Guided Math group. Guided Math gives me an opportunity to work with small groups of 2-5 students based on their needs. The groups are constantly changing due to ongoing assessments. I can pull the students or have a parent, UTeach Intern, or 4th grade volunteer work with the groups.

Sometimes we pre-teach games that I will later put out in the Buddy Games or Using Manipulatives centers, other times I follow the Guided Math curriculum, or work on other activities. On the next page you will find some examples of materials I used for different Guided Math groups during the unit.

If needed to reteach a student, I can assign specific lessons to individual students through myBrainPOP in the Portal. Using BrainPOP Jr, I can assign videos and then one of the quizzes, either Easy or Hard. I can even make my own quizzes, too. Their results are posted for me to view. I can also have students use Make-a-Map or Coding to reflect on what they have learned and share with me. I can also use these resources to reinforce or extend the concepts for individual students, too.

In the past, I have used Playposit and EdPuzzle to differentiate instruction and practice the skills, as well as for daily fluency practice.

My students are excited to access IXL, Dreambox and ST Math. I know there are ways to assign activities within these resources to make sure students are accessing what they need and not just playing or creating their avatars. These are areas that I would like to learn more about and provide accurate differentiation for the future.

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