Individualizing Math Instruction

Joe Cutter, Previous Group 2 Teacher

The following explanation was offered by Joe Cutter, Previous Group 2 Teacher,

in response to a question about how teachers at NCCL individualize math instruction to meet students’ needs:

In general, the same topic would be introduced to the class as a whole during a math study. Then the kids work with this concept individually, with a partner, or in a small group, and it is at that point that the work is tailored to a child’s specific needs. For instance, in our study of fractions, some members of the group may work mostly with halves, thirds, and sixths, while other students may be working with a wider range of fractions. If we are working on addition and subtraction strategies, some kids may tackle problems in the tens (e.g. 47 + 38) while others will work in the hundreds or thousands.

Sometimes the students can choose their own partners, and other times we will pair people so that students who are working at the same level can share ideas. When we assign homework, we often offer the kids a range of problems and ask them to complete a limited number of them. In such instances, the kids can tackle problems that are at their comfort level, giving us insight into which concepts or procedures are fairly automatic for them, and which they still find difficult. Also, we ask kids to create their own problems related to a topic we are studying, and this often helps us understand what they find challenging.

These are some of the ways that we work as a group and yet meet the needs of each individual. As in every area at NCCL, our small classes allow us to observe how each student works, and we are able to develop a good sense of where each student is and what challenges might benefit them next.