Math GroupsTerm Paper

Pages: 5 (1594 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching

Math Groups

Educators have often seen their students lose track of the material when it comes to math-based courses. Some find it harder to grasp the abstract concepts in the curriculum as compared to others. Math groups, segregated by their level of skill are the answer to this problem. Megan Power explains how a related approach followed in reading and writing groups does not match up with math as well as expected. Power teaches her students by breaking her instruction time into 4 parts (Power, 2010).

The first quarter is organized as a meeting where previously taught concepts are reviewed to assess their status of learning. This helps decide on how to proceed with the rest of the time. The second quarter is where the teacher gets to teach a few new math concepts. The students are grouped according to their comfort level in the topics being covered. This help some of the weaker students stay on track while letting the stronger ones proceed further. Teaching different topics to different groups is a common approach. The third quarter lets students stay in their groups while working independently on what they learnt in the previous quarter. This may involve a paper and pencil-based quiz or additional reading time. The last quarter focuses on exploring the mathematical concepts from a practical standpoint. This lets them math-based games as a group. Geometrical shapes, graphs and matching numbers are some examples of activities which can be used here (Power, 2010).

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Math grouping of this kind allows the smarter crowd to learn advanced concepts easily and ensures that the others strengthen their basics well enough to proceed. Assessments conducted after applying math groups in classes has demonstrated significant improvement in performance. The duration of each quarter needs to be assigned based on the age and standard of students. Attention spans vary and it would be impractical to make each quarter an hour long. Math groups used for high school students can be around half an hour. It works wonders at lower levels like kindergarten as working with others eliminates the fear of facing problems alone (Dill, n.d.)

Term Paper on Math Groups Assignment

Pre-assessments are an important constituent for the success of math groups. The class cannot be divided efficiently without identifying weak points. A pre-assessment questionnaire should be handed out to see what students already know about the topic being taught. It is necessary to tell them how they are not expected to answer all the questions correctly. Grading their answers will present a clear picture of who needs more help. Groups need to be formed by the teacher without actually informing them about their status. A public declaration of which group has low skills will bring up self-esteem issues which is detrimental to teamwork. It is a good idea to restrict the number of groups from three to four. It would be hard for a single teacher to handle any more than that. They should always allocate some time for the lowest group. The other groups should be assigned a project to complete at this time. The complexity of projects will become gradually become higher. Groups will be flexible depending on the topics being covered. Different students will get to know each other as the class proceeds. Preparing the meeting schedules every week beforehand will let students have an idea of how much time they have to revise. This can vary from 3-4 days a week for the lower group to twice a week for the higher one. Enforcing the class projects keeps students away from losing interest as they work on assignments and homework. Each topic covered should be followed by a post-assessment to check whether the objectives have been met (Dill, n.d.)

. The gifted section of the class needs to be encouraged constantly. The fact that most of these students perform really well in pre-assessment tests can lead to two things. Firstly the instructor might find it meaningless to teach them things they are already proficient in. Secondly the students might feel overconfident and ignore any topics related to the test. This is not desired as it would waste their talent. The specific math group to which these students are assigned need to have increasingly challenging projects allocated to them. This will keep their interest level high for the whole class. Boredom is a definite barrier when it comes to dividing students into skill-based groups. A smart student assigned to a group where everyone finds it hard to follow the basics, will eventually feel disconnected and bored ("Differentiating math lessons," n.d.)

Math group implementation needs to follow a few measures. Future planning should not be so rigid that it destroys the purpose. Reactions of students towards different topics can change every week. The teacher needs to adapt to their learning curve. Competitiveness among students is a good thing to an extent. Math groups can get formed with students who normally might not talk to each other. This can lead to unexpected conflicts. A bright student might do all the work assigned to the team, eliminating any participation from most other members. This is detrimental to the spirit of teamwork. Teachers need to monitor and spot such students who lead from the front and don't let anyone contribute. As a different approach, they can actually elect one or two team leaders and rotate the leadership for each project. This will bring the slackers to the forefront and keep them focused (Wortman, n.d.)

Math groups for complex topics may last for multiple weeks. Sub-concepts for such topics are usually connected in such a way that teachers cannot proceed further before each of them are understood well. It might not be feasible for him or her to analyze the level of understanding for each student. In such situations one or more students in a group (who are confident enough) can be asked to test the others in his or her team. They can convey the knowledge they recently attained, prepare a moderately complex quiz and grade the answers of their group mates. This is beneficial in multiple ways as it teaches them to take on responsibility, demonstrate leadership, enhance their own understanding of the topic and see the possible mistakes one can commit ("Differentiating math lessons," n.d.).

Group presentations are an effective way to get students to work hard. Each group, on the completion of a certain topic can share their knowledge with the rest of the class. These presentations may include things like its history, the basic concept, academic examples, real life applications and advanced concepts related to it. Activities like this will allow other students to learn new things and develop interest in the subject. Students whose minds grasp the basics easily can go ahead and identify areas which are normally ignored. Brilliant ideas might come and go waste in regular math classes which use the traditional sequence of lessons followed by homework and exams. Their thoughts can get recognized when math is taught in groups and followed by presentations. They will have the chance to show how the basics can be utilized in solving complex mathematical problems. This will improve their confidence and attract curiosity from fellow classmates who usually take math as just another class.

Math groups might be seen as just a better option for education by some teachers. However its importance is evident with younger kids under 7 years old. The abstract nature of numbers makes it hard for them to keep track of the material. Lagging behind in class can start a trend which hinders progress in the future. Grouping introduces the concept of learning as a community. This makes students face their issues together rather than shying away from asking questions when alone (Gregory, n.d.)

Online resources can be used to improve the workability of Math groups. Accessibility to a computer… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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